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Acts - Chapter 21

Bible Study Notes

Acts 21:1-9 Paul and his companions set sail for Jerusalem. The passed by Cos, then Rhodes, and then Patara. The boarded another ship to Phoenicia. They passed by Cyprus toward Syria and landed at Tyre. They sought out the disciples there and stayed seven days. The brothers warned Paul not to go to Jerusalem, but Paul was determined. They said their goodbyes and boarded a ship. They stayed at Ptolemais for a day. They departed and arrived at Caesarea and stayed with Philip (The evangelist – One of seven Greeks appointed by the Jerusalem Church. Philip spoke with the Ethiopian).

Notes: The disciples were wrong to stop Paul from going to Jerusalem, for Paul was being guided by the Holy Spirit to go to Jerusalem. All prophecy must be tested, for the either the prophecy and/or the interpretation could be wrong.

Acts 21:10-16  A prophet named Agabus came from Judea and prophesied to Paul that the Jews in Jerusalem will bind him and deliver him to the Gentiles. Again, the brothers urged Paul not to go. Paul said he was not afraid and was ready for imprisonment and death. Again, they could not persuade Paul to not go to Jerusalem. They set sail one last time and arrived in Jerusalem.

Acts 21:17-26 The brothers received Paul gladly. Paul visited James (Jesus’ brother) and related the stories of his travels and what God accomplished with the Gentiles. James told Paul that devout Jewish believers heard that Paul was telling the Jews among the Gentile converts to forsake circumcision and the Jewish customs. James feared for Paul, for surely the unbelieving Jews will hear that Paul was in town. James instructed Paul to take four Jewish men under a vow and go with them to the Temple, paying their expenses, and prove to the unbelieving Jews that Paul had not forsaken the law. He would purify himself and offer sacrifices at the temple with the four men. James repeated that they had sent a letter to the Gentiles to explain what they felt was expected of them.

Notes: Those under a Nazarite vow would abstain from wine, strong drink, grape juice, grapes, or raisins; would avoid any contact that would defile them (such as contact with a dead body); and would not cut their hair (cf. Num. 6:1–21). When the time of the vow was over (often 30 days), they would cut their hair and present an offering in the temple (cf. Mishnah, Nazir 6.3). Paul’s willingness to join with the four men under a Nazarite vow is an example of his willingness to become “all things to all people” (1 Cor. 9:22, cf. vv. 19–23) for the sake of advancing the gospel.

Acts 21:27-36 James’ plan did not work. After the seven days of purification was up for Paul, the Jews stirred up the crowd against him. They even falsely accused Paul of bringing Gentiles inside the Temple area. They seized Paul and dragged him out of the temple and sought to kill him. The Roman tribune heard the commotion and sent soldiers down to the mob. Seeing the soldiers, the Jews stopped beating Paul. The tribune came and arrested Paul, bound him with chains, and questioned the people on what Paul had done. Not getting the facts straight, he brought Paul to the barracks for questioning.

Acts 21:37-40 Paul asked the tribune in Greek if he may speak to the people. The tribune thought at first that Paul was the Egyptian who recently stirred up a revolt. Paul said he was a Jew from Tarsus. The tribune gave Paul permission, and motioning to the people to be silent, Paul preceded to address them in the Hebrew tongue.


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