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ACTS CHAPTER 21

KJV    NAS

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1-8 When we had parted from them and had set sail, we ran a straight course to Cos and the next day to Rhodes and from there to Patara; 2 and having found a ship crossing over to Phoenicia, we went aboard and set sail. 3 When we came in sight of Cyprus, leaving it on the left, we kept sailing to Syria and landed at Tyre; for there the ship was to unload its cargo. 4 After looking up the disciples, we stayed there seven days; and they kept telling Paul through the Spirit not to set foot in Jerusalem. 5 When our days there were ended, we left and started on our journey, while they all, with wives and children, escorted us until we were out of the city. After kneeling down on the beach and praying, we said farewell to one another. 6 Then we went on board the ship, and they returned home again. 7 When we had finished the voyage from Tyre, we arrived at Ptolemais, and after greeting the brethren, we stayed with them for a day. 8 On the next day we left and came to Caesarea, and entering the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven, we stayed with him. 

 

Act 21,1-3

(249b) Priorities >> God’ s preeminence >> Wealth >> True perception of wealth >> Do not trust the carnal perception of wealth >> Do not pursue wealth – We visualize Paul taking his journeys using his own sailboat, but here we see him hitching a ride on a cargo ship. It was unlikely Paul and his companions were stowaways, but no doubt had permission to come aboard probably for a nominal fee. It was by far the most economical way to travel, though not the most stylish, and much cheaper than buying his own boat, maintaining it, and then docking it somewhere and leaving it unattended for months at a time. Paul usually did not continue sailing where he came ashore, but traveling inland from city to city and then whishing to set sail from a completely different harbor, maybe even a different ocean. So, it would have been totally inefficient and cost prohibitive to own his own boat. Knowing Paul who had the heart of Christ, had he the money to buy a boat, he would have given it to the poor and continued sailing on cargo ships for a fraction of the cost, yet nowadays we see so-called Christians flying in their own private jets. These are usually the prosperity teachers who feel the need to lead by example and live extravagant lives by forwarding the bill to their church members and TV viewers, proving to them that his teachings actually work, at least for him they do, and that it is the will of God that we all become gluttonous heathens, but they only prove their lack of relationship with Jesus, who truly said to those just like him, “You have your reward in full.”

Act 21-4,5

(131a) Thy kingdom come >> Manifestations of faith >> Unity >> Interdependent on each other to do the will of God – This passage shows the relationships they had with each other being more valuable to them than anything through the bond of unity that existed between them. It helps to explain the kind of life Christians had back then and how missionaries lived. They were dependent on the brethren for everything, who bent over backward for anyone who was in need, especially the leaders of the Church, people like Paul and other missionaries who risked their lives for the gospel. It was a privilege to serve the brethren. They were ready to give whatever they had to support their fellow Christian to the point of sacrificing their own lives. There was a faith among them that the Church has lost, and for the most part we don’t even know what we are missing. We believe in the doctrines that we are told, but we cannot believe in the doctrines that we have not been told. Nothing we are told in church has any bearing on the experiences that the First Century Church enjoyed in regard to their relationships with each other; we are totally in the dark about it. We have no idea how to foster the kind of unity that was among the brethren in those days, and we are unable to muster their level of commitment; we don’t know where they got it. We know they were persecuted far more than us. The reason we are not persecuted today is that the Church does not offend the world because we have not created enough separation between them and us that anyone would notice. The only difference the world sees in us is that we go to church and they don’t.

KJV    NAS  /  Navigation Bar

Act 21-4

(105i) Thy kingdom come >> Faith >> Led by the Spirit into The will of God >> Led by the authority of the Church – Here is another incident of the disciples trying to save Paul’s life, and he was resisting them again, just like he did in the theater (Act 19-30). Had he gone in there, the mob would have pounced on him immediately and killed him, and now he wants to go to Jerusalem. Paul had a death wish; he wanted to die as a martyr for one of two reasons: either he wanted to go out in a blaze of glory and fill the imaginations of those who would read about him throughout the centuries, or else he was shooting for a better resurrection. His intent was to visit Jerusalem, worship in the temple, be recognized by his fellow Jews, killed on the spot like Zechariah, who was killed between the temple and the altar (Mat 23-35), or else be arrested first and then murdered, but what happened? He was arrested and spent many years in prison awaiting trial, and there wrote many of his epistles as the “prisoner of the Lord.” His friends were trying to save his life and prolong his ministry to see what else God had in store for him.

(106i) Thy kingdom come >> Faith >> Hearing from God >> Means of hearing from God >> Through prophets -- This verse goes with verse 11. The Church needed Paul; they couldn’t visualize the future without him, because he was the man who best understood the gospel, and he was also the one most committed to the faith and keeping the truth stain-free from the false doctrines that were waiting in the winds for the first opportunity to infiltrate the Church, the liars and deceivers that would come after his departure. His fellow believers and disciples in the Lord knew the truth very well, and they were able to keep the imposters from Church leadership for a while, but eventually they infiltrated, and the impact they made on the Church is with us to this day. The disciples loved Paul, they loved the Church, loved their lives in the faith and didn’t want anything to change, and they knew that Paul’s demise would bring negative change, and they were trying to defer it.

(152k) Witness >> Validity of the Father >> Witnesses of the father >> The Church holds the position of a prophet >> True prophets >> Confirming the prophets -- This verse goes with verses 9-14

(177l) Works of the devil >> The religion of witchcraft >> Presumption (Hinduism) >> Presuming the will of God >> Presumption interprets God’s word -- This verse goes with verses 11&12. Scripture is unclear if it was the will of God that Paul go to Jerusalem to initiate the chain of events that transpired, or if all those years in prison was a consequence of deviating from the will of God. Paul never suspected he would leave Jerusalem alive; it didn’t really matter to him either way. He also had a great interest in reaching his former colleagues the Scribes and Pharisees and his fellow countrymen the Jews, though he became a minister to the gentiles. In the cities that had a synagogue he would go there first, and the gentiles would investigate the commotion, and when the Jews rejected the gospel, he would turn to the gentiles who were present. Paul knew that if the Jewish people believed in Jesus, the gentiles would benefit, because the gospel belonged to the Jew first, and the Jews were in position to understand the gospel better than the gentiles, simply because they understood the Old Testament better than the gentiles regarding all the prophecies that were written about the suffering servant, and for that reason they were better able to convey the gospel to lands unknown, just like Paul. It wasn’t just because he loved his fellow countrymen; he knew that believing Jews would make the best leaders of the Church; they could piece the events of Scripture together for the gentiles.

Act 21-5

(123i) Thy kingdom come >> Manifestations of faith >> Love >> Spiritual affection >> Being in love with the body of Christ >> Emotional situations – We will probably never know the full extent of the emotions the people had on this day. The knew they would probably never see Paul again in this life, and the love that they shared with each other far exceeded the Church’s experience in our own time. We go to church and it is more a social gathering than it is a spiritual union among the saints. We talk about our ice-cream socials and make plans to get together during the week; some of us are close, and somewhere in the mix is our Christianity, faith and brotherhood, but they are buried beneath a thick coating of fleshly interests and secular concerns. The faith of most Christians is not at the forefront of their relationships with each other. What causes faith to rise to the surface in our lives is persecution, for then all the imposters and liars and pretenders leave, and those who remain truly believe in God. They can trust each other with their lives, holding to a faith that supercedes all else in a world that wants to kill them; it establishes unity through an anointing they share by the same Spirit that is in them all.

