On to Jerusalem, 1-16
Acts 21:1 After we had torn ourselves away from them, we put out to sea and sailed straight to Cos. The next day we went to Rhodes and from there to Patara.
Acts 21:2 We found a ship crossing over to Phoenicia, went on board and set sail.
Acts 21:3 After sighting Cyprus and passing to the south of it, we sailed on to Syria. We landed at Tyre, where our ship was to unload its cargo.
Acts 21:4 Finding the disciples there, we stayed with them seven days. Through the Spirit they urged Paul not to go on to Jerusalem.
Acts 21:5 But when our time was up, we left and continued on our way. All the disciples and their wives and children accompanied us out of the city, and there on the beach we knelt to pray.
Acts 21:6 After saying good-bye to each other, we went aboard the ship, and they returned home.
Acts 21:7 We continued our voyage from Tyre and landed at Ptolemais, where we greeted the brothers and stayed with them for a day.
Acts 21:8 Leaving the next day, we reached Caesarea and stayed at the house of Philip the evangelist, one of the Seven.
Acts 21:9 He had four unmarried daughters who prophesied.
This may be by way of explaining that even low-status people (unmarried females) had significant roles within the church (NBC).
There may also be an echo of the four female prophets of the OT: Miriam (Exod. 15:20); Deborah (Judg. 4:4); Huldah (2 Kgs. 22:14); and Noadiah (Neh. 6:14).
‘Perhaps these prophesying maidens and their father gave Luke source material Luke and Acts, for example, on Philip’s mission in Samaria and to the Ethiopian eunuch.’ (EBC)
We are not told what these maidens prophesied about. Marshall points out that that do not (apparently) prophesy about Paul’s fate.
Acts 21:10 After we had been there a number of days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea.
Agabus – He is introduced here as if we had not already met him in Acts 11:28. ‘This suggests that Luke is recording material from the we-source in which he had not yet been mentioned.’ (Marshall)
Acts 21:11 Coming over to us, he took Paul’s belt, tied his own hands and feet with it and said, “The Holy Spirit says, ‘In this way the Jews of Jerusalem will bind the owner of this belt and will hand him over to the Gentiles.’”
Marshall comments: ‘The prophecy was not fulfilled in so many words: although the Jews seized Paul, they did not hand him over to the Romans, but rather the Romans rescued him from them, while keeping him in custody. The form of Agabus’s wording is no doubt meant to bring out more clearly the parallelism between the fates of Jesus and Paul. In any case, the Jews could be regarded as responsible for the fact that Paul fell into the hands of the Romans and remained in custody (cf. Acts 28:17) although the latter had no particular reason of their own to charge him with any crime.’
Acts 21:12 When we heard this, we and the people there pleaded with Paul not to go up to Jerusalem.
Acts 21:13 Then Paul answered, “Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.”
Acts 21:14 When he would not be dissuaded, we gave up and said, “The Lord’s will be done.”
Acts 21:15 After this, we got ready and went up to Jerusalem.
Acts 21:16 Some of the disciples from Caesarea accompanied us and brought us to the home of Mnason, where we were to stay. He was a man from Cyprus and one of the early disciples.
Paul’s Arrival at Jerusalem, 17-26
Acts 21:17 When we arrived at Jerusalem, the brothers received us warmly.
Acts 21:18 The next day Paul and the rest of us went to see James, and all the elders were present.
This verse teaches us that Luke (included of course in the ‘us’) was in contact with a younger brother of Jesus (James) and therefore a very direct source of material for the life of Jesus and his family (including Mary).
Acts 21:19 Paul greeted them and reported in detail what God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry.
Acts 21:20 When they heard this, they praised God. Then they said to Paul: “You see, brother, how many thousands of Jews have believed, and all of them are zealous for the law.
Acts 21:21 They have been informed that you teach all the Jews who live among the Gentiles to turn away from Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or live according to our customs.
Acts 21:22 What shall we do? They will certainly hear that you have come,
Acts 21:23 so do what we tell you. There are four men with us who have made a vow.
Acts 21:24 Take these men, join in their purification rites and pay their expenses, so that they can have their heads shaved. Then everybody will know there is no truth in these reports about you, but that you yourself are living in obedience to the law.
Acts 21:25 As for the Gentile believers, we have written to them our decision that they should abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality.”
Acts 21:26 The next day Paul took the men and purified himself along with them. Then he went to the temple to give notice of the date when the days of purification would end and the offering would be made for each of them.
Paul Arrested, 27-36
Acts 21:27 When the seven days were nearly over, some Jews from the province of Asia saw Paul at the temple. They stirred up the whole crowd and seized him,
Acts 21:28 shouting, “Men of Israel, help us! This is the man who teaches all men everywhere against our people and our law and this place. And besides, he has brought Greeks into the temple area and defiled this holy place.”
“He has brought Greeks into the temple area and defiled this holy place” – Cf. Eph 2:14.
Acts 21:29 (They had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian in the city with Paul and assumed that Paul had brought him into the temple area.)
Acts 21:30 The whole city was aroused, and the people came running from all directions. Seizing Paul, they dragged him from the temple, and immediately the gates were shut.
Acts 21:31 While they were trying to kill him, news reached the commander of the Roman troops that the whole city of Jerusalem was in an uproar.
Acts 21:32 He at once took some officers and soldiers and ran down to the crowd. When the rioters saw the commander and his soldiers, they stopped beating Paul.
Acts 21:33 The commander came up and arrested him and ordered him to be bound with two chains. Then he asked who he was and what he had done.
Acts 21:34 Some in the crowd shouted one thing and some another, and since the commander could not get at the truth because of the uproar, he ordered that Paul be taken into the barracks.
Acts 21:35 When Paul reached the steps, the violence of the mob was so great he had to be carried by the soldiers.
Acts 21:36 The crowd that followed kept shouting, “Away with him!”
Paul Speaks to the Crowd, 37-40
Acts 21:37 As the soldiers were about to take Paul into the barracks, he asked the commander, “May I say something to you?” “Do you speak Greek?” he replied.
Acts 21:38 “Aren’t you the Egyptian who started a revolt and led four thousand terrorists out into the desert some time ago?”
Acts 21:39 Paul answered, “I am a Jew, from Tarsus in Cilicia, a citizen of no ordinary city. Please let me speak to the people.”
Acts 21:40 Having received the commander’s permission, Paul stood on the steps and motioned to the crowd. When they were all silent, he said to them in Aramaic: