Acts Chapter 21

(Acts 20:22-23)
And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me.

(Acts 21:1-2)
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: And finding a ship sailing over unto Phenicia, we went aboard, and set forth.
  • The phrase "after we were gotten from them" is referring to literally escaping the uproar at Ephesus
  • Coos is an island in Asia Minor, marketplace, lots of money
  • Rhodes is an island with a town by that name, further east
  • Rhodes had a 106 foot brass statue of Apollo which straddled the harbor, one foot on one wall, the other foot on the other, through which ships sailed considered one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. It was destroyed by a devastating earthquake in 226 B.C.
  • All of this sailing/meandering is heading back towards Jerusalem, as Paul said in chapter 20
  • When something is the will of God, even our martyrdom, it is always a straight course to get us there
  • Phenicia is north of Jerusalem, same coast

(Acts 20:22-23)
And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me.

(Acts 21:3)
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.
  • Even at this time there is commerce (this is a heavily commercial area) for the ship, however costly, valuable and precious, it could not compare to the crew with Paul, on their mission to save souls
  • Tyre was considered "The Mart of The Nations" at that time
  • It seems that they were riding aboard a cargo ship, not a passenger ship, probably less expensive was the fare
  • We often must unlade our burden once when we get saved-then, after that, every time we pick up and carry a burden
  • Barnabas was from Cyprus, was left there to care for the churches and so Paul did not need to stop there.

(Matthew 11:28-30)
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

(Acts 21:4)
And finding disciples, we tarried there seven days: who said to Paul through the Spirit, that he should not go up to Jerusalem.
  • These were apparently converts who would need encouragement, some fellowship, with whom to minister to others, evangelize at Tyre
  • Matthew Henry says, "He staid seven days at Troas, and here so many days at Tyre, that he might be sure to spend one Lord's day with them, and so might have an opportunity of preaching publicly among them; for it is the desire of good men to do good wherever they come, and where we find disciples we may either benefit them or be benefited by them."
  • Coos and Rhodes are only mentioned once each in Scripture, while Tyre is mentioned throughout, thirty six times
  • The reason that they found disciples was because of the previous works recorded in Acts of Peter, Paul, James, John and the other apostles and the spread of the Gospel out from Jerusalem
  • Tyre was the commercial port city of the region, where a lot of trade and thus wealth was (Isaiah 23)


(Isaiah 23:15-18)
And it shall come to pass in that day, that Tyre shall be forgotten seventy years, according to the days of one king: after the end of seventy years shall Tyre sing as an harlot. Take an harp, go about the city, thou harlot that hast been forgotten; make sweet melody, sing many songs, that thou mayest be remembered. And it shall come to pass after the end of seventy years, that the LORD will visit Tyre, and she shall turn to her hire, and shall commit fornication with all the kingdoms of the world upon the face of the earth. And her merchandise and her hire shall be holiness to the LORD: it shall not be treasured nor laid up; for her merchandise shall be for them that dwell before the LORD, to eat sufficiently, and for durable clothing.

(Joshua 19:29)
And then the coast turneth to Ramah, and to the strong city Tyre; and the coast turneth to Hosah; and the outgoings thereof are at the sea from the coast to Achzib:

(2 Samuel 5:11)
And Hiram king of Tyre sent messengers to David, and cedar trees, and carpenters, and masons: and they built David an house.

(2 Samuel 24:7)
And came to the strong hold of Tyre, and to all the cities of the Hivites, and of the Canaanites: and they went out to the south of Judah, even to Beersheba.

(1 Kings 5:1)
And Hiram king of Tyre sent his servants unto Solomon; for he had heard that they had anointed him king in the room of his father: for Hiram was ever a lover of David.

(1 Kings 7:13)
And king Solomon sent and fetched Hiram out of Tyre.

(1 Kings 7:14)
He was a widow's son of the tribe of Naphtali, and his father was a man of Tyre, a worker in brass: and he was filled with wisdom, and understanding, and cunning to work all works in brass. And he came to king Solomon, and wrought all his work.

