Acts 21

Disregard of any details of the leading of the Holy Spirit leads into a multitude of difficulties that might have been avoided. God often protests the most devoted acts of some of His servants, even acts of self sacrifice, and would save them from bringing their greater usefulness to an abrupt end; nevertheless He is able to overrule their mistakes and bring good out of them to men and glory to Himself.

1 And it came to pass, that after we were gotten from them, and had launched, we came with a straight course unto Coos, and the day following unto Rhodes, and from thence unto Patara:

2 And finding a ship sailing over unto Phenicia, we went aboard, and set forth.

3 Now when we had discovered Cyprus, we left it on the left hand, and sailed into Syria, and landed at Tyre: for there the ship was to unlade her burden.

4 And finding disciples, we tarried there seven days: who said to Paul through the Spirit, that he should not go up to Jerusalem.

5 And when we had accomplished those days, we departed and went our way; and they all brought us on our way, with wives and children, till we were out of the city: and we kneeled down on the shore, and prayed.

6 And when we had taken our leave one of another, we took ship; and they returned home again.

7 And when we had finished our course from Tyre, we came to Ptolemais, and saluted the brethren, and abode with them one day.

8 And the next day we that were of Paul’s company departed, and came unto Caesarea: and we entered into the house of Philip the evangelist, which was one of the seven; and abode with him.

9 And the same man had four daughters, virgins, which did prophesy.

10 And as we tarried there many days, there came down from Judaea a certain prophet, named Agabus.

11 And when he was come unto us, he took Paul’s girdle, and bound his own hands and feet, and said, Thus saith the Holy Ghost, So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.

12 And when we heard these things, both we, and they of that place, besought him not to go up to Jerusalem.

13 Then Paul answered, What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart? for I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.

14 And when he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, The will of the Lord be done.

15 And after those days we took up our carriages, and went up to Jerusalem.

16 There went with us also certain of the disciples of Caesarea, and brought with them one Mnason of Cyprus, an old disciple, with whom we should lodge.

17 And when we were come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly.

18 And the day following Paul went in with us unto James; and all the elders were present.

19 And when he had saluted them, he declared particularly what things God had wrought among the Gentiles by his ministry.

20 And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord, and said unto him, Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the law:

21 And they are informed of thee, that thou teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs.

22 What is it therefore? the multitude must needs come together: for they will hear that thou art come.

23 Do therefore this that we say to thee: We have four men which have a vow on them;

24 Them take, and purify thyself with them, and be at charges with them, that they may shave their heads: and all may know that those things, whereof they were informed concerning thee, are nothing; but that thou thyself also walkest orderly, and keepest the law.

25 As touching the Gentiles which believe, we have written and concluded that they observe no such thing, save only that they keep themselves from things offered to idols, and from blood, and from strangled, and from fornication.

26 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.

27 And when the seven days were almost ended, the Jews which were of Asia, when they saw him in the temple, stirred up all the people, and laid hands on him,

28 Crying out, Men of Israel, help: This is the man, that teacheth all men every where against the people, and the law, and this place: and further brought Greeks also into the temple, and hath polluted this holy place.

29 (For they had seen before with him in the city Trophimus an Ephesian, whom they supposed that Paul had brought into the temple.)

30 And all the city was moved, and the people ran together: and they took Paul, and drew him out of the temple: and forthwith the doors were shut.

31 And as they went about to kill him, tidings came unto the chief captain of the band, that all Jerusalem was in an uproar.

32 Who immediately took soldiers and centurions, and ran down unto them: and when they saw the chief captain and the soldiers, they left beating of Paul.

33 Then the chief captain came near, and took him, and commanded him to be bound with two chains; and demanded who he was, and what he had done.

34 And some cried one thing, some another, among the multitude: and when he could not know the certainty for the tumult, he commanded him to be carried into the castle.

35 And when he came upon the stairs, so it was, that he was borne of the soldiers for the violence of the people.

36 For the multitude of the people followed after, crying, Away with him.

37 And as Paul was to be led into the castle, he said unto the chief captain, May I speak unto thee? Who said, Canst thou speak Greek?

38 Art not thou that Egyptian, which before these days madest an uproar, and leddest out into the wilderness four thousand men that were murderers?

39 But Paul said, I am a man which am a Jew of Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, a citizen of no mean city: and, I beseech thee, suffer me to speak unto the people.

