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The Book of ACTS
THEME: Paul goes to Jerusalem and is arrested
Paul has made three missionary journeys. He is returning now, and it is almost like a wonderful victory march as he comes back into the city of Jerusalem. But along the way, warnings are coming to him. He knows that trouble awaits him in Jerusalem.
Chapter 20 ended with the tender meeting he had with the Ephesian elders at Miletus. Now he boards a ship for the voyage that will return him to Israel.
Paul At Tyre (Acts 21:1-7)
Acts 21:1-2 And it came to pass, that after we were gotten from them, and had launched, we came with a straight course unto Coos, and the day following unto Rhodes, and from thence unto Patara: 2 And finding a ship sailing over unto Phenicia, we went aboard, and set forth. (KJV)
Paul took a ship at Miletus and they sailed down to the southern coast of Asia Minor to Patara. There they changed ships. Luke is still with Paul. Paul is now headed for Tyre on the seacoast north of Caesarea. It was actually on the coast of Israel in what was ancient Phoenicia. Today it is Lebanon.
Acts 21:3 Now when we had discovered Cyprus, we left it on the left hand, and sailed into Syria, and landed at Tyre: for there the ship was to unlade her burden. (KJV)
They "discovered Cyprus" on the left hand is a way of saying that as they were sailing towards Tyre, with Cyprus looming up in the distance on the left-hand side. This does not mean that they were the first people to discover Cyprus. They saw the island and were near enough to recognize it, but they did not stop there. They were on their way to Tyre, a great commercial center which had been there since ancient times.
Acts 21:4 And finding disciples, we tarried there seven days: who said to Paul through the Spirit, that he should not go up to Jerusalem. (KJV)
This verse is used by those Bible teachers who think that Paul made a big mistake when he went to Jerusalem. This to me, shows that these men spoke to Paul through the Holy Spirit. I know this for certain, the Spirit of God is NOT going to contradict Himself. I believe He is saying the same thing here that He had said before (Acts 20:22-23). Paul will not to go up to Jerusalem unless he is prepared to make the required sacrifice . . . and Paul keeps saying that he is willing to make the sacrifice. He is perfectly willing to lay down his life for the Lord Jesus. That is the way I think it should be understood.
I do not think that Paul was out of the will of God when he went to Jerusalem. He had a sentimental reason for going there, but it was a good reason. He was carrying the offering from the Gentile Christians to the suffering saints in Jerusalem. He wanted to present this to the church in Jerusalem personally, because at one time, he had done damage to the church in Jerusalem. He had been partly responsible for the state of poverty in which the saints in Jerusalem found themselves. Paul did not want to send some representative to Jerusalem; he wanted to go to Jerusalem himself.
Another reason I do not think that Paul was out of the will of God is because of his later writings. When Paul was in prison in Rome, the church at Philippi sent to him an expression of their sympathy. They loved him and they sympathized with his condition. But Paul wrote to them: Phil.1:12 But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel; (KJV)
What happened to Paul did NOT hinder the spread of the Gospel, so I do not think that Paul was out of the will of God. And too, remember when the Lord appeared to Ananias and told him to go to Paul after his conversion, He said to Ananias: Acts 9:15-16 But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: 16 For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake. (KJV)
Up to now, Paul has not appeared before kings and rulers, but we know it is in the will of God that he shall do so. In the next chapters we will find that he shall go before kings. He will testify before King Agrippa. It is also possible that he appeared before Nero in Rome. We know for certain that he reached those who were in Caesar's household because he sent greetings from them in his letter to the Philippians (Phil. 4:22), which was written while he was a prisoner in Rome.
Finally this. 2 Tim. 4:7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: (KJV) . . . This was written at the end of his life. This does NOT say even for a time, that he had stepped out of the will of God. He kept the faith!
HOW could Paul, at the end of his life, write that he had finished his course IF he had been out of the will of God?
Acts 21:5 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. (KJV)
What a wonderful thing! Paul and the people with him kneeled down there on the shore and prayed.
