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Acts Chapter 21 

Memory verses for this week: 1 John 2:24  Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father.

 Introduction:     In Chapter 20, Paul went to Greece, Macedonia, and later talked with the leaders at the church in Ephesus.    He declared how that he had held nothing back from them, but had declared the whole word of the Lord.  It ended on a sad note as he prophetically told them that they would see him no more.  They accompanied him to the ship there in Miletus where he left to sail to Tyre.

I.                     Paul from Miletus to Tyre 

Acts 21:1  And it came to pass, that after we were gotten from them, and had launched, we came with a straight course unto Coos, and the day following unto Rhodes, and from thence unto Patara:

Acts 21:2  And finding a ship sailing over unto Phenicia, we went aboard, and set forth.

Acts 21:3  Now when we had discovered Cyprus, we left it on the left hand, and sailed into Syria, and landed at Tyre: for there the ship was to unlade her burden.  

We see after Paul met with the elders from Ephesus, he sailed to Tyre through the cities of Rhodes, Patara, Phenicia, Cyprus, and Syria.  In Tyre, they stopped to unload some of the cargo of the ship.

 II.                   The Holy Ghost forbids Paul to go to Jerusalem 

Acts 21:4  And finding disciples, we tarried there seven days: who said to Paul through the Spirit, that he should not go up to Jerusalem.

Acts 21:5  And when we had accomplished those days, we departed and went our way; and they all brought us on our way, with wives and children, till we were out of the city: and we kneeled down on the shore, and prayed.


Last week, we talked about how Paul was pushing his schedule in order to get to Jerusalem to be there for the time of the feast.   Paul finds several disciples in the city of Tyre, and they pray together.  Paul’s  was warned by the leading of the Holy Spirit that he should not go to Jerusalem.   Paul goes forth and gets on another ship to continue his journey.   The people had great love and respect for Paul, and it was shown as the people came out to bid him farewell, and knelt and prayed there on the beach. 

Acts 21:6  And when we had taken our leave one of another, we took ship; and they returned home again.

Acts 21:7  And when we had finished our course from Tyre, we came to Ptolemais, and saluted the brethren, and abode with them one day.


We see they entered the ship and came next to the port of Ptolemais.   As was Paul’s custom in most every city he went, he went down and saluted and encouraged the brethren in the city.  Paul’s desire was to see the church grow and reach more for the cause of Christ.


2 Cor 11:22  Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I.

2 Cor 11:23  Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft.

2 Cor 11:24  Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one.

2 Cor 11:25  Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep;

2 Cor 11:26  In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren;

2 Cor 11:27  In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.

2 Cor 11:28  Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.


Acts 21:8  And the next day we that were of Paul's company departed, and came unto Caesarea: and we entered into the house of Philip the evangelist, which was one of the seven; and abode with him.

Acts 21:9  And the same man had four daughters, virgins, which did prophesy.


The next day Paul and his company depart and come unto Caesarea, the city where the evangelist Phillip lived.  He was one of the seven that had been chosen to serve the church in Jerusalem before the great persecution. 

Acts 6:5  And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch:

Acts 6:6  Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them.

 It says that Phillip was chosen to be a deacon in the church there in Jerusalem before God called him into the ministry.   After that he preached in Samaria. 

Acts 8:1  And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles.

Acts 8:2  And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him.

Acts 8:3  As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison.

Acts 8:4  Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.

Acts 8:5  Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them.

Acts 8:6  And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did.


We also remember in our studies how that Phillip caught up to the eunuch in the chariot and preached to him Jesus Christ.  Afterwards he baptized the man, meaning that he had been given such authority by the church there in Jerusalem.  This means he was called as a minister, since deacons are not commanded to preach.   Every Christian should witness for the Lord, but preachers are called of God. 

Acts 8:26  And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert.

Acts 8:27  And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship,

Acts 8:28  Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet.

Acts 8:29  Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot.

Acts 8:30  And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest?

Acts 8:31  And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him.

Acts 8:32  The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth:

Acts 8:33  In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth.

Acts 8:34  And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man?

Acts 8:35  Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.

Acts 8:36  And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?

Acts 8:37  And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.


It says that Paul and his company abode at Phillip’s house until they left Caesarea.   At this time, we saw an Old Testament prophecy fulfilled in the case of Phillip’s four daughters. 

Joel 2:28  And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions:

Joel 2:29  And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit. 

