ACTS - CHAPTER 21: 1-36 - Paul Testifies for Jesus in Jerusalem
ACTS – CHAPTER 21: 1-36
Paul in Jerusalem
Tuesday, July 12, 2022, the Year of Our Lord
Pastor Carolyn Sissom
Paul, for as you have testified for Me in Jerusalem
These next eight chapters are like reading a novel filled with action, suspense, mystery and the providence of God to fulfill Paul’s destiny which is ultimately to “bear witness in Rome.” But the journey will be hard and dangerous.
It is well said that, “theology is about God and about Truth; whereas
Truth is a living, vital, powerful demonstration of the Spirit of God, pulsating with Holy Ghost power, life, wisdom, revelation and knowledge.
1 Jo. 5:6b …the Spirit is truth.
3 Jo. 1:4: I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.
Acts 21:1-3: Now it came to pass, when we had departed from the (Ephesian elders) and set sail, running a straight course, we came to Cos, the following day to Rhodes, and from there to Patara.
Paul was again on his way, but only after meeting with the Ephesian elders, exhorting them of the cost of Christianity and their responsibility to defend “The Way.” The prevailing wind was favorable so the ship easily covered the 40 nautical miles in one day. Rhodes is another island to the S.E. of Cos. The island was marked by one of the seven wonders of the world. A gigantic brass statue of Apollo, so huge that ships could pass between its legs under full sail, straddled the entrance to the harbor. They came to Patara, a great port, along with its companion port at Myra, served vessels crossing the Mediterranean from Syria and Egypt. Here the missionaries disembarked and boarded a ship headed directly for the Syrian coast, and from there onto Palestine. It was an ocean-going ship rigged for the high seas. The distance between Patara and Tyre is about 350 miles. Tyre was one of the most famous cities of the ancient world.
21:4-6: Finding disciples, we stayed there seven days. They told Paul through the Spirit not to go up to Jerusalem. When we had come to the end of those days, we departed and went on our way; and they all accompanied us, with wives and children, till we were out of the city. We knelt down on the shore and prayed. When we had taken our leave of one another, we boarded the ship, and they returned home.
There is much conjecture that Paul was disobedient to the direction of the Holy Spirit. I believe Paul was following the leading of the Holy Spirit knowing full well that he would be arrested in Jerusalem. The reason I believe this is the visitation of the Lord described in Acts 23:11: …the Lord stood by him and said, “Be of good cheer, Paul, for as you have testified for Me in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness at Rome.”
Acts 21:7-9: When we had finished our voyage from Tyre, we cane to Ptolemais, greeted the brethren, and stayed with them one day. 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 man had four virgin daughters who prophesied.
You will remember when we did the study on the Apostle Philip, the scripture is clear that Philip, the evangelist who was one of the seven is not the same as the Apostle Philip. He was one of the seven who were chosen at the same time as Stephen. It was the Apostle Philip who made the decision to turn over the management of the food distribution to the seven.
These gifted daughters of Philip are here defined in a public ministry as prophetesses. Dake has a neat passage on the ministry of women:
“God has used a rod; ass; ram’s horn; ox goad; nail; barley cake; pitchers; jaw bone; millstone; mantle; ditches; empty vessels; cruse of oil; ravens; worm; wind; fish; cock and many other weak things to confound the mighty. Is it not possible that he can use a woman?” (Dake -Page 149- Acts 21).
Acts 21: 10-14: We tarried there many days, there came down from Judea a certain prophet, named Agabus. 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.” When we (Luke) heard these things, both we and those from that place pleaded with him not to go up to Jerusalem. 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.” So, when he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, “The will of the Lord be done.”
The prophetic action of Agabus is exemplified in Ezekiel 5: 5-17. The prophetic sign is followed by the prophetic word. This continues in chapter 6 of Ezekiel. “Strike your hands together and stamp your feet.” The prophetic action is as anointed as the prophetic word.
Sunday, I did a prophetic action when the Holy Spirit told me to get on my knees. When I was obedient, then the prophetic word came forth from Lucy Beaton.
Paul’s response to the prophecy (and to the pleas of his disciples and Luke “we" of verse 12) was his readiness. He had already counted the cost.
- Ready to be bound (vs. 13).
- Ready to die (Tim. 4:6).
- Ready to preach (Rom. 1:15).
- Ready to minister (2 Cor. 12;14).
Remember Peter’s readiness in Luke 22:33 (ready to go to prison or death for Jesus); yet when put to the test, he ran. We need to be careful what we declare we are ready for. My cry is Lord help me to be ready for whatever you call me to do or be.
Verse 14 is difficult to interpret. It sounds as though Paul was defiant to the will of God; or did they accept the Lord’s will? No interpretation can be final. This is Luke speaking. He is expressing his conclusion. Paul’s heart is clear, he prayed through on that 20-mile hike from Philippi.
Acts 21: 15-21: After those days, we packed and went up to Jerusalem. Also, some of the disciples from Caesarea went with us and brought with them a certain Mnason of Cyprus, an early disciple, with whom we were to lodge. When we had come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly. On the following day, Paul went in with us to James, and all the elders were present. When he had greeted them, he told in detail those things which God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry. When they heard it, they glorified the LORD. 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; but they have been informed about you that you teach all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, nor to walk according to the customs.
James is here believed to be the brother of Jesus. There are two apostles of the twelve by the name of James: James the Great, the first to be martyred; James the Less, who was brother to Matthew. James, the brother of Jesus is believed to now be the Pastor in Jerusalem.
