Harry Ironside’s Comments on Acts 21:24-26

“Ironside was one of the greatest Bible teachers the world has ever known. For some 50 years he went up and down America teaching and preaching the Word of God. He was the ultimate in his field. Coupled with this was his successful ministry as pastor of Moody Church from 1930 to 1948 which made him the most known Christian leader of his era, outside of Billy Sunday whose funeral he preached. He was affectionately known as “the archbishop of Fundamentalism.”

Quoted from:


“Now what would you have expected of Paul in circumstances like these? What would you have supposed would be the attitude of the man who wrote Galatians and Romans? Surely you would have expected him to say, “I cannot do that. For me to go with those men to the altar in the temple and pay for their sacrifices would be the denial of what I have preached during all the years of my ministry.” But again I say that if Paul failed here, he failed because of his intense love for his Jewish brethren. He wanted to do something to win them, and so he agreed, for we read: “Then Paul took the men, and the next day purifying himself with them entered into the temple, to signify the accomplishment of the days of purification, until that an offering should be offered for every one of them.”

Just imagine if that rite had been consummated, what it would have meant! It would have nullified to a large extent the testimony of the apostle Paul in the years to come. Imagine him stepping up with them to the altar and offering animal sacrifices—a virtual denial of the one sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ.

But God did not permit it. He so overruled that the very Jewish people that Paul wanted to reach misunderstood him entirely and took steps that led to his arrest.

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13 Responses to Harry Ironside’s Comments on Acts 21:24-26

  1. Paul summers says:


    The main and obvious point made by Paul here is not being justified by the law and its status. of Moses. The law, as Paul clearly taught was holy. The law, from a mans perspective was finished, as a human could not fulfill its requirements. Only now through Christ was the law fulfilled.
    Going to the temple and participating in the law, as a messianic jewish believer was not wrong as such. Paul still remained a Jew and still could and did observe his traditions and ways. Paul never stopped. being Jewish. However he keep his traditions as a witness to his kin but taught that salvation was through Christ Jesus only.

    Thats the reason why The God of Israel has taken away the temple and its services. Blood atonement has been paid for through Jesus the Christ, The living Son of The living God.

  2. Ed says:

    Paul, do you accept the Hebrew Bible, what Christians refer to as the OT as G-d’s message?

    • Paul summers says:

      Hello. Yes of course. Thats why I believe in what Moses. stated in deut ch 32~33, about Israels relentless back sliding and inability to follow Gods commands.

      Do you believe in those chapters also?

      • Ed says:

        Let’s not change the topic for now. Fine. You accept the Hebrew Bible as the word of Hashem. Let’s see what G-d stipulates about sacrifice and compare that to what the Greek Testament says about what Christianity refers to as the Final Sacrifice .
        According to the Levitical Law of Sacrifice in the Torah, some of the blood of
        the (sin) sacrifice had to be rubbed by the priest with his finger on the horns of
        the altar in the Temple, and the rest had to be poured out at the base of the
        sacrificial altar. The fat of the sacrifice had to be removed and burnt.
        The New Testament is silent on what was done with the blood of Jesus and
        with the fat of his body.

        According to the Levitical Law of Sacrifice in the Torah, the animal brought as
        a sin sacrifice had to be slaughtered by the person who offered it.
        According to the accounts in the New Testament, Jesus was crucified by
        Roman soldiers:
        According to the Torah, a sacrificial animal had to be without any physical
        defects or blemishes.
        According to the accounts in the New Testament, Jesus was beaten,
        whipped, and dragged on the ground before being crucified.

        According to the New Testament, Jesus was “the Lamb of God” whose bones
        may not be broken [a reference to the Paschal Lamb of Exodus 12:46 and
        Numbers 9:12.
        According to the Torah, the Paschal Lamb was not offered for the removal of
        sins. Rather, it was a festive, or commemorative, offering. Yom Kippur (the
        Day of Atonement) would have been a more appropriate time for a sin

        According to the Levitical Law of Sacrifice in the Torah, the sacrificial sin
        offering brought atonement only for unintentional sins, except as noted in
        Leviticus 5:1-6, 20-26
        According to the New Testament, the death and blood of Jesus took care of
        (almost) all sins:

        According to the Levitical Law of Sacrifice in the Torah, sacrifices could bring
        atonement only for sins committed prior to the offering of the sacrifice. No
        sacrifice was provided for the atonement of sins committed after the sacrifice.
        According to the New Testament, the death of Jesus brought about the
        remission of sins yet uncommitted, and of sins of those yet to be born.

        Clearly, there is no comparison with respect to what Hashem commands regarding the sacrificial system and what happens with Jesus, notwithstanding that the Hebrew Bible prohibits and says Hashem abhors human sacrifice. Under these circumstances and bearing in mind that the Jewish people and the apostles continued to sacrifice decades after the crucifixtion, how can you possibly see this as the ultimate Final Sacrifice.

        • Paul summers says:

          Hello again.

          Firstly I would like to ask you if you actually believe in blood atonement for today? Because it sounds like you do??

          Secondly yes you are correct~ish. The blood sacrificed at Passover is different to Yom Kippur. One is for the exodus and the latter National sins. The NT doesn’t teach different. The 7 feasts of israel are lived out through Jesus life. The first 4 were at his first coming. The last 3 at His second. Yom Kippur is for Israel and not the church. Fulfilment of the day of atonement is Israels national salvation on repentance of there rejection of yeshua The Messianic God Man.

          The point about the lamb being spotless. Jesus was spotless, flawless,without blemish before the scourge etc. No lamb or any sacrifice can be called spotless while it is being slaughtered.

