Paul’s Day in Court | Acts 21:28

The apostle Paul was arrested, jailed and put on trial because he was accused of:

  1. teaching against or opposite the people of Judea/Israel
  2. teaching against or opposite the Law of Moses
  3. teaching against or opposite the Temple

What does the text say?

Acts 21:27-28 27Now when the seven days were almost ended, the Jews from Asia, seeing him in the temple, stirred up the whole crowd and laid hands on him, 28crying out, “Men of Israel, help! This is the man who teaches all men everywhere against the people, the law, and this place; and furthermore he also brought Greeks into the temple and has defiled this holy place.”

Actually, the apostle Paul was in the process of observing/keeping the Nazarite Vow rites in the Temple as prescribed by the Law of Moses when these accusations were shouted by his accusers. At the behest of James and the Jerusalem “Christian” Council, Paul observed this specific Mosaic-Law-Vow, in order to prove to everyone that he did not preach, nor teach against the Law of Moses in any way, shape or form. Also, the Scripture states that Paul did this to prove that he himself lived his life in observance of the Law of Moses |Acts 21:24(please click this link and read ‘You Yourself Also Live in Observance of the Law‘).

In the following verses the apostle Paul is accused of a crime, of breaking and blaspheming the Law of Moses, which could eventually lead to him being sentenced to death. Not once though, does he declare for his own defense that the Law of Moses doesn’t apply to him or that it’s a ‘fulfilled‘ Law and nobody needs to keep it anymore; Not once (please click this link and read ‘The Law: Fulfilled or Abolished‘).

What does Paul say in his own defense?

Not only does he deny the three accusations listed above, by referring to and quoting the Law of Moses with valid, Present Tense grammar, but the apostle Paul confesses to specific acts of keeping the Law of Moses.

What does the text say?

Acts 23:5 And Paul said, “I did not know, brothers, that he was the high priest, for it is written, ‘You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people.’”

In this verse alone, which is Present Tensein the Greek, Paul is acknowledging the current validity of the Law of Moses in four ways:

  1. Paul acknowledges the office of the Levitical High Priest as current and valid.
  2. Paul acknowledges that this High Priest is in authority over him, calling him a “ruler”.
  3. Paul quotes the Law of Moses when he says for it is written, Exodus 22:28 – “You shall not revile God, nor curse the ruler of your people”, thereby validating that this commandment in the Law of Moses is current and authoritative.
  4. Paul observes and keeps this same commandment by admitting that he broke it in verse 3, and he then repents from the transgression of breaking it here in verse 5

All of this took place years, if not decades, after the ascension of Jesus.


Acts 24:14 But this I confess to you, that according to the Way, which they call a sect, I worship the God of our fathers, believing everything according to the Law and written in the Prophets,

Paul acknowledges the Law of Moses, claiming he is “believing everything according to the Law“. The word “believing” in the Greek is Strong’s G4100 – πιστεύω/pisteuō, which is a verb that means: to think to be true, to be persuaded of, to credit, place confidence in. The words “according to” in the Greek is Strong’s G2596 – κατὰ/kata, a preposition, which in the Accusative case means: agreeable to, in reference to agreement or conformity to a “standard”. In this sentence the “standard” to which this preposition is referring to is “the Law”.

Paul admitted to thinking to be true, placing confidence in, agreeing with, and conforming to everything written in the Law and Prophets. This was his defense against the accusations that he not only broke the Law but taught against it. If Paul really believed that ‘the Law was abolished’, wouldn’t a better defense have been to claim just that? Instead, he stated that he “agreed with and conformed to everything in the Law?

This is critical!

Again, please note that Paul never mentioned that the Law of Moses has been abolished as his defense. He never claimed that the Law of Moses did not apply to him. I ask you, seriously, if you were being accused of breaking a Law that brought the death penalty but believed that the Law had been abolished or repealed, wouldn’t you scream at the top of your lungs that that Law did not apply to you anymore??? Yet, Paul never claimed anything like that for his defense!


Acts 24:17-18 Now after several years I came to bring alms to my nation and to present offerings. While I was doing this, they found me purified in the temple, without any crowd or tumult.

This was Paul’s defense before Governor Felix; ‘I purified myself’ and ‘I presented offerings (sacrifices)‘. He’s being accused of teaching against and breaking the Law of Moses, but his defense was that he was actually “keeping and observing the Law of Moses”!

Once again, we have a Spirit-inspired-Scripture which takes place post-resurrection, where Paul describes that he came to Israel, this time to “present offerings” and “purified in the temple”.

The Greek word for offerings is Strong’s G4376 – προσφοράς/prosphora, and is always used by Paul for ‘offerings to God’. That is why he specifically separates the giving of “alms”, or charity, from “presenting offerings” in his dialogue. Paul uses this word 8 other times in the NT and all 8 times it refers to ‘offerings to God’. Thayer’s Greek Lexicon states that this word “prosphora” is an oblation, whether bloody or not, “a sacrifice to God”.

Why would Paul go to the Temple to do this if all of the “sacrificial laws” were done away with? Paul made a special trip to Israel in order to present oblations/sacrifices/offerings to God before James suggested he complete the Nazarite Vow, and before all of the accusations that were brought against him.

Why would he do this apparent hypocritical act if he had been proclaiming throughout the known world that the Law of Moses is abolished???

Then we have Paul in verse 18 stating that he was found “purified” in the Temple. This is a direct reference to Acts 21:26.

What does the text say?

Acts 21:26 Then Paul took the men, and the next day he purified himself along with them and went into the temple, giving notice when the days of purification would be fulfilled and the offering presented for each one of them.