It would have to be assumed that they spoke and prophesied before women, as the scriptures teach that the woman is not to speak in the church.

 1 Cor 14:34  Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law.

1 Cor 14:35  And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.


Many churches ignore these verses today, and we see many women being ordained as pastors.  From these scriptures and the ones concerning the qualifications for a pastor, it appears that God’s Word is not their basis for their decisions.

III.                  The Holy Spirit warns Paul through Agabus 

Acts 21:10  And as we tarried there many days, there came down from Judaea a certain prophet, named Agabus.

Acts 21:11  And when he was come unto us, he took Paul's girdle, and bound his own hands and feet, and said, Thus saith the Holy Ghost, So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.

Acts 21:12  And when we heard these things, both we, and they of that place, besought him not to go up to Jerusalem.

Acts 21:13  Then Paul answered, What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart? for I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus. 

Paul and his group were here several days when a prophet from Judea named Agabus come up to them.  We do not know if the man was sent directly by God for the purpose of persuading Paul not to go to Jerusalem, but we do know God works all things after the counsel of His own will. 

Eph 1:11  In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:

Eph 1:12  That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.

We see Agabus takes hold on Paul’s girdle and bound him signifying that this would happen to him if he went into Jerusalem.  The brethren speak up to encourage him not to go, but Paul is persuaded in his mind that he will go even if it meant his death.


Matthew Henry had this to say about these scriptures: 
Here appeared a commendable affection to Paul, and a value for him upon account of his great usefulness in the church.  Good men that are very active sometimes need to be dissuaded from overworking themselves, and good men that are very bold need to be dissuaded from exposing themselves too far.  The Lord is for the body, and so must we be.  Yet there was a mixture of infirmity, especially in those of Paul’s company, who knew he undertook this journey by divine direction, and had seen with what resolution he had before broken through the like opposition.  Paul reproves them for dissuading him.  They love Paul dearly, and therefore oppose his resolution; he loves them dearly, and therefore chides them for opposing it.  They were an offence to him, as Peter was to Christ, in a like case, when he said “Master, spare thyself.”  Fortunately, Paul was of a very tender spirit.”   However, after two warnings, we see he goes forth to Jerusalem.

IV.               Paul at Jerusalem

Acts 21:14  And when he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, The will of the Lord be done.

Acts 21:15  And after those days we took up our carriages, and went up to Jerusalem.

Acts 21:16  There went with us also certain of the disciples of Caesarea, and brought with them one Mnason of Cyprus, an old disciple, with whom we should lodge.

Acts 21:17  And when we were come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly.

 When the disciples could not persuade Paul not to go, they said, “The will of the Lord be done.”  When we can not make someone understand, this is the best course of action.  We see when they depart for Jerusalem, they take an old disciple named Mnason of Cyprus with them.  As was the case in most every city Paul went, he and his company were warmly received by the brethren there in Jerusalem.


V.  Paul take a Jewish Vow concerning Jewish Sacrifice 

Acts 21:18  And the day following Paul went in with us unto James; and all the elders were present.

Acts 21:19  And when he had saluted them, he declared particularly what things God had wrought among the Gentiles by his ministry. 

When Paul declared the great things God had done among the Gentiles, it brought great joy to the brethren, and they glorified God for it.  When we hear of souls being saved by missionaries we support in our church, it brings great happiness to us.  To have a small part in these ministries allows us to share in the happiness of one more soul being saved for eternity. 

Acts 21:20  And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord, and said unto him, Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the law:

Acts 21:21  And they are informed of thee, that thou teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs.

Acts 21:22  What is it therefore? the multitude must needs come together: for they will hear that thou art come.

Acts 21:23  Do therefore this that we say to thee: We have four men which have a vow on them;

Acts 21:24  Them take, and purify thyself with them, and be at charges with them, that they may shave their heads: and all may know that those things, whereof they were informed concerning thee, are nothing; but that thou thyself also walkest orderly, and keepest the law.

Acts 21:25  As touching the Gentiles which believe, we have written and concluded that they observe no such thing, save only that they keep themselves from things offered to idols, and from blood, and from strangled, and from fornication.

Acts 21:26  Then Paul took the men, and the next day purifying himself with them entered into the temple, to signify the accomplishment of the days of purification, until that an offering should be offered for every one of them.


