The Lord says that he will show us things to come and Paul has heard from the Holy Spirit as he says that he is in Acts 20:22–23 “bound by the Spirit I am traveling to Jerusalem”. Yet along the way, everyone is telling him as in Acts 21:4 “through the Spirit not to set foot in Jerusalem”. Our natural inclination is to avoid trouble and our instinct is to change our direction to avoid it. But there are times when the Lord wants us to go through something rather than go around it. Jesus gave us the best example in the garden as he prayed in Mark 14:36 And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you! Take away this cup from me! Yet not what I will, but what you will.” Jesus understood what was ahead of him and wanted to find another path, but he set himself to follow the will of the Father. Now, as they urge him not to go to Jerusalem, in Acts 21:13 Then Paul replied, “What are you doing weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be tied up, but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus!” The message Jesus came to bring began in Jerusalem and now, years later, Paul must speak again as a witness, not only to those in Jerusalem but even to Rome itself. Sometimes, the Holy Spirit is speaking to us, not to avoid trouble, but to prepare us for the hardship we will face as we go through it.
The Disciples Kept Telling Paul
This Is What The Holy Spirit Says
Paul is on his journey to Jerusalem and has been telling people along the way in
Acts 20:22–23 “And now behold, bound by the Spirit I am traveling to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there, 23 except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in town after town, saying that bonds and persecutions await me.
and that they would not see him again in
Acts 20:38 especially distressed at the statement that he had said, that they were going to see his face no more. And they accompanied him to the ship.
It is clear that he has already been warned “through the Spirit not to set foot in Jerusalem” in Acts 21:4. Now, as he is in Israel he comes to the home of Philip in
Acts 21:8–9 And on the next day we departed and came to Caesarea, and entered into the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven, and stayed with him. 9 (Now this man had four virgin daughters who prophesied.)
and together with them, comes another prophet who give Paul specific details about what is to come in
Acts 21:11 And he came to us and took Paul’s belt. Tying up his own feet and hands, he said, “This is what the Holy Spirit says: ‘In this way the Jews in Jerusalem will tie up the man whose belt this is, and will deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.’ ”
But Paul was sure he had been sent to Jerusalem by the Holy Spirit so he doesn’t take this message to mean that he should not go, only that he should prepare himself for what is ahead. Paul answers in
Acts 21:13 Then Paul replied, “What are you doing weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be tied up, but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus!”
They Began To Glorify God
And Everyone Will Know
This Is The Man Who Is Teaching Everyone Everywhere
Paul is received gladly by the brothers, the Church, in Jerusalem in
Acts 21:17 And when we came to Jerusalem, the brothers welcomed us gladly.
and after they heard his report of how God was working among the Gentiles, “they began to glorify God” in Acts 21:20 but they also then said “You see, brother, how many ten thousands there are among the Jews who have believed, and they are all zealous adherents of the law” and they said this because there where those spreading rumors about Paul in
Acts 21:21 And they have been informed about you that you are teaching all the Jews who are among the Gentiles the abandonment of Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or to live according to our customs.
They all recognize that these things spoken about Paul must somehow be countered so Paul agrees that as he goes through the ritual of purification for the Passover that is coming, he will pay the way for several others to demonstrate that he does not preach abandoning Moses in
Acts 21:23–24 Therefore do this that we tell you: we have four men who have taken a vow upon themselves. 24 Take these men and purify yourself along with them and pay their expenses so that they can shave their heads, and everyone will know that the things which they had been informed about you are nothing, but you yourself also agree with observing the law.
Paul agrees and is in the temple these seven days as is prescribed for purification, and then in
Acts 21:27–28 But when the seven days were about to be completed, the Jews from Asia who had seen him in the temple courts stirred up the whole crowd and laid hands on him, 28 shouting, “Israelite men, help! This is the man who is teaching everyone everywhere against the people and the law and this place! And furthermore he also brought Greeks into the temple, and has defiled this holy place!”
This was not what Paul was teaching but Paul did have a Christian convert with him that was a Greek and that was enough for the crowd to erupt in religious fervor and “the whole city was stirred up” in Acts 21:30 and the tribune, the representative of the Roman government that was charged with keeping peace, in
Acts 21:32–33 He immediately took along soldiers and centurions and ran down to them. And when they saw the military tribune and the soldiers, they stopped beating Paul. 33 Then the military tribune came up and arrested him and ordered him to be bound with two chains, and inquired who he was and what it was that he had done.
What had been prophesied by Agabus was fulfilled and Paul had not done anything but made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem as was required of all Jewish men.
Allow Me To Speak To The People
Listen To My Defense To You
Just as the crowd had heard rumors about Paul and reacted by beating him and ready to stone him, the military tribune had assumed, because of the tumult, that Paul must be this troublemaker he was expecting to find in
Acts 21:38 “Then you are not the Egyptian who before these days raised a revolt and led out into the wilderness the four thousand men of the Assassins?”
The tribune recognizes the truth in Paul’s words and finally allows Paul to address the crowd. Paul motions to get their attention and in
Acts 22:1-2 “Men—brothers and fathers—listen to my defense to you now! 2 And when they heard that he was addressing them in the Aramaic language, they became even more silent. And he said,”
Paul begins to tell them about his background, his birth, his education among them “at the feet of Gamaliel” in Acts 21:3 who was one of their most recognized teachers, and how he had not only “persecuted this way” in Acts 21:4 but pursued them even to Damascus with letters from “the high priest and the whole council of elders” in Acts 21:4. Paul has their attention and is able to speak the truth to them all.
- Acts 21:8-16 This Is What The Holy Spirit Says
- Acts 21:27–36 This Is The Man Who Is Teaching Everyone Everywhere
- Acts 22:1–5 Listen To My Defense To You
- Acts 21:1-40
- Acts 22:1-5