Paul’s Journey to Jerusalem
1After we tore ourselves away from them, we put out to sea and sailed a direct course for the island of Kos, and on the next day to the island of Rhodes, # 21:1 Both Kos and Rhodes are Greek islands in the Aegean Sea. and from there to Patara. # 21:1 A city on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey. 2There we found a ship that was crossing over to Syria, # 21:2 Or “Phoenicia,” a Greek term for coastal Lebanon and Syria. so we went aboard and sailed away. 3After we sighted Cyprus and sailed south of it, we docked at Tyre # 21:3 Tyre was a city in Phoenicia. They would have sailed four or five days from Patara to reach Tyre. in Syria, where the ship unloaded its cargo.
4When we went ashore we found a number of believers and stayed with them for a week. They prophesied to Paul repeatedly, warning him by the Holy Spirit not to set foot in Jerusalem. 5When it was time for us to leave and be on our way, everyone—men, women, and children—accompanied us out of the city down to the beach. After we all knelt in the sand and prayed together, 6we kissed one another, # 21:6 As translated from the Aramaic idiom “one to one” (kissed). said our good-byes, and boarded the ship, while the believers went back to their homes.
7From Tyre we sailed # 21:7 The text can mean either “continued our journey” or “completed our journey.” If they completed their journey by boat to Akko, they would have gone by land to Caesarea. Akko, or Ptolemais, was named after the Egyptian ruler Ptolemy II Philadelphus in 261 BC (Epistulae Aristeas 115; 1 Macc. 5:15). See also Judg. 1:31. on to the town of Akko and greeted the believers there with peace. # 21:7 As translated from the Aramaic. We stayed with them for a day. 8Then we went on to Caesarea and stayed for several days # 21:8 This information is supplied from v. 10. in the home of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven deacons # 21:8 See Acts 6:1–7. An evangelist is simply “a preacher of the good news” or in Aramaic, “a preacher of the hope.” Philip is described as both an evangelist and a deacon (servant). Every minister must become a servant. and 9the father of four unmarried daughters who prophesied.
10During our stay of several days, Agabus, # 21:10 See Acts 11:28. a prophet from Judea, came to visit us. 11As a prophetic gesture, he took Paul’s belt and tied his own hands and feet with it as he prophesied, “The Holy Spirit says, ‘The one who owns this belt will be tied up in this same way by the Jews and they will hand him over to those who are not Jews.’ ” # 21:11 Or “gentiles”; i.e., the Romans.
12When we heard this, both we and the believers of Caesarea begged Paul not to go on to Jerusalem. 13But Paul replied, “Why do you cry and break my heart with your tears? Don’t you know that I’m prepared not only to be imprisoned but to die in Jerusalem for the sake of the wonder of the name of our Lord Jesus?”
14Because we couldn’t persuade him, we gave up and said nothing more except “May the will of the Lord be done.”
Paul Arrives in Jerusalem
15Afterward we packed our bags and set off for Jerusalem, 16with some of the believers from Caesarea accompanying us. They brought us to a village # 21:16 Implied in the text and found in a few Greek manuscripts. where they introduced us to Mnason, a Cypriot, one of the original disciples, # 21:16 That is, one of the first converts. He may have been one of the original converts at Pentecost or one of the first disciples converted by Paul and Barnabas. Mnason means “remembering.” and he offered us hospitality.
17When we finally arrived in Jerusalem, the believers welcomed us with delight. 18The next day Paul and our team had a meeting with Jacob # 21:18 That is, Jacob (James) the brother of our Lord Jesus, not the apostle Jacob who was martyred. and all the elders of the Jerusalem church. 19After greeting everyone, Paul explained in detail what God had accomplished through his ministry among the non-Jewish people.