(1 Kings 9:11)
(Now Hiram the king of Tyre had furnished Solomon with cedar trees and fir trees, and with gold, according to all his desire,) that then king Solomon gave Hiram twenty cities in the land of Galilee.

(1 Kings 9:12)
And Hiram came out from Tyre to see the cities which Solomon had given him; and they pleased him not.

(1 Chronicles 14:1)
Now Hiram king of Tyre sent messengers to David, and timber of cedars, with masons and carpenters, to build him an house.

(1 Chronicles 22:4)
Also cedar trees in abundance: for the Zidonians and they of Tyre brought much cedar wood to David.

(2 Chronicles 2:3)
And Solomon sent to Huram the king of Tyre, saying, As thou didst deal with David my father, and didst send him cedars to build him an house to dwell therein, even so deal with me.

(2 Chronicles 2:11)
Then Huram the king of Tyre answered in writing, which he sent to Solomon, Because the LORD hath loved his people, he hath made thee king over them.

2 Chronicles 2:14)
The son of a woman of the daughters of Dan, and his father was a man of Tyre, skilful to work in gold, and in silver, in brass, in iron, in stone, and in timber, in purple, in blue, and in fine linen, and in crimson; also to grave any manner of graving, and to find out every device which shall be put to him, with thy cunning men, and with the cunning men of my lord David thy father.

(Ezra 3:7)
They gave money also unto the masons, and to the carpenters; and meat, and drink, and oil, unto them of Zidon, and to them of Tyre, to bring cedar trees from Lebanon to the sea of Joppa, according to the grant that they had of Cyrus king of Persia.

(Nehemiah 13:16)
There dwelt men of Tyre also therein, which brought fish, and all manner of ware, and sold on the sabbath unto the children of Judah, and in Jerusalem.

(Psalms 45:12)
And the daughter of Tyre shall be there with a gift; even the rich among the people shall intreat thy favour.

(Psalms 83:7)
Gebal, and Ammon, and Amalek; the Philistines with the inhabitants of Tyre;

(Psalms 87:4)
I will make mention of Rahab and Babylon to them that know me: behold Philistia, and Tyre, with Ethiopia; this man was born there.

(Isaiah 23:1)
The burden of Tyre. Howl, ye ships of Tarshish; for it is laid waste, so that there is no house, no entering in: from the land of Chittim it is revealed to them.

(Isaiah 23:5)
As at the report concerning Egypt, so shall they be sorely pained at the report of Tyre.

(Isaiah 23:8)
Who hath taken this counsel against Tyre, the crowning city, whose merchants are princes, whose traffickers are the honourable of the earth?

(Isaiah 23:15)
And it shall come to pass in that day, that Tyre shall be forgotten seventy years, according to the days of one king: after the end of seventy years shall Tyre sing as an harlot.

(Isaiah 23:17)
And it shall come to pass after the end of seventy years, that the LORD will visit Tyre, and she shall turn to her hire, and shall commit fornication with all the kingdoms of the world upon the face of the earth.

(Joel 3:4)
Yea, and what have ye to do with me, O Tyre, and Zidon, and all the coasts of Palestine? will ye render me a recompence? and if ye recompense me, swiftly and speedily will I return your recompence upon your own head;

(Matthew 11:21)
Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.

(Matthew 11:22)
But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you.

(Matthew 15:21)
Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon.

(Mark 3:8)
And from Jerusalem, and from Idumaea, and from beyond Jordan; and they about Tyre and Sidon, a great multitude, when they had heard what great things he did, came unto him.

(Mark 7:24)
And from thence he arose, and went into the borders of Tyre and Sidon, and entered into an house, and would have no man know it: but he could not be hid.

(Mark 7:31)
And again, departing from the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, he came unto the sea of Galilee, through the midst of the coasts of Decapolis.

(Luke 6:17)
And he came down with them, and stood in the plain, and the company of his disciples, and a great multitude of people out of all Judaea and Jerusalem, and from the sea coast of Tyre and Sidon, which came to hear him, and to be healed of their diseases;

(Luke 10:13)
Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon, which have been done in you, they had a great while ago repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes.

