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Paul’s Journey to Jerusalem
When we had parted from them and set sail, we came by a straight course to Cos, and the next day to Rhodes, and from there to Patara. 2When we found a ship bound for Phoenicia, we went on board and set sail. 3We came in sight of Cyprus; and leaving it on our left, we sailed to Syria and landed at Tyre, because the ship was to unload its cargo there. 4We looked up the disciples and stayed there for seven days. Through the Spirit they told Paul not to go on to Jerusalem. 5When our days there were ended, we left and proceeded on our journey; and all of them, with wives and children, escorted us outside the city. There we knelt down on the beach and prayed 6and said farewell to one another. Then we went on board the ship, and they returned home.
7 When we had finished the voyage from Tyre, we arrived at Ptolemais; and we greeted the believers and stayed with them for one day. 8The next day we left and came to Caesarea; and we went into the house of Philip the evangelist, one of the seven, and stayed with him. 9He had four unmarried daughters who had the gift of prophecy. 10While we were staying there for several days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. 11He came to us and took Paul’s belt, bound his own feet and hands with it, and said, “Thus says the Holy Spirit, ‘This is the way the Jews in Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and will hand him over to the Gentiles.’ ” 12When we heard this, we and the people there urged him not to go up to Jerusalem. 13Then Paul answered, “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” 14Since he would not be persuaded, we remained silent except to say, “The Lord’s will be done.”
15 After these days we got ready and started to go up to Jerusalem. 16Some of the disciples from Caesarea also came along and brought us to the house of Mnason of Cyprus, an early disciple, with whom we were to stay.
Paul Visits James at Jerusalem
17 When we arrived in Jerusalem, the brothers welcomed us warmly. 18The next day Paul went with us to visit James; and all the elders were present. 19After greeting them, he related one by one the things that God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry. 20When they heard it, they praised God. Then they said to him, “You see, brother, how many thousands of believers there are among the Jews, and they are all zealous for the law. 21They have been told about you that you teach all the Jews living among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, and that you tell them not to circumcise their children or observe the customs. 22What then is to be done? They will certainly hear that you have come. 23So do what we tell you. We have four men who are under a vow. 24Join these men, go through the rite of purification with them, and pay for the shaving of their heads. Thus all will know that there is nothing in what they have been told about you, but that you yourself observe and guard the law. 25But as for the Gentiles who have become believers, we have sent a letter with our judgment that they should abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols and from blood and from what is strangled and from fornication.” 26Then Paul took the men, and the next day, having purified himself, he entered the temple with them, making public the completion of the days of purification when the sacrifice would be made for each of them.
Paul Arrested in the Temple
27 When the seven days were almost completed, the Jews from Asia, who had seen him in the temple, stirred up the whole crowd. They seized him, 28shouting, “Fellow Israelites, help! This is the man who is teaching everyone everywhere against our people, our law, and this place; more than that, he has actually brought Greeks into the temple and has defiled this holy place.” 29For they had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian with him in the city, and they supposed that Paul had brought him into the temple. 30Then all the city was aroused, and the people rushed together. They seized Paul and dragged him out of the temple, and immediately the doors were shut. 31While they were trying to kill him, word came to the tribune of the cohort that all Jerusalem was in an uproar. 32Immediately he took soldiers and centurions and ran down to them. When they saw the tribune and the soldiers, they stopped beating Paul. 33Then the tribune came, arrested him, and ordered him to be bound with two chains; he inquired who he was and what he had done. 34Some in the crowd shouted one thing, some another; and as he could not learn the facts because of the uproar, he ordered him to be brought into the barracks. 35When Paul came to the steps, the violence of the mob was so great that he had to be carried by the soldiers. 36The crowd that followed kept shouting, “Away with him!”
Paul Defends Himself
37 Just as Paul was about to be brought into the barracks, he said to the tribune, “May I say something to you?” The tribune replied, “Do you know Greek? 38Then you are not the Egyptian who recently stirred up a revolt and led the four thousand assassins out into the wilderness?” 39Paul replied, “I am a Jew, from Tarsus in Cilicia, a citizen of an important city; I beg you, let me speak to the people.” 40When he had given him permission, Paul stood on the steps and motioned to the people for silence; and when there was a great hush, he addressed them in the Hebrew language, saying:
Ac 21:1-16. Sailing from Ephesus, They Land at Tyre, and Thence Sailing to Ptolemais, They Proceed by Land to Cæsarea and Jerusalem.
