Acts of the Apostles – 21

The Inspired History

  1. Paul Traveled from Ephesus to Jerusalem (1-16).
    1. He spent seven days at Tyre (1-6).
    2. He spent one day at Ptolemais (7).
    3. He spent many days at Caesarea (8-16).
  2. Paul Met with the Apostles and Elders (17-25).
    1. He reviewed his work among the Gentiles (17-19).
    2. The elders explained the Jewish situation in Jerusalem (20-22).
    3. The elders ask Paul to take a Jewish vow (23-25).
  3. Paul Was Attacked by the Jews in the Temple (26-30).
    1. He entered the temple to complete his vow (26-27).
    2. The Jews of Asia recognized him (28-30).
  4. Paul Was Rescued by the Romans (31-40).
    1. They take him from the Jews (31-36).
    2. He asks to address the Jews (37-40).

The Sense and Meaning

  1. Paul left Miletus, crossed the Mediterranean and spent seven days with disciples at Tyre (Acts 21:1-6).
    1. Luke is with Paul, so you will observe the first person pronouns “we” and “us.”
    2. Ephesian elders loved Paul all the way to the ship, before he got away (Acts 20:37-38).
    3. Did he sail to Phenicia or Syria? Phenicia is a subset of Syria. He sailed to both.
    4. By Spirit prophecy (Rom 12:6; I Cor 12:10), they warn Paul not to go to Jerusalem.
      1. Here we apply a sense to the words, or we end up with Paul disobeying God.
      2. They warned of trouble at Jerusalem, if he were to go there (Acts 20:22-23; 21:11).
      3. They also may have added their personal opinion to the Spirit’s revelation (Acts 21:12).
      4. Implied senses and conditions to God’s Word are not new (Jonah 3:4; Is 38:1).
    5. Consider the affection of this relatively obscure church for Paul and his company.
  2. Paul left Tyre by ship and went to Ptolemais, where he spent one day with disciples (Acts 21:7).
    1. There are two kinds of salutes in the Word of God – verbal and physical.
      1. Salute. To accost or address with words expressive of good wishes, respect, or homage, esp. with some customary formula of that import; to greet in words.
      2. The verbal salutes in the O.T. were worshipful (Ruth 2:4; Psalm 129:8; 40:16).
      3. The verbal salute in the N.T. was a greeting in Christ (II Thess 2:17-18).
      4. The physical salute in the New Testament was a kiss (Romans 16:16).
    2. This obscure church of which we never read again had Paul’s company for a day.
  3. Paul and his company traveled to Caesarea and spent many days with Philip (Acts 21:8-16).
    1. Philip was initially ordained a deacon (Acts 6:1-6), but he also preached widely (Acts 8:5-40).
    2. After baptizing the eunuch and preaching widely, he settled at Caesarea (Acts 8:40).
    3. The apostolic office of evangelist exists no more, and modern evangelists are heretics.
      1. Evangelist. One who preaches the gospel to those who have never heard it.
      2. Philip was an evangelist by virtue of preaching to the unconverted Samaritans.
      3. It was an office in rank below apostle and prophet but above bishop (Ep 4:11).
      4. Philip was greater than a bishop by virtue of his Spirit assistance (Acts 8:39-40).
      5. Evangelist and bishop are teachers with different audiences (I Cor 12:28).
      6. There are no qualifications for this abrogated office (I Tim 3:1-13; Tit 1:5-9).
      7. New Testament bishops are to do the work of an evangelist (II Timothy 4:5).
      8. At times this may be the work required of their own flock (II Timothy 4:1-5).
      9. Deacons do not preach officially but tend carnal matters (Acts 6:1-6; I Tim 3:8-13).
      10. But there was nothing precluding a man from having both offices either simultaneously or consecutively, as we know from Philip’s example.
      11. The modern concept of cheerleaders visiting a church for five days to fleece the flock of filthy lucre for performing no New Testament service is a farce.
        1. They are not teaching the unconverted in any way, shape, or form.
        2. Years of planning bring the church members to Billy Graham crusades.
        3. They neither know nor address the needs or dangers of the church.
        4. They do not have any ability or potential beyond a Bible bishop.
        5. They often know but a dozen simple sermons they repeat with theatrics.
        6. They take advantage of another’s man flock made ready to their hand.
        7. They steal the esteem of a church that belongs only to their pastor.
        8. Do men want to loan their wife and children to a stranger for a week?
        9. Paul condemned such money-grubbing men (II Cor 10:12-18).
        10. They travel by motor home, plane, and car, but not by the Holy Ghost.
        11. They have as much New Testament legitimacy as the SDA’s Ellen G. White’s gift of prophecy and the Mormon’s baptism for the dead.
        12. This does not preclude bishops visiting other churches with a purpose.
        13. The froth of modern “evangelism” is short-term and in the flesh.
        14. There is not one name in the book of Life by any evangelist but Christ.
        15. The Primitive Baptists make this farce the trademark of their bishops.
    4. His four virgin daughters were prophetesses in the New Testament sense of the word.
      1. God had promised to pour out His Spirit on women, which He did (Acts 2:17-18).
      2. The gift of prophecy was divine ability by the Spirit to reveal God’s Word regarding future things or spiritual things yet unknown.
        1. The gift of prophecy was partial and temporary (I Cor 13:8-10).
        2. We now have the more sure word of prophecy (II Peter 1:19-21).
        3. Ellen G. White did not have any such gift as claimed by the SDA, but she did have infirmities of body and mind and spirit and soul.
      3. These women did not prophesy in church for clear reasons (I Cor 14:34-35).
      4. But what if God gave them a prophecy? They could control it (I Cor 14:32).
      5. Note God regulating prophets, not prophetesses (I Cor 14:29-31; Luke 2:36).