Acts 21:6-7 And when we had taken our leave one of another, we took ship; and they returned home again. 7 And when we had finished our course from Tyre, we came to Ptolemais, and saluted the brethren, and abode with them one day. (KJV)
I wonder why Paul did not stay there longer than he did. He received a marvelous reception.
Paul At Caesarea (Acts 21:8-14)
Acts 21:8 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. (KJV)
Paul is going down the coastline, from one place to another. Came unto Cæsarea . . . (Acts 8:40).
We entered into the house of Philip . . . Phillip was one of the seven deacons (Acts 6:3-6). After Phillip's conversation with the eunuch of Ethiopia, he went to Cæsarea, and probably lived there.
The evangelist . . . this word properly means one who announces good news. In the New Testament it is applied to a preacher of the Gospel, or one who brings good tidings of salvation. It occurs only in two other places: Eph. 4:11 and 2 Tim.4:5. What the precise rank of those who bore this title in the early Christian church was, I do not know. But, it is certain that it is used to mean the office of preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ; and since this title is applied just to Philip, and not to any other of the seven deacons, it would most likely seem that he had been entrusted with a special commission to preach, and that preaching did not relate to him as a deacon, and does not properly belong to that office. The business of a deacon was to take care of the poor members of the church, Acts 6:1-6. The office of preaching was different from this, although as in this case, it might be conferred on the same individual. "Philip" Acts 8:26-40.
Acts 21:9 And the same man had four daughters, virgins, which did prophesy. (KJV)
Philip had 4 daughters, and as this verse clearly reveals that women DID occupy a prominent place in the church. These particular women had the gift of prophecy. The New Testament had NOT been written yet; so the gift of prophecy was needed in the early church.
There are 14 prophetesses named in the Bible:
- #1. Rachel (Gen.30:24).
- #2. Miriam (Ex.15:20).
- #3. Deborah (Jud.4:4) she was not only a prophetess, but also a judge.
- #4. Huldah (2 K.22:14; 2 Chron.34:22).
- #5. Noadiah (Neh.6:14).
- #6. Isaiah's wife (Isa.8:3).
- #7. Elizabeth (Luke 1:41-45).
- #8. Mary, mother of Jesus (Luke 1:46-55).
- #9. Anna (Luke 2:36-38).
- #10. Jezebel, a false prophetess (Rev.2:20).
- #11-14. Phillip's four daughters (Acts 21:9).
Acts 21:10 And as we tarried there many days, there came down from Judaea a certain prophet, named Agabus. (KJV)
Agabus is mentioned in Acts 11:28, of whose prophecy they could not just ignore.
Acts 21:11 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. (KJV)
The Holy Spirit is showing Paul what will happen to him when he goes up to Jerusalem. God does not want Paul to feel that He let him stumble into a trap. Paul knows ahead what awaits him, and he still is perfectly willing to go. Agabus really is not telling Paul anything that he does not already know, to some extent. In Acts 20, when Paul was still in Asia Minor, he knew that bonds and afflictions waited for him.
Acts 21:12 And when we heard these things, both we, and they of that place, besought him not to go up to Jerusalem. (KJV)
Remember, Luke is writing this. He and the others did not want to see Paul go to Jerusalem.
Acts 21:13 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. (KJV)
The Spirit of God is revealing to Paul that he is going to be bound. Paul is not only willing to be bound but is also willing to die for Jesus in Jerusalem. He asks the believers not to cry and to break his heart. It is touching here to see the concern of the believers for the apostle Paul. They really loved him!
Acts 21:14 And when he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, The will of the Lord be done. (KJV)
The will of the Lord be done . . . those with Paul stopped trying to persuade him not to go to Jerusalem. They, along with Paul, were now assured that it was the will of God that he should go. And they were now ready to submit to that will. They trusted their friend to the protection of God, confident that whatever should occur would be right. Also see: Mat.6:10; 26:42.
