Notes and References

ACTS 21 Pt 1

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Acts of the Apostles

A Bible Study

Acts Chapter 21


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I Posted a a shockwave flash Map Animation with an overlay of today's map, the map of the Jewish diaspora 100 AD, and Paul's Journeys to show how completely he covered the Jewish region north with the gospel. 

Acts 21:1-25
Paul goes to Jerusalem

Paul finishes his 3rd Missionary Journey and is bringing financial gifts from the Gentile churches to the poor JEWISH BELIEVING saints at Jerusalem. He has a company of men with him which would be necessary for protecting the treasure from Achaia, Galatia, and Macedonia. The men were named in the last chapter. We read about this gift and how it was collected in the following verses, which have been abused in the churches to obtain offerings from the people and some not willingly but coerced. Paul never coerced, but did rightfully show how it is always proper to give to the poor saints (Jewish believers in Jerusalem), but taught also the importance of "right giving".

This was a one time offering - key in on this, a ONE TIME OFFERING. This is one of those things that has become forever doctrine in some of the churches today, abuse of scripture toward those who do not know its context and abuse its content for monetary gain. These scriptures below are referring to this one time offering Paul was collecting for the poor Jewish saints in Jerusalem and now you know what they mean. When you hear them taken out of context, you can educate the person teaching it, and if they listen great! If they do not, depart from them, they do not want to know the truth.

Romans 15:25-27
25But now I go unto Jerusalem to minister unto the saints.
26For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem.
27It hath pleased them verily; and their debtors they are. For if the Gentiles have been made partakers of their (Jews) spiritual things, their (Gentiles) duty is also to minister unto them (Jews) in carnal things.

1 Corinthians 16:1-4
1Now concerning the collection for the saints (Jews), as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye.
2Upon the first day of the week (Saturday night) let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.
3And when I come, whomsoever ye shall approve by your letters, them will I send to bring your liberality unto Jerusalem.
4And if it be meet that I go also, they shall go with me.

2 Corinthians 8:4
4Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints (Jews).

2 Corinthians 8:7-8
7Therefore, as ye abound in every thing, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us, see that ye abound in this grace (this offering) also.
8I speak not by commandment, but by occasion of the forwardness of others, and to prove the sincerity of your love.

2 Corinthians 8:10
10And herein I give my advice: for this is expedient for you, who have begun before, not only to do, but also to be forward a year ago.

2 Corinthians 8:12-13
12For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not.
13For I mean not that other men be eased, and ye burdened:

2 Corinthians 9:7
7Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.

This offering had a purpose. First of all it was for the Jewish saints or believers in Jerusalem. It was not a commandment to give. It was not to be a sacrifice, where it would put a burden on the giver. Ultimately it was to prove their love.

2 Corinthians 8:24
24Wherefore shew ye to them, and before the churches, the proof of your love, and of our boasting on your behalf.

2 Corinthians 9:10-14
10Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;)
11Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God.
12For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God;
13Whiles by the experiment of this ministration they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal distribution unto them, and unto all men;
14And by their prayer for you, which long after you for the exceeding grace of God in you.

This ministration to Jerusalem was twofold, for the physical necessity and for the spiritual acceptance of the Gentile believers. To the Jew, a Gentile (every race that is not Jew) is unclean, nothing can change their view. Gentiles, although believers, to the Jew were still unclean, a second class of human. Only the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem would change that.

So here we are some 30 years after the resurrection, 23 years after the dispersion from the persecutions of Saul. All the money from the early saints selling their goods and property is gone, thus showing that even in the best of circumstance and with men of the utmost character, Socialism fails. Living communally cannot overcome adversity, loss of wealth, and eventually everyone who remains becomes destitute, unable to move on to greener pastures, because they are trapped in their poverty.

