Acts – Chapter 21

Paul Is Warned About Jerusalem

Verse 1 – Now it came to pass, that when we had departed from them and set sail, running a straight course to Cos, the following day to Rhodes, and from there to Patara.

Verse 2 – And finding a ship sailing over to Phoenicia, we went aboard and set sail.

Verse 3 – When we had sighted Cyprus, we passed it on the left, sailed to Syria, and landed at Tyre; for there the ship was to unload her cargo.

Verse 4 – And finding disciples, we stayed there seven days. They told Paul through the Spirit not to go up to Jerusalem.

This is to be understood as an inspired prophetic warning, that if Paul went to Jerusalem, his life might be at stake. So, did Paul disobey the Holy Spirit? I don’t believe he did. The prompting to go was greater than the fear of danger. Paul had a duty to follow the will of God encountering whatever trials lay ahead.

Verse 5 – When we had come to the end of those days, we departed and went on our way; and they all accompanied us, with wines and children, till we were out of the city. And we knelt down on the shore and prayed.

Verse 6 – When we had taken our leave of one another, we boarded the ship, and they returned home.

Caesarea: Agabus’ Prediction

Verse 7 – And when we had finished our voyage from Tyre, we came to Ptolemies, greeted the brethren, and stayed with them one day.

Verse 8 – On the next day we who were Paul’s companions departed and came to Caesarea, and entered the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven, and stayed with him.

This is the same Philip that talked to eunuch and then was transported to Caesarea (Acts 8:40).

Verse 9 – Now this man had four virgin daughters who prophesied.

The gift of prophecy from the Holy Spirit was given to both men and women, and still is today. But I think it’s significant that Luke records Philip’s daughters as being virgins, meaning young and unmarried.

Verse 10 – And as we stayed there many days a certain prophet named Agabus came down from Judea.

Verse 11 – When he had come to us, he took Paul’s belt, bound his own hands and feet and said, “Thus says the Holy Spirit, ‘So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man who owns this belt, and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.’ ”

Fifteen years earlier, Agabus had predicted the famine in Jerusalem (11:27-29).

Verse 12 – And when we heard these things, both we and those from that place pleaded with him not to go up to Jerusalem.

Verse 13 – Then Paul answered, “What do you mean by weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.”

Paul was willing to die in order to preach the Gospel of Christ. However, his friends couldn’t bear the thought of them never seeing him again. When doing the will of God, we need to support them and pray for their protection.

Verse 14 – So when he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, “The will of the Lord be done.”

Verse 15 – And after those days we packed and went up to Jerusalem.

Verse 16 – Also some of the disciples from Caesarea went with us and brought with them one, Mnason of Cyprus, an early disciple, with whom we were to lodge.

Evidently, this disciple named Mnason, had traveled to Caesarea, but had a house in Jerusalem, where the disciples would be staying.

Verse 17 – And when we had come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly.

Verse 18 – On the following day Paul went in with us to James, and all the elders present.

James, Jesus’ brother, was the leader of the Jerusalem church. He was called an apostle even though he wasn’t one of the original 12.

Verse 19 – When he had greeted them, he told in detail those things which God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry.

Verse 20 – And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord. And they said to him, “You see, brother, how many myriads of Jews there are who have believed, and they are all zealous for the law;

The Jews that had become believers, continued to observe Moses law; circumcision, sacrifices, distinctions of meats, and days of festivals.

Verse 21 – “but they have been informed about you that you teach all Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children nor to walk according to customs.

The Jewish believers had settled the issue of making Gentiles be circumcised, and this Paul had agreed to. Now, there was a rumor saying that Paul was teaching all Jews to forsake the laws of Moses, which was not true.

Verse 22 – “What then? The assembly must certainly meet, for they will hear that you have come.

Verse 23 – “Therefore do what we tell you: We have four men who have taken a vow.

Verse 24 – “Take them and be purified with them, and pay their expenses so that they may shave their heads, and that all may know that those things of which they were informed concerning you are nothing, but that you yourself also walk orderly and keep the law.

Paul was to join these men in observing the forms of purification prescribed by the law of Moses in the observance of the vow of the Nazarite. Paul submitted to this to keep peace in the Jewish church. These were minor traditions, and without Paul compromising the foundations of the Gospel. This does not in any way imply that one must obey the law of Moses for salvation.

Verse 25 – “But concerning the Gentiles who believe, we have written and decided that they should observe no such thing, except that they should keep themselves from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality.”

Verse 26 – Then Paul took the men, and the next day, having been purified with them, entered the temple to announce the expiration of the days of purification, at which time an offering should be made for each one of them.

In 1 Corinthians 9:20, Paul states, he became as a Jew, that he might gain the Jews, to not offend them needlessly in customs, dress, language, etc. Paul did nothing more than this. He violated none of the dictates of honestly and truth. Then he plainly announce that the days of having to be purified to enter the temple, were over.

Paul’s Arrest

Verse 27 – And 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,

The seven days referred to here, was the seven days of the vow Paul took with the four other men. And there is no indication that the Jews from Asia were Christians.

Verse 28 – crying 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.”

Verse 29 – (For they had previously seen Trophmus the Ephesian with him in the city, whom they supposed that Paul brought into the temple.)

And this is how false accusation against another get started. Because these men had seen the Ephesian in the city with Paul, they assumed that Paul had taken him into the temple, he had not. They never saw for themselves this man in the temple. Too many times people repeat what they assume someone has done without actually seeing it happen.

Verse 30 – And all the city was disturbed; and the people ran together, seized Paul, and dragged him out of the temple; and immediately the doors were shut.

Verse 31 – Now as they were seeking to kill him, news came to the commander of the garrison that all Jerusalem was in an uproar.

Verse 32 – He immediately took soldiers and centurions and ran down to them. And when they saw the commander and the soldiers, they stopped beating Paul.

These men thought Paul had defiled the temple by bringing in a Gentile, which he had not. Because Jerusalem was under Roman rule, the soldiers would stop any rioting in the streets.

Verse 33 – Then the commander came near and took him, and commanded him to be bound with two chains and he asked who he was and what he had done.

Verse 34 – And some among the multitude cried one thing and some another. and when he could not ascertain the truth because of the tumult, he commanded him to be taken to the barracks.

Verse 35 – And when he reached the stairs, he had to be carried by the soldiers because of the violence of the mob.

Verse 36 – For the multitude of the people followed after, crying out, “Away with him!”

Verse 37 – And as Paul was about to be led into the barracks, he said to the commander, “May I speak to you?” He replied, “Can you speak Greek?

Verse 38 – “Are you not the Egyptian who some time ago raised and insurrection and led the four thousand assassins out into the wilderness?”

Verse 39 – But Paul said, “I am a Jew from Tarsus, in Cilicia, a citizen of no mean city; and I implore you, permit me to speak to the people.”

Verse 40 – So when he had given him permission, Paul stood on the stairs and motioned with his hand to the people. And when there was great silence, he spoke to them in the Hebrew language, saying,

I have no idea why they would divide a chapter right here when Paul is about to speak, but they did. Paul continues in the next chapter.


This entry was posted in Acts.

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