(Luke 10:14)
But it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment, than for you.

(Acts 12:20)
And Herod was highly displeased with them of Tyre and Sidon: but they came with one accord to him, and, having made Blastus the king's chamberlain their friend, desired peace; because their country was nourished by the king's country.

  • Tyre was a strong city, even then (Joshua 19:29)
  • Hiram king of Tyre helped David build his house with supplies, carpenters and masons (2 Samuel 24:7, 1 Chronicles 14, 22)
  • Hiram was friends also with David's son Solomon later on (1 Kings 5,7, 9, 2 Chronicles 2)
  • Ezra had helpers from Tyre also to rebuild the house of the LORD (Ezra 3:7)
  • Men of Tyre brought things to Nehemiah in Jerusalem(Nehemiah 13:16)
  • The daughter of Tyre will bring the LORD a gift (Psalms 45:12)
  • Tyre was a conspirator with other nations against God (Psalms 83:7)
  • Those of Tyre were counted in God's numbers (Psalms 87:4)
  • Isaiah was given a burden of Tyre in prophecy (Isaiah 23:1)
  • This fulfillment will mean pain for Egypt when it happens (Isaiah 23:5)
  • Tyre is a merchant city, busy trafficking, trading expensive goods (Isaiah 23:8)
  • God told Isaiah that, for her sins, Tyre would be a forgotten nation for seventy years, then she shall come back as a whore to the nations with her prosperity (Isaiah 23)
  • God said Tyre and Sidon could not repay God anything (Joel 3:4)
  • Jesus visited Tyre and Sidon (Matthew 15, Mark 7:24, Mark 7:31)
  • People came from Tyre and Sidon to see Jesus (Mark 3:8, Luke 6:17)
  • Jesus pronounced woes upon Tyre and Sidon (Matthew 11,
  • Jesus cursed Chorazin Bethsaida and said it would be worse for them than Tyre and Sidon (Luke 10:13, 14)
  • Herod the king Herod was angry with them of Tyre, and of Sidon (Acts 12:20)

(Acts 21:5)
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.
  • Notice Luke does not say, "with OUR wives and children", presumably because Luke was not married? Paul was not married?
  • Prayer-for their solace, a request for God's Will to be done, either way, but probably asking God not to let Paul be martyred, out of love for him
  • Kneeling in the shore means this is serious prayer, most likely with many tears

(Acts 21:6)
And when we had taken our leave one of another, we took ship; and they returned home again.
  • God's will be done, despite our desire. Paul was going to be offered
  • This would be the answer to their prayer, even though they may have prayed that his martyrdom not happen

(Acts 21:7-8)
And when we had finished our course from Tyre, we came to Ptolemais, and saluted the brethren, and abode with them one day. 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.
  • Ptolemais was probably named after Ptolemy III, a Macedonian, one of Alexander the Great's generals
  • Today it is called Tolmeita, or Tulmaythah, a coastal city of ancient Cyrenaica, which is now part of Libya
  • This Phillip would be the Phillip of Acts 6:5, not the apostle

(Ephesians 4:11)
And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;

(2 Timothy 4:5)
But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.

(Acts 6:5)
And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch:

(Acts 21:9)
And the same man had four daughters, virgins, which did prophesy.
  • Women do prophesy (1 Corinthians 11:5)
  • However, they are told to keep silence in the assembly (1 Corinthians 14:34)
  • It is the men who speak in tongues in the assembly (1 Corinthians 14:2)
  • Those who prophesy are called prophets, not “prophetesses” (1 Corinthians 14:29)
  • The word “prophetess” is in Luke 2:36
  • This was, is also said of Miriam, Deborah, and Huldah
  • The “virgin daughters” here are prophesying in their father’s house, in the same place where Agabus prophesies (next verse), not in "the assembly"
  • This is no official assembly as in 1 Corinthians 14:19, 23, but rather a gathering in a man's house who had four virgin daughters, nothing more

(1 Corinthians 11:5)
But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven.