      6. And they had a full head of hair covering their head also (I Cor 11:1-16).
        1. We reason this first from the overall context of hair as the covering.
        2. We reason this second from the stated fact hair is her covering.
    5. Paul’s stay of many days in Caesarea indicates he may have missed Pentecost (Acts 20:16), yet the presence of Jews from Asia who recognized him easily belies this point (Acts 21:27).
    6. As at Tyre, Paul receives another warning of the coming trouble in Jerusalem (Acts 21:4).
      1. Paul already explained to the Ephesians elders of these warnings (Acts 20:22-23).
      2. Agabus also prophesied many years earlier of a great dearth (Acts 11:28).
      3. We see in the prophecy a warning of Paul being taken by the Romans.
      4. Both Luke and the rest of the company and those of Caesarea appealed to Paul.
      5. Consider Paul’s glorious response to the prospect of imprisonment (Acts 20:24).
    7. All the warning parties had to commit the matter to the will of the Lord, as we should.
      1. If they had persuaded Paul, would the Lord’s will have been done anyway?
      2. Are things within our control outside the Lord’s will? Or only less visible?
      3. Did they doubt or question the Lord’s will? Or simply submit to it?
      4. Are they talking about Paul’s obedience to the Lord’s revealed things or his protection and God’s glory by the Lord’s secret things (Deuteronomy 29:29)?
      5. Regardless of our plans or any activity, it is subject to God’s will (Jas 4:15).
      6. Our life is one of voluntary and happy submission to God’s will (Matt 6:10).
      7. We should learn to love and trust His sovereign will (Prov 16:9,33; 19:21).
    8. Mnason of Cyprus has been honored for charity and will be honored (Matt 25:31-46).
  4. Paul met apostles and elders at Jerusalem and reviewed his work among the Gentiles (Acts 21:17-19).
    1. The Jewish brethren at Jerusalem were glad to see and hear the apostle’s company.
    2. James is our Lord’s brother (Gal 1:19) and ruled the council at Jerusalem (Acts 15:13-21).
    3. James was pastor of the Jerusalem Church, which had many elders of various offices.
    4. Paul saluted them, as before described, and explained in detail his ministerial successes among the Gentiles by the blessing of God.
  5. The apostles and elders explain the large Jewish congregation and their view of Paul (Acts 21:20-22).
    1. James and the elders point out similar Jewish success and their great zeal of the law.
    2. The rumor in Jerusalem, which concerned these elders, was that Paul in his travels taught the Jews in other places to reject circumcision and other Jewish customs.
      1. The rumor is specifically regarding what he taught the Jews in other places.
      2. The rumor was not true, as a simple review of our previous studies will show.
      3. Paul, obeying the Jerusalem council, did not require the law of Gentiles (Acts 16:4).
      4. But he did still esteem and allow the law for Jews (Acts 16:2; 18:18; 20:16).
      5. His manner of modification in things indifferent is well known (I Cor 9:19-23).
    3. Because the thousands of Jews would come to see Paul, they needed to end the rumor.
  6. The apostles and elders request Paul to show Jewish sympathy with a Jewish vow (Acts 21:23-25).
    1. James and the elders propose a Jewish vow to end the rumor of his rejection of Moses.
    2. Using great caution, they specifically identify their proposal as applying to Jews only.
    3. Four men, weak Jewish Christians loyal to the law, were under Nazarite separation.
    4. This was the vow of the Nazarite (Numbers 6), which involved a time of separation, an offering for purification, and the shaving of the head to indicate the end of the vow.
    5. The Nazarite separated himself by avoiding haircuts, wine, grapes, and dead bodies.
    6. Paul was joining in the end of the vow for the purification, sacrifice, and shaving.
  7. Paul, with four other men, enters the temple to keep the terms of their vow (Acts 21:26-27).
    1. Paul entered the temple with the four to inform the priests of the end of the vow.
    2. Just before they would shave their heads, the unbelieving Jews of Asia (his bitter enemies from Ephesus) recognized him, grabbed him, and falsely accused him.
  8. Jews from Asia recognized Paul in the temple and stirred up a riot against him (Acts 21:28-30).
    1. “This is the man” indicates that Paul’s reputation had preceded him.
    2. They falsely accused him for preaching against the Jews, the law, and the temple.
    3. Since they had seen him earlier in the city with Trophimus, a Gentile from Ephesus, they falsely assumed in their rage that Paul had brought him into the temple.
    4. With the whole city irritated, they dragged Paul out of the temple and shut the doors.
    5. You would think the temple of God should be the safest place of refuge of all.
  9. The Roman chief captain came and rescued Paul, as the Jews were about to kill him (Acts 21:31-36).
    1. In the Providence and will of God, they took their time preparing to kill Paul.
    2. The chief captain, responsible for the city’s garrison, heard the city was having a riot.
    3. The Jews left Paul partially beaten, when they saw the Roman soldiers coming.
    4. Unable to determine his identity or offence, Paul is carried into the Roman fortress.
    5. The Jews zealously and violently pursued with shouts of Calvary, “Away with him.”
  10. Paul asks the chief captain for permission to address the Jews trying to kill him (Acts 21:37-40).
    1. The chief captain asks whether Paul was a notorious Egyptian known for sedition.
    2. Paul claims he is a Jew, modestly refers to his citizenship, and humbly asks to speak.
    3. Paul addresses his nation, desiring to kill him, in the Hebrew tongue of their fathers.
    4. The will of the Lord had been done: Paul was protected and permitted to preach.