Acts 21
1And it came to pass, that after we were gotten from them, and had launched, we came with a straight course unto Coos, and the day following unto Rhodes, and from thence unto Patara:
2And finding a ship sailing over unto Phenicia, we went aboard, and set forth.
3Now when we had discovered Cyprus, we left it on the left hand, and sailed into Syria, and landed at Tyre: for there the ship was to unlade her burden.
4And finding disciples, we tarried there seven days: who said to Paul through the Spirit, that he should not go up to Jerusalem.
5And when we had accomplished those days, we departed and went our way; and they all brought us on our way, with wives and children, till we were out of the city: and we kneeled down on the shore, and prayed.
6And when we had taken our leave one of another, we took ship; and they returned home again.
7And when we had finished our course from Tyre, we came to Ptolemais, and saluted the brethren, and abode with them one day.
8And the next day we that were of Paul's company departed, and came unto Caesarea: and we entered into the house of Philip the evangelist, which was one of the seven; and abode with him.
9And the same man had four daughters, virgins, which did prophesy.
10And as we tarried there many days, there came down from Judaea a certain prophet, named Agabus.
11And when he was come unto us, he took Paul's girdle, and bound his own hands and feet, and said, Thus saith the Holy Ghost, So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.
12And when we heard these things, both we, and they of that place, besought him not to go up to Jerusalem.
13Then Paul answered, What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart? for I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.
14And when he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, The will of the Lord be done.

Several things here, Philip "the Evangelist", was one of the seven the apostles laid hands upon in Acts chapter 6 for the administration of the treasury and daily disbursements. Philip was also the one who was miraculously translated some 20 miles. Philip was endued with power along with Stephen and these two are the only non-apostolic disciples mentioned as doing miracles like the apostles, in the book of Acts. Now when we studied Philip and Stephen, Acts 6 n 7 we discussed the title Deacon inferred upon them by commentators. These men were more than deacons! The scriptures never calls them deacons. If the apostles were the CEO's (Chief Executive Officer) of the church, "the seven" would have been the COO's (Chief Operating Officer) or more plainly presidents and vice presidents.

Philip had four daughters which prophesied. Agabus the prophet prophesied, " Thus saith the Holy Ghost, So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles." Like Psalm 2 again the Jew working with the Gentile against a holy man of God. Now everyone besought Paul not to go because of the prophesies. Paul responds he is ready to even die for Christ at Jerusalem and he would not be persuaded. So let us look again at what God actually said. Did we ever read God say "do not go"? No!

What did Paul know?

  • He had made preparation to go for almost a year to take this offering to Jerusalem. (2Cor 8:10)
  • He purposed in his heart to go to Jerusalem then to Rome. (Acts 19:21) In Acts 23:11 the Lord confirms Rome is his final destination.
  • He would never return to Ephesus again. (Acts 20:25)
  • Disciples at Tyre said he "should not go up to Jerusalem". (Acts 21:4)
  • Agabus the prophet said he would be bound by the Jews and delivered to the Gentiles (Acts 21:11)
  • Luke and the others upon hearing Agabus tried to persuade Paul not to go to Jerusalem. Then when Paul refused said, "The will of the Lord be done".

So what would compel Paul to continue? Everything he heard was not good. The end was going ot be disastrous. Was everyone wrong and Paul right? Paul evidently believed everything everyone was saying about what awaited him at Jerusalem. In Acts 20:24, Paul said he must finish his course. I have preached this sermon in the past and it is still valid today concerning Paul. Well meaning Spirit filled believers absolutely heard God regarding what awaited Paul at Jerusalem, affliction, bondage, and danger. Most would conclude avoidance would be the correct path, God was warning, so heed the warning. Naturally this would be a normal conclusion. Paul is not the norm here. Paul chose to "finish his course", which led straight to Jerusalem. Luke and company could not understand the mind of Paul, but at this point you must trust the man's decision of whom is the subject of the warnings. Paul knew and we just have to believe that, just as Jesus Christ knew his end. God warns sometimes so that we are not caught unawares, but the path does not change, it just becomes more illuminated with the light of knowledge and truth. How much easier it is to endure hardship, knowing and having peace that you are in God's will and nothing comes as a surprise. So it is with Paul facing his final destiny.