Act 21-6 -- No Entries

 

Act 21-7,8

(142i) Witness >> Validity of Jesus Christ >> Witnesses of Jesus >> Having a reputable ministry >> A reputation of ministry in the word -- These verses go with verses 20-22. Phillip the evangelist was probably one of Jesus' twelve apostles, who was now being called one of the seven, suggesting that five of the original twelve had already deceased.

KJV    NAS  /  Navigation Bar

9&10 Now this man had four virgin daughters who were prophetesses. 10 As we were staying there for some days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea.

 

Act 21,9-14

(44l) Judgment >> Transformation process >> Fulfill your ministry >> Make sacrifices – Fruitfulness is the number one goal in God’s mind regarding His people. What level of fruit can we expect if we make certain decisions? If we know that our plans will not produce fruit for the Kingdom of God, then we should not go there, for He would never lead us to make unfruitful decisions, but if we make a decision that we expect to produce fruit, God will bend over backwards to help us. However, the question remains, have we accomplished the goals that He had set for us?

(54i) Paradox >> Opposites >> Ignoring the word of God to find the will of God – The prophet took Paul’s belt and bound his own feet with it and said, ‘The same will happen to the man who owns this belt,’ but he didn’t say, ‘Therefore, don’t go to Jerusalem.’ He just forewarned him what would happen to him if he did. It was his face associated with his name that got him arrested, “These men who have upset the world have come here also” (Act 17-6). This is a real lesson in the manner in which God leads us. Imagine Paul being arrested or killed in the beginning of his ministry and losing all those fruitful years of evangelism; it would have been a complete waste of life. This would not have been the will of God for sure. In fact, this very scenario almost played-out in Damascus shortly after his enlightenment, except that he was rescued, “His disciples took him by night and let him down through an opening in the wall, lowering him in a large basket” (Act 9-25). He wouldn’t have even acquired the name that he had as Paul the great apostle and evangelist of the early Church. He would have been arrested, thrown in prison as a virtual no-name, his ministry silenced before it even began.

(87d) Thy kingdom come >> Obedience >> Church obeys all the Father’s will – God doesn’t micromanage us, even to the point of letting Paul go to Jerusalem on his own volition, terminating is ministry of evangelism. Had Paul not gone, there is no question God had other places for him to go and spread the gospel, but apparently it wasn’t necessary since it didn’t happen. God found ways of using Paul in his decision to go to Jerusalem, and he remained useful because of his faithfulness and obedient heart and his love for God, but he was no longer an evangelist. There were no longer hundreds of people coming to know Christ through his efforts, though inadvertently his many epistles he wrote in prison more than made up for his loss of ministry in evangelism with millions of people coming to Christ over the centuries. Paul was far more credited for souls coming to Christ throughout the age of grace than he was in his own lifetime. Paul did the will of God as an evangelist for many years in establishing hundreds of churches, virtually reaching the known world and accomplishing the goals that God set for him. Going to Jerusalem was no longer a question of God’s will, but a question of what God was able to make of it. What is God able to make of the things we decide to do with our faith in Jesus after we have accomplished the goals that He set for us? It is hard to say what we might accomplish in our own lifetime, but who is to say what might happen through our efforts after we are gone, what repercussions might reverberate decades into the future or even centuries?

(94h) Thy kingdom come >> God’s perspective >> His perspective on the witnesses of Jesus – The prime motivator for Paul going to Jerusalem was his love for his fellow countrymen the Jews. He desperately wanted them to understand and believe in the gospel and lead the world in faith toward God as they were called. Being a prophet Paul probably knew Israel’s fate that throughout the age of grace they would be persecuted as Jesus killers, and he probably knew what kind of managers the gentiles would be to the gospel, that it would fall into disrepute before long and the pure message of a simple faith and separation from the world would be lost. Much as he may have feared these things they came true, and he even helped them to come to pass when he went to Rome and taught the gospel to the Romans, who misconstrued everything and applied their paganistic superstitions to the gospel and turned it into a religion not so different from Greek mythology. Paul did everything he could to convince the Jews that Jesus was their Messiah, but all he managed to accomplish was to assist the Roman Catholic Church on its feet, which did more than any other human agency to restrict the gospel from the common man. This is not to condemn Paul, but to merely state a historical fact, that this was the result of his efforts; anybody’s labor in the gospel is bound to be misconstrued and used by Satan; it is the way of the world. Just the same, God has been choosing from the world those who would be His worshippers over these two millennia; Satan has not stopped His plans or hindered Him in any way. From our perspective it appears that Satan is in total control, but from God’s point of view, who pulls purified worshippers from the ashes, He can hardly keep from thanking the devil for his services.

(105la) Thy kingdom come >> Faith >> Led by the Spirit into the fire >> Into the wilderness >> Wilderness of pain

(152k) Witness >> Validity of the Father >> Witnesses of the father >> The Church holds the position of a prophet >> True prophets >> Confirming the prophets -- These verses go with verse 33

(178i) Works of the devil >> The religion of witchcraft >> Hypocrisy >> Hypocrisy of the Church is rebuked >> The Church is rebuked for making false judgments

(216f) Sovereignty >> God overrides the will of man >> God’s will over man >> Compelled by the Spirit >> God forces His bond-servants to do His will

(232b) Kingdom of God >> Pursuing the kingdom >> Seeking the kingdom >> Count the cost >> The cost is more than you can imagine so don’t count

(234h) Kingdom of God >> Pursuing the kingdom >> Invest in the kingdom >> Sold out >> Placing no boundaries on your commitment to God >> Going to any extreme to fulfill the will of God – God allowed Paul to go to Jerusalem, only because he did it from love for his countrymen. This is a huge lesson in our own walk with God in effort to stay in tune with His will. We wonder sometimes how God leads us. As Paul said in Rom 12-2 there is the “good and acceptable and perfect” will of God. If that is in sequence, then “good” is not acceptable and “acceptable” is not perfect. Actually God has only one will for us, leading us in a three-step process with the goal of perfection in mind. Seeking the will of God, how he works with us is a mystery. How much does he care about us; his love is incomprehensible, but the better question is how He actually deals with us and how we deal with Him, and how much say-so we have in His will. To most people, it would probably be a surprise just how much leeway we have in the will of God. He sets certain goals for us to meet; for example, in Act 16,6-12 God spoke to Paul in a night vision (dream) that he should go to Macedonia. God didn’t care if he used a boat, camel or donkey to get there, just so long as he went in haste and presented the gospel to the people living there. This was a goal that consumed most of Paul’s missionary life, for Macedonia led to Philippi, which led to Europe, then onto Thessalonica to Berea, Athens, Corinth....

