Acts 21


The Holy Spirit warned Paul through the disciples


1 And when we had parted from them and set sail we came with a straight course to Coos and the day following to Rhodes; and from there to Patara: 2 And finding a ship sailing over to Phoenicia, we went aboard and set out. 3 And when we came in sight of Cyprus, we left it on the left side and sailed to Syria and landed at Tyre: for that is where the ship was to unload her cargo. 4 And finding disciples, we stayed there seven days: who said to Paul through the Spirit that he should not go up to Jerusalem. 5 And when we had finished those days, we left and went our way; and they all brought us on our way with wives and children, until we were out of the city: and we kneeled down on the shore and prayed. 6 And when we had taken our leave one of another, we boarded ship; and they returned home again. 7 And when we had finished our course from Tyre, we came to Ptolemais, and saluted the brothers and stayed with them one day. 8 And the next day we that were of Paul's company left and came to Caesarea: and we entered into the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven; and stayed with him. 9 And the same man had four daughters, virgins, who prophesied.


  • Prophets spoke God’s words.
  • Paul was on a missionary journey going among the churches strengthening the faith of the brothers.
  • He had determined not to miss the feast at Jerusalem.
  • Each church he visits warns him not to go to Jerusalem… chains and prison await him there.
  • Amos 3:8 The lion has roared, who will not fear? The Lord GOD has spoken, who can but prophesy?


God’s will is perfect


10 And as we stayed there many days a certain prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. 11 And when he came to us he took Paul's girdle and bound his own hands and feet and said, The Holy Spirit says this, In this way the Jews at Jerusalem will bind the man that owns this girdle and will deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles. 12 And when we heard these things, both we, and those of that place, begged him not to go up to Jerusalem. 13 Then Paul answered, What do you mean to weep and to break my heart? I am ready not only to be bound but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus. 14 And when he would not be persuaded, we stopped saying, The will of the Lord be done.


  • Romans 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.
  • Matthew 6:10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
  • Luke 22:42 Saying, Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but your will, be done.


God’s works glorify Him


15 And after those days we prepared and went up to Jerusalem. 16 And certain ones of the disciples from Caesarea went with us, and brought with them one Mnason of Cyprus, an old disciple with whom we would lodge. 17 And when we came to Jerusalem, the brothers received us gladly. 18 And the following day Paul went in with us to James; and all the elders were present. 19 And when he had saluted them, he declared particularly what things God had worked among the Gentiles by his ministry. 20 And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord and said to him, You see, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are who believe; and they are all zealous of the law: 21 And they have been told about you that you teach all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they should not circumcise their children or walk after the customs. 22 What then is to be done? The multitude needs to come together: for they will hear that you have come. 23 Therefore do what we say to you: We have four men who have a vow on them; 24 Take them and purify yourself with them, and pay their expenses, that they may shave their heads: that all may know that those things that were said about you are nothing; but that you yourself also walk orderly and keep the law.


  • God’s standard has not changed.
  • The law teaches us God’s holiness.
  • In trying to keep the law we see our need for a Savior.
  • The more we see how short we fall, the more we love God for sending His Son to carry us into His forgiveness and holiness.
  • Christ fulfilled the law for us and when we believe in Him, God credits His perfect life to our account.
  • James 2:10 For whoever will keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.
  • Romans 10:4 Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believes.
  • Acts 15:10 Now therefore why do you tempt God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples that neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? 11 But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we will be saved, even as they.


25 Concerning the Gentiles who believe, we have written and concluded that they observe no such thing except that they keep themselves from things offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication. 26 Then Paul took the men, and the next day purified himself with them and entered into the temple, giving notice of the completion of the days of purification, until an offering could be offered for every one of them. 27 And when the seven days were almost ended, the Jews who were from Asia, when they saw him in the temple, stirred up all the people, and captured him, 28 crying out, Men of Israel, help! This is the man, that teaches all men everywhere against the people and the law and this place: and has also brought Greeks into the temple and has polluted this holy place. 29 (For they had earlier in the city seen with him Trophimus, an Ephesian, whom they assumed that Paul had brought into the temple.) 30 And all the city was moved and the people ran together: and they took Paul, and dragged him out of the temple and immediately shut the doors.


God protected Saul through the chief captain


31 And as they were trying to kill him, news came to the chief captain of the band that all Jerusalem was in an uproar. 32 Who immediately took soldiers and centurions, and ran down to them: and when they saw the chief captain and the soldiers, they stopped beating Paul. 33 Then the chief captain came near and seized him and commanded him to be bound with two chains; and demanded who he was and what he had done. 34 And among the multitude some cried one thing, some another: and when he could not determine the facts because of the uproar, he commanded him to be carried into the fortress. 35 When he came up the stairs the soldiers carried him because of the violence of the people. 36 For the multitude of the people followed after, crying, Away with him.