Acts 21
15And after those days we took up our carriages (= bags or luggage), and went up to Jerusalem.
16There went with us also certain of the disciples of Caesarea, and brought with them one Mnason of Cyprus, an old disciple, with whom we should lodge.
17And when we were come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly.
18And the day following Paul went in with us unto James; and all the elders were present.

Now some commentaries say this James is not the apostle James, but the brother of our Lord. While others say this is the apostle James the son of Alpheus. Now from what I read and what the scriptures say, Jesus had brothers named James and Judas Mark 6:3, Matt 15:55. There were two apostles named James; James and his brother John the sons of Zebedee, James and his brother Judas the sons of Alpheus, Luke 6:16. Paul calls James the Lord's brother an apostle in Galatians 1:19. This James is the apostle James the son of Alpheus the brother of our Lord. The other James the son of Zebedee has already been martyred in Acts 12:2.

The salutation in the book of Jude, whose writer is Jude (who is Judas also called Thaddaeus in Mark 3:18 and Lebbaeus in Matt 10:3), is the brother of James. Most of the problems in figuring out who these people are did not come from scripture but the Catholic dogma that Mary was a virgin until death and therefore Jesus Christ did not have brothers and sisters as Matt 13:55, 56 and Mark 6:3 claims. These must have been cousins according to these holders of such dogma. Because in these commentaries the Virgin Mary had a sister also named Mary, therefore Jesus's cousins mother was named Mary. Ok what parents call two daughters in the same family the same name? Therefore the commentaries regarding the names are based on assumptions with blinders of the Virgin Mary was a virgin until death dogma on causing even more confusion. The scripture is pretty clear as to who these people were.

Acts 21
19And when he had saluted them, he declared particularly what things God had wrought among the Gentiles by his ministry.
20And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord, and said unto him, Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the law:

There are so many points that can be made by this one verse:

  • James does not call these believers "Christians", but Jews
  • There are thousands there at Jerusalem
  • They were not passively keeping the law of Moses but were "Zealous of the law", meaning everything from temple worship to sacrifice


Acts 21
21And they are informed of thee, that thou teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs.
22What is it therefore? the multitude must needs come together: for they will hear that thou art come.

Immediately an accusation that Paul is teaching Jews to, "forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs".

Acts 21
23Do therefore this that we say to thee: We have four men which have a vow on them;
24Them take, and purify thyself with them, and be at charges with them, that they may shave their heads: and all may know that those things, whereof they were informed concerning thee, are nothing; but that thou thyself also walkest orderly, and keepest the law.
25As touching the Gentiles which believe, we have written and concluded that they observe no such thing, save only that they keep themselves from things offered to idols, and from blood, and from strangled, and from fornication.

Verses 20-25 (v25 refers to Act 15 and Paul speaks of it in Galatians 1 &2) are proof there were TWO separate and distinct messages going out regarding the salvation message of Jesus Christ, one to Jews only and one to Gentiles or everyone else. If you cannot see this you are completely blind! Jews are fully keeping the Law of Moses. Gentiles are to keep themselves from things offered to idols, and from blood, and from strangled, and from fornication.

This also means the Jewish believers did not believe in the New Covenant (Heb 12:24), nor of the grace of God without works of the law for salvation. Just 10 years before the complete destruction of the temple we have Jewish believers who had not embraced the message of faith alone saves you and the Holy Spirit purifies you. Gentile Christians were still unclean. Now if you are keeping laws and customs in order to reach the lost is fine, if that is the sole purpose and you are not placing your faith in those things to save you or make you righteous. Unfortunately this is not the case here. They were still following Mosaic Law for righteousness, not realizing righteousness only comes from God through Jesus Christ.

There is no good deed or a lifetime of good deeds that will make you righteous or justify you. We sin because we are sinners. We are not sinners because we sin, but rather because we are the children of Adam who brought sin and death upon all of his generations forever. Now through Christ, who knew no sin because he was not of the seed of man but the son of God, now by this one man has brought righteousness to all who would believe on him. By one man sin came into the world upon all people (Adam) and by one man (Jesus Christ) "abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness".

Romans 5:14-19
14Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.
15But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.
16And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification.
17For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.)
18Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.
19For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.