(1 Corinthians 14:2)
For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries.

(1 Corinthians 14:23)
If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad?

(1 Corinthians 14:29)
Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge.

(1 Corinthians 14:34)
Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law.

(Luke 2:36)
And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity;

(Acts 21:10)
And as we tarried there many days, there came down from Judaea a certain prophet, named Agabus.
  • First century, prophets needed, Scripture not complete yet
  • Perhaps the Holy Spirit is telling Paul because Paul would not stop otherwise, and God wanted him to be martyred as a testimony? God's will be done, even unto death.

(Acts 11:28)
And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the Spirit that there should be great dearth throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar.

(Acts 21:11)
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.
  • The phrase "thus saith the Holy Ghost" is a verse which proves that the Holy Ghost is part of the Trinity, as this phrase "thus saith the LORD..." occurs about 420 other times in Scripture, cover to cover, in various ways
  • This girdle was of cloth, not a leather belt or anything stiff, as it would not work

The following verses throughout Scripture use the phrase, with two exceptions, "Thus saith the LORD". This is all of them found in a search.
  • "Thus saith the LORD"
  • "Thus saith the Lord GOD"
  • "Thus saith the LORD of hosts"
  • "Thus saith the LORD God of hosts"
  • "Thus saith the Lord GOD of hosts"
  • "Thus saith the LORD God of Israel"
  • "Thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel"
  • "Thus saith the LORD God of the Hebrews"
  • "Thus saith the LORD God of David thy father"
  • "Thus saith the LORD, the God of David thy father"
  • "Thus saith the Holy One of Israel"
  • "Thus saith the LORD, who redeemed Abraham"
  • "Thus saith the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel"
  • "Thus saith the LORD, the God of hosts, the God of Israel"
  • "Thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel"
  • "Thus saith the LORD, your redeemer, the Holy One of Israel"
  • "Thus saith the LORD, which maketh a way in the sea, and a path in the mighty waters"
  • "Thus saith the LORD that made thee, and formed thee from the womb, which will help thee"
  • "Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts"
  • "Thus saith the LORD, thy redeemer, and he that formed thee from the womb"
  • "Thus saith the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker"
  • "Thus saith the LORD that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it"
  • "Thus saith the LORD, thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel"
  • "Thus saith the LORD, the Redeemer of Israel, and his Holy One"
  • "For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy"
  • "Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel"
  • "Thus saith the LORD of the men of Anathoth"
  • "Thus saith the LORD of the king that sitteth upon the throne of David"
  • "Thus saith the LORD the maker thereof (of earth)"
  • "Thus saith the LORD of thee"
  • "Thus saith the Lord GOD of the inhabitants of Jerusalem"
  • "Thus saith the LORD my God"
  • "Thus saith the Holy Ghost"
(Acts 21:12)
And when we heard these things, both we, and they of that place, besought him not to go up to Jerusalem.
  • Emotions over God's Will, of course
  • God told all of them now that this martyrdom would happen
  • God had told Paul this martyrdom would happen
  • Paul told them he was ready
  • They were emotionally trying to stop God's Divine Plan

(Acts 21:13)
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.
  • God's divine will was more important to Paul than emotions and relationships with people here, even brethren
  • He is essentially saying, "You will not stop God's will from happening by tears. let it go and let me go"
  • Further, he is declaring that he is not just going to jail, he is going to be executed, and he is ready for that
  • "for the name of the Lord Jesus" just for the Name, carrying that Name, declaring that Name publicly. Think on that.


(2 Timothy 4:1-8)
I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry. For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:
Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.