(236b) Kingdom of God >> Pursuing the kingdom >> Invest in the kingdom >> All things are for your sake >> We are fighting for you >> Our bondage is for your sake -- These verses go with verse 33. Paul had a dream and was told by the Holy Spirit where to go next, and when he went there it would be a gold mine of human souls prepared by God to believe the gospel (Act 16,6-12). All his missionary journeys were extremely fruitful, yet we don’t read that the Holy Spirit told Paul to go to Jerusalem, so was Paul disobedient in this? Nowhere does it say that God was displeased with Paul about going to Jerusalem, incurring persecution upon himself and shortening his ministry in evangelism, because he made the decision from love for his countrymen; he was willing to die for their sakes. It was probably his vision that he would go down as a martyr preaching Jesus to the Jews in the streets of Jerusalem, that it might turn some of them from their unbelief to trust in the gospel and be saved, but it didn’t happen. It was a trend that whenever he was persecuted for his faith in the public eye people would come to Christ by the droves. Apparently, his ill-treatment made them think that if Jesus was real enough to him, a man of God and a preacher of righteousness, then it was real enough also for them to get saved and even to die for the same cause if necessary.

(242i) Kingdom of God >> Opposition toward the Kingdom of God >> Persecuting the kingdom >> Worldly pressure >> World pressures you to forsake your values – We could say that Paul’s fiends were pressuring Him to forsake his values, but this was a surface issue compared to the motives he had to go to Jerusalem in the first place. His friends wanted him to stay far from the city that “kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her” (Mat 23-37), so they could keep Paul a while longer that he might continue in the work that he was doing, evangelizing, making converts and establishing churches. The problem with people’s opinions of us is that they have no idea about the will of God for us. We are all shortsighted when it comes to the will of God for others, and often when it comes to our own calling from God. That is not a criticism but simply stating a fact. Had Paul listened to his friends, God probably would have continued using him as an evangelist and lead apostle of the Church, but what his friends were not able to see in Paul was his deep love for his fellow Jew, and it is quite possible Paul knew that if the Jews did not receive the gospel by the time he died, chances were highly probable that they never would receive it until the end of the age. He wanted desperately to see the Jews come to Christ because he probably also knew the level of suffering they would incur throughout the coming centuries if they didn’t. Paul probably knew that the Jews would be better managers of the gospel than the gentiles, simply because they would have correctly viewed it through the lens of the Old Testament. The gospel belongs in the hands of the Jews; this is confirmed by all the denominations of Christianity in care of the gentiles, not to say that the Jews were faithful in their old covenant.

(248a) Priorities >> God’s priorities >> The will of God >> We play our part in the will of God >> Knowing the will of God – Was it the will of God that Paul went to Jerusalem? The answer to this question can help understand how God dealt with the Israelites throughout Scripture; it can also help understand our own way with God, and it can potentially even help direct our future. We know Paul’s decision changed the course of his life, ending his career as an evangelist, except when he got to Rome he was released and taught the word of God there for two solid years. It also changed the story of Scripture, for had he not gone to Jerusalem there would have been other things to write about Paul’s exploits. It even changed world history, for Rome heard the word of God in purity, which became the seed that spawned the Roman Catholic Church, and Rome itself soon afterward ceased being a global empire. Paul’s suffering invariably led to salvation for others. He no doubt was thinking this when he went to Jerusalem, knowing that he would be arrested; but when we go back and look at what happened, the best we could say is that Paul wrote many of his epistles to the churches while in prison, and the New Testament has undoubtedly helped more people get saved throughout the last two millennia than those who were saved during his ministry as an apostle and evangelist.

(248l) Priorities >> God’ s preeminence >> Values >> The Highest Values >> The life to come is more important than this one – The only person who thought Paul should go to Jerusalem was Paul, being neither God’s will nor the disciple’s will; thus it was the consensual will of God. Paul not only knew the risks, he actually invited death into his life. He was a stubborn man, which God used most of the time for good, but sometimes it got in the way and God had to work around his stubbornness, just like He does with all of us. He wouldn’t listen to anyone; he knew he would not receive a warm welcome from the Jews, yet what he wanted did not violate the will of God, for God was able to weave His will into the circumstances to keep Paul safe, who would go on teaching and preaching the gospel during some of the most fruitful years of his life. It was almost like Paul had a deathwish; he earnestly desired to be a martyr for Jesus. He wanted to be with the Lord so much, he just wanted to get this life over-with, and the best way to do that was to go to Jerusalem. This way he could be a martyr and have a better resurrection and a better reward in heaven, but God had other plans for him; he wasn’t going to heaven just yet.

KJV    NAS  /  Navigation Bar

11&12 And coming to us, he took Paul's belt and bound his own feet and hands, and said, "This is what the Holy Spirit says: 'In this way the Jews at Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.' " 12 When we had heard this, we as well as the local residents began begging him not to go up to Jerusalem.

 

Act 21,11-14

(7d) Responsibility >> Protecting the gospel >> Defend the word by preaching it – These verses go with verses 26-30

(58l) Paradox >> Two implied meanings >> The Lord is warning Paul / The Lord is promising Paul -- These verses go with verses 30-40. All the prophets were warning Paul that if he goes to Jerusalem he will be bound and tortured and possibly killed, so is God telling Paul not to venture into Jerusalem? Paul didn’t see it that way, so why did God show the prophets these things? It was as though the Holy Spirit sent a broadcast message to the whole church, not so much to warn Paul but the people that they would one day lose their fearless leader. Had Paul interpreted it as the word of the Lord not to go to Jerusalem, he would not have gone; rather, he saw it as the Spirit forewarning him of his imminent future. Paul was by no means going to run from these people, and he determined that they would not make him feel restricted from going certain places, for this was God’s earth, and Jerusalem was the city of God; it doesn’t belong to them. Using our 20/20 hindsight, what was the purpose that seemed so important to Paul that was worth risking his life to go to Jerusalem? The full answer to that questions is complicated, but the short answer is, Paul said he wanted to be there in time to celebrate Pentecost with the elders (the original apostles of Jesus). 

(101e) Thy kingdom come >> Zeal does not count the cost >> Zeal goes to extremes -- These verses go with verses 30-40

(123j) Thy kingdom come >> Manifestations of faith >> Love >> Spiritual affection >> Being in love with the body of Christ >> Weeping in the Spirit

(188c) Die to self (Process of substitution) >> Separation from the old man >> Suffering >> Growing pains >> Growing outwardly

(189g) Die to self (Process of substitution) >> Separation from the old man >> Martyr >> Martyrs witness to the life of God – Being a martyr was the ultimate goal of Christians back then, as opposed to some of the radical Muslims with their wild eyes and ideas, who call themselves martyrs for killing themselves and taking as many “infidels” with them as possible. This is stretching the term martyr out of proportion just like they have done to the truth about God, whom they do not know. What aspect of these people actually corresponds with the truth? Absolutely nothing! In fact, listening to their monologue, we never hear them use the word “truth.”

Act 21-11,12

(177l) Works of the devil >> The religion of witchcraft >> Presumption (Hinduism) >> Presuming the will of God >> Presumption interprets God’s word -- These verses go with verse 4

Act 21-11

(106i) Thy kingdom come >> Faith >> Hearing from God >> Means of hearing from God >> Through prophets -- This verse goes with verse 4

Act 21,12-14

(131l) Thy kingdom come >> Manifestations of faith >> Unity >> Having soul ties

(152b) Witness >> Validity of the Father >> Witnesses of the father >> Apostles >> Commitment to the cause proves apostleship

KJV    NAS  /  Navigation Bar

13-19 Then Paul answered, "What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but even to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus." 14 And since he would not be persuaded, we fell silent, remarking, "The will of the Lord be done!" 15 After these days we got ready and started on our way up to Jerusalem. 16 Some of the disciples from Caesarea also came with us, taking us to Mnason of Cyprus, a disciple of long standing with whom we were to lodge. 17 After we arrived in Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly. 18 And the following day Paul went in with us to James, and all the elders were present. 19 After he had greeted them, he began to relate one by one the things which God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry.

