-Paul and the team go back to Jerusalem despite the prophetic words that he would be bound and delivered to the Gentiles. Luke details the journey back to the Promised Land, which Paul is determined to get back to. Beautiful scenery of believers and their affections and hospitality for one another are evident in the text. Paul’s farewell words in Caesarea Maritima, where he would later find himself imprisoned for two years (Acts 23:23-35; 24:27) are courageous, passionate, and encouraging all at the same time as the man of God he was, “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but even die at Jerusalem for the Name of the Lord Jesus.” By the end, since he would not be persuaded to avoid this prophesied conflict, the entourage remarked, “The will of the Lord be done!” After these days, the team got ready and started their way to the holy city (Acts 21:1-15). *Application* Paul’s courage should embolden us to step up for Christ in this Godless-secular age in which we live. If we love the Lord, we will certainly not be cowards.
-Upon arrival in Jerusalem, Paul meets with the elders and reports all God had done among the Gentiles where he had traveled. The disciples relate how many Jews had accepted and believed in Christ, but they were exceptionally zealous for the Law. They advise him to purify himself and pay four men’s expenses for head shaving in keeping with the Law. Rumors were circulating in the city that Paul was preaching to the Gentiles and that all the Jews should forsake the Law of Moses in regards to circumcision and walking per the traditional customs of Judaism. These accusations were not true, so the disciples wanted Paul to make it obvious to people that he obeyed the Law and had no qualms with it. James reiterated the requirements laid out in the Jerusalem Council of Acts 15 for Gentiles who were converting to Christianity from their pagan cultures. Paul did take their advice concerning the men, and the next day he purified himself along with the others until the proper sacrifice was offered for each of them (Acts 21:16-26).
-When the seven days of the Jewish festival were almost over, some Asian Jews stirred up the Temple crowd with these false accusations over matters of the Law. They had “supposed” that Paul had brought Trophimus the Ephesian (a Gentile) into the Temple, but this had never occurred. These words provoked all the city. Paul is taken hold of, dragged out of the Temple area, and the Jews were now trying to kill him. This is when a report came to the commander of the Romans cohort who was there to keep peace in this province of Imperial Rome. There was mass confusion in Jerusalem, and they appeared on the scene where the crowds were now beating Paul. Taking hold of the apostle, the commander ordered him bound with chains asking all the while as to who he was and what he had done. Contradictory words were being shouted among the crowd; therefore, the commander could not discern any of the facts of the uproar. Because of this, he ordered Paul to be brought into the barracks. Things were so bad by now when he got to the stairs that the soldiers had to carry him due to the violence of the mob. Prophesy was coming true, but Paul kept his Spirit-filled composure. As the multitude followed him shouting, “Away with him!” much like they had done with Jesus some years earlier, he was realizing quite a disturbance. Now, as they were about to bring Paul into custody within the barracks, Paul politely asks his captor if he could say something to him in the Greek language. This surprised the commander letting him know that Paul was not an Egyptian who some time ago stirred up a revolt and led 4,000 men of the Assassins out into the wilderness. Man, things certainly were confusing around there at the time. Paul told him confidently, “I am a Jew of Tarsus in Cilicia, a citizen of no insignificant city.” Then he begged the commander to be allowed to speak to the ruckus crowd. When he had been given permission to speak, Paul stood on the stairs, and motioned to the crowd to be quiet. When there was almost instantly a great hush, he spoke to them in the Hebrew dialect (Acts 21:27-40) *Application* What selfless heroics we see in this sold-out man of God. He would go through whatever punishment and sacrifice that it would take to gain an ear for the message of Christ and His salvation, which he was about to give. He typifies here what he wrote about in Romans 12:1-2. Pray that we would be that yielded to the Spirit’s work in our lives!
Verse to Memorize: Acts 21:13