Here again, we see Paul observing and keeping the Law of Moses, this time purifying himself for Temple offerings according to the Law of the Nazarite vow as per Numbers chapter 6. I have elaborated on this event in the study, “The Apostle Paul: Hypocrite or Hard to Understand?

Here in Acts 24:18 (as well as 21:26) the word “purified” in the Greek is Strong’s G48 ἡγνισμένον/hēgnismenon meaning: having been ceremonially cleansed. Thayer’s Greek Lexicon states: to take upon oneself a purification, and is used of Nazarite or those who had taken upon themselves a temporary or a life-long vow to abstain from wine and all kinds of intoxicating drink, from every defilement and from shaving the head.

♦◊♦ Paul just observed and kept a “ceremonial law” post-resurrection, which the mainstream Christian system claims to have been abolished! ♦◊♦

If Paul had been teaching that the Law of Moses (ceremonial or otherwise) was abolished and done away with then why, oh why, would he perform such a hypocritical act as this ceremonial rite from the Law of God given through Moses? He deliberately admitted to purifying himself {Law of Moses} and giving offerings at the temple {Law of Moses} as testimony for his defense.

Either the Law of Moses is abolished or it’s valid; it cannot be both at the same time. by his actions and his words, Paul thinks it’s valid.


Acts 25:8 Paul argued in his defense, “Neither against the law of the Jews, nor against the temple, nor against Caesar have I committed any offense.”

Paul is testifying, in court, that he has neither offended the Law nor offended the Temple of God. He didn’t say there is no Law anymore to offend. He said he committed no offense against the Law; Please click this link and read, “Examining the Scriptures“.

The word for “offense” in the Greek is Strong’s G264 – ἁμαρτάνω/hamartanō. According to Thayer’s Greek Lexicon it means: to miss the mark, to miss or wander from the path of uprightness and honor, to do or go wrong, to wander from the law of God, violate God’s law.

88% of the time in the New Testament this word is translated as sin. Paul is claiming for his defense that he had not sinned against the Law or the temple, which is what the authorities had charged him with. The English translators conveniently chose to not use the word ‘sin’ to try and skirt the issue.

I ask again, if there wasn’t a Law of Moses to sin/offend anymore wouldn’t it have been a better defense to have claimed “I don’t have to obey the Law of Moses because it’s been abolished”, or “I’m a Christian now, the Law of Moses has been done away with and has no authority”, or “There is no Law to sin against anymore”!?!?

Paul didn’t claim anything remotely close to that. What he did proclaim for his own defense was that he did not offend/violate/sin against the Law.

The fact that Paul claimed he did not offend/sin against the Law is admission that the Law could be sinned against, validating it as currently authoritative, and not done away with.


Acts 28:17 After three days he called together the local leaders of the Jews, and when they had gathered, he said to them, “Brothers, though I had done nothing against our people or the customs of our fathers, yet I was delivered as a prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans.

As in Acts 25:8 above, Paul here confesses that he had done nothing against the customs of the fathers, and he did nothing against the people of Israel.

The word “against” in the Greek is Strong’s G1727 – ἐναντίον /enantoin and Thayer’s Greek Lexicon states this as: opposite or contrary to; opposed as an adversary, hostile, antagonistic in feeling or act.

The word “customs” in the Greek is Strong’s G1485 – ἔθεσι/ethesi and Thayer’s Greek Lexicon states this as: usage prescribed by law, institute, prescription, rite.

Paul is claiming that he did nothing hostile or contrary (like preaching it’s abolished) to the prescribed law/institute of the ancestral fathers of Israel.

In the verses above, Paul clearly defends himself in court by claiming that he did not sin against, violate or oppose the Law of Moses, or the Temple, which is exactly what he was accused of; i.e. sinning against the Law and sinning against the Temple.

What does the text say?

Acts 21:27-28 27When the seven days were almost completed, the Jews from Asia, seeing him in the temple, stirred up the whole crowd and laid hands on him, 28crying out, “Men of Israel, help! This is the man (Paul) who is teaching everyone everywhere against the people and the law and this place. Moreover, he even brought Greeks into the temple and has defiled this holy place.”

Paul unequivocally denied these accusations. Not only did he deny sinning against or opposing the Law and the Temple, he freely admitted to keeping the Law as part of his testimony!

At no time did Paul ever claim for his defense that the Law of Moses had no legal authority over him or that he was no longer required to keep it.

This entire chain of events started in Acts 21:20-26, when Paul went to the Temple to take part in the Nazarite vow ceremonies in order to prove to the whole world that he kept and observed the Law of Moses and did not teach against it.

Final thought: In 1 Corinthians the apostle Paul, whom mainstream theology claims taught that the Law of Moses was abolished, quoted from the Law of Moses as a current, valid and authoritative Law:

“Do I say these things on human authority? Does not the Law say the same? For it is written in the Law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain.” Is it for oxen that God is concerned? | 1 Corinthians 9:8-9

Since he just taught from the Law of Moses, that shatters all assumptions that Paul taught the Law of Moses was abolished; that verse, along with Acts 21:24 concludes the matter ~

“Thus all will know that there is nothing in what they have been told about you, but that you yourself also live in observance of the law.” | James speaking to Paul, Acts 21:24

The apostle Paul taught from the Law of Moses and lived his life in observance of the Law decades after the ascension of Jesus. Period.

  • For further study of Paul’s teachings, as well as the original Greek, see the ‘Links’ at the top of this page or blog posts at the bottom. Be like the Bereans, and test Paul’s doctrines to the “Scriptures”; look up for yourself more than 60 of the “forever verses” listed directly below. Please ‘share’ this study. Thank you for your time!



4 thoughts on “Paul’s Day in Court | Acts 21:28

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s