40 And when he had given him licence, Paul stood on the stairs, and beckoned with the hand unto the people. And when there was made a great silence, he spake unto them in the Hebrew tongue, saying,

Acts 21:1-14 – ​Ready to Die for His Lord

   The vessel coasted along Asia Minor, sighted Cyprus, sailed to the south of it, and so finally to Tyre. There the disciples were poor and obscure, and it took searching to find them; but they were very warm-hearted, and the whole community, including the children, who never forgot that incident, accompanied Paul to his ship. As they neared the vessel they knelt on the shore to pray together, and so parted.
   The journey from Ptolemais (Acre) to Caesarea lay along the edge of the plain of Sharon, at the season bright with the flowers of spring. The days Paul spent at Caesarea were the last happy days of freedom that he was to enjoy for two or three years. What blessed intercourse Paul and Philip must have had! They had both known Stephen. Agabus joined the happy party, with prophecies of peril ahead, but these only served to bring out the magnificent courage of the Apostle. His purpose was inflexible. An unseen hand was beckoning; a voice which only he could hear was calling. He had no doubt as to God’s purpose, and went straight forward; though he was not insensible to the love and sympathy of friends. —Through the Bible Day by Day

Acts 21:5—We kneeled down on the shore, and prayed, and when we had taken our leave one of another.

​   It is thus that Christians say farewell. On their knees, within sound of the breaking wavelets, men, women, and children, gathered in a weeping circle around the servant of God, who had been to so many of them the apostle of a new life. There is no attitude more befitting than this, at times when the heartstrings are strained to cracking, and it seems as though the sacrifice were too great for trembling hands to place on the altar of God.
   But it is thus that Christians never say farewell. The relationship which is founded in the love of God cannot be broken. Of such friendship there is no past or future, but always a blessed present tense. What has been, is, and will be. And as severed hearts meet in prayer, though the bodies may be divided by hundreds of miles of sea and land, there is no separation. They are one in the Father’s presence, eternally, indissolubly, and blessedly one.
   When we are called to part from those whom we love better than ourselves, let us kneel down and pray; let us abide alike in the attitude and exercise of unceasing intercession; let us realize that space and time are mere accidents of being, and not essential; let us be sure that they who are near the King must be near to all who, in heaven or on earth, are nearest Him also. For such there is “no more sea” (Revelation 21:1).
   It is easier, for the most part, to go on board ship, than to turn home again. There are the interest and excitement of new scenes and people to divert the traveler. But how grey is the common landscape from which the light of the dear presence is withdrawn! God alone can comfort the bereaved. —Our Daily Homily

Acts 21:15-26 – ​Binding Together the Church

   Mnason was an old disciple. He could remember the first days of the Church’s story. It was good for Paul to have the society and care of this good man during those last troublous days. Notwithstanding all the efforts of the Judaizing elements in the Church, the splendid labors of the Apostle were estimated at their true worth, and he was gladly welcomed by the brethren at Jerusalem. Note how careful he was to attribute all to God. Paul was only the instrument through whom the Almighty wrought for the glory of Jesus, Acts 21:19.
   The action here described, which was strongly recommended by the leaders of the Church, seems at variance with what Paul so clearly states in his Epistle to the Galatians, Galatians 2:3-5; and perhaps it would have been a wiser and stronger policy for him to have remained in quiet obscurity till the feast was over. But we must remember the deep coloring which the proximity of the Temple gave to church life at Jerusalem, and Paul was willing to be guided by men like James, in whose judgment he had full confidence. In addition, he was always willing to yield in cases which did not concern principle. He acquiesced in such matters for the sake of charity, so that he gladly became as a Jew to Jews, that he might save the Jews, I Corinthians 9:20. —Through the Bible Day by Day

Acts 21:27-40 – ​Facing a Bigoted Mob

   Four days passed and there seemed a hope that, as the number of pilgrims grew less, Paul might escape recognition till his vow was fulfilled. In fulfilling it he was required to live with four paupers in a chamber of the Temple, to pay for sixteen sacrificial animals and the accompanying meat offerings on their behalf, and to stand with them while the priest offered lambs and rams on their behalf. 
   But as the ceremonies were approaching completion, he was recognized by Jews from Ephesus and other cities of Asia—perhaps Alexander the coppersmith was one of them—and a cry of hatred and horror was raised. They had seen the Ephesian Trophimus walking with him in the streets of Jerusalem, and supposed that Paul had taken him into the holy precincts. The punishment for that crime was death. They therefore seized him and forced him through the Beautiful Gate and down the fifteen steps, that they might kill him outside the Temple. This outburst attracted the notice of the Roman garrison in the neighboring Castle of Antonia, and Lysias with his soldiers forced his way through the throng, rescued Paul from his would-be murderers, and bore him beyond their reach. God had other work for the Apostle yet to do. —Through the Bible Day by Day