Acts 21

Paul Sails from Miletus

1 When 1we had parted from them and had set sail, we ran 2a straight course to Cos and the next day to Rhodes and from there to Patara;
2 and having found a ship crossing over to 3Phoenicia, we went aboard and set sail.
3 When we came in sight of 4Cyprus, leaving it on the left, we kept sailing to 5Syria and landed at 6Tyre; for there the ship was to unload its cargo.
4 After looking up 7the disciples, we stayed there seven days; and they kept telling Paul 8through the Spirit not to set foot in Jerusalem.
5 When our days there were ended, we left and started on our journey, while they all, with wives and children, 9escorted us until we were out of the city. After 10kneeling * down * on the beach and praying, we said farewell to one another.
6 Then we went on board the ship, and they returned 11home again.
7 When we had finished the voyage from 12Tyre, we arrived at Ptolemais, and after greeting 13the brethren, we stayed with them for a day.
8 On the next day we left and came to 14Caesarea, and entering the house of 15Philip the 16evangelist, who was 17one of the seven, we stayed with him.
9 Now this man had four virgin daughters who were 18prophetesses.
10 As we were staying there for some days, a prophet named 19Agabus came down from Judea.
11 And coming to us, he 20took Paul's belt and bound his own feet and hands, and said, "This 21is what the Holy Spirit says: 'In this way the Jews at Jerusalem will 22bind the man who owns this belt and 23deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.' "
12 When we had heard this, we as well as the local residents began begging him 24not to go up to Jerusalem.
13 Then Paul answered, "What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For 25I am ready not only to be bound, but even to die at Jerusalem for 26the name of the Lord Jesus."
14 And since he would not be persuaded, we fell silent, remarking, "27The will of the Lord be done!"

Paul at Jerusalem

15 After these days we got ready and 28started on our way up to Jerusalem.
16 Some of 29the disciples from 30Caesarea also came with us, taking us to Mnason of 31Cyprus, a 32disciple of long standing with whom we were to lodge.
17 After we arrived in Jerusalem, 33the brethren received us gladly.
18 And the following day Paul went in with us to 34James, and all 35the elders were present.
19 After he had greeted them, he 36began to relate one by one the things which God had done among the Gentiles through his 37ministry.
20 And when they heard it they began 38glorifying God; and they said to him, "You see, brother, how many thousands there are among the Jews of those who have believed, and they are all 39zealous for the Law;
21 and they have been told about you, that you are 40teaching all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, telling them 41not to circumcise their children nor to walk according to 42the customs.
22 "What, then, is to be done? They will certainly hear that you have come.
23 "Therefore do this that we tell you. We have four men who 43are under * a vow;
24 take them and 44purify yourself along with them, and pay their expenses so that they may 45shave their heads; and all will know that there is nothing to the things which they have been told about you, but that you yourself also walk orderly, keeping the Law.
25 "But concerning the Gentiles who have believed, we wrote, 46having decided that they should abstain from meat sacrificed to idols and from blood and from what is strangled and from fornication."
26 Then Paul took the men, and the next day, 47purifying himself along with them, 48went into the temple giving notice of the completion of the days of purification, until the sacrifice was offered for each one of them.

Paul Seized in the Temple

27 When 49the seven days were almost over, 50the Jews from 51Asia, upon seeing him in the temple, began to stir up all the crowd and laid hands on him,
28 crying out, "Men of Israel, come to our aid! 52This is the man who preaches to all men everywhere against our people and the Law and this place; and besides he has even brought Greeks into the temple and has 53defiled this holy place."
29 For they had previously seen 54Trophimus the 55Ephesian in the city with him, and they supposed that Paul had brought him into the temple.
30 Then all the city was provoked, and the people rushed together, and taking hold of Paul they 56dragged him out of the temple, and immediately the doors were shut.
31 While they were seeking to kill him, a report came up to the commander of the 57Roman cohort that all Jerusalem was in confusion.
32 At once he 58took along some soldiers and centurions and ran down to them; and when they saw the commander and the soldiers, they stopped beating Paul.
33 Then the commander came up and took hold of him, and ordered him to be 59bound with 60two chains; and he began asking who he was and what he had done.
34 But among the crowd 61some were shouting one thing and some another, and when he could not find out the facts because of the uproar, he ordered him to be brought into 62the barracks.
35 When he got to 63the stairs, he was carried by the soldiers because of the violence of the mob;
36 for the multitude of the people kept following them, shouting, "64Away with him!"
37 As Paul was about to be brought into 65the barracks, he said to the commander, "May I say something to you?" And he said, "Do you know Greek?
38 "Then you are not 66the Egyptian who some time ago stirred up a revolt and led the four thousand men of the Assassins out 67into the wilderness?"
39 But Paul said, "68I am a Jew of Tarsus in 69Cilicia, a citizen of no insignificant city; and I beg you, allow me to speak to the people."
40 When he had given him permission, Paul, standing on 70the stairs, 71motioned to the people with his hand; and when there was a great hush, he spoke to them in the 72Hebrew dialect, saying,