(Acts 21:14)
And when he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, The will of the Lord be done.
  • If a person is in God's Will, walking with God, you cannot dissuade them from doing God's Will
  • Conversely, if a person walks away from God, what they want and will to do cannot be dissuaded by conversation, promises, threats, even circumstances, good or bad


God WILLED for Paul to minister to Jews of the dispersion—not Judean Jews, but if Paul made up His mind to try it, God would allow him to and “work together for good” (Rom. 8:28) from it. And we should never forget that the Lord knew Paul’s heart; even in the midst of disobedience and self-will, there was a heart that loved God enough to die for Him (vs. 13) and a heart that loved souls enough to go to Hell for them (Rom. 9:1–3)! Don’t forget that.
  • A common phrase in Christendom today
  • God could have stopped Paul from going to Jerusalem, but HE did not as it is His will, not ours
  • God's will may be good and acceptable (Romans 12), but it is not always His perfect will which is done, because He allows ours also when we insist (God is a gentleman)
  • We should desire to fulfill God's perfect will
  • "God is not willing that any should perish” (2 Peter 3:9) without salvation, but billions of them have and will
  • God may have been willing to save Jerusalem (Matt. 23:37), but they were exercising their will to reject the Messiah
(Philippians 2:13)
For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

(James 4:15)
For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.

(Matthew 23:37)
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!

(Acts 21:15)
And after those days we took up our carriages, and went up to Jerusalem.
  • "Carriages" is from "what we carried" (like "carry-ages"), what we call today "baggage" and "luggage"
  • God's Will, being done
  • This is all that they owned, in their luggage, their suitcases, traveling with the Gospel

(Acts 21:16)
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.
  • With Paul here now is a Trophimus an Ephesian, Sopater a Berean, Aristarchus, Secundus, and, maybe , Gaius, Timothy, and Tychicus.
  • All of these men are /half Jew/half Gentile all of the way to full-blooded Gentiles

(Acts 21:17)
And when we were come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly.
  • The earthly home before going to the heavenly home
  • All of that ministry done earlier, some fruit back, "gladly"

(Acts 21:18)
And the day following Paul went in with us unto James; and all the elders were present.
  • This James is James the LORD'S brother
  • This is their type of council
  • It is certain this one is for ministry in Jerusalem, but also to inform them that he is to be imprisoned and martyred, making it bittersweet

(Acts 21:19)
And when he had saluted them, he declared particularly what things God had wrought among the Gentiles by his ministry.
  • "What God had wrought", as in giving glory, honor and credit to God alone, not himself
  • Particularly means he gave them a detailed list of the fruit of the ministry, possibly names of those saved, miracles seen and done, etc.
  • this is to be our attitude when God does something through us

(Acts 21:20)
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:
  • Behold; they are Jews, Paul is the apostle to the Gentiles, and they call him "brother", one in Christ
  • They appreciate that many got saved, but with a cautious question
  • A few of the Gentiles who got saved were keeping, it seems, their own "Old Testament Law"
  • This is to say that perhaps some of them suddenly decided to be legalistic, for sure
  • Think about this: Christ kept the law perfectly.....maybe they thought they should follow suit, follow in His footsteps?

(Acts 21:21)
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.
  • Legalistic or not, this teaching of keeping the law was not of Paul at all
  • The customs at this time were so numerous, and not even in the law of the Old Testament
  • Paul never would have told anyone to really just "forsake Moses" completely, just rather to not be legalistic about keeping the law for the purpose of salvation-keep the Law in the sight of men to win the Jews, forsake it for grace to not offend both Jew and Gentile believers and non-believers, to show all that we are under grace, not to divide, not abuse grace, not forsake necessarily Moses or anything else
  • The bottom line is that Paul did not teach anyone to forsake the Law of Moses. he taught them to forsake the Law of Moses for justification, salvation, reconciliation with God. he taught that the LORD Jesus Christ was the fulfillment of the law, not their actions.



(Acts 21:25)
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.


(Acts 18:18)
And Paul after this tarried there yet a good while, and then took his leave of the brethren, and sailed thence into Syria, and with him Priscilla and Aquila; having shorn his head in Cenchrea: for he had a vow.

(1 Corinthians 9:19-21)
For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law.