1. we were gotten—"torn."
from them—expressing the difficulty and pain of the parting.
with a straight course—running before the wind, as Ac 16:11.
unto Coos—Cos, an island due south from Miletus, which they would reach in about six hours, and coming close to the mainland.
the day following unto Rhodes—another island, some fifty miles to the southeast, of brilliant classic memory and beauty.
thence unto Patara—a town on the magnificent mainland of Lycia, almost due east from Rhodes. It was the seat of a celebrated oracle of Apollo.
2. And finding a ship—their former one going no farther, probably.
to Phœnica—(See on Ac 11:19).
went abroad—One would almost think this extracted from a journal of the voyage, so graphic are its details.
3. when we … discovered—"sighted," as the phrase is.
Cyprus, we left it on the left hand—that is, steered southeast of it, leaving it on the northwest.
Syria, and landed at Tyre—the celebrated seat of maritime commerce for East and West. It might be reached from Patara in about two days.
there the ship was to unlade her burden—which gave the apostle time for what follows.
4-6. finding disciples—finding out the disciples, implying some search. They would expect such, from what is recorded, Ac 11:19. Perhaps they were not many; yet there were gifted ones among them.
5. they all brought us on our way with wives and children … and we kneeled down on the shore and prayed—(See on Ac 20:36). Observe here that the children of these Tyrian disciples not only were taken along with their parents, but must have joined in this act of solemn worship. See on Eph 6:1.
7. when we had finished our course—completing the voyage
from Tyre, we came—which they would do the same day.
to Ptolemais—anciently called Accho (Jud 1:31), now St. Jean d'Acre, or Acre.
and saluted the brethren, and abode, &c.—disciples gathered probably as at Tyre, on the occasion mentioned (Ac 11:19).
8-10. next day we that were of Paul's company departed—(The words "the were of Paul's company" are omitted in the best manuscripts. They were probably added as the connecting words at the head of some church lessons).
and came to Cæsarea—a run along the coast, southward, of some thirty miles.
Philip the evangelist—a term answering apparently very much to our missionary [Howson], by whose ministry such joy had been diffused over Samaria and the Ethiopian eunuch had been baptized (Ac 8:4-40).
one of the seven—deacons, who had "purchased to himself a good degree" (1Ti 3:13). He and Paul now meet for the first time, some twenty-five years after that time.
9. the same man had four daughters … which did prophesy—fulfilling Joe 2:28 (see Ac 2:18). This is mentioned, it would seem, merely as a high distinction divinely conferred on so devoted a servant of the Lord Jesus, and probably indicates the high tone of religion in his family.
10. tarried there many—"a good many"
days—Finding himself in good time for Pentecost at Jerusalem, he would feel it a refreshing thing to his spirit to hold Christian communion for a few days with such a family.
there came down from Judea—the news of Paul's arrival having spread.
a certain prophet … Agabus—no doubt the same as in Ac 11:28.
11-14. So shall the Jews bind the man that owneth this girdle, &c.—For though the Romans did it, it was at the Jews' instigation (Ac 21:33; Ac 28:17). Such dramatic methods of announcing important future events would bring the old prophets to remembrance. (Compare Isa 20:2, &c.; Jer 13:1, and Eze 5:1, &c.). This prediction and that at Tyre (Ac 21:4) were intended, not to prohibit him from going, but to put his courage to the test and when he stood the test, to deepen and mature it.
12. we and they at that place—the Cæsarean Christians.
besought him—even with tears, Ac 21:13.
not to go to Jerusalem.
13. Then Paul answered, What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart—Beautiful union of manly resoluteness and womanly tenderness, alike removed from mawkishness and stoicism!
I am ready not to be bound only—"If that is all, let it come."
but to die, &c.—It was well he could add this, for he had that also to do.
15, 16. we took up our carriages—"our baggage."
and went up to Jerusalem—for the fifth time after his conversion, thus concluding his third missionary tour, which proved his last, so far as recorded; for though he accomplished the fourth and last part of the missionary plan sketched out (Ac 19:21)—"After I have been at Jerusalem, I must also see Rome"—it was as "a prisoner of Jesus Christ."
16. went with us … and brought with them—rather, "brought us to."
