And when he was come, the Jews which came down from Jerusalem stood round about, and laid many and grievous complaints against Paul…
I. THE WORLD HAS MANY GRIEVOUS COMPLAINTS AGAINST THE CHRISTIAN. The Jews, who were the spirit of the world incarnate, had many indeed against Paul which were perfectly true. He was a constant source of irritation because he was a standing menace to their moral corruptions, their superstitious traditions, the policy and ambition of their priests, and their wholesale apostasy from God. So is the Christian an uncompromising enemy to the world's darling sins, its base pleasures, its unworthy methods, and its low aims. Hence there can be no peace between the two.
II. THESE ARE NOT THE COMPLAINTS THAT ARE PREFERRED. The Jews knew better than to air their real grievances, so they accused Paul of offences against their best institutions — the law and the temple, and of treason against the state. So the world masks its real grievances, and charges the Christian with enmity against man's best interests.
1. Happiness. How often has Christianity been charged with moroseness? Not only does it deprive men of the means of enjoyment, but inculcates practices calculated to produce positive pain.
2. Progress. How its precepts would impede the course of commerce, arms, personal and national aggrandisement, thought, etc.
3. Political order. How can a man who lives for another world take an absorbing and influential interest in this?
III. FOR THE OVERT COMPLAINTS OF THE WORLD THE CHRISTIAN SHOULD HAVE A PROMPT ANSWER. Paul's answer was a model of promptness: and it was true. He had put the law in its proper place and had everywhere vindicated its true functions. As for the temple, he had honoured it, and by that very act had imperilled his life. As for Caesar, the emperor had no more loyal subject, and none more solicitous of promoting loyalty throughout the empire. And against the world's accusation the Christian can say —
1. That Christianity alone can and does promote the true happiness of man.
2. That Christianity has been and is the truest friend of the world's progress.
3. That the Christian by the doctrine of a future life is bound to maintain the best interests of this.
IV. THE CHRISTIAN SHOULD REFUSE TO BE ARRAIGNED BEFORE THIS WORLD'S TRIBUNALS AND SHOULD MAKE HIS APPEAL TO THE HIGHEST. Paul knew that justice at the hands of his accusers was out of the question, and therefore appealed to the only bar at which it was likely to be obtained. So the Christian, if he be wise, will decline the world's arbitrament. By it he is condemned already. What use therefore of appealing to it? But there is One who judges with righteous and infallible judgment, and he may appeal with confidence to Him. Let men frown as they may, clamour as they may — the Christian need not be frightened and should not give way for an instant. His court of appeal is the judgment seat of Christ.
(J. W. Burn.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And when he was come, the Jews which came down from Jerusalem stood round about, and laid many and grievous complaints against Paul, which they could not prove.