(Acts 21:22)
What is it therefore? the multitude must needs come together: for they will hear that thou art come.
  • Apparently there is division, because the words "must needs" is there, so they need a meeting to get a meeting of the minds
  • Apparently certain believers were returning and practicing their own variant of Judaism, in a form that was not even part of Judaism, some sort of made up Judeo-Christian legalism

(Acts 21:23)
Do therefore this that we say to thee: We have four men which have a vow on them;
  • Since God is not the author of confusion, the only source could be the flesh (false accusers, gossip), spurred on by the enemy
  • This was not even a Scriptural vow, just a vow they decided to keep in order to be or appear religious in the eyes of men, they eyes of themselves, maybe even in the eyes of God, supposing they were being faithful to God

(1 Corinthians 14:33)
For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.

(Acts 21:24)
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.
  • To "be at charges with them" means to pay for, to treat
  • This whole event is due to the fact that Paul, being a Jew, was hanging out with Gentiles, (unclean) and, in their minds, this was something perhaps either unlawful or untraditional. Either way, they would want him to explain it to them, and perhaps clean himself from this "unclean act"

(Acts 21:25)
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.
  • Paul had taken this vow, to win Jews, not to be legalistic, not to cause division, not to offend
  • Paul had earlier said what was proper custom for the Messianic Jews and saved Gentiles to live by
  • "We do not want them to divide us all up, us Jews and Gentiles"
  • What they were wanting to know is, are you Paul OK with this? Did you Paul tell these people to live like this? Were these people making it up? Are you Paul going to fix this issue? Explain it? Talk to them?


(1 Corinthians 8:7-13)
Howbeit there is not in every man that knowledge: for some with conscience of the idol unto this hour eat it as a thing offered unto an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled. But meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse. But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak.
For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol's temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols; And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ. Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.


(1 Corinthians 9:20-23)
And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. And this I do for the gospel's sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you.

(Acts 15:20)
But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood.

(Acts 15:29)
That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well.

  • What you eat is all about health, physical health, availability of food, and has nothing to do with spiritual health
  • What we eat, do, say, who we hang out with, where we go, whether we are genuine or a hypocrite, they are all stumblingblocks to all people, saved weak brethren or unbelievers, all of whom are watching us
  • A cooked steak offered to an idol or one that is kosher tastes the same if prepared, seasoned and cooked the same, and has the same nutrition-but, if it unnecessarily makes a weak brother stumble in his faith or an unbeliever reject Christ because of your behavior, why do it? It is useless and please, just walk away from it
(Acts 21:26)
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.
  • In the end, this set of vows, not from Scripture, were no big deal to take with them, not going to hurt Paul or these men, so Paul took it with them to win them, or to show grace to the people watching, looking for evidence of legalism versus grace, who are always there, even today
  • This is the "becoming all things to all men" side of Paul,so as not to offend some, so as to freely preach the Gospel to open ears
  • It is not in any way legalism

(1 Corinthians 9:22)
To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.

(Acts 21:27)
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,
  • Enter the religious opposition
  • Notice that Paul is actually in the temple when they apprehend him, not in the streets or countryside
  • Notice further that he is there to purify himself, to make an offering, just like all of those others there
  • The Temple: Supposed to represent a sanctuary, protection, peace, solace-and arrested
  • The Jews of Asia seized him, not the Jews of Jerusalem, so perhaps Jews of the Dispersia, or those who were even saved through Paul's ministry, come into Jerusalem from Asia, from afar
  • They did not go to the temple leaders, the high priest, nor to the magistrates, police, or anyone else. They stirred up a mob of people who had no authority, just numbers

(Acts 21:28)
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.
  • When you are living under grace and teaching others also to live under grace, those under the law do not like that-nor do they like you any longer
  • That said, when they gossip about you, or charge you, it is always trumped up, exaggerated, or simply false charges
  • They cried after Job, also...
  • Bringing Gentiles (Greeks) like Trophimus into the temple would be a serious crime, only they had no evidence Paul did that. Paul was seen with Trophimus in the streets, not in the temple, but false accusers ever care little about actual facts when they want to stir up a mob
  • Against the people, against the law, and against this temple, us Jews, our doctrine, and that we teach here
  • "The people" in Scripture, when there is trouble, refers to the mob, the majority-most often those en masse opposed to righteousness
  • "The people" were stirred up against Stephen in Acts 6

(Luke 23:5)
And they were the more fierce, saying, He stirreth up the people, teaching throughout all Jewry, beginning from Galilee to this place.