  • Psalm 33:20 Our soul waits for the LORD: he is our help and our shield.


37 And as Paul was being led into the fortress he said to the chief captain, May I speak to you? Who said, Can you speak Greek? 38 Aren’t you that Egyptian, who some time ago caused a riot and led out into the wilderness four thousand men that were murderers? 39 But Paul said, I am a man, a Jew of Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, a citizen of no insignificant city: and, I beg you to allow me to speak to the people. 40 And when he had given him permission Paul stood on the stairs and motioned with the hand to the people. And when there was a great silence, he spoke to them in the Hebrew tongue, saying,


  • Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.


                                                 Acts 22


God reveals Himself to us


1 Men, brothers and fathers, hear my defense that I make to you now. 2 (When they heard him speak to them in the Hebrew language, they became even more quiet: and he said,) 3 Truly I am a man who is a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers: and was zealous toward God as all of you are this day. 4 And I persecuted this way to the death, chaining and putting into prisons both men and women. 5 As also the high priest and counsel of the elders can testify: from whom I also received letters to the brothers and went to Damascus, to bring those in chains there to Jerusalem to be punished. 6 And as I made my journey and came near Damascus about noon, suddenly a great light from heaven shone around me.


  • I John 1:5 … God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.
  • Matthew 17:2 And was transfigured before them: and his face shined like the sun, and his clothing was as white as the light.


7 And I fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to me, Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? 8 And I answered, Who are you, Lord? And he said to me, I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting. 9 And those that were with me indeed saw the light and were afraid; but they did not hear the voice of him that spoke to me. 10 And I said, What do you want me to do, Lord? And the Lord said to me, Get up and go into Damascus; and there it will be told you all things which are appointed for you to do.


  • The Lord gives clear, simple instructions.


God revealed His plan to Saul and warned him to flee danger


11 And when I could not see for the glory of that light, being led by the hand by those that were with me, I came to Damascus. 12 And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, having a good reputation with all the Jews who dwelt there, 13 came to me and stood and said to me, Brother Saul, receive your sight. And at that very time I looked up at him. 14 And he said, The God of our fathers has chosen you, to know his will, and to see that Just One, and to hear the voice of his mouth. 15 For you will be his witness unto all men of what you have seen and heard. 16 Now why do you delay? Get up and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord. 17 And it happened that when I came again to Jerusalem, while I prayed in the temple, I was in a trance; 18 And saw him saying to me, Hurry! Get out of Jerusalem quickly: for they will not receive your testimony concerning me. 19 And I said, Lord, they know that I imprisoned and beat in every synagogue those that believed on you: 20 And when the blood of your martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by, consenting to his death and guarding the clothes of those that killed him. 21 And he said to me, Go! For I will send you far away to the Gentiles. 22 And they listened to this word until this statement and then lifted up their voices and said, Take such a one from the earth: it is not fit for him to live. 23 And as they cried out and cast off their clothes and threw dust into the air, 24 The chief captain commanded him to be brought into the fortress, saying to examine him by scourging so that he might know why they were shouting so much against him. 25 And as they tied him with thongs, Paul said to the centurion that stood by, Is it lawful for you to scourge a man who is a Roman and not found guilty? 26 When the centurion heard that, he went and told the chief captain saying, Watch what you are about to do: for this man is a Roman. 27 Then the chief captain came and said to him, Tell me, are you a Roman? He said, Yes. 28 And the chief captain answered, I acquired this citizenship with a large sum of money. And Paul said, I was born a citizen. 29 Then immediately, those who would have examined him left: and the chief captain was also afraid after he knew that he was a Roman and because he had bound him. 30 On the next day, because he wanted to know why he was accused by the Jews, he released him from his bonds and commanded the chief priests and all their council to appear, and brought Paul down and set him before them.


  • Deuteronomy 1:30 The LORD your God who goes before you, he will fight for you…


                                                 Acts 23


1 And Paul, looking earnestly at the council said, Men and brothers, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day. 2 And the high priest, Ananias, commanded those that stood by him to strike him on the mouth. 3 Then Paul said to him, God will strike you, you whitewashed wall: for you sit to judge me according to the law and command me to be struck contrary to the law! 4 And those that stood by said, Do you revile God's high priest? 5 Then Paul said, Brothers, I did not know that he was the high priest: for it is written, You will not speak evil of the ruler of your people.