 

Act 21-13,14

(6c) Responsibility >> Advocate God’s cause >> Jesus’ yoke of evangelism

(28c) Gift of God >> God is our advocate >> God protects the Church from the world -- These verses go with verses 27-40

(129l) Thy kingdom come >> Manifestations of faith >> Unity >> Being in one accord >> Single minded >> Going to any limit to fulfill God’s will

(148i) Witness >> Validity of Jesus Christ >> Works of the Church bear witness to Jesus >> Evangelism >> Obligation to preach the gospel >> Ambassador in chains -- These verses go with verses 27-36

(176l) Works of the devil >> The religion of witchcraft >> False doctrine >> Extremes >> Exception to the rule; going to extremes to love God

(191f) Die to self (Process of substitution) >> Result of putting off the old man >> Set apart >> God sanctifies us through our devotion to Him

(213h) Sovereignty >> God is infinite >> Jesus owns you >> We are his instruments >> We are clay in the potters hand

Act 21-13

(67h) Authority >> Jesus delegates authority >> Sacrificing your life for the name of Jesus – The angel said to Mary, “You shall call His name Jesus.” The name “Jesus” means savior, “for He will save His people from their sins” (Mat 1-21). Therefore, when Paul said he was willing to die “for the name of the Lord Jesus,” He was talking about being willing to die for the cause of Christ. God has made man to think in terms of words. Pick any animal, and that animal assuredly does not think in literary terms, because it is not language oriented as we are; it doesn’t have words that represent meaning. Our pets tend to learn about us and seem to know what we are saying, but more likely they are deciphering our body language and voice inflections. They seem to genuinely understand a handful of words, but they most certainly do not think in those terms. They have no inner monologue (which is typically more haunting to us than it is useful). Consequently, we automatically associate the name of Jesus to the person of Christ, which is how our brains are designed to think, but what we don’t realize is that His name is a mere reference to Him. We have a hard time separating words from what they mean; that is, we tend to think of them as equal. In our minds the name of Jesus is equal to the person of Christ, the Son of God; we are not very well able to distinguish between the person and the name, and we run into trouble when we believe the name of Jesus has power in itself. Heb 1-3 says, “And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power.” Note that it doesn’t say ‘the power of His word.’ In the same way, the name of Jesus calls on the power of God, but is not the power itself, anymore than Scripture is the power of God, but is the word of His power.

(233c) Kingdom of God >> Pursuing the kingdom >> Seeking the kingdom >> Seeking the goals of the kingdom >> Seek the goal of knowing God (faith) – We were given the name of Jesus, so we could know the Son of God, whom we ascribe glory and praise, so the world knows whom we serve. However, before Christ and especially before Moses, mankind must have wondered about God, no doubt wondering whether He had a name. Moses said to God, “Now they may say to me, 'What is His name?' What shall I say to them?” and we all know His answer; tell them “I AM has sent me to you” (Exodus 3-13,14). “I AM” is more a description of God than His actual name; in fact, it is possible we still don’t know the real name of God (Rev 3-12). The term “I AM” implies that He has always existed, which suggests He always will. Knowing God should be our ultimate goal, knowing the unknowable (Eph 3-19).

Act 21,15-19

(143i) Witness >> Validity of Jesus Christ >> Witnesses of Jesus >> Popularity >> Sought commendably >> Being sought for your relationship with God – It appears that the reason Paul so earnestly desired to go to Jerusalem was to relate his accomplishments that he achieved through Christ to the elders, who mostly were the remaining original apostles. He wanted to personally describe to them the things that God had done through his ministry to encourage them and maybe even brag a little. Remember that the elders had originally received him at the beginning of his ministry, when Barnabas recognized Paul as a bonafide Christian oozing with potential as a minister of the gospel. Barnabas saw his heart and zeal and brought him to these same elders whom Paul was again seeking, not for their approval this time but for their own benefit, to share with them an account of his accomplishments that were a direct result of their acceptance of him, relating to them how many of the gentiles were receiving the gospel, that the Kingdom of God was expanding and even prevailing in many communities that he had visited. None of the things that Paul could brag about would have been possible without their confirmation on his stewardship. Without their endorsement he would have been a rogue Christian out there trying to do good, a lone ranger type character not getting very far. He needed backing and support if he were to accomplish anything big for the Lord.

Act 21-16,17

(235g) Kingdom of God >> Pursuing the kingdom >> Invest in the kingdom >> Giving (your inner self) >> Hospitality (providing a temporary home) >> Being a good host

Act 21-18,19

(147a) Witness >> Validity of Jesus Christ >> Jesus’ works bear witness of Himself >> Remember Jesus’ miracles

KJV    NAS  /  Navigation Bar

20&21 And when they heard it they began glorifying God; and they said to him, "You see, brother, how many thousands there are among the Jews of those who have believed, and they are all zealous for the Law; 21 and they have been told about you, that you are teaching all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children nor to walk according to the customs.

 

Act 21,20-40

(179k) Works of the devil >> Practicing witchcraft >> Wolves >> Wolves lead people into a cult >> Leading people through ignorance

Act 21,20-26

(1f) Responsibility >> Avoid offending God >> become all things to all men >> Conform without compromise – The elders told Paul to pretend to follow the law, according to the old saying, ‘When in Rome do as the Romans.’ When in Jerusalem do as the Jews (1Cor 9,19-23). It might have made him look like a chameleon or a hypocrite to be this to one person and be that to another and not just be himself, but there are instances when being yourself is unacceptable (in Paul’s case it would have gotten him killed). Paul was appearing to have the values of the Jews; he was willing to revert to the old standard to show that he could be a Christian and live like the Jews, and later he would be more specific about what he really believed. Paul had made up his mind to go to Jerusalem, and everybody he knew was against this idea, because the Jews had been seeking Paul’s life for years, and now he was venturing into the lion’s den, into Jerusalem itself as it were to tempt fate. His motive: he wanted to fellowship with the leading apostles who were headquartered there and to share with them his victories in the conversion of the gentiles throughout his many hair-raising adventures and to worship in the holy city during the days of Pentecost. God may have called him, or he may have determined in his heart to go; either way, God protected him. Although there were many Christians in Jerusalem, the Jews did want to kill them on sight like they wanted to destroy Paul, so in attempt to appease the Jews, they had him go through the rigors of old covenant purification, even though none of these things were necessary in the new covenant. God had abolished old covenant rules and regulations of worship, so that we can enter the Most Holy Place whenever we desire through the word of God and prayer. We can meet God in His spiritual tabernacle through the blood of Christ, but in old covenant days they had to first purify themselves before they entered the camp, and it was an arduous, time-consuming process, which for Paul meant shaving his head among other things after coming from the gentiles. So, we see Paul conforming to the demands of the Jews without compromising his faith, since none of these things were considered sin, unless a person used these performances to seek God’s favor, because then he would be denigrating the sacrifice of Christ.