(Acts 6:8-15)
And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people. ¶ Then there arose certain of the synagogue, which is called the synagogue of the Libertines, and Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia and of Asia, disputing with Stephen. And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake. Then they suborned men, which said, We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses, and against God.
And they stirred up the people, and the elders, and the scribes, and came upon him, and caught him, and brought him to the council, And set up false witnesses, which said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law: For we have heard him say, that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs which Moses delivered us. And all that sat in the council, looking stedfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel.

(Job 30:5)
They were driven forth from among men, (they cried after them as after a thief;)

(Acts 21:29)
(For they had seen before with him in the city Trophimus an Ephesian, whom they supposed that Paul had brought into the temple.)
  • This is a false accusation. They saw Paul in the street with Trophimus, and that was it. He was a Gentile convert to Christianity is all
  • Mobs always get facts mixed up
  • Trophimus would have no reason to go into the Temple, as a Gentile or as a Christian
  • Zeal is one thing. Zeal for God is another. Zeal for the temple is not zeal for God, since Paul, the apostle of the Gentiles, did nothing wrong, and Paul did not bring Trophimus into the temple. Trophimus was in the city itself, only

(Romans 11:13)
For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office:

(Acts 21:30)
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 mob spirit always acts upon false accusations, banding together to first remove the accused from the area
  • The mob took him out, and shut the doors because they wanted to make sure he could not get back in!

(Acts 21:31)
And as they went about to kill him, tidings came unto the chief captain of the band, that all Jerusalem was in an uproar.
  • What does it take to kill someone who preaches the Gospel?
  • Was this something personal against Paul?

(Acts 21:32)
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.
  • You do not bring centurions, a squad, to one or two people fighting, but to a loud roaring mob
  • The cops arrive, the beating stops-to that THEY THEMSELVES do not get arrested
  • This did in fact save Paul's life

(Acts 21:33)
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.
  • Apparently, this man did not even know who Paul was, thought Paul had committed some crime, not just was preaching
  • Notice who they arrest-not the beaters, not the perpetrators, but the victim, the beaten man, Paul

(Acts 21:34)
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.
  • Mobs (the multitude) always give confusing testimonies, because of their dishonesty
  • This also causes confusion for the investigators
  • Solution: Get Paul away from here and interrogate all of them (Paul, and the mob) separately

(Acts 21:35)
And when he came upon the stairs, so it was, that he was borne of the soldiers for the violence of the people.
  • Apparently they were still trying to beat Paul, even with the authorities there!

(Acts 21:36)
For the multitude of the people followed after, crying, Away with him.
  • What they mean is, "If you are not going to let us kill him, then take him way from us!"
  • Following means either they will finish the job after the authorities let Paul go some place else, or make sure the authorities lock him up some place, or some other sinister reason, because he was in custody and no harm

(Acts 21:37)
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?
  • He is saying, "May I please have a word with you?"
  • Notice he is not talking about speaking in tongues, or any "unknown tongue", but in a people language that the man would understand

(1 Corinthians 14:19)
Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue.

(Acts 21:38)
Art not thou that Egyptian, which before these days madest an uproar, and leddest out into the wilderness four thousand men that were murderers?
  • Again, this shows that either the officer does not know Paul, or that it is Paul, or who Paul is
  • If Paul were this man (Barabbas?) who led the murderers, this would be a serious crime!

(Acts 21:39)
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.
  • No mention here by Paul of his Roman citizenship, just that he is a Jew
  • Tarshish was not your average city then, and Paul is pointing this out to them

(Acts 21:40)
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,
  • When God wants to be heard, even a riotous mob turns silent
  • This is so even if, moments after he is done, they reject His Word and then roar again
  • He speaks to them in his own tongue, not a strange one, not "the tongue of angels"

Acts Chapter 22


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