One Mnason of Cyprus, an old disciple, &c.—not an "aged" disciple, but probably "a disciple of old standing," perhaps one of the three thousand converted on the day of Pentecost, or, more likely still, drawn to the Saviour Himself during His lifetime. He had come, probably, with the other Cyprians (Ac 11:20), to Antioch, "preaching the Lord Jesus unto the Grecians," and now he appears settled at Jerusalem.
Ac 21:17-40. Paul Reports the Events of His Third Missionary Journey—In the Temple, Purifying Himself from a Jewish Vow, He Is Seized by a Mob and Beaten to the Danger of His Life—The Uproar Becoming Universal, the Roman Commandant Has Him Brought in Chains to the Fortress, from the Stairs of Which He Is Permitted to Address the People.
The apostle was full of anxiety about this visit to Jerusalem, from the numerous prophetic intimations of danger awaiting him, and having reason to expect the presence at this feast of the very parties from whose virulent rage he had once and again narrowly escaped with his life. Hence we find him asking the Roman Christians to wrestle with him in prayer, "for the Lord Jesus Christ's sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that he might be delivered from them that believed not in Judea," as well as "that his service which he had for Jerusalem (the great collection for the poor saints there) might be accepted of the saints" (Ro 15:30, 31).
17-19. the brethren received us gladly—the disciples generally, as distinguished from the official reception recorded in Ac 21:18.
18. Paul went in with us unto James; and all the elders were present—to "report himself" formally to the acknowledged head of the church at Jerusalem, and his associates in office. See on Ac 15:13. Had any other of the apostles been in Jerusalem on that occasion, it could hardly fail to have been noted.
19. he declared particularly—in detail.
what God had wrought among the Gentiles by his ministry—as on previous occasions (Ac 14:27; and see Ro 15:15); no doubt referring to the insidious and systematic efforts of the Judaizing party in a number of places to shrivel the Church of Christ into a Jewish sect, and his own counter-procedure.
20-25. they glorified the Lord, &c.—constrained to justify his course, notwithstanding the Jewish complexion of the Christianity of Jerusalem.
21. they are informed … that thou teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles—those residing in heathen countries.
to forsake Moses, &c.—This calumny of the unbelieving Jews would find easy credence among the Christian zealots for Judaism.
23. we have four men—Christian Jews, no doubt.
which have a vow—perhaps kept ready on purpose.
24. be at charges with them—that is, defray the expense of the sacrifices legally required of them, along with his own, which was deemed a mark of Jewish generosity.
25. touching the Gentiles … we have written and concluded that they observe no such things, &c.—This shows that with all their conciliation to Jewish prejudice, the Church of Jerusalem was taught to adhere to the decision of the famous council held there (Ac 15:19-29).
26. to signify—that is, announce to the priest.
the accomplishment of the days of purification, &c.—(See on Nu 6:14-21).
29. Trophimus—(See on Ac 20:4).
30. took Paul, and drew him out of the temple; and forthwith the doors were shut—that the murder they meant to perpetrate might not pollute that holy place.
31. tidings came—literally, "went up," that is, to the fortress of Antonia, where the commandant resided. See on Ac 21:32. This part of the narrative is particularly graphic.
32. the chief captain—"the chiliarch," or tribune of the Roman cohort, whose full number was one thousand men.
33. commanded him to be bound with two chains—(See on Ac 12:6).
34. some cried one thing—The difficulty would be so to state his crimes as to justify their proceedings to a Roman officer.
to be carried into the castle—rather, perhaps, "the barracks," or that part of the fortress of Antonia appropriated to the soldiers. The fort was built by Herod on a high rock at the northwest corner of the great temple area, and called after Mark Antony.
37-40. Art not thou that Egyptian, &c.—The form of the question implies that the answer is to be in the negative, and is matter of some surprise: "Thou art not then?" &c.
38. madest an uproar, &c.—The narrative is given in Josephus [Wars of the Jews, 2.8.6; 13.5], though his two allusions and ours seem to refer to different periods of the rebellion.
39. a citizen of no mean city—(See on Ac 16:37).
40. stood on the stairs—"What nobler spectacle than that of Paul at this moment! There he stood, bound with two chains, ready to make his defense to the people. The Roman commander sits by, to enforce order by his presence. An enraged populace look up to him from below. Yet in the midst of so many dangers, how self-possessed is he, how tranquil!" [Chrysostom (or in his name) in Hackett].
a great silence—the people awed at the permission given him by the commandant, and seeing him sitting as a listener.
in the Hebrew tongue—the Syro-Chaldaic, the vernacular tongue of the Palestine Jews since the captivity.