(1m) Responsibility >> Avoid offending God >> Carrying a false burden >> Making commitments that contradict Scripture – Paul was in danger from the Jews who were carrying a false burden. They were following after the law (it is a violent religion). Following after the law is misleading enough, but to follow misconceptions of it is even worse. Those who follow the law have hundreds of commandments and ordinances they must continually obey, but the apostles sifted the old covenant commandments down to four things from which they were to abstain: Meat sacrificed to idols (See 1Corinthians chapter 8), from eating blood, from eating what is strangled and from fornication. Eating meat sacrificed to idols was a common practice in those days, though the consumption of those foods would not hex a person or be poisonous. Rather, it gave a false impression of sanctioning idol worship. The second and third commandments, to abstain from eating blood and from what is strangled, turn out to be health and moral issues. Many diseases are carried through the blood and traumatized animals release large amounts of adrenalin, which is not healthy for humans. Finally, to abstain from fornication is also a health and moral issue, which is self-explanatory.

(62g) Paradox >> Anomalies >> Being clever >> Maintaining a blameless reputation

Act 21,20-25

(108a) Thy kingdom come >> Faith >> Balance between truth and error >> Wisdom brings balance between truth and error

Act 21,20-22

(142i) Witness >> Validity of Jesus Christ >> Witnesses of Jesus >> Having a reputable ministry >> A reputation of ministry in the word -- These verses go with verses 7&8

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Act 21-20,21

(44ka) Judgment >> Transformation process >> Fulfill your ministry in evangelism >> Fulfill your ministry through opposition -- These verses go with verses 27-40. Paul did some evangelism in Jerusalem, but he spent most of his time and energy on his missionary journeys in other parts of the world. Paul’s routine, when he entered a city that he intended to evangelize was to find the Jewish synagogue and first preach to those in attendance, who mostly if not all were Jews. Then after they rejected and blasphemed the gospel, he would use his efforts at the synagogue to springboard into a ministry toward the gentiles who had learned about the commotion he caused at the synagogue and come investigating. From there he would go from house to house as one faith encounter led to another. 

(162ka) Works of the devil >> Being a slave to the devil (Addictions) >> Bondage >> Being slaves of men >> In bondage to the burdens of men >> In bondage to the Law

(176d) Works of the devil >> The religion of witchcraft >> Zeal without knowledge (Spirit w/o the word) >> Conviction without commandment

(190j) Die to self (Process of substitution) >> Separation from the old man >> Circumcision >> Circumcision is a sign of obedience >> Symbolism over substance

(191d) Die to self (Process of substitution) >> Separation from the old man >> Extract the leaven of false doctrine – Paul taught the Jews wherever he went on his missionary journeys that we are saved by grace through faith and not by our works, but the Jews who lived in Jerusalem nowhere near understood this. They didn’t understand it because they were not being taught that they should abandon the laws of Moses as a means of salvation and use it only to point out sin, which was all God ever intended it to do. In other words, they stumbled over the law as a consequence of Israel’s long legacy of disobedience, which led to misinterpreting the purpose of the law. He did not give the law to Israel in order that anyone should be saved by it. Rather, God has called Israel to walk as their father Abraham by faith. The law therefore, which came through Moses many years later, was given to expose sin, not to cure it. Over the centuries, though, the Jews had misinterpreted the purpose of the law to mean that if they did not obey it, they would fall out of favor with God, when in fact a person who disobeyed the law had broken it in his heart long before he broke it in practice, showing the connection between Abraham and Moses. The elders who lived in Jerusalem were afraid to teach these things to the believing Jews for fear of being treated as they were treating Paul. Gal 2,14-16 says, “But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas (Peter) in the presence of all, "If you, being a Jew, live like the Gentiles and not like the Jews, how is it that you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews ? "We are Jews by nature and not sinners from among the Gentiles; nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified.” There was a lot of pride about being born a Jew, and the next thing in line in regard to being a Jew was walking according to the laws of Moses, so if they quit doing that, it would be as though they stopped being Jewish in practice. To change their Jewish practices would make them no different from the gentiles, which was the ultimate insult to the Jew. Nevertheless, Paul was able to reach many Jewish people with the pure doctrines of the gospel, and was able to convince them that God sent His Holy Spirit to replace the law, so that we could follow Him instead of it. Heb 10-19,20 says, “…we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh.” In the new covenant we follow a living person instead of a list of dos and don’ts and achieve far greater success in fulfilling the law.

(196i) Denying Christ >> Man exercises his will against God >> Spiritual laziness >> Replacing God’s standard of excellence with yours >> Lukewarm Christianity

(205ka) Salvation >> Salvation is based on God’s promises >> Faith versus works >> The faith of God versus the faith of men >> Faith versus the law >> The work of faith versus the works of the law – Many of these so-called believing Jews who hated Paul were converts of Peter and the elders, who had failed to wean them off the old covenant law of Moses. They were at a complete loss as how to get through to them that the grace of God was how Christians should achieve the righteousness of God. Paul had some success at helping them grasp this concept, clarifying it for us all in his epistles to the Romans and the Galatians. In his letter to them he taught that instead of observing the old covenant law, we now inadvertently fulfill it in the process of following the Holy Spirit. Ironically, when God gave Israel the law, they refused to obey it, and when He replaced the law with the Holy Spirit, they refused to let go of the law. The law was so deeply entrenched in their minds (not their hearts) that they could not conceive of demoting Moses in order to instill a new and better way through the Spirit. Jews who lived in Jerusalem had not in any way understood the gospel. Had they understood the grace of God, being the very crux of the gospel, they would have realized the redundancy of the law. Law and grace are opposites of one another, yet ironically they were designed to achieve the same goal of righteousness. This suggests that the original apostles in charge of converting the Jews in Jerusalem were not producing disciples of the rich caliber of Paul’s disciples, for Paul was extremely rigorous in striving to make his converts understand that salvation comes by grace though faith and not through the works of the law, yet Paul’s ministry was geared more to the gentiles, who had a much easier time understanding this.

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22-26 "What, then, is to be done? They will certainly hear that you have come. 23 "Therefore do this that we tell you. We have four men who are under a vow; 24 take them and purify yourself along with them, and pay their expenses so that they may shave their heads; and all will know that there is nothing to the things which they have been told about you, but that you yourself also walk orderly, keeping the Law. 25 "But concerning the Gentiles who have believed, we wrote, having decided that they should abstain from meat sacrificed to idols and from blood and from what is strangled and from fornication." 26 Then Paul took the men, and the next day, purifying himself along with them, went into the temple giving notice of the completion of the days of purification, until the sacrifice was offered for each one of them.

 

Act 21,22-24

(171h) Works of the devil >> Manifestations of the devil >> Outward appearance >> Decorating the outside to simulate the inside >> Simulating the outer man to portray the inner man

Act 21,23-40

(54i) Paradox >> Opposites >> You cannot please people who have predetermined that you are wrong

(103l) Thy kingdom come >> Purifying process >> Purified by circumstances >> Purified Through hardship

Act 21,23-26

(2e) Responsibility >> Keep your commitments >> it is better not to vow at all

Act 21-25

(10e) Responsibility >> Keeping order in the Church >> Decrees of the Church – These four restraints are the only so-called laws that the original apostles placed on the Church, which still hold true to this day, these four and no more. Things have changed from the old covenant to the new; all other laws have been scrapped; for example, nothing says you can’t eat pork anymore. Nonetheless, you had better cook it well or you might contract the same parasites the pig had when it was alive. Some parasites, viruses and bacteria have a phase called spores, where they can resist many efforts to be eliminated, and for this reason God did not tell His people to cook pork extra well, because ultimately people wouldn’t do it, and then disease would break out in the camps, and soon the entire nation of Israel would have health problems, so He just banned pork altogether. There were other foods that were off-limits for good reason, virtually all bottom feeding creatures of the sea, such as lobster, scallops and shrimp, etc., yet they didn’t end up on the list of the new covenant because God wanted to make the point that His new covenant was not about rules and regulations, but about obeying the Holy Spirit.

