30 “Then all the city was stirred up, and the people ran together. They seized Paul and dragged him out of the temple, and at once the gates were shut. 31 And as they were seeking to kill him, word came to the tribune of the cohort that all Jerusalem was in confusion. 32 He at once took soldiers and centurions and ran down to them. And when they saw the tribune and the soldiers, they stopped beating Paul.” (Acts 21:30–32)
Much like the riot in Ephesus (Acts 19:21-34), the city of Jerusalem was in an uproar due to the false accusations the Asian Jews made against the Apostle Paul. As a result, the people rushed together in a riotous assembly. They seized Paul, and dragged him out of the temple area, whereupon the temple guards shut the gates to the inner temple courts.
The rioting crowd sought to kill Paul. It was providential that at that precise moment the news of what was happening came to the tribune’s attention. The tribune was the commanding officer of the Roman cohort, or band of soldiers. A tribune would command 1,000 soldiers.
The tribune immediately sent soldiers and centurions and ran down to where the riot was occurring. When the crowd saw the tribune and his soldiers, they stopped beating Paul.
Dr. John Walvoord writes, “Adjoining the temple area to the northwest was the Fortress of Antonia with two flights of steps leading into the outer court of the temple. Troops were stationed there, and more were added during Jewish feast days. They were part of the Roman Tenth Legion. The commander of the troops at the fortress, Claudius Lysias (cf. 23:26), at once took some officers and soldiers and ran down to the crowd. “Commander” is chiliarchos, leader of a thousand soldiers (25:23). The “officers” (hekatontarchas, lit., “rulers of hundreds” or centurions) indicates at least 200 soldiers were involved since the noun is plural.”
Then and now, it does not take much to stir up a crowd into committing acts of violence. Any excuse or reason will do. This is especially true where the Gospel is concerned, for unconverted people love to hate the good news of Jesus Christ.
Resolve today to be strong and courageous as you live out, and when you share the Gospel.
Soli deo Gloria!