20When they heard Paul’s report, they praised God. And they said to him, “You should know, brother, that there are many tens of thousands of Jews who have also embraced the faith and are passionately keeping the law of Moses. 21But they’ve heard a rumor that you’ve been instructing the Jews everywhere to abandon Moses # 21:21 Or “apostasy from [the law of] Moses.” by telling them they don’t need to circumcise their children or keep our Jewish customs. 22They will certainly hear that you’ve come to Jerusalem. So what is the proper way to proceed? 23We urge you to follow our suggestion. We have four men here who have taken a vow and are ready to have their heads shaved. 24Now go with them to the temple and sponsor them in their purification ceremony, # 21:24 This could have been the completion of a Nazarite vow (Num. 6:1–12) or a reference to the Jewish custom of when a Jew returned from a trip to a foreign (pagan) land, he would purify himself of the defilement of being with unbelievers (Mishnah Oholoth 2:3). and pay all their required expenses. Then everyone will know that the rumors they’ve heard are false. They’ll see that you are one who lives according to the law of Moses. 25But in reference to the non-Jewish believers, we’ve sent them a letter with our decision, stating that they should avoid eating meat that has been offered to an idol, or eating blood or any animal that has been strangled, and to avoid sexual immorality.” # 21:25 It seems strange that Jacob makes no mention of the offering that Paul brought for the poor saints in Jerusalem, which was the reason for leaving his missionary work to come to Jerusalem. Instead, Jacob wants to ensure the purity of Paul’s message. There is at least a hint that Paul’s ministry was not always well received in Judea. See Rom. 15:30–31.
Paul Arrested in Jerusalem
26The next day, Paul took the four men to the temple and ceremonially purified himself along with them. He publicly gave notice of the date when their vows would end and when sacrifices would be offered for each of them.
27When the seven-day period # 21:27 This could also mean “the Sabbath.” was almost over, a number of Jews from western Turkey # 21:27 Or “Asia (Minor).” They were possibly in Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Pentecost. who had seen him in the temple courts stirred up the whole crowd against him. Seizing him, 28they shouted, “Men of Israel, help us! This is the man who teaches everywhere what is contrary to our nation, our law, and this temple. And not only that, but now he brings these non-Jewish men with him into the inner courts of our temple! They have made this sacred place ritually unclean.” 29(For Trophimus, an Ephesian, had been seen previously with him, and they assumed that he entered the inner courts with Paul.)
30This ignited a huge riot in the city as all the people came together to seize Paul and drag him out of the temple courts, closing the gates behind him. 31But as they were about to kill Paul, the news reached the commander of the Roman garrison # 21:31 The Roman commander was in charge of about six hundred soldiers. that the entire city was in an uproar. 32He immediately ran out to the crowd with a large number of his officers and soldiers. When the crowd saw them coming, they stopped beating Paul. 33The commander arrested him and ordered that he be bound with two chains. He then asked, “Who is he and what has he done wrong?”
34Some in the crowd shouted one thing and others something else, just adding to the confusion. Since the commander was unable to get to the truth because of the disturbance, he ordered that Paul be brought back to their headquarters. 35When they reached the steps leading up to the fortress, # 21:35 This was the Antonia Fortress (or Tower) built by Herod the Great in 19 BC. they had to protect Paul and carry him up because of the violent mob following them, 36and everyone was screaming out, “Away with this man! Kill him!”
37As Paul was being led to the entrance of the compound, he said to the commander in Greek, “May I have a word with you?”
The commander replied, “So you know Greek, do you? # 21:37 The commander was surprised that Paul could speak some Greek, for the people living in Israel at that time did not speak Greek. Paul, an educated Jew from Turkey, spoke to the commander in the common language of the Roman Empire. 38Aren’t you that Egyptian fanatic who started a rebellion some time ago and led four thousand assassins # 21:38 The Greek word used here is Sicarii, a sect of Jewish nationalists who were violently hostile to Roman rule. They got their name from the small dagger known as a sicarii. out into the wilderness?”
39Paul answered, “I am, in fact, a Jew from Tarsus, in Cilicia, a well-known city of southern Turkey where I was born. I beg you, sir, please give me a moment to speak to these people.”
40When the commander gave his permission, Paul stood on the steps and gestured with his hands for the people to listen. When the crowd quieted down, Paul addressed them in Aramaic # 21:40 Or “Hebrew.” The Hebrew language had been replaced with Aramaic during the Babylonian captivity. For more than a thousand years the Aramaic language remained the language of the Jewish people. Note that Paul did not address the Jewish people in Greek. and said:
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