Paul at Jerusalem
Paul at Jerusalem
William Stout / General
Acting out Acts / Acts 21
Acts 21:4–5 KJV 1900
And finding disciples, we tarried there seven days: who said to Paul through the Spirit, that he should not go up to Jerusalem.
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.
- We see the pattern continued, of Christians warning Paul not to go up to Jerusalem
- These people were speaking through the Holy Spirit concerning things to come
- Why do you suppose the Holy Spirit would warn people of the dangers ahead if He didn’t want them to continue?
- Perhaps it is for the Testimony
- Jesus has told us beforehand – in the world we sill suffer tribulation
- If God had not forewarned of these events, then people might have lost faith when they came
- but true believers, having heard from God, are not surprised by adversity
- neither should we be surprised by the falling away from the faith that has happened in our generation
- the great apostasy that has taken hold, even in many Christian (nominally) communities and churches.
- These are all things that we have been told beforehand
- there will be tribulations and troubles ahead for Christians, especially those who will not deny the faith
- Press on!
Acts 21:8–15 KJV 1900
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.
And the same man had four daughters, virgins, which did prophesy.
And as we tarried there many days, there came down from Judaea a certain prophet, named Agabus.
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.
And when we heard these things, both we, and they of that place, besought him not to go up to Jerusalem.
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.
And when he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, The will of the Lord be done.
And after those days we took up our carriages, and went up to Jerusalem.
- we are told of Phillip the evangelist, that he had daughters who “did prophesy”
- the gifts of the Spirit were not limited to the original 12 disciples
- they were also not limited to men only
- Agabus came to warn Paul again of trouble ahead
- specifically that he would be bound by the Jews and handed over to the Gentiles
- Again, Paul answered “why are you making me cry?”
- He was on a mission – he had a purpose from God
- The people who love you most are often the ones who will try to hinder you in your mission
- not from malice, but to spare you –
- remember Peter’s rebuke of Jesus concerning the cross
Matthew 16:21–23 KJV 1900
From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.
Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.
But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.
- when we know the purpose that God has called us to, we must not be moved from it
- realize that satan will use any means he can to keep you from God’s high calling in your life
- If he cannot stop you with fear, he will try enticement
- If temptation doesn’t work, then he will try to stir those who love you, as we see here.
- As Christian’s we are called of God – we must recognise that and keep Him first
- As Paul said – one thing I do…
- Of course we enjoy our lives, we work and spend time with friends and family, as you see Paul doing here
- But there is a calling that is above these temporal earthly things
What about YOU?
- Has God made His calling and mission clear to you?
- Have you allowed yourself to be stopped by the fears of loss, or the pleas of friends meaning well?
- Are you more concerned with leading a “balanced”, “normal” life than radical obedience to God?
- Have you missed out on an amazing and intimate relationship with Jesus, in order to stay in harmony with people?
- Of course not everyone is called to go to Jersualem, or to be imprisoned or martyred
- But everyone is called in some way.
Acts 21:17–21 KJV 1900
And when we were come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly.
And the day following Paul went in with us unto James; and all the elders were present.
And when he had saluted them, he declared particularly what things God had wrought among the Gentiles by his ministry.
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:
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.
- met with James and other apostles who were glad at testimonials
- Although they were glad and glorified God over the miraculous works he had done, there was an underlying tension
- James said there were “many thousands of Jews who believed” yet they were zealous of the law
- these were Christians of Jewish background, who still observed the law
- they trusted Jesus Christ as Lord and savoir, but still practiced their customs and laws
- Although there is nothing unlawful about that, there is when we impost it upon others
- As Paul and his disciples had been growing a great church through reaching the gentiles,
- James and those back in Jerusalem had been leading many thousands of Jews to faith in Jesus
- almost as if there were to Christianities, yet there were not
- on all the matter of absolute importance, both James and Paul agreed
- they had already agreed that it was not necessary for the gentiles to be circumcised or to follow all the laws and customs
- they had agreed that salvation is through faith in Jesus Christ alone, and his death on the cross.
