This is the man that teacheth, etc. - As much as if they had said: This is the man concerning whom we wrote to you; who in every place endeavors to prejudice the Gentiles against the Jews, against the Mosaic law, and against the temple and its services.
Brought Greeks also into the temple - This was a most deliberate and malicious untruth: Paul could accomplish no purpose by bringing any Greek or Gentile into the temple; and their having seen Trophimus, an Ephesian, with him, in the city only, was no ground on which to raise a slander that must so materially affect both their lives. Josephus informs us, War, lib. v. cap. 5, sec. 2, that on the wall which separated the court of the Gentiles from that of the Israelites was an inscription in Greek and Latin letters, which stated that no stranger was permitted to come within the holy place on pain of death. With such a prohibition as this before his eyes, was it likely that St. Paul would enter into the temple in company with an uncircumcised Greek? The calumny refutes itself.
Men of Israel - Jews. All who are the friends of the Law of Moses.
This is the man - This implies that they had before given information to the Jews at Jerusalem that there was such a man, and they now exulted in the fact that they had found him. They therefore called on all these to aid in securing and punishing him.
That teacheth - See the notes on Acts 6:13-14.
Against the people - The people of the Jews. That is, they pretended that he taught that the customs and laws of the Jewish nation were not binding, and endeavored to prejudice all people against them.
And the law - The Law of Moses.
And this place - The temple. Everything against the Law would be interpreted also as being against the temple, as most of the ceremonies required in the Law were celebrated there. It is possible also that Paul might have declared that the temple was to be destroyed. Compare Acts 6:13-14.
And further, brought Greeks - The temple was surrounded by various areas called courts. See the notes on Matthew 21:12. The outermost of these courts was called the court of the Gentiles, and into that it was lawful for the Gentiles to enter. But the word “temple” here refers, doubtless, to the parts of the area appropriated especially to the Israelites, and which it was unlawful for a Gentile to enter. These parts are marked “GGGG” in the plan of the temple. See the notes at Matthew 21:12.
And hath polluted - He has defiled the temple by thus introducing a Gentile. No greater defilement, in their view, could scarcely be conceived. No more effective appeal could be made to the passions of the people than this.
It was not the will of God that Israel should wander forty years in the wilderness; He desired to lead them directly to the land of Canaan and establish them there, a holy, happy people. But “they could not enter in because of unbelief.” Hebrews 3:19. Because of their backsliding and apostasy they perished in the desert, and others were raised up to enter the Promised Land. In like manner, it was not the will of God that the coming of Christ should be so long delayed and His people should remain so many years in this world of sin and sorrow. But unbelief separated them from God. As they refused to do the work which He had appointed them, others were raised up to proclaim the message. In mercy to the world, Jesus delays His coming, that sinners may have an opportunity to hear the warning and find in Him a shelter before the wrath of God shall be poured out. GC 458.1
Now as in former ages, the presentation of a truth that reproves the sins and errors of the times will excite opposition. “Everyone that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.” John 3:20. As men see that they cannot maintain their position by the Scriptures, many determine to maintain it at all hazards, and with a malicious spirit they assail the character and motives of those who stand in defense of unpopular truth. It is the same policy which has been pursued in all ages. Elijah was declared to be a troubler in Israel, Jeremiah a traitor, Paul a polluter of the temple. From that day to this, those who would be loyal to truth have been denounced as seditious, heretical, or schismatic. Multitudes who are too unbelieving to accept the sure word of prophecy will receive with unquestioning credulity an accusation against those who dare to reprove fashionable sins. This spirit will increase more and more. And the Bible plainly teaches that a time is approaching when the laws of the state will so conflict with the law of God that whosoever would obey all the divine precepts must brave reproach and punishment as an evildoer. GC 458.2Read in context »