Paul At Jerusalem (Acts 21:15-26)
Acts 21:15 And after those days we took up our carriages, and went up to Jerusalem. (KJV)
After those days. . . after what had happened in the previous verses. . . . we took up our carriages . . . . not a good translation. The word carriage we now use to mean a vehicle for transporting something: a coach, chariot, gig, carriage, etc. The original word means simply, that they prepared themselves; made themselves ready; got their baggage ready to go (Isa.10:28). They prepared for the journey.
And went up to Jerusalem . . . which was on higher ground, and was, as Josephus says, six hundred furlongs, or seventy five miles away.
Acts 21:16 There went with us also certain of the disciples of Caesarea, and brought with them one Mnason of Cyprus, an old disciple, with whom we should lodge. (KJV)
One Mnason of Cyprus . . . . it seems that although Mnason was originally of Cyprus, he now lived in Jerusalem, and was well known to the disciples at Cæsarea. He might have been at Cæsarea, and accompanied Paul to Jerusalem.
With whom we should lodge . . . they would stay in Mnason's home. This is how hospitality was shown by the early Christians. His being an old disciple may either refer to his having been a very early convert, probably one of those on the day of pentecost, or to his being now an old man, or both (Pro.16:31).
Acts 21:17 And when we were come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly. (KJV)
They pack up and move on to Jerusalem. This shows their readiness of mind to endure and suffer all things for Christ. It wasn't only Paul, but the ones with him as well that might also be bound.
When the apostle Paul came to Jerusalem, the church that was there received him gladly.
Acts 21:18 And the day following Paul went in with us unto James; and all the elders were present. (KJV)
What a wonderful reception by the church in Jerusalem! Paul is a veteran by now, striving in the service of the Lord Jesus Christ, and bearing in his body the marks of the enemies of the Lord Jesus. James was one of the apostles, and some think that he was a half brother of our Saviour. At this time he was bishop of Jerusalem.
Elders . . . as in Acts 15:6, 23, not called so because of their age, but because of dignity or place in the church.
Acts 21:19 And when he had saluted them, he declared particularly what things God had wrought among the Gentiles by his ministry. (KJV)
And when he had saluted them . . . When Paul greeted them; James and the elders with him; which was either done by a kiss or by asking of their health, and wishing a continuance of it. It is certain that they greeted Paul in return!
He told in particular what great things God had done among the Gentiles by his ministry . . . it is likely that this account is similar to the one some years ago (Acts 15:12), where James was present. He stated that multitudes of souls were converted, and many churches started. He does not take credit but he ascribes all to the power and grace of God, which had attended his ministry; he was only an instrument, God was the efficient, and ought to have the glory.
Acts 21:20 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: (KJV)
And when they heard it . . . the story of how the Gospel of Christ was spread among the Gentiles, and the many conversions of them. They glorified the Lord . . . glorified God! And said unto him . . . probably to James, but in the name of them all.
Thou seest, brother . . . for so Paul was to James, both as a believer, and a minister of the word, and an apostle. How many thousands of Jews there are which believe . . . there were many thousands of Jews converted at Jerusalem upon the first preaching of the Gospel, after Christ's ascension (Acts 2:41,47; 4:4,14; 6:7). The number is had not only to the number of the members of the church at Jerusalem, but to all the believing Jews in Judea, who were now come up to Jerusalem.
And they are all zealous of the law . . . meaning the Law of Moses, the ceremonial law, as Paul could see by their being at Jerusalem, to keep this feast. Even though they believed in Jesus of Nazareth as the true Messiah, they still did not have enough light to see the Truth, that Christ was the Sum and Substance of ALL the ceremonies of the law, and that they ALL ended in Him. They were zealous in the observance of them, and could not bear to hear of their being abolished.
Acts 21:21 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. (KJV)
And they are informed of thee . . . people (Paul's enemies) have falsely stated things about you. That thou teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles, to forsake Moses; to disregard and drop the observance of ceremonial laws, who had been raised up in them. This they could not bear, and especially that they ought not to circumcise their children. It is true that Paul did teach that circumcision was NOT necessary to salvation. But he allowed of it among weak brethren; and considering their weakness, Paul did administer it himself; for in this way, he became a Jew to the Jew, that he might gain some to Christ.