- None of this prevented the Jews from continuing in their Jewish customs and heritage
- In fact the laws are good, if they are used lawfully
- Although they were both Christians, and great apostles of God, Paul and James had some differences in how they practiced their faith, an how God had called them to be used
- These differences are apparent if you read the book of Romans and the book of James
- Caused Martin Luther to actually reject the book of James
- These Christian Jews of Jerusalem, were Christians indeed, but they still were zealous concerning the performance of rites and laws etc.
- perhaps this type of thing can be seen in the differences between Catholicism and Protestantism, or other denominational differences.
- These Jewish believers have all heard of Paul and they are afraid that he is teaching the Jews abroad to forsake their laws and customs
- they had already agreed that no such laws were necessary for gentile believers
- So, James makes a proposal to Paul:
Acts 21:23–25 KJV 1900
Do therefore this that we say to thee: We have four men which have a vow on them;
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.
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.
- So, after acknowledging that they have already written concerning this as it relates to Gentile,s and allowed that they not keep the customs,
- James asked Paul to go to the temple with four other men who were performing a purification rite
- So that everyone could see that he himself was one of them and also kept the laws
- Oh the price of Compromise!!!
- Paul was fully aware that there was no need for him to undergo this purification rite to be accepted with Jesus or to partake in any type of worship
- But to appease the Jewish Christians, he attempted this compromise
- It was not sinful, or unlawful for him to do so, in fact it is in keeping with his teaching to the Corinthians
- But it was certainly a compromise
- he was not undergoing this an act of faith, believing that God required it,
- but rather as an act of appeasement, to pacify these stirred up zealots, who were also believers
- But it backfired miserably
Acts 21:27–32 KJV 1900
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,
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.
(For they had seen before with him in the city Trophimus an Ephesian, whom they supposed that Paul had brought into the temple.)
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.
And as they went about to kill him, tidings came unto the chief captain of the band, that all Jerusalem was in an uproar.
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.
- So often compromise works out this way. The inch so often becomes the mile
- the negative outcomes we try to avoid so often through compromise, end up only being amplified in the end.
- If Paul had not gone into the temple, into the inner court which was forbidden to Gentiles, then he might not have been surrounded by so many of the Jews
- He had gone there in order to try to keep peace with the Christian Jews, but the Jews who seized him were not believers at all
- These were of the Jews that had been looking for an opportunity to get Paul
- They had seen him with Trophimus and accused him bringing Trophimus into the holy place
- Of course this accusation is ludicrous
- Paul was only there in an effort to appease those who were zealous for the law, it is absurd to think that he would have taken in a gentile while doing so.
- But, because he was there, he became very vulnerable to their attack.
- He was on their turf, in their environment, surrounded by those who hated him
- And it nearly got him killed, if not for the Roman soldiers coming.
- did get him beaten
Acts 21:33–40 KJV 1900
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.
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.
And when he came upon the stairs, so it was, that he was borne of the soldiers for the violence of the people.
For the multitude of the people followed after, crying, Away with him.
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?
Art not thou that Egyptian, which before these days madest an uproar, and leddest out into the wilderness four thousand men that were murderers?
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.
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,
- And so we see again, Paul never losing sight of his purpose
- Even after being so miserably treated, beaten and probably quite bloody, he wanted to speak to the people
- He was being carried into the castle by the soldiers, and had, for the moment escaped the crowd
- Could have just continued inside and began preparing his defence
- But there were crowds of people there, who did not know the truth of the gospel
- So, he took that opportunity to speak to them in the Hebrew tongue
- spoke to them in the language they understood
- He did not miss the opportunity to glorify God, point out the truth of the gospel and perhaps save some.
- What about us today?
- Have we forgotten our purpose here in this time of comfort and prosperity?
- What opportunities do you have to glorify God, and share the gospel?