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The Acts of the Apostles: Chapter 21

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21When we had parted from them and set sail, we came by a straight course to Cos, and the next day to Rhodes, and from there to Patara. d Other ancient authorities add and Myra 2When we found a ship bound for Phoenicia, we went on board and set sail. 3We came in sight of Cyprus; and leaving it on our left, we sailed to Syria and landed at Tyre, because the ship was to unload its cargo there. 4We looked up the disciples and stayed there for seven days. Through the Spirit they told Paul not to go on to Jerusalem. 5When our days there were ended, we left and proceeded on our journey; and all of them, with wives and children, escorted us outside the city. There we knelt down on the beach and prayed 6and said farewell to one another. Then we went on board the ship, and they returned home.

7When we had finished a Or continued the voyage from Tyre, we arrived at Ptolemais; and we greeted the believers b Gk brothers and stayed with them for one day. 8The next day we left and came to Caesarea; and we went into the house of Philip the evangelist, one of the seven, and stayed with him. 9He had four unmarried daughters c Gk four daughters, virgins, who had the gift of prophecy. 10While we were staying there for several days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. 11He came to us and took Paul's belt, bound his own feet and hands with it, and said, “Thus says the Holy Spirit, ‘This is the way the Jews in Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and will hand him over to the Gentiles.’ ” 12When we heard this, we and the people there urged him not to go up to Jerusalem. 13Then Paul answered, “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” 14Since he would not be persuaded, we remained silent except to say, “The Lord's will be done.”

15After these days we got ready and started to go up to Jerusalem. 16Some of the disciples from Caesarea also came along and brought us to the house of Mnason of Cyprus, an early disciple, with whom we were to stay.

17When we arrived in Jerusalem, the brothers welcomed us warmly. 18The next day Paul went with us to visit James; and all the elders were present. 19After greeting them, he related one by one the things that God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry. 20When they heard it, they praised God. Then they said to him, “You see, brother, how many thousands of believers there are among the Jews, and they are all zealous for the law. 21They have been told about you that you teach all the Jews living among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, and that you tell them not to circumcise their children or observe the customs. 22What then is to be done? They will certainly hear that you have come. 23So do what we tell you. We have four men who are under a vow. 24Join these men, go through the rite of purification with them, and pay for the shaving of their heads. Thus all will know that there is nothing in what they have been told about you, but that you yourself observe and guard the law. 25But as for the Gentiles who have become believers, we have sent a letter with our judgment that they should abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols and from blood and from what is strangled d Other ancient authorities lack and from what is strangled and from fornication.” 26Then Paul took the men, and the next day, having purified himself, he entered the temple with them, making public the completion of the days of purification when the sacrifice would be made for each of them.

27When the seven days were almost completed, the Jews from Asia, who had seen him in the temple, stirred up the whole crowd. They seized him, 28shouting, “Fellow Israelites, help! This is the man who is teaching everyone everywhere against our people, our law, and this place; more than that, he has actually brought Greeks into the temple and has defiled this holy place.” 29For they had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian with him in the city, and they supposed that Paul had brought him into the temple. 30Then all the city was aroused, and the people rushed together. They seized Paul and dragged him out of the temple, and immediately the doors were shut. 31While they were trying to kill him, word came to the tribune of the cohort that all Jerusalem was in an uproar. 32Immediately he took soldiers and centurions and ran down to them. When they saw the tribune and the soldiers, they stopped beating Paul. 33Then the tribune came, arrested him, and ordered him to be bound with two chains; he inquired who he was and what he had done. 34Some in the crowd shouted one thing, some another; and as he could not learn the facts because of the uproar, he ordered him to be brought into the barracks. 35When Paul a Gk he came to the steps, the violence of the mob was so great that he had to be carried by the soldiers. 36The crowd that followed kept shouting, “Away with him!”

37Just as Paul was about to be brought into the barracks, he said to the tribune, “May I say something to you?” The tribune b Gk He replied, “Do you know Greek? 38Then you are not the Egyptian who recently stirred up a revolt and led the four thousand assassins out into the wilderness?” 39Paul replied, “I am a Jew, from Tarsus in Cilicia, a citizen of an important city; I beg you, let me speak to the people.” 40When he had given him permission, Paul stood on the steps and motioned to the people for silence; and when there was a great hush, he addressed them in the Hebrew c That is, Aramaic language, saying:


d Other ancient authorities add and Myra

a Or continued

b Gk brothers

c Gk four daughters, virgins,

d Other ancient authorities lack and from what is strangled

a Gk he

b Gk He

c That is, Aramaic

Text Commentary view alone

21.1–16 : Journey to Jerusalem.

1 :

The “we” passages ( 16.10n. ) resume. Cos, an island off the south‐western coast of Asia Minor.

4 :

V. 12; 20.23 .

7 :

Ptolemais, a port town in Phoenicia (modern Akko, near Haifa), 35 km (22 mi) from Tyre.

8 :

Philip the evangelist ( 8.5n. ) had arrived in Caesarea ( 8.40n. ) some time before. One of the seven, see 6.1–7 .

9 :

Philip's daughters became important figures in the church traditions of Hierapolis and Ephesus.

10–11 :

Agabus ( 11.28 ), like Hebrew prophets (1 Kings 11.29–32; Isa 20.2–6 ), performs a symbolic act. The prediction is not strictly fulfilled in the chapters that follow.

12 :

V. 4 .

14 :

Paul appears as a heroic figure.

21.17–26 : Paul's conformity to Judaism.

He takes a vow in order to allay suspicions.

16 :

An early disciple, note Christianity in connection with Cyprus at 4.36; 11.19–20; 13.4–12 .

17–20 :

The Jerusalem church accepts Paul and his accomplishments as complementary to their own in a harmonious portrait of unity (cf. Gal 2 ).

18 :

James, see 12.17n. ; the elders, 11.30n. The “we” passage stops here.

20 :

Thousands of believers, Acts represents the success of Christianity among Jews as phenomenal (cf. 6.7 ). Zealous for the law, see 11.2n.; 15.1n., 15.5n.; cf. Gal 2 .

21 :

The charge has been anticipated ( 16.3n. ). The informants are not identified (see v. 28 ).

23–24 :

Paul can demonstrate his faithfulness to the law by undergoing purification for uncleanness with some others and paying the expenses upon their release from a nazirite vow ( 18.18n. ).

25 :

He is told of the decree as though he had not heard of it (see 16.4 ).

21.27–40 : Uproar in the Temple and arrest of Paul.

Seized after a disturbance in the Temple, Paul tells of his conversion.

28 :

It was a capital offense for non‐Jews to pass beyond the Court of the Gentiles; an inscription stating this has been discovered (cf. Josephus, War 5.193–194; 6.125–126 ).

29 :

Trophimus, 20.4; 2 Tim 4.20 .

31 :

A military tribune commanded a cohort (a detachment of 1,000 men); this would have been stationed in the citadel Antonia, which had access to the Temple courtyard (see Josephus, War 5.244 ).

33 :

Paul's case came into the hands of Roman, not Jewish, authorities.

36 :

Away with him, 22.22; cf. Lk 23.18 .

38 :

The question in Greek may be: “Are you not the Egyptian?” Concerning the Egyptian, a pseudo‐messiah who, with thousands of followers, had planned to take Jerusalem from the Romans, see Josephus, War 2.261–263 (which puts the number at about 30,000); Ant. 20.169–172 .

39 :

Paul gives assurances that he is not the Egyptian. Tarsus, 9.30n.

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