Acts 21 Commentary

Chapter 21

Paul's voyage towards Jerusalem. (1-7) Paul at Cesarea. The prophecy of Agabus, Paul at Jerusalem. (8-18) He is persuaded to join in ceremonial observances. (19-26) Being in danger from the Jews, he is rescued by the Romans. (27-40)

Verses 1-7 Providence must be acknowledged when our affairs go on well. Wherever Paul came, he inquired what disciples were there, and found them out. Foreseeing his troubles, from love to him, and concern for the church, they wrongly thought it would be most for the glory of God that he should continue at liberty; but their earnestness to dissuade him from it, renders his pious resolution the more illustrious. He has taught us by example, as well as by rule, to pray always, to pray without ceasing. Their last farewell was sweetened with prayer.

Verses 8-18 Paul had express warning of his troubles, that when they came, they might be no surprise or terror to him. The general notice given us, that through much tribulation we must enter into the kingdom of God, should be of the same use to us. Their weeping began to weaken and slacken his resolution Has not our Master told us to take up our cross? It was a trouble to him, that they should so earnestly press him to do that in which he could not gratify them without wronging his conscience. When we see trouble coming, it becomes us to say, not only, The will of the Lord must be done, and there is no remedy; but, Let the will of the Lord be done; for his will is his wisdom, and he doeth all according to the counsel of it. When a trouble is come, this must allay our griefs, that the will of the Lord is done; when we see it coming, this must silence our fears, that the will of the Lord shall be done; and we ought to say, Amen, let it be done. It is honourable to be an old disciple of Jesus Christ, to have been enabled by the grace of God to continue long in a course of duty, stedfast in the faith, growing more and more experienced, to a good old age. And with these old disciples one would choose to lodge; for the multitude of their years shall teach wisdom. Many brethren at Jerusalem received Paul gladly. We think, perhaps, that if we had him among us, we should gladly receive him; but we should not, if, having his doctrine, we do not gladly receive that.

Verses 19-26 Paul ascribed all his success to God, and to God they gave the praise. God had honoured him more than any of the apostles, yet they did not envy him; but on the contrary, glorified the Lord. They could not do more to encourage Paul to go on cheerfully in his work. James and the elders of the church at Jerusalem, asked Paul to gratify the believing Jews, by some compliance with the ceremonial law. They thought it was prudent in him to conform thus far. It was great weakness to be so fond of the shadows, when the substance was come. The religion Paul preached, tended not to destroy the law, but to fulfil it. He preached Christ, the end of the law for righteousness, and repentance and faith, in which we are to make great use of the law. The weakness and evil of the human heart strongly appear, when we consider how many, even of the disciples of Christ, had not due regard to the most eminent minister that even lived. Not the excellence of his character, nor the success with which God blessed his labours, could gain their esteem and affection, seeing that he did not render the same respect as themselves to mere ceremonial observances. How watchful should we be against prejudices! The apostles were not free from blame in all they did; and it would be hard to defend Paul from the charge of giving way too much in this matter. It is vain to attempt to court the favour of zealots, or bigots to a party. This compliance of Paul did not answer, for the very thing by which he hoped to pacify the Jews, provoked them, and brought him into trouble. But the all-wise God overruled both their advice and Paul's compliance with it, to serve a better purpose than was intended. It was in vain to think of pleasing men who would be pleased with nothing but the rooting out of Christianity. Integrity and uprightness will be more likely to preserve us than insincere compliances. And it should warn us not to press men to doing what is contrary to their own judgment to oblige us.