(32d) Gift of God >> God is our Father >> Grace >> The grace of God’s healing power – Abstain from eating blood is for our physical health. It is now known that diseases of every kind, viruses, bacteria and parasites, are carried in the bloodstream. If we consume the blood, we could contract these diseases. This was even taught in the Old Testament prior to the knowledge of microscopic organisms that live within us. God never gave a reason to the Israelites not to eat blood, just not to do it, for how could He tell them; they would have never understood his explanation. For this reason Jesus was also vague about some of the spiritual aspects of the Kingdom of God. Eat nothing that has been strangled is another restriction for our physical benefit. We have only recently begun to recognize the imprudence of strangling as a method of killing. It is extremely stressful to the animal, which often gives time for adrenaline and other undesirable hormones to be injected into the tissues of the body before it dies, and these chemicals remain in the flesh and we metabolize them into our own physiology. We can avoid this detrimental substances by simply using a quicker, more humane manner of ending the animal’s life.

(135b) Temple >> Your body is the temple of God >> Sins of the body >> Immorality >> Fornication – During Old Testament times, these four restrictions were relevant, but the only one that has withstood the test of time is fornication. By comparison, all the others have become largely obsolete. Any sociologist worth his salt will tell you that fornication has a deleterious affect on society. Any nation without a moral compass, where fornication is prevalent, the family structure crumbles, the moral fabric disintegrates, people become depraved and soon there is nothing left in the human soul that is redeemable. The amazing thing about the subject of fornication is that it was never against the law in the Old Testament. It said “You shall not commit adultery,” but fornication was not named. In fact, there were many incidences in the Old Testament where fornication occurred with no significant repercussions. The concept of having a concubine was a form of fornication, which was not against God’s laws. However, it was fornication that overthrew Solomon, whose many wives and concubines led him to worship their many idols, and it became a trap to the nation of Israel. Fornication is a trap to any nation.

(173d) Works of the devil >> The religion of witchcraft >> Catholicism >> Scripture that contradicts the catholic faith >> Worshipping idols – Eating meat sacrificed to idols, this restraint was for our spiritual health. The application still exists today, but you have to look for it in our world, whereas at the time, idol worship was big, and meat sacrificed to idols was common. Paul talked about abstaining from eating food sacrificed to idols in 1Cor 8,7-13, saying in 1Cor 10,27-29 that it is for conscience sake that we abstain, “I mean not your own conscience, but the other man’s; for why is my freedom judged by another’s conscience?” If someone sees us dining in an idol’s temple, it would give him the idea that eating food sacrificed to idols was acceptable to God, and then the next logical step would be to condone idol worship, which is eternally forbidden. We who have knowledge can eat the food of an idol without actually worshipping the idol, but our brother may automatically associate eating the food of idols with idol worship. We would be inadvertently teaching him that worshipping such entities is acceptable when it is not. There is only one God and we worship Him, and all the other idols have demons behind them (1Cor 10-20). Most likely, food sacrificed to idols is just as nutritious as any other food, but after it has been sacrificed to an idol it is associated with worshipping demons, and for that reason we should avoid partaking of it, not for our conscience-sake, but for the sake of anyone who would observe us dining in an idols temple. The application of this restriction still exists in the Catholic Church where idol worship is still practiced. They believe the body and blood of Christ literally replaces the bread and wine during communion. The priest must give his blessing over the so-called Holy Eucharist before this transubstantiation can occur. To the person with knowledge, we know that the bread and wine are just that, but to participate in this ceremony among those who believe that these things literally undergo a transformation is to convey the message that we too believe this, when in fact we don’t.

Act 21,26-30

(7d) Responsibility >> Protecting the gospel >> Defend the word by preaching it – These verses go with verses 37-40

Act 21-26

(122k) Thy kingdom come >> Manifestations of faith >> Boldness in adverse circumstances >> Go in places of adversity

(205h) Salvation >> Salvation is based on God’s promises >> New covenant >> The old one is obsolete – These were the regulations that were required of them by Moses. When those laws were first enacted so long ago at the base of Mount Sinai just after the exile from Egypt, God worked closer with the children of Israel than he worked before or since with anyone else, showing His mighty power every day for forty years. The disciples saw Jesus perform miracles every day for three and a half years, but they were only twelve. Israel was a million strong; they ate manna; they saw the pillar of fire during the night and the cloud hovering over the tabernacle by day for forty years. These rules of divine worship that Moses laid down for the children of Israel were meant for them throughout their generations, mandated at that time as a means of survival, for had they not obeyed them, God would have destroyed them all and started over using the descendents of Moses, God literally threatening to do this more than once. Over the centuries, as God withdrew from the children of Israel because of sin, He loosened the consequences of disobedience to His laws of worship, so there were no immediate repercussions as there were during the days of Moses. By Paul’s day any divine consequences for not following the law had all but disappeared (Heb 8-13). If the Jews were to stone someone to death because they weren’t following certain rules, God no longer sanctioned this; instead, He would have seen it as murder, not only because Jesus had come and established a new covenant in his blood, but also because there had been so much time that elapsed, their old covenant had become rancid and toxic. People had grown distant from the Lord in their hearts, their rituals reduced to mindless routines. The Jews desperately tried to keep their ancient customs alive, though their ancestors, when God wanted them to practice them, refused. Now that God had taken them away they refused to let them go. The term “rebellious Jew” is a redundant one, but they represent a cross section of all mankind, rebellious through n through. To the unbelieving Jew nothing has changed to release them from their obligation to practice the law, even though Jesus had come and given His blood, and as the new covenant was in the process of being established in their very midst even through the apostle Paul, they still didn’t see that they had been released from the regulations of Moses.

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27 When the seven days were almost over, the Jews from Asia, upon seeing him in the temple, began to stir up all the crowd and laid hands on him, 

 

Act 21,27-40

(28c) Gift of God >> God is our advocate >> God protects the Church from the world -- These verses go with verses 13&14

(44ka) Judgment >> Transformation process >> Fulfill your ministry in evangelism >> Fulfill your ministry through opposition -- These verses go with verses 20,21

(72a) Authority >> Ordained by God >> We are ordained to walk in His authority – We begin to see why Christianity didn't go over well with the Jews; they weren’t ready to quit worshipping God according to their ancient customs that was handed to them through Moses. They would need an authority figure to tell them that their religion was no longer necessary and that a change had occurred. Paul had no authority to tell them to stop worshipping God according to the laws of Moses. What they needed was Moses or God Himself to descend from heaven to tell them these things, and He did, but they hung Him on a cross. Now who will tell them that a change has occurred, certainly not Paul? The catch-22 is that this change of covenants could not occur until they crucified their King; adding insult to injury, the gentiles were included in this salvation.

