ACTS 21 - THE OPPOSITION OF RELIGIOUS PEOPLE

Rev. Thomas Tyree, Jr., Pastor, Grace Bible Church of Costa Mesa, California

Copyright 1995-2014 Rev. Thomas Tyree, Jr., All Rights Reserved


As this chapter opens, we find Paul and the rest of the gospel team, including Luke, on the way back to Jerusalem to conclude the Third Missionary Journey.

Opposition of the Christians

A. Hastening the journey to Jerusalem - Acts 21:1-7

And when it came about that we had parted from them and had set sail, we ran a straight course to Cos and the next day to Rhodes and from there to Patara; and having found a ship crossing over to Phoenicia, we went aboard and set sail. And when we had come in sight of Cyprus, leaving it on the left, we kept sailing to Syria and landed at Tyre; for there the ship was to unload its cargo. And after looking up the disciples, we stayed there seven days; and they kept telling Paul through the Spirit not to set foot in Jerusalem. And when it came about that our days there were ended, we departed and started on our journey, while they all, with wives and children, escorted us until we were out of the city. And after kneeling down on the beach and praying, we said farewell to one another. Then we went on board the ship, and they returned home again. And when we had finished the voyage from Tyre, we arrived at Ptolemais; and after greeting the brethren, we stayed with them for a day. (Acts 21:1-7)

B. The visit with Philip - Acts 21:8-9

And on the next day we departed and came to Caesarea; and entering the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven, we stayed with him. Now this man had four virgin daughters who were prophetesses. (Acts 21:8-9)

C. The prophesy of Agabus - Acts 21:10-11

And as we were staying there for some days, a certain prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. And coming to us, he took Paul's belt and bound his own feet and hands, and said, "This is what the Holy Spirit says: 'In this way the Jews at Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.'" (Acts 21:10-11)

D. Paul's determination to go to Jerusalem - Acts 21:12-16 This reminds us of Christ's determination to go to Jerusalem and suffer - Mark 8:29-33

And when we had heard this, we as well as the local residents began begging him not to go up to Jerusalem. Then Paul answered, "What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but even to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus." And since he would not be persuaded, we fell silent, remarking, "The will of the Lord be done!" And after these days we got ready and started on our way up to Jerusalem. And some of the disciples from Caesarea also came with us, taking us to Mnason of Cyprus, a disciple of long standing with whom we were to lodge. (Acts 21:12-16)

And He continued by questioning them, "But who do you say that I am?" Peter answered and said to Him, "Thou art the Christ." And He warned them to tell no one about Him. And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. And He was stating the matter plainly. And Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. But turning around and seeing His disciples, He rebuked Peter, and said, "Get behind Me, Satan; for you are not setting your mind on God's interests, but man's." (Mark 8:29-33)

Opposition of the Jews

A. Paul reports to the elders - Acts 21:17-19

And when we had come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly. And now the following day Paul went in with us to James, and all the elders were present. And after he had greeted them, he began to relate one by one the things which God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry. (Acts 21:17-19)

B. The elders report to Paul - Acts 21:20-25

And when they heard it they began glorifying 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 zealous for the Law; and they have been told about you, that you are teaching all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children nor to walk according to the customs. "What, then, is to be done? They will certainly hear that you have come. "Therefore do this that we tell you. We have four men who are under a vow; take them and purify yourself along with them, and pay their expenses in order that they may shave 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. "But concerning the Gentiles who have believed, we wrote, having decided that they should abstain from meat sacrificed to idols and from blood and from what is strangled and from fornication." (Acts 21:20-25)

C. Paul observes the rite of purification - Acts 21:26

Then Paul took the men, and the next day, purifying himself along with them, went into the temple, giving notice of the completion of the days of purification, until the sacrifice was offered for each one of them. (Acts 21:26)

D. The Jews accuse Paul of polluting the temple - Acts 21:27-30 Jewish rules prohibited anyone of an alien race from entering the temple. The Jews believed that Paul had permitted an idolatrous Ephesian to enter the temple and so, in their eyes, he was a hypocrite.