Paul gives a detailed report of his important third missionary journey which spanned A.D. 53-57. Apart from Jesus’ ministry, no such period of time has had anything like the significance of the past twelve years. Verse 20 describes the widespread of Christianity among the Jews and also how slow they were in giving up the law of Moses. At this time, God had not completely abolished all sacrifices and all the Old Testament Ordinances in Christianity as a Kingdom program. He tolerated the Christian Jews continuing with all their rituals until the destruction of Jerusalem. The Mosaic dispensation would then be impossible, thus fulfilling Daniel 9:26; Hos. 3:4-5; Mt. 23: 36-39; Lk. 19: 41-48. This is a study in itself. I have three messages on Daniel, chapter 9 and his Seventy weeks.
Paul’s old enemies from Asia who have persecuted him relentlessly will be in the city for the feast. Paul is pictured as an enemy of the Law. Even the apostles kept the ordinance, participating in the temple worship and the legal forms of purification.
21:22-25: What then? The assembly must certainly meet, for they will hear that you have come. Therefore, do what we tell you: we have four men who have taken a vow. “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. But concerning the Gentiles who believe, we have written and decided that they should observe no such thing, except they should keep themselves from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality.”
It is clear, the elders themselves knew that Paul had not attacked Judaism and in no way was he the enemy of Moses. They realized he had been falsely accused, misunderstood and misrepresented.
Four Jewish Christians have made a Nazarite vow. The vow was commonly made at a time of personal danger, or because of a disease or accident. The maker of the vow was bound to let his hair grow uncut for a period of time. After that he would offer sacrifices in the temple and cut his hair. Often a poor man could not afford the sacrifices which consisted of a he-lamb, one ewe-lamb, one ram as well as cereal and drink offerings (Num. 6:14). It was regarded as a mark of piety for a wealthier person to bear the expenses of such sacrifices on behalf of the poor. The elders recommended that Paul include himself in the ceremony for a few days and then pay all the costs. Having already written to the Corinthians, “To the Jew, I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews.”
By Paul’s compliance, he gives us an example of laying down our rights and righteous indignation for the sake of the gospel of the Kingdom and the souls of men.
However, the situation in the Jerusalem church is such that the testimony of Jesus Christ has passed to a great majority of Christians of Gentile birth. They are clear the Gentiles will not be required to observe such things. Paul’s lifestyle in still living in obedience to the law.
This evidently appeased the Jerusalem, Jewish Christians, but the danger arose from unbelieving Jews from Asia.
21: 26-29: 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. 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, 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.” (For they had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian with him in the city, whom they supposed that Paul had brought into the temple.)
When the Seven Days were ended, indicates the Feast of Tabernacles which was a seven-day feast. What a glorious harvest which has come forth from the great outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
Paul was the master builder of the foundation of the Lord’s church which is the vehicle of the Kingdom of God on earth as it is in Heaven. The church has been on a 2000-year journey. There are 2,38 billion Christians in the earth in 2022. That is a great harvest, but we look forward to an even more glorious harvest, “the gathering of the precious fruit of the earth.” We thank God for the Great Harvest which began at Pentecost and has continued.
Those who cry out for the return of the apostolic power and blessing of the early church fall short in our vision. The church must go on to the Pentecost of the noon-day sun. we have not seen the fullness of the Pentecostal experience which is yet to be revealed.
The 8th day speaks of God’s completion of his eternal purposes in the church and the beginning of a new day (the first day of the week).
Lev. 23:39: On the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the fruit of the land, you shall keep the feast of the LORD for seven days; on the first day, there shall be a sabbath-rest, and on the eighth day a sabbath-rest.
This rest will be the end of the church’s week of strife and turmoil. The dispensation of the Law could only end in tribulation and the New Covenant be birthed through violence and persecution.
Heb. 8:13: He says, “a new covenant, he has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.
The dispensation of Grace must end in glory and victory; for it ministers life.
Since the day the unbelieving Jews refused to accept the dispensation of Grace, we still have a large segment of the universal church who continue to live under the dispensation of the Law. Religion continues to patch that which Christ has declared useless. The apostate church has improvised flesh for the Holy Spirit.
Acts 21: 30-36: 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. As they were seeking to kill him, news came to the commander of the garrison that all Jerusalem was in an uproar. He immediately took soldiers and centurions, and ran down to them. When they saw the commander and the soldiers, they stopped beating Paul. 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. Some among the multitude cried one thing and some another. So, when he could not ascertain the truth because of the tumult, he commanded him to be taken into the barracks. When he reached the stairs, he had to be carried by the soldiers because of the violence of the mob. For the multitude of the people followed after, crying out, “Away with him!”
Faithful to his promise, God secured the safety of his servant. Just as he promised him at Corinth.
Acts 18: 9-10: Do not be afraid, but speak, and do not keep silent; for I am with you, and no one will attack you to hurt you…
Paul’s ministry has just changed. He will indeed go to Rome in chains. He will continue his ministry on the journey to Rome and in prison. The Lord will use him powerfully to touch and minister to many.
Paul had to be carried by the soldiers which means they would have lifted him above their shoulders to keep the mob from killing him.
To be continued with verse 37 next week.
Carolyn Sissom, Pastor
Eastgate Ministries Church
Scripture from N.K.J.V. – I entered into the labors of Bible Study notes from July 2, 2000; C. S. Lovett’s Lights on Acts; If there are others, I no longer remember.