          Can you show me where Paul offered blood sacrifices.

          Some early Jewish were persuaded to though. This turning back was pauls major point in his letters. Galatians. being the thrust. That was a warning about turning back to the law to avoid the persecutors from the non messianic Jews. the destruction of the temple was getting close and the Jewish revolt would bring about mass deaths for non believer s by the hands of the Romans.

          • ed says:

            Animal sacrifice cannot be done today because there is no Sanctuary. The Hebrew Bible tells us that there would be a time when the Jewish people would be without a king sitting on David’s throne and without sacrifices. We are told by the prophet that prayer is used during this period as a substitute. The Torah also tells us that the Sanctuary and the sacrificial system will be re-instituted during the Messianic Age.

            The episode in Acts clearly shows how important it was for the Jerusalem church to continue sacrifice and follow the Mosaic Law. Paul participated in enabling the nazirites to perform these sacrifices.

            The second coming is a Christian invention. Nowhere in the Hebrew Bible does it state that Mashiach will come, be crucified and return to perform what he is supposed to do. We expect this to be done the first time. Btw, since Jesus died and was resurrected and seen by his apostles before ascending, his return would be the third coming. Where does it end??

            The animals had to be without blemish BEFORE the sacrifice. Btw, Jesus was circumcised on the 8th day like all Jewish boys- thus he was not without blemish or markings and this by itself would rule him out as a proper sacrifice.

            Deuteronomy 17:1 – You shall not sacrifice to the Lord your God an ox or a sheep that
            has in it a blemish or any bad thing, for that is an abomination to the Lord, your God.

            Now, how about responding to my initial question? How can you reconcile the discrepancies between what G-d commands in the Hebrew Bible and what apparently transpired at the crucifixtion?

          • Paul summers says:

            Hello again.
            Where and whom said no sacrifices?

            What is the “apparent” reason for this. sudden change of Gods mind. Is it to do with my Deut question? No it can’t be that. I know it must be that you have been so abiediant to Him that he has rewarded you beyond measure.What is has Israel done that demands such blessings today? No persecutors from the world. A homeland not under pressure. A semi retired king and priestly services. A failed attempt to overthrow your Roman guests costing thousand of Jewish lives.
            Not under to mention the millions lost since. Yep you got me on this one. I can’t think of one thing that went wrong.

            If Jesus wasn’t circumcised, The first thing you would say is that he failed in the law and was not living up to the claim of fulfilling the law.

            Jesus said “You Hypocrites, you strain out a knat but swallow a camel!

  3. James O'Neal says:

    What Paul did was right and just. He was a Jew and had no other choice. I really don’t see the problem with Paul offering sacrifices nor do I see a problem with any of the other apostles offering sacrifices. Really…….. I don’t see Yeshua/Jesus offering some sacrifice a problem either. Tell me, what is the problem with Acts 21:24-26?

  4. James
    Do you believe that the Temple sacrifices atoned for sin? Do you believe that this was true after the death of Jesus? How would the Jerusalem crowds have answered these two questions?

    • James O'Neal says:

      Yes, I do believe that they atoned for sin so as to draw near to Hashem. Yes, I also believe that this was true after Jesus’ death. The sages also have developed the idea of the righteous atoning for the sin of their generation, so the idea of Jesus dying for atonement is not so far fetched according to rabbinic thinking. I believe that if the Temple were to be built today then the animal sacrifices would be re instituted. On the other hand, there were Sages who believed that in the Messianic Era only the Thanksgiving offering will be offered. True, this is not because of the death of Jesus but of an elevated status. There is an amazing article by Dr. Mark Shapiro on Rav Kook and the animal sacrifices that is quite interesting. Rambam is stated as saying that the sacrifices were mainly to wean Israel off Idolatry even though I admit that the intention of his statement is ambiguous. Anyhow, the sacrifice of the animal did not take away sins, repentance and Hashem’s mercy is what really takes away sin, which is what Jesus’ message was all about right? “Repent for the Kingdom is at hand.” .I will end on an interesting quote from Shemot Rabbah 35:4…. Moses said to God: “Will not the time come when Israel shall have neither Tabernacle nor Temple? What will happen with them then?” The Holy One, blessed be He, replied, “I will then take one of their righteous men and retain hiim as a pledge on their behalf, in order that I may pardon all their sins.” I’m not saying in any way at all that they were alluding to Jesus because they weren’t, all I’m saying is that the concept is there.

      So, again, I do not see the problem with Acts 21:24-26. As far as the Jerusalem crowds go, I think the answer is obvious, the Torah is pretty clear on the matter. Could you elaborate?

  5. James
    So you do believe that the Temple sacrifices accomplished atonement (together with God’s mercy – obviously) and that the efficacy of the Temple sacrifices did not change with the crucifixion of Jesus. If that is what you believe than I cannot argue with you because I agree with these premises.
    It would seem however that Paul was suspected of denying these truths hence the public demonstration.
    As for the quote from Shmot Rabbah. Here too, the question I would ask is do you believe that the death of righteous people still atones today?

    • James O'Neal says:

      Rabbi Blumenthal,
      First and foremost, before we get to a position of misunderstanding each other. Could I pose a question towards you? What do you mean when you ask me if the death of the righteous still atone today? What does that atonement mean to the Jewish people today? I just don’t want to go back and forth with you and then realize that we are not talking about the same thing.

      Shavua Tov.

      • James
        I believe that with the death of the righteous today a measure of God’s wrath is withheld from His people. Not that people don’t have to repent. But that in our national standing before God a small measure of cleansing and protection has been accomplished.

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