Neither to walk after the customs . . . the lies of Paul's enemies were that other rites and rituals besides circumcision; or of their fathers, and the traditions of the elders, which as yet they had not been able to stop, because stopping old customs is not easily overcome.
It seems that Paul made the offerings required at the conclusion of a vow. It is clear that the Passage is speaking about the ceremonies. It is also possible that the controversy over these customs also involved the oral traditions of the Pharisees, which they were so devoted to.
There is absolutely NO evidence that Paul ever taught any Jew to forsake Moses. To do so, he would have to preach against God. There is no evidence that Paul ever told them, "Do not circumcise your children."
But, he certainly did preach that keeping the law could NOT justify a person before God. His writings clearly state that we are justified by grace through faith in the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ (Eph.2:8-9).
Quite clear, Paul's actions in Acts 21 testify that, although salvation or justification could NOT be won through keeping these things, keeping them was not destructive unless a person depended upon them for justification or salvation. There was no hesitation on Paul's part to do them. Scripture gives no indication that he argued with James; quite the opposite, we see a unity of mind between them.
Acts 21:22 What is it therefore? the multitude must needs come together: for they will hear that thou art come. (KJV)
What is it therefore? . . . Is it true or not? What should be done to remove these objections, and reconcile the minds of the people? The multitude must needs come together . . . or there will be a riot. All the faithful must meet; because the magistrates were pagan and enemies both to the church and the Gospel. The whole multitude of believers must gathered together to discuss it.
For they will hear that thou art come . . . Paul's coming there could not be kept a secret, for as soon as people heard it, they would come groves, their mouths wide open and voicing their complaints. Something must be done, to remove the opinion they had formed of the apostle Paul, and the prejudice they had against him. What follows is what is advised.
Acts 21:23 Do therefore this that we say to thee: We have four men which have a vow on them; (KJV)
Do therefore this that we say to thee . . . this was not a command, but advice. We have four men which have a vow on them . . . there were four men in the church at Jerusalem, believers in Christ, but weak ones, who were zealous of the law, and extremists to it, and who had voluntarily vowed a vow of the Nazarites (Num 6:2).
Acts 21:24 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. (KJV)
The advice: Them take, and purify, thyself with them . . . join yourself to them, and follow the rules prescribed to a Nazarite, who is to be holy to the Lord; and in case of any ceremonial uncleanness, is to be cleansed, or purified in the manner directed (Num.6:5,8-9).
And be at charges with them . . . join with them in the expense for the offerings to be made at the end of the vows, or when the days of separation are fulfilled (Num.6:13-15).
That they may shave their heads . . . according to the law in (Num.6:18). This was done in the chamber of the Nazarites, for it was there the Nazarites boiled their peace offerings, and shaved their hair, and put it under the pot, in the fire that was under it.
A person who had not made a vow, or fulfilled a Nazariteship himself, which was the apostle Paul's case, yet he might join in bearing the expenses of others, at the time of their shaving and cleansing.
That all may know that those things whereof they were informed concerning thee are nothing . . . they advised that if Paul would do this, the Jews would see that there was no truth in the lies. But that thou thyself walkest orderly, and keepest the law . . . they would not think that Paul would teach others to walk disorderly, or to neglect the law, the rites and customs of it.
Acts 21:25 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. (KJV)
As touching the Gentiles which believe . . . this is said, to show that the Jews were not offended with Paul, for not insisting upon the circumcision of the believing Gentiles, and their conformity to the ceremonial law; and to remove an objection that Paul might make, that should he comply with this advice, and the believing Gentiles hear of it, it might be a stumblingblock to them; who by his example, might think it necessary to follow the law.
We have written and concluded . . . some years ago, at a meeting of the apostles, elders, and brethren at Jerusalem, when Paul was present; and of which he reminds him, to prevent any objection of this kind; where it was unanimously agreed on and determined, that they observe no such things as circumcision, and other rites and customs of the law, and particularly the vow of the Nazarite, which Gentiles are free from it because Gentiles have no Nazariteship. The law of the Nazarite does not fall upon him, he is not obliged to it. Save only that they keep themselves from things offered to idols . . . see (Acts 15:19-20, 28-29).