And when the seven days were almost over, the Jews from Asia, upon seeing him in the temple, began to stir up all the multitude and laid hands on him, crying out, "Men of Israel, come to our aid! This 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 defiled this holy place." For they had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian in the city with him, and they supposed that Paul had brought him into the temple. And all the city was aroused, and the people rushed together; and taking hold of Paul, they dragged him out of the temple; and immediately the doors were shut. (Acts 21:27-30)

E. Paul was rescued by the Roman soldiers - Acts 21:31-40 The words "away with him" in verse 36 remind us of Christ in Jerusalem - John 19:15.

And while they were seeking to kill him, a report came up to the commander of the Roman cohort that all Jerusalem was in confusion. And at once he took along some soldiers and centurions, and ran down to them; and when they saw the commander and the soldiers, they stopped beating Paul. Then the commander came up and took hold of him, and ordered him to be bound with two chains; and he began asking who he was and what he had done. But among the crowd some were shouting one thing and some another, and when he could not find out the facts on account of the uproar, he ordered him to be brought into the barracks. And when he got to the stairs, it so happened that he was carried by the soldiers because of the violence of the mob; for the multitude of the people kept following behind, crying out, "Away with him!" And as Paul was about to be brought into the barracks, he said to the commander, "May I say something to you?" And he said^, "Do you know Greek? "Then you are not the Egyptian who some time ago stirred up a revolt and led the four thousand men of the Assassins out into the wilderness?" But Paul said, "I am a Jew of Tarsus in Cilicia, a citizen of no insignificant city; and I beg you, allow me to speak to the people." And when he had given him permission, Paul, standing on the stairs, motioned to the people with his hand; and when there was a great hush, he spoke to them in the Hebrew dialect, saying, (Acts 21:31-40)

Study Questions

1. Were Agabus and the other disciples led by the Holy Spirit in encouraging Paul to stay away from Jerusalem? - Acts 21:4 and Acts 21:11

And after looking up the disciples, we stayed there seven days; and they kept telling Paul through the Spirit not to set foot in Jerusalem. (Acts 21:4)

And coming to us, he took Paul's belt and bound his own feet and hands, and said, "This is what the Holy Spirit says: 'In this way the Jews at Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.'" (Acts 21:11)

2. What spiritual gift was possessed by the daughters of Philip? - Acts 21:8

And on the next day we departed and came to Caesarea; and entering the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven, we stayed with him. (Acts 21:8)

3. How were the Christians able to resign themselves to Paul's prospective suffering? - Acts 21:14

And since he would not be persuaded, we fell silent, remarking, "The will of the Lord be done!" (Acts 21:14)

4. How did the elders at Jerusalem receive Paul's report? - Acts 21:20

And when they heard it they began glorifying 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 zealous for the Law; (Acts 21:20)

5. How many Christian Jews were attempting to keep the Law of Moses? - Acts 21:20

And when they heard it they began glorifying 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 zealous for the Law; (Acts 21:20)

6. What charge did the Jews lodge against Paul? - Acts 21:28

crying out, "Men of Israel, come to our aid! This 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 defiled this holy place." (Acts 21:28)

7. What two languages did Paul speak? - Acts 21:37 and Acts 21:40

And as Paul was about to be brought into the barracks, he said to the commander, "May I say something to you?" And he said^, "Do you know Greek? (Acts 21:37)

And when he had given him permission, Paul, standing on the stairs, motioned to the people with his hand; and when there was a great hush, he spoke to them in the Hebrew dialect, saying, (Acts 21:40)

8. Why do people sometimes kneel to pray? - Acts 21:5. Does this have value? - Acts 7:60, Acts 9:40, and Acts 20:36

And when it came about that our days there were ended, we departed and started on our journey, while they all, with wives and children, escorted us until we were out of the city. And after kneeling down on the beach and praying, we said farewell to one another. (Acts 21:5)

And falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them!" And having said this, he fell asleep. (Acts 7:60)

But Peter sent them all out and knelt down and prayed, and turning to the body, he said, "Tabitha, arise." And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter, she sat up. (Acts 9:40)

And when he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all. (Acts 20:36)


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