Verses 27-40 In the temple, where Paul should have been protected as in a place of safety, he was violently set upon. They falsely charged him with ill doctrine and ill practice against the Mosaic ceremonies. It is no new thing for those who mean honestly and act regularly, to have things laid to their charge which they know not and never thought of. It is common for the wise and good to have that charged against them by malicious people, with which they thought to have obliged them. God often makes those a protection to his people, who have no affection to them, but only have compassion for sufferers, and regard to the public peace. And here see what false, mistaken notions of good people and good ministers, many run away with. But God seasonably interposes for the safety of his servants, from wicked and unreasonable men; and gives them opportunities to speak for themselves, to plead for the Redeemer, and to spread abroad his glorious gospel.

Cross References 72

  • 1. [we] Acts 16:10; Acts 21:1-18
  • 2. Acts 16:11
  • 3. Acts 11:19; Acts 21:3
  • 4. Acts 4:36; Acts 21:16
  • 5. Matthew 4:24
  • 6. Acts 12:20; Acts 21:7
  • 7. Acts 11:26; Acts 21:16
  • 8. Acts 20:23; Acts 21:11
  • 9. Acts 15:3
  • 10. Luke 22:41; Acts 9:40; Acts 20:36
  • 11. John 19:27
  • 12. Acts 12:20; Acts 21:3
  • 13. Acts 1:15; Acts 21:17
  • 14. Acts 8:40; Acts 21:16
  • 15. Acts 6:5; Acts 8:5
  • 16. Ephesians 4:11; 2 Timothy 4:5
  • 17. Acts 6:5; Acts 8:5
  • 18. Luke 2:36; Acts 13:1; 1 Corinthians 11:5
  • 19. Acts 11:28
  • 20. 1 Kings 22:11; Isaiah 20:2; Jeremiah 13:1-11; Jeremiah 19:1, 11; John 18
  • 21. Acts 8:29
  • 22. Acts 9:16; Acts 21:33
  • 23. Matthew 20:19
  • 24. Acts 21:15
  • 25. Acts 20:24
  • 26. Acts 5:41; Acts 9:16
  • 27. Luke 22:42
  • 28. Acts 21:12
  • 29. Acts 21:4
  • 30. Acts 8:40
  • 31. Acts 4:36; Acts 21:3
  • 32. Acts 15:7
  • 33. Acts 1:15; Acts 21:7
  • 34. Acts 12:17
  • 35. Acts 11:30
  • 36. Acts 14:27
  • 37. Acts 1:17
  • 38. Matthew 9:8
  • 39. Acts 15:1; Acts 22:3; Romans 10:2; Galatians 1:14
  • 40. Acts 21:28
  • 41. Acts 15:19f; 1 Corinthians 7:18
  • 42. Acts 6:14
  • 43. Numbers 6:13-21; Acts 18:18
  • 44. John 11:55; Acts 21:26; Acts 24:18
  • 45. Acts 18:18
  • 46. Acts 15:19f, 29
  • 47. John 11:55; Acts 21:24; Acts 24:18
  • 48. Numbers 6:13; Acts 24:18
  • 49. Num 6:9, 13-20
  • 50. Acts 20:19; Acts 24:18
  • 51. Acts 16:6
  • 52. Acts 6:13
  • 53. Matthew 24:15; Acts 6:13; Acts 24:6
  • 54. Acts 20:4
  • 55. Acts 18:19
  • 56. 2 Kings 11:15; Acts 16:19; Acts 26:21
  • 57. Acts 10:1
  • 58. Acts 23:27
  • 59. Acts 20:23; Acts 21:11; Acts 22:29; Acts 26:29; Acts 28:20; Ephesians 6:20; 2 Timothy 1:16; 2 Timothy 2:9
  • 60. Acts 12:6
  • 61. Acts 19:32
  • 62. Acts 21:37; Acts 22:24; Acts 23:10, 16, 32
  • 63. Acts 21:40
  • 64. Luke 23:18; John 19:15; Acts 22:22
  • 65. Acts 21:34; Acts 22:24; Acts 23:10, 16, 32
  • 66. Acts 5:36
  • 67. Matthew 24:26
  • 68. Acts 9:11; Acts 22:3
  • 69. Acts 6:9
  • 70. Acts 21:35
  • 71. Acts 12:17
  • 72. John 5:2; Acts 1:19; Acts 22:2; Acts 26:14

Footnotes 22

Acts 21 Commentaries