The Acts Challenge: Chapter 21,

What an exciting chapter this is, on the 21st day of The Acts Challenge 2019! The first portions covers more of Paul’s travels, along with his company. Then we move on into his dangerous trip towards Jerusalem, and all that it entails. Most would not have gone. But Paul made sure everyone knew he had to go.

If you’ve missed any of the previous posts, be sure to click on the Home page and scroll down until you find the first. It has truly been an amazing journey!

Traveling Onward

(Vs. 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:

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

(Vs. 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.

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

From Coos, Rhodes, Patara, Phenicia, and Cyprus, they finally sailed on to Syria, landing in Tyre, where they found disciples. Having common ground with their brothers and sisters, they stayed there for seven days. While there, Paul was warned again not to go into Jerusalem. It seemed common knowledge, throughout the body of believers at least, that the Jews there only wanted to see him killed.

Travel and Prophesies

(Vs. 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, til we were out of the city: and we kneeled down on the shore, and prayed.

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

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

(Vs. 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.

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

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

As the group left Tyre, all the brethren accompanied them, kneeling down on the shore to pray with them before they left. They moved on from there to Caesarea, where they stayed with Philip the evangelist and his four prophet-daughters. Before they had left, another prophet joined them.

Prophesy of Agabus

(Vs. 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.

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

(Vs. 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.

Agabus found Paul’s girdle and bound up his hands and feet. He said the Holy Ghost was saying that whoever owned that girdle would be bound just such a way on arrival in Jerusalem. Hearing that, everyone there began to beg Paul not to go.

Paul’s answer shows his heart for these people: What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart? Their cries hadn’t fallen on deaf ears. Quite the contrary. It broke his heart! Can you imagine your friends and family begging you not to do something, but you, knowing that it was God’s will that you do that very thing?

Finally, In Jerusalem

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

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

(Vs. 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.

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

The brethren there in Jerusalem received Paul and his company gladly. Staying with Mnason of Cyprus, they enjoyed their time with these disciples.

Coming In To the Elders at Jerusalem

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

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

The last time Paul had been in front of the elders at Jerusalem, was to acquire an answer to those who had been told they were not believers unless they circumcised and followed all the law of Moses.

The elders had decided they did not need to do that, since it was not the way they had been raised, especially since God had poured out the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking with other tongues, through the preaching of Peter.

Now, he was happy to tell them all the things God had done among those people since that time. And they praised God for it.

Zealous, Law-Abiding Jews

(Vs. 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:

Many Jews in Jerusalem had been converted in Paul’s absence and were now believers. However, they were still zealous of the law. That meant they not only adhered to every jot and tittle of the law, but they expected that others should, as well.

(Vs. 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.

I suppose it had never occurred to the Jewish brethren here, or to those that preached Jesus in their midst, that the Gentiles could not “forsake” Moses when they had never followed his teachings, nor the law, to begin with.

They had no need to circumcise their children, and they had no customs to walk after. This was all something thought necessary for the conversion of their souls to Jesus. But Jesus had said no such thing.

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

They told him, the Jews would all come together once they heard that he had arrived. And they WOULD hear.

Advising Paul

(Vs. 23) Do therefore this that we say to thee: We have four men which have a vow on them.

(Vs. 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.

The elders told Paul to go with four of their own, purify himself, and show – outwardly – that he was a keeper of the law. Since Paul was, in fact, a Jew, he could easily do so without being deceitful in any way. And they knew that.

(Vs. 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.

The reiterated their belief that the Gentiles need not burden themselves with keeping laws that were never theirs to start with, but rather to follow only a few laws that were beneficial to all in God’s eyes. These were the most important “rules” and could not be allowed to slip, as even Jesus spoke of them himself.

Paul Purifies Himself

(Vs. 26) Then Paul took the men, and the next day purifying himself wth 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.

(Vs. 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,

After the seven days of the purification, when Jews were to assemble in the temple, the Asian Jews saw him and immediately stirred up the people to capture him.

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

They believed that Paul was not only telling Gentiles that they didn’t have to keep the law, but that he was teaching this generally to everyone.

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

(Vs. 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.

The Chief Captain

(Vs. 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.

(Vs. 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.

(Vs. 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.

(Vs. 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.

As they were taking Paul out to kill him, word got back to the chief captain that all of Jerusalem had basically lost it. So he got down to them as fast as he could. When he arrived, the Jews stopped beating Paul and the chief captain took the opportunity to secure Paul in chains, asking who he was and what he had done.

The answer was so loud, so confusing, and in such an uproar that he had to take Paul inside to try to get some answers.

Into The Castle

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

The Jews were so violent, the soldiers literally had to carry Paul.

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

(Vs. 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?

(Vs. 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?

(Vs. 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.

The chief captain, for whatever reason, believed Paul to be an Egyptian, and worse still, the captain of a band of murderers, whom he supposedly led into the wilderness.

Paul cleared the matter up by saying he was a Jew, and he wanted to talk to the people.

Not Quite the End of the Story

(Vs. 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,

The chief captain did allow Paul to speak, from the stairs. He waved his hand and a great silence fell over the people, as they waited to hear what he would say.

When he began to speak, he spoke in Hebrew, as if to preface his words with the reality that he was, in fact, one them.

What did he say?

Well, you’ll have to come back tomorrow to find out!

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