Acts 21:26 Then Paul took the men, and the next day purifying himself with them entered into the temple, to signify the accomplishment of the days of purification, until that an offering should be offered for every one of them. (KJV)
Then Paul took the men . . . meaning the four men that had the vow on them, and he joined himself to them, and put himself in the same condition, and under a like vow. He did this, not because he thought he was bound to do so in obedience to the law, knowing it was NOT necessary for salvation . . . but to satisfy their weak minds, and remove their prejudices, that he might gain them to Christ, and be useful to them.
When such like things were insisted upon as points necessary to salvation, NO one more stiffly opposed them than Paul.
And the next day purifying himself with them . . . not separating himself along with them, from what they were obliged by the vow of the Nazarite, as from drinking of wine and from everything that was unclean by the law. for this was now done, but cleansing himself afterwards with them:
Paul entered into the temple, to signify the accomplishment of the days of the purification . . . meaning that when the days of separation were fulfilled, which the four men had vowed, as everyone might vow what time he pleased, he went to the priests in the temple, to signify it to them, that the time of their purification was expiring.
Until that an offering should be offered for everyone of them . . . as the law directs (Num.6:13-20) when he proposed to pay the charges of it, or at least part of it.
Paul In The Temple At Jerusalem (Acts 21:27-32)
Acts 21:27 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, (KJV)
And when the seven days were almost ended . . . from the time that Paul came to Jerusalem, or of his vow; for it is thought that his vow of separation was but for seven days. The seven days of that feast of Pentecost which he came unto.
The Jews which were of Asia . . . were dead set against him where ever he went (Acts 14:19; 17:5). These Jews lived at Ephesus and elsewhere, but had come to observe the feast at Jerusalem.
Laid hands on him . . . in a violent manner, and dragged him out of the temple.
Acts 21:28 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. (KJV)
Crying out, men of Israel, help . . . "help us" to help Paul, on whom they mob had laid their hands, and had beat him. This was an outcry for help against a lone man, small of stature, weak in body and so easily held and overpowered.
This is the man that teacheth all men everywhere against the people . . . saying that the Jews were NOT the only people of God; because God was the God of the Gentiles too! (Gen.18:18; 22:18; 26:4; 28:14; Ps.2:8; 22:27; 68:31; 86:9; 102:15; Isa.2:2; 9:2; 11:10; 18:7; 19:18,21,24; 27:6; 42:1; 44:5; 45:14; 49:6,22; 53:10; 54:1; 55:5; 57:19:59:19; 60:3; 61:11; 62:2; Jer.3:17;12:16; 31:8,34; 49:39; Eze.47:22; Dan.7:14; Hos.2:23; Mic.4:2; Zep.2:11; 3:10; Zec.8:20; 9:7; 14:16; Mal.1:11; Mat.8:11; 12:21; 13:33; 21:41,43; 22:10; 24:14; Mark 12:9; Luke 2:32; Acts 2:39; 13:42,46; 15:14; 26:17; Rom.4:17; 11:24; 1 Cor.9:21; Gal.1:16; 3:8; Eph.3:6; 1 Thes.2:16; 2 Tim.2:17; Rev.21:24).
The Gentiles shared in the favor of God, and the blessings of the Messiah. The Gospel was to be preached to them, and a people taken out of them for His glory; and that the people of the Jews would be rejected for their unbelief and impenitence, and in a little time utterly destroyed as a nation.
And the law . . . the law of Moses, both moral and ceremonial. They were displeased with Paul because he denied justification to be by the works of the law, and claimed Christ to be the end of the law for righteousness (Rom.10:4).
And this place . . . meaning the temple, in which they were. The reason of this charge was, because that he had taught, that the sacrifices of God were the sacrifices of prayer and of praise (Heb.13:15), as stated by the author of Hebrews. Paul taught that these sacrifices could be offered up to God any where, any time. Everything against the law would be interpreted also as being against the temple, as most of the commandments of the law were celebrated there (Acts 6:13-14).