  • Acts 23 displays God’s rule over all circumstances.
  • Paul called this man a whitewashed wall.
  • He isn’t a doorway to God but an impassable barrier with a white, clean surface that deceived the people.
  • Proverbs 15:3 The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.


6 But when Paul perceived that the one part of the council were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, Men and brothers, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee: in the hope and resurrection of the dead I am being called in question. 7 And when he had said this, an uproar arose between the Pharisees and the Sadducees: and the assembly was divided. 8 For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit: but the Pharisees confess both. 9 And there arose a great uproar: and the scribes that were of the Pharisaic party stood and objected heatedly, saying, We find no evil in this man: but if a spirit or an angel has spoken to him, let’s not fight against God. 10 And as great uproar occurred, the chief captain, fearing that they would pull Paul to pieces, commanded the soldiers to go down and to take him by force from among them and to bring him into the fortress. 11 And the night following the Lord stood by him, and said Be of good cheer, Paul: for as you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must witness at Rome.


  • John 11:25-26 Jesus said to her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believes in me, though he were dead, yet he will live: 26 And whoever lives and believes in me will never die.


12 And when it was day the Jews formed a conspiracy, and bound themselves under a curse, saying that they would not eat or drink until they had killed Paul. 13 More than forty of them made this conspiracy. 14 And they came to the chief priests and elders and said, We have bound ourselves under a great curse, that we will eat nothing until we have killed Paul. 15 Now therefore you and the council notify the chief captain to bring him down to you tomorrow, as though you were going to determine his case by a more thorough examination: and we, when he comes near, are ready to kill him.


  • John 16:2 They will put you out of the synagogues: yes, the time comes, that whoever kills you will think that he does God service.
  • Hebrews 13:5… he has said, I will never leave you, nor forsake you.


God protects His own


16 But when Paul's sister's son heard of their ambush, he went into the fortress and told Paul. 17 Then Paul called one of the centurions to him and said, Bring this young man to the chief captain: for he has something to tell him. 18 So he took him and brought him to the chief captain and said, the prisoner Paul, called me to him and asked me to bring this young man to you who has something to tell you. 19 Then the chief captain took him by the hand and went with him aside privately and asked him, What is that you have to tell me? 20 And he said, The Jews have agreed to request that you bring down Paul to the council tomorrow as though they intend to inquire more thoroughly about him. 21 But do not yield to them: for more than forty men are waiting to ambush him, who have bound themselves with an oath that they will not eat or drink until they have killed him: and now they are ready and waiting for a promise from you. 22 So the chief captain let the young man depart and charged him, See that you tell no man that you have showed these things to me. 23 And he called to him two centurions, saying, Make ready two hundred soldiers to go to Caesarea and seventy horsemen, and two hundred spearmen at the third hour of the night; 24 And provide them mounts, that they may set Paul on to bring him safely to Felix the governor.


  • When Esau was about to kill his brother Jacob, his father sent him to his Uncle Laban, far away.
  • As the Pharisees made this vow to kill Paul, the chief captain secreted him away.
  • The protective hand of God works through people as well as apart from them.
  • Deuteronomy 31:6 Be strong and of a good courage, do not fear or be afraid of them: for the LORD your God, it is he that go with you; he will not fail you or forsake you.


25 And he wrote a letter as follows: 26 Claudius Lysias sends greeting unto the most excellent governor Felix. 27 This man was taken by the Jews and would have been killed by them when I came with an army and rescued him, having understood that he was a roman. 28 And when I would have known why they accused him, I brought him into their council: 29 Whom I perceived to be accused of questions regarding their law, but to have done nothing worthy of death or of imprisonment. 30 And when it was told me that the Jews waited to ambush the man, I sent straightway to you and gave commandment to his accusers also to present before you what they had against him. Farewell. 31 Then the soldiers, as it was commanded them, took Paul, and brought him by night to Antipatris. 32 The next day they left the horsemen to go with him and returned to the fortress: 33 Who, when they came to Caesarea and delivered the epistle to the governor, presented Paul also before him. 34 And when the governor had read the letter, he asked of what province he was. And when he understood that he was of Cilicia; 35 he said, I will hear you when your accusers have come also. And he commanded him to be kept in Herod's judgment hall.



SUMMARY: Acts 21-23


  • The Holy Spirit warned Paul by the disciples
  • God’s will is perfect
  • God’s works glorify Him
  • God protected Saul through the chief captain
  • God reveals Himself to us
  • God revealed His plan to Saul and warned him to flee danger
  • God protects His own