Q. I came across scripture below from Acts 24:17 today as I was reading. If Paul was the Apostle to the Gentiles, and Jesus died once and his death paid the price for all of our sins, then why was there a need for Paul to make offerings at the temple? In other words, why was he still arduously keeping the law? Could you please clarify this for me? There is so much confusion with the rise of the Messianic Christian Movements and their penchant for law-keeping and this disturbed me. As a Follower of Jesus, I thought we had no need to keep the law in this manner. But after reading this scripture, I am a little confused.
A. Paul explained his general behavior this way.
Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings (1 Cor. 9:19-23).
He tried not to do anything that would distract from his message, but respected the customs and traditions of those he was with.
As for the incident he was on trial for in Acts 24, the episode actually began in Acts 21 when Paul arrived in Jerusalem. He went to see James and all the elders. They informed him of the rumors being spread against him and advised him to go to the temple with some other men, join in their purification rites, and pay their expenses. By having him do this, they were hoping to dispel these rumors, but their plan backfired. As soon as Paul was discovered he was mobbed and beaten and finally arrested. Acts 24:17 is a single verse from Paul’s defense in his subsequent trial before Felix and is not an accurate representation of his beliefs.