(117b) Thy kingdom come >> Faith >> Rest in Jesus (Sabbath) >> Rest in His yoke through obedience

(126g) Thy kingdom come >> Manifestations of faith >> Peace >> Peace in the midst of the storm

(162g) Works of the devil >> Being a slave to the devil (Addictions) >> Bondage >> Addicted to sin >> Being a slave to the sinful nature – In the mind of the Jews Paul was a traitor of their religion. They never stopped one minute to think about anything Paul ever said to them. This very accurately depicts the human condition that began in the Garden of Eden with Adam taking the fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. God said, “You shall surely die” (Gen 2-17); die meaning separation from God, so enmity formed in the heart of man against God, and this enmity is spiritual in nature; it is not logical or sensible, nor is it conscious. The enmity of man against God is not in the control of Satan, but the same forces that are in him are also in us. This darkness has yet to be defined, the mystery of lawlessness, and perhaps it never will be defined. Even in eternity we may never understand the darkness that was once part of us.

(179d) Works of the devil >> Practicing witchcraft >> Wolves >> Stir up the crowd >> Stir up the crowd through jealousy – There were Jews in Jerusalem who came from Asia to worship in the temple, and Paul preached the gospel in Asia, and these same men who persecuted him in Asia recognized him in the temple and stirred up the crowd against him, only this time he was in Jerusalem, which for a prophet was like being in the lion’s den, showing the audacity of Paul in going there. The people arrested him and dragged him from the temple, making mostly untrue accusations against him, but some were true, particularly that Paul was trying to alter the Jewish customs, preaching against the Law of Moses and against the temple. Paul taught that all these things had been abolished by the new covenant, that since Jesus was sacrificed old covenant temple worship was no longer relevant. In the ears of the Jews this was blasphemy, but to the Jews who believed in Jesus this made perfect sense, because the ultimate sacrifice had already been made, and the Holy Spirit has come into their hearts to show them right from wrong; so who needs the Law anymore, and who needs the temple to make anymore sacrifices on it?

(185c) Works of the devil >> The origin of lawlessness >> Mystery of lawlessness >> Having no grounds for your hate >> Hating the Church without a cause – In the same way that it wasn’t good enough to throw Jesus in jail or to argue with Him or flog Him but to kill Him, so the Jews didn’t want Paul arrested but murdered, and so nothing changed since they crucified their Messiah; there was no repentance. The whole world learned to hate the Jews because they allowed their religion to mutate. What was the cause of the Jews drifting so far from God’s truth that was written in their manuscripts that they read in their synagogue every Sabbath? The primary force behind the drift was that they made their religion all about themselves. Anybody who makes their religion about themselves will suffer the same fate. When their Messiah came and put their Old Testament into His own words, it sounded foreign to them, because they had drifted so far from its original message. When we go back and read the Old Testament according to the way Jesus presented it, it’s all there. When we read the Old Testament according to the Jewish understanding, all we see is a lot of mechanical works and words, and the relationship with God is completely removed. Is our relationship with Jesus still intact or has our religion become mechanical? Old covenant worship was a process: honor God on the Sabbath; display the bread of presence; light the menorah; maintain the Golden Altar of Incense; circumcise all male infants on the eighth day, etc.; this was all they understood about God.

Act 21,27-36

(29a) Gift of God >> God is our advocate >> Delivered from our persecutors

(148i) Witness >> Validity of Jesus Christ >> Works of the Church bear witness to Jesus >> Evangelism >> Obligation to preach the gospel >> Ambassador in chains -- These verses go with verses 13&14

(242c) Kingdom of God >> Opposition toward the Kingdom of God >> Persecuting the kingdom >> Persecuting God >> Persecuting the word of God

Act 21,27-32

(163f) Works of the devil >> Being a slave to the devil (Addictions) >> Used by Satan to destroy the word of God >> Used to destroy the mouthpiece of God – The Jews were in the process of killing Paul when the authorities took him from their hands. Paul took their abuse with love in his heart for them. There are some people who simply will not be convinced of the gospel, because they are unable to believe the truth, though they are perfectly capable of religion. We are talking about a heart made of stone and a mind that denies logic and reason. If we tried to explain God to them that conflicted with their religion, they would stop their ears and come tearing at us with the intent of murder, like they did to seven (Act 7,54-60). The reason these things have been written is not to emphasize the ignorance of the Jews but to emphasize the ignorance of man, because the Jews represent mankind. Had God chose any other race or nation, they would have ended up in exactly the same place as the Jews, their minds completely devoured by their religion that replaced a genuine worship of God. This has happened to many churches among the gentiles. Try to tell people in the Church certain things about their doctrines that are lacking or askew and we will be close to physically removed from the premises and asked not to return. The vast majority of churches these days have pastors who are completely inaccessible to people. That wasn’t true just twenty years ago. There was a time we could go to just about any church and the doors would be open, and we could speak to the pastor about whatever we wanted without an appointment, but now we can’t even see him by appointment. The Jews are not unique in preferring religion over a genuine relationship with God. When we iterate the doctrines that we believe, they may mirror the Scriptures, but if we don’t live by them, the truth is not in us.

Act 21,27-30

(176g) Works of the devil >> The religion of witchcraft >> Zeal without knowledge (Spirit w/o the word) >> Intensity without insight

Act 21,27-29

(175f) Works of the devil >> The religion of witchcraft >> Ignorance >> Dodging the issue (willful ignorance) >> Evading the word of God

Act 21-27,28

(18b) Sin >> Unrighteous judgment >> Condemning God’s people – Paul’s enemies were sinners accusing Paul of sin; this is a very common scenario. Jesus addressed this problem when He said, ‘Who is without sin among you? Let him be the first to throw a stone at her’ (Jn 8-7), implying that if you are a sinner, you have negated yourself from any judicial standpoint. These Jews operated according to their own doctrines, viewing themselves as righteous, and felt completely justified in what they were doing.

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28-31 crying out, "Men of Israel, come to our aid! This is the man who preaches to all men everywhere against our people and the Law and this place; and besides he has even brought Greeks into the temple and has defiled this holy place." 29 For they had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian in the city with him, and they supposed that Paul had brought him into the temple. 30 Then all the city was provoked, and the people rushed together, and taking hold of Paul they dragged him out of the temple, and immediately the doors were shut. 31 While they were seeking to kill him, a report came up to the commander of the Roman cohort that all Jerusalem was in confusion. 

 

Act 21-28,29

(178b) Works of the devil >> The religion of witchcraft >> Presumption (Hinduism) >> Presumption is not founded on facts -- These verses go with verses 37-39. According to the Law of Moses, gentiles were not allowed in the temple, and the Jews assumed that Paul brought into the temple his gentile friend from Ephesus, Trophimus, because they had earlier seen them together. Of course, Paul could not tell them that they were wrong; it didn’t matter how much proof was on his side, it was useless to talk to them. These people had already made up their minds about everything. Whatever they concluded was their truth, and it immediately solidified in their minds like cement. Nothing Paul said could convince them of anything; this was not typical only to them but is common to all religions. Whatever people believe about God becomes seared into their hearts as it were with a hot branding iron, becoming permanent. We cannot talk to anybody about a change in their religion after they have once believed. Perhaps a couple months into their faith we could still reason with them, but not after their beliefs have had time to set-up in their conscience. Bringing the gospel to people who are absorbed in secular humanism and the material world is met with the same resistance, so who can be saved? The answer is nobody, except the elect. Poor, third-world countries are more open to the gospel these days than developed nations. The world is in need of revival, and revival is coming with authority to reinstate the true doctrines of our Lord Jesus Christ, and a time is coming when people will once again respond to the gospel, and they will believe in the truth. The truth is powerful; religion is useless. The only thing that has power is the truth, because it is the only thing the Holy Spirit is willing to anoint. The Holy Spirit does not anoint the religions of men.