We see that thousands of Jews were at Jerusalem who were saved and also zealous for the law.  We see that the disciples suggest that Paul prove to the people that he is alright by going into the temple and make a vow and pay their bill.  They knew that Paul had taught the Gentiles that they did not need to be circumcised to be saved.


1 Cor 7:19  Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God.


Gal 5:6  For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.


Phil 3:3  For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.


Why Paul agreed to do this, I don’t know.  It did not work.  But Paul tried his best to pacify the Jews to follow the truth.  

 J. Vernon McGee had these comments about these verses.  “The Jews twisted a little what Paul was actually doing and teaching.  We come now to another interesting passage about which good Bible expositors offer different explanations.  Was Paul out or in the will of God when he went to Jerusalem and took a Jewish vow that evidently involved a sacrifice. These Jews who had found their completion in Jesus Christ had not forsaken the Mosaic Law.  However, they could not insist that Gentiles must come under the Law.  On the other hand, Gentiles could not insist that the Jews forsake the practices of the Law—provided they were not trusting them for salvation.  Those who insist that the grace of God did not force the Gentiles to keep the Mosaic Law seem to forget that the same grace permits the Jew to continue in its precepts if he feels it is the will of God.  Paul had made it very clear in his teachings that meat does not commend us to God.”


1 Cor 8:8  But meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse.

1 Cor 8:9  But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak.

I think it all comes down to the zeal Paul had to reach all men.

 1 Cor 9:19  For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more.

1 Cor 9:20  And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law;

1 Cor 9:21  To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law.

1 Cor 9:22  To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.

1 Cor 9:23  And this I do for the gospel's sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you.


VI.  Paul seized in the Temple by the Jews

Acts 21:27  And when the seven days were almost ended, the Jews which were of Asia, when they saw him in the temple, stirred up all the people, and laid hands on him,

Acts 21:28  Crying out, Men of Israel, help: This is the man, that teacheth all men every where against the people, and the law, and this place: and further brought Greeks also into the temple, and hath polluted this holy place.

Acts 21:29  (For they had seen before with him in the city Trophimus an Ephesian, whom they supposed that Paul had brought into the temple.)

Acts 21:30  And all the city was moved, and the people ran together: and they took Paul, and drew him out of the temple: and forthwith the doors were shut.

Acts 21:31  And as they went about to kill him, tidings came unto the chief captain of the band, that all Jerusalem was in an uproar.

Acts 21:32  Who immediately took soldiers and centurions, and ran down unto them: and when they saw the chief captain and the soldiers, they left beating of Paul. 

It was the Jews from Asia that identify Paul.  The bring the charge against Paul for bringing a Gentile into the temple.  Having seen him with Trophimus, they supposed Paul had brought him into the temple.   This was not the case at all.  When we accuse someone, we need to be certain of the facts.  This caused a riot and Paul was almost beaten to death.  Fortunately, Paul was rescued by the Roman soldiers.


VII.  Paul is Bound with Chains


Acts 21:33  Then the chief captain came near, and took him, and commanded him to be bound with two chains; and demanded who he was, and what he had done.

Acts 21:34  And some cried one thing, some another, among the multitude: and when he could not know the certainty for the tumult, he commanded him to be carried into the castle.

Acts 21:35  And when he came upon the stairs, so it was, that he was borne of the soldiers for the violence of the people.

Acts 21:36  For the multitude of the people followed after, crying, Away with him.


The chief captain takes Paul and commands that he be bound in chains.  He demands to know who he is and where he was from.   When he could not hear for the shouting of the people, he commands that they take Paul into the castle. 

Acts 21:37  And as Paul was to be led into the castle, he said unto the chief captain, May I speak unto thee? Who said, Canst thou speak Greek?

Acts 21:38  Art not thou that Egyptian, which before these days madest an uproar, and leddest out into the wilderness four thousand men that were murderers?

Acts 21:39  But Paul said, I am a man which am a Jew of Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, a citizen of no mean city: and, I beseech thee, suffer me to speak unto the people.

 When Paul was about to led away, he asks for the right to speak to the people.  The chief captain thinks Paul is the Egyptian which had caused trouble before and led 4,000 murderers into the wilderness. 

Acts 21:40  And when he had given him licence, Paul stood on the stairs, and beckoned with the hand unto the people. And when there was made a great silence, he spake unto them in the Hebrew tongue, saying,


This is an unfortunate break in a chapter, as Paul begins to speak to the people.  But we will get into what he says in next week’s lesson. 


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Prov 4:18  But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.


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