Bible Study Notes on Acts 21 – 20170303

Bible Study Notes

Acts 21:3  “…Cyprus, we passed it on the left…”
King James Version says we left it on the left hand.  Better way of saying it in English.  They sailed to the right of the island so I would have expected it to say they passed by it on the right, modifier referring to them not the island.  But guess that was how the translators saw it.

4  “…finding disciples, we stayed there seven days…”
Found some believers in Tyre.  Not sure why they decided to stay there seven days since Paul was determined to get to Jerusalem quickly.  Commentary suggested they would have wanted to stay with them long enough to attend at least one meeting of the church.

4  “…They told Paul through the Spirit not to go up to Jerusalem”
Consistency of the message.  All were speaking the same thing.  Obviously had the same source.  Message from the Spirit wasn’t for Paul not to go, but that trouble awaited him.  Therefore, the people warned him not to go to avoid the trouble.  Paul had decided the Spirit wanted him to go in spite of the trouble coming.

7  “…we came to Ptolemais…”
Didn’t set out on foot, but took the ship for another little hop down the coast.  Commentary said it would have taken only a day.  I assume quicker than walking.

8  “…came to Caesarea…Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven…”
Where we left Philip in chapter 8 after he witnessed to the Ethiopian official.  Spirit must have left him there.  I assume he didn’t have a family when he was moved around so much, but I guess he could have.  At any rate, he does now.  Has been several years so he’s probably been working with the church there, perhaps even one he started.

11  “…Thus says the Holy Spirit, ‘So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man who owns this belt, and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles'”
Very clear message of what the Spirit had been saying.  Wording is confusing regarding the action, but commentaries agree Agabus took Paul’s belt and bound his own hands and feet, not Paul’s.  Reminiscent of the prophets of old with dramatic displays.  Does a good job getting the point across.

13  “…I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die…”
Paul knew the Spirit wanted him to go.  The other messages were just to let him know what was coming and to test his resolve.  He never wavered from what he knew God wanted him to do.

20-25  Even though the Jerusalem council settled the issue of keeping the Mosaic law for salvation, it has come up again.  Not sure if the Jews who have been spreading the lies about Paul are confused believers or Jews who were jealous and wanted to do him harm.  It is sad that those who had believed did not take the word of the ones in Jerusalem.  People are always more ready to run with lies than stand with the truth.  The leaders are asking Paul to go through a Jewish ceremony which would show that he still has respect for the Mosaic law.

27  “…the Jews from Asia…”
May be the answer to my previous question.  These would be Jews who refused to believe, who opposed Paul.  It is still sad that, according to the church leaders, there were Jewish believers who were willing to believe the lies about Paul.  Being zealous for the law is fine, but the issues had already been settled.  They should have moved on.  From the text, I don’t think the leaders were asking Paul to participate in the ceremony to appease the non-believing Jews.  It is useless to try to appease those who oppose you as they will take it as a sign you are willing to give up your position.  You can never win that game.  Paul knew the traditions of men had no bearing on salvation, but he had no problem participating if it helped the weak faith of believers.

32  “He immediately took soldiers and centurions…”
This was what the leaders in the other cities feared whenever someone created a disturbance around Paul, action by the Roman military.

39  “…permit me to speak to the people”
Not sure what Paul thought he was going to gain at this point.  It is obvious that those with the agenda who wanted him dead would not allow the mob to listen to him.  He was always willing to use whatever opportunity given him to share the gospel with people, even knowing there were those who wouldn’t listen.  I need to have that attitude.  I usually concern myself more with the ones who won’t listen than the possibility of those who will.  He will give his defense in the next chapter.  We have no way of knowing how many who heard it might have later believed.  We are assured that God’s word does not return to Him void.

I hope you enjoy reading and studying His word.  May it accomplish what He desires.  Please feel free to comment or post questions.  Thanks for reading!

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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