And further, brought Greeks also unto the temple . . . and hath polluted this holy place . . . that part of the temple, which they supposed Paul had brought Greeks or Gentiles into, could NOT be the most holy place, for into that only the high priest went, once a year; nor that part of the holy place called the court of the priests, for into that only priests went, and other Israelites were not admitted, unless on some special occasions; as to lay hands on the sacrifice, for the slaying of it, or waving some part of it. It had to be either the court of the Israelites, or the court of the women, into which Paul, with the four men that had the vow, entered.
Acts 21:29 (For they had seen before with him in the city Trophimus an Ephesian, whom they supposed that Paul had brought into the temple.) (KJV)
For they had seen before with him in the city . . . not in Ephesus, but in Jerusalem:
Trophimus an Ephesian . . . this same man is mentioned in (Acts 20:4) and these Jews of Asia, and who very likely lived in Ephesus, knew him to be a Gentile.
Whom they supposed Paul had brought into the temple . . . because the apostle was friends with Trophimus, and walked through the streets of Jerusalem with him, the Jews concluded from this, that he took him with him into the temple, which was not true; revealing the cruelty and hatred of their minds, and how ready they were to make use of any opportunity to take up any occasion against him.
Acts 21:30 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. (KJV)
And all the city was moved, and the people ran together . . .the outcry in the temple was so great that it reached the ears of some that were outside, causing alarm. The report of the disturbance in the temple soon went through the whole city, bringing people out of their houses, who ran to the temple to see what was wrong.
And they took Paul and drew him out of the temple . . . they dragged Paul out of the temple, considering Paul to be unworthy to be in that holy place. The Jews did not want to defile the temple with Paul's blood; for their intention was to kill him.
And forthwith the doors were shut . . . by the Levite door keepers, which was done, partly to prevent Paul's returning into it for refuge at the horns of the altar (1 K.1:50), and partly to keep out the Gentiles from coming in.
Acts 21:31 And as they went about to kill him, tidings came unto the chief captain of the band, that all Jerusalem was in an uproar. (KJV)
And as they went about to kill him . . . meaning the way mobs act (then and now), without bringing him before any court and without any charge, trial and condemnation.
Tidings came unto the chief captain of the band . . . the Roman band of soldiers, who were placed near the temple, to keep the peace and persons in order. These soldiers were especially needed at such times as the feast of Pentecost, when there were many extra people in the city. It seems this chief captain was Claudius Lysias, as appears from (Acts 23:26).
That all Jerusalem was in an uproar . . . mass confusion (Acts 19:29). So this Roman officer was called to quell it, lest it should issue in sedition and rebellion.
Acts 21:32 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. (KJV)
Who immediately took soldiers and centurions . . . the officer took a very large number of soldiers, for they are called an army, in (Acts 23:27), with a sufficient number of officers called centurions, each centurion had 100 men.
And ran down unto them . . . ran down the stairs from the tower to the temple where they had dragged Paul, and were beating him. The captain, his officers and soldiers, came very fast; all which shows his vigilance, prudence and quick dispatch; showing the divine providence in favor of the apostle Paul, who otherwise would have quickly lost his life.
And when they saw the chief captain and the soldiers . . . coming down on them in such a hurry, swords in hand . . . they left beating of Paul . . . this beating was what the Jews call "the rebels' beating" . . . or beating, on account of rebellion and obstinacy; and was not the same as whipping or scourging, which was done by the order of the sanhedrin, and in measure with forty stripes save one. This beating to Paul was without any order from a court and was without measure and mercy. This was inflicted upon various offenders, especially on those who received warning and had not paid attention to it.
Notice their bitterness and hatred toward Paul. They hate him because he is teaching that one does not need to go through the Mosaic system to be saved. The mob would have killed Paul if the captain and the soldiers had not intervened.