Act 21,30-40

(58l) Paradox >> Two implied meanings >> The Lord is warning Paul / The Lord is promising Paul -- These verses go with verses 11-14

(101e) Thy kingdom come >> Zeal does not count the cost >> Zeal goes to extremes -- These verses go with verses 11-14

Act 21,30-36

(158i) Works of the devil >> Essential characteristics >> Divide and conquer >> Division (Cliques) >> Satan is the origin of division – They assumed that Paul had brought a gentile into the Jewish temple, which was a no-no; the centurions didn’t know Paul’s identity; the Jews were crying out “away with this man” without giving any reasons, so confusion reigned. This is people and their convictions; they think there are things in life that are so important, yet they can’t even put into words what means most to them. To them it doesn’t matter; they feel it, so that’s it. There are many people who go though life this way, having strong convictions about things they don’t even understand. 

Act 21-30

(65g) Paradox >> Anomalies >> Satan unites the world for the cause of persecution

(162b) Works of the devil >> Essential characteristics >> Satan’s attitude determines our direction >> Carried Away >> Carried away bodily – Paul’s enemies did this to him because he had the audacity to go to Jerusalem and worship in the temple. Paul had every right to be there, because he was a Jew, and a Pharisee at that, even a former leader of the Jews. His countrymen were treating him like a gentile, because he had become a Christian; therefore, they did not recognize him as having any rights as a Jew, considering him to have defiled the temple by his presence there, because of his faith in Jesus. So really, it was his faith that supposedly desecrated the temple, yet His faith in Jesus correlated with the teachings and formalities of temple worship that God commanded Israel though Moses at Mount Sinai. Paul actually understood the meaning of temple worship better than the people who persecuted him, so we see how twisted the truth had become in the minds of the Jews in those days. Over a course of fifteen hundred years the Jews added a wrong turn to a wrong turn, until they completely lost touch with their direction and forgot where they were going in the first place. Their temple worship morphed into mere actions performed by rote without knowing what any of it meant, except to assume that if they performed the services, they would be pleasing to God, when in fact they completely lost touch with the heart and soul of their religion. Had they understood what they were doing and were waiting for their Messiah to come in the flesh as He did, they would have completely overturned God’s plan. Instead, their religion contorted into an excuse for their sins, and their falsity carried them into darkness and spiritual deceit, so when their Messiah came, they had Him crucified and inadvertently fulfilled God’s plan that He had prepared from all eternity. For the same reason they dragged off Paul and bodily carried him away, because they too were carried away by satanic delusion, and so they in turn carried Paul away to mirror the activity transpiring in their own hearts by the devil.

Act 21-31

(25c) Sin >> Poverty (Forms of fear) >> Murder >> Persecution to the death >> prestige

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32-40 At once he took along some soldiers and centurions and ran down to them; and when they saw the commander and the soldiers, they stopped beating Paul. 33 Then the commander came up and took hold of him, and ordered him to be bound with two chains; and he began asking who he was and what he had done. 34 But among the crowd some were shouting one thing and some another, and when he could not find out the facts because of the uproar, he ordered him to be brought into the barracks. 35 When he got to the stairs, he was carried by the soldiers because of the violence of the mob; 36 for the multitude of the people kept following them, shouting, "Away with him!" 37 As Paul was about to be brought into the barracks, he said to the commander, "May I say something to you?" And he said, "Do you know Greek? 38 "Then you are not the Egyptian who some time ago stirred up a revolt and led the four thousand men of the Assassins out into the wilderness?" 39 But Paul said, "I am a Jew of Tarsus in Cilicia, a citizen of no insignificant city; and I beg you, allow me to speak to the people." 40 When he had given him permission, Paul, standing on the stairs, motioned to the people with his hand; and when there was a great hush, he spoke to them in the Hebrew dialect, saying,

 

Act 21-32

(214b) Sovereignty >> God controls time >> God’s timing >> God’s timing transcends our comprehension >> God’s time does not make sense to the natural mind

Act 21-33,34

(18d) Sin >> False Judgment lacks evidence >> Undefined charges

Act 21-33

(152k) Witness >> Validity of the Father >> Witnesses of the father >> The Church holds the position of a prophet >> True prophets >> Confirming the prophets -- This verse goes with verse 4

(236b) Kingdom of God >> Pursuing the kingdom >> Invest in the kingdom >> All things are for your sake >> We are fighting for you >> Our bondage is for your sake -- This verse goes with verses 9-14. Being bound with two chains was a prophecy that Paul received before he went to Jerusalem (Act 21-11). He knew the consequences of going there but he went anyway, so the consequences were not a surprise to him. What exactly was it that he was trying to accomplish by going to Jerusalem, and was it really the will of God that he went? We know it was the will of God that his friends prohibited him from entering the theater in Act 19-31 to be instantly killed by the mob, so why would it be any different in this case. Paul had many years of ministry; he could have continued as a missionary, though he was getting older. He just made up his mind that his missionary days were over and that he would turn a corner in his life, for he knew his present course would be altered by this decision to venture into Jerusalem’s temple. He knew he would not walk from Jerusalem a free man.

Act 21,37-40

(7d) Responsibility >> Protecting the gospel >> Defend the word by preaching it – These verses go with verses 11-14

(121g) Thy kingdom come >> Manifestations of faith >> Hope >> Expectation >> Expecting good things based on God’s character >> Expectation based on His word

(147d) Witness >> Validity of Jesus Christ >> Jesus’ works bear witness of Himself >> God exercises authority over every living thing

(148d) Witness >> Validity of Jesus Christ >> Works of the Church bear witness to Jesus >> Evangelism >> Natural advantage as an evangelist regarding the flesh – Paul pulled out his ace card again, the fact that he was born a Jewish Roman, having been born in Tarsus of Cilicia. This carried an incredible amount of weight in that Rome was a world empire at that time, and it also carried an incredible amount of imagery in the sense of God’s predestination, that He was preparing Paul for his future ministry even while in his mother's womb. His Roman status was as valuable as a passport to certain places and things that other people had no authority based merely on the place of his birth.

(148k) Witness >> Validity of Jesus Christ >> Works of the Church bear witness to Jesus >> Evangelism >> Obligation to preach the gospel >> Consumed by the desire to do it – Paul interpreted every situation in life as an opportunity to share the gospel with someone. He didn’t have to stop the centurion; the authorities were taking him to safety. He just got seriously beaten (again); anybody else couldn’t have gotten out of there fast enough, but Paul saw an opportunity for evangelism, not so much to clear up any confusion, but to tell his side, so they might at least know why they hated him; there may have been someone in the crowd who would actually understand what he is saying and get saved. This is why Paul stopped the centurion; his whole life was about turning on the light in people’s hearts and saving souls, sometime at the risk of his own life. He was compelled to show them the reality of God in his life and the change that had transpired in him.

Act 21,37-39

(178b) Works of the devil >> The religion of witchcraft >> Presumption (Hinduism) >> Presumption is not founded on facts -- These verses go with verses 28,29

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