Paul Bound In Chains (Acts 21:33-40)
Acts 21:33 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. (KJV)
Then the chief captain came near . . . to where the Jews were beating Paul, and took him
from the Jews who were beating Paul. The captain rescued Paul out of their hands, as he himself says (Acts 23:27).
And commanded him to be bound with two chains . . . partly to quiet down the people, and partly to secure Paul; who, he supposed, had been guilty of some crime, which had started it all. These two chains were put, one on one arm, and the other on the other arm; and were then fastened to two soldiers, who walked beside him, having hold on those chains, the one on his right hand, and the other on his left; and thus Agabus's prophecy in was fulfilled (Acts 21:11).
And demanded who he was . . . asked about him, who he was, of what nation he was, what was his character, business, and employment. And what he had done . . . what crime was Paul guilty of?
Acts 21:34 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. (KJV)
And some cried one thing, and some another, among the multitude . . . even though the mob agreed to beat Paul, and even kill him, some of them had no idea what Paul was guilty of. They were being led by fury and madness.
And when he could not know the certainty for the tumult . . . the captain could not come to any decision in the matter. So he commanded Paul to be carried into the castle . . . of Antonio, formerly called Baris, of which Josephus gives this account:
``on the north side (of the wall) was built a four square tower, well fortified and strong; this the kings and priests of the Asmonaean race, who were before Herod, built, and called it Baris; that there the priestly robe might be laid up by them, which the high priest only wore, when he was concerned in divine service:''
This tower King Herod made more strong, for the security and preservation of the temple; and called it Antonia, for the sake of Antony his friend, and the general of the Romans: the description of it:
``upon the north side, and joining up to the western angle (but on the outside of the wall), stood the tower of Antonia, once the place where the high priests used to lay up their holy garments; but in after times a garrison of Roman soldiers, for the a wing of the temple: when it served for the former use, it was called Baris, because it was an outer building, but when for the latter, it bare the name of Antonia; Herod the great having sumptuously repaired and called it after the name of the Roman prince Antony: it stood upon the north west point of Moriah, and was a very strong; a very spacious a building that it took up to two furlongs' compass; the rock it stood upon was fifty cubits high (75 ft), and steep, and the building itself was forty cubits (68'4") above it; it was four square, encompassed with a wall of three cubits high, which enclosed its courts, and had a turret at every corner, like the white tower at London; but that it was more spacious, and that the turrets were not all of an height; for those at the north east and north west corners were fifty cubits high, but those on the south east and south west were seventy cubits (23'2") high, that they might fully overlook the temple: it had cloisters or walks about it, and baths and lodgings, and large rooms in it; so that it was at once like a castle, and like a palace. There was a passage out of it, into the north and west cloisters of the mountain of the house, and by that the Roman garrison soldiers went down at every festival of the Jews, to take care against tumults and seditions, in those great concourses of the people.'' (Cubit = about 18").
And it was by this passage way that the chief captain, with the centurions and soldiers, came down so quickly and suddenly upon the Jews, while they were beating Paul in the temple; and this castle being on such an importance as described, hence he with the soldiers is said to run down, (Acts 21:32). And it was in this way that the apostle Paul was led up into the castle.
This captain did not know Paul. He didn't say, "Oh, this is Paul, the great Apostle to the Gentiles." He wasn't looking at him like that at all. He didn't know who Paul was and actually thought that he had committed some crime; so he put him in chains.
Acts 21:35 And when he came upon the stairs, so it was, that he was borne of the soldiers for the violence of the people. (KJV)
And when he came upon the stairs . . . the steps which led up to the castle; for it was built on a very high place, as appears from the account of it in the preceding verse.
So it was that he was borne of the soldiers for the violence of the people . . . it seems that either the crowd of the people was so great, and they so pressed upon Paul and the soldiers that conducted him, that Paul was even thrown upon them, and bore up by them; OR . . . such was the rage of the people against him, that the soldiers were obliged to take him up in their arms, and carry him, in order to secure him from being tore in pieces by them. Luke does not make this clear.
Acts 21:36 For the multitude of the people followed after, crying, Away with him. (KJV)
For the multitude of the people followed after . . . the mob followed the captain and the soldiers, who had taken away Paul from them, and were carrying him to the castle.
Crying, away with him . . . "take him away" . . . just like the mob did with Christ: "crucify him, crucify him," (Mark 15:13-14; John 19:6).
Because the captain couldn't learn anything from the mob, he took Paul to the castle to find out what the charge was against him. The mob was not willing to settle for anything less than the death of Paul.
Acts 21:37 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? (KJV)
And as Paul was to be led into the castle . . . as he was got up to the top of the steps that led up to the castle, and was about to go into the door of it; he said unto the chief captain, may I speak unto thee?
Paul had a good education, he spoke in a modest and respectful way to the chief captain. The question Paul asked the captain, was in the Greek language . . . Who said to him, canst thou speak Greek? . . . or "do you know the Hellenistic language?" which the Jews who were born and lived in Greece spoke; so they were called Hellenists (Acts 6:1).
The captain was amazed. He thought that he had bound a common criminal, but this man spoke fluent Greek. The captain understood that because he was a foreign emissary.
Acts 21:38 Art not thou that Egyptian, which before these days madest an uproar, and leddest out into the wilderness four thousand men that were murderers? (KJV)
Art not thou that Egyptian, which before these days madest an uproar . . . Josephus, the historian wrote of an Egyptian who led a revolt of 4,000 people in Jerusalem in A.D. 54 and then disappeared. The captain thought that Paul might be this rebel.
And leddest out into the wilderness four thousand men that were murderers? . . . Josephus says, that he brought them out of the wilderness, or led them through it to the Mount of Olives, from thence to rush into Jerusalem, when the walls should fall down at his command; but he says, the number of men that he led out were about thirty thousand; it may be at first there were no more than four thousand, but afterwards were joined by others, and increased to thirty thousand; or among these thirty thousand, he had four thousand "murderers,": so called from the little swords which they carried under their clothes, and with them killed men in the daytime, in the middle of the city, especially at the feasts, when they mingled themselves with the people. The captain thought that Paul was a mob leader, a protester.
Acts 21:39 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. (KJV)
But Paul said, I am a man which am a Jew of Tarsus . . . Paul told him that he was NOT that Egyptian, but was a Jew from Tarsus, a city in Cilicia.
A citizen of no mean city . . . means a free city, and Paul was entitled to some consideration.
I beseech thee, suffer me to speak unto the people . . . Paul wants to speak to the people. Paul speaks Greek, but he informs the captain that he is a Jew. When the captain learns who Paul really is, he says, "Well, sure. I didn't know who you were. Go ahead and speak to them."
Acts 21:40 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, (KJV)
And when he had given him licence . . . Liberty, permission. Told Paul to speak to the people, which he could not very well deny him, after he had so freely declared who he was, and in so courteous a manner addressed him.
Paul stood on the stairs . . . on the top of the steps of the ascent to the castle. And beckoned with the hand unto the people . . . trying to quiet the people. His being bound with a chain to a soldier, did not hinder the moving and lifting up of his hand.
And when there was made a great silence . . . either through the authority of the captain, who might command it, or through the desire of the people, to hear what he could say for himself.
Paul then speaks to them in the Hebrew tongue . . . which the people he spoke to best understood, and was his own mother tongue. This was not pure Hebrew that was spoke in common in those times, but the Syro-Chaldean language. Saying . . . see the following chapter.
It seems to me that this break in chapters should not be here.
Book of Acts
Ch.1 . . Ch.2 . . Ch.3 . . Ch.4 . . Ch.5 . . Ch.6 . . Ch.7 . . Ch.8 . . Ch.9 . . Ch.10 . . Ch.11 . . Ch.12 . . Ch.13 . . Ch.14 . . Ch.15 . . Ch.16 . . Ch.17 . . Ch.18 . . Ch.19 . . Ch.20 . . Ch.21 . . Ch.22 . . Ch.23 . . Ch.24 . . Ch.25 . . Ch.26 . . Ch.27 . . Ch.28