This chapter marked Paul’s third mission trip ending with him in custody at Jerusalem. In fact he nearly lost his life if not for God’s providential protection moving the security forces of the Romans to intervene and they rescued him in the nick of time. Paul after leaving those emotional elders from the church at Ephesus behind was making his way to Israel. More warning were given along the way to prevent him from travelling on but he ignored them all. So Paul finally got to meet with the brethren in Jerusalem at last and heading into trouble soon after.

Acts 21:1: And it came to pass, that after we were gotten from them, and had launched, we came with a straight course unto Coos, and the day following unto Rhodes, and from thence unto Patara:
Acts 21:2: And finding a ship sailing over unto Phenicia, we went aboard, and set forth.
Acts 21:3: Now when we had discovered Cyprus, we left it on the left hand, and sailed into Syria, and landed at Tyre: for there the ship was to unlade her burden.

Paul and his company were sailing smoothly heading towards the direction of Israel. They passed Cyprus where Paul’s former mission partner, Barnabas, lived. Paul and Barnabas parted company over John Mark joining them for the second mission trip. After the fallout, Barnabas took John Mark and left for Cyprus. Perhaps Paul might be thinking about his former companions. Should time permit maybe Paul might have dropped by to pay him a visit. Anyway, Paul’s focus was Jerusalem and he was on his way to attend the feast of Pentecost so he could hardly afford the time to tarry some distance away from Israel. Thus they reached Syria at Tyre not too far off from Jerusalem. This was a port call for the ship to unload the cargoes.

According to the most updated and readable NIV, Paul and company did not depart from those elders in the previous chapter. The NIV reads: After we had torn ourselves away from them. This must be the most scholarly way of expressing biblical truths made easy for Bible readers. Such foolishness in all its glory can only come from puffed up high-minded scholars who make a fool out of themselves with their clumsy and awkward use of the language.

Acts 21:4: And finding disciples, we tarried there seven days: who said to Paul through the Spirit, that he should not go up to Jerusalem.
Acts 21:5: And when we had accomplished those days, we departed and went our way; and they all brought us on our way, with wives and children, till we were out of the city: and we kneeled down on the shore, and prayed.
Acts 21:6: And when we had taken our leave one of another, we took ship; and they returned home again.

So Paul took the opportunity to meet up with the disciples and spent seven days at Tyre. Over here Paul was again warned by the Holy Spirit not to go to Jerusalem. This warning was another personal warning to Paul. Apparently Paul overrode this yet another warning and decided to make his way to Jerusalem. As such, the disciples and their families sent Paul off and they held a prayer meeting on the shore before moving on. Paul was surely well-loved by these people where even their wives and children attended his sending off party.

Acts 21:7: And when we had finished our course from Tyre, we came to Ptolemais, and saluted the brethren, and abode with them one day.
Acts 21:8: And the next day we that were of Paul’s company departed, and came unto Caesarea: and we entered into the house of Philip the evangelist, which was one of the seven; and abode with him.
Acts 21:9: And the same man had four daughters, virgins, which did prophesy.

After this Paul made a brief stopover at Ptolemais and spent a day with the brethren. Wherever he went, the disciples would accept him and welcome his presence and fellowship. It was another occasion of sharing the joy of the company of the saints and refreshing one another’s bowels and washing each other’s feet. At this point Paul was still safe and he could change his mind and stay out of harm’s way by turning away from Jerusalem.

However, Paul left, went further south and reached Caesarea. Paul and his company entered the home of the evangelist Philip. Philip was one of the original seven of the church at Jerusalem chosen to minister to the needs of the widows of the church there. Among the seven, Stephen was martyred. But Philip went on to preach to the Samaritans and then later to reach the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts chapter 8 when persecution of the church at Jerusalem began after the martyrdom of Stephen. So Philip would be very familiar with the apostle Paul who was formerly one of the most hated persecutors of the church of the Lord. Now the circumstance was different where Paul became one the foremost evangelist reaching the Gentiles for the Lord Jesus Christ. So Paul was warmly welcomed into the home of Philip many days.

Philip had four virgin daughters who did prophesy. The content of any prophecies were not revealed. Women could be prophets as well just like Deborah in the Old Testament. There is no office in the church for prophets. They served a function in the church to edify the saints. Likewise pastors and teachers are not church office holders. They serve a purpose within the Body of Christ for the perfecting of the saints: And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: (Ephesians 4:11-13)

In fact even the apostles are not office holders of the church. The apostle Peter was an office holder because he was an elder of the church: The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: (1 Peter 5:1) The church has only two offices and these officers are elders and deacons who must be husbands of one wife (1 Timothy 3). There are no women church officers. There are no ordinations for apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. So the presence of Philip’s daughters as prophetess was nothing extraordinary in those days. There were no records of prophecies by these daughters of Philip though.

Acts 21:10: And as we tarried there many days, there came down from Judaea a certain prophet, named Agabus.
Acts 21:11: And when he was come unto us, he took Paul’s girdle, and bound his own hands and feet, and said, Thus saith the Holy Ghost, So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.

After many days, another prophet came from Jerusalem showed up with an important prophecy to reveal to Paul. The message was so critical and urgent that this prophet did not just prophesy with his mouth, he utilised Paul’s girdle to bind his own hands and feet to demonstrate to Paul that the Jews at Jerusalem would bind him. According to the Holy Ghost, Paul would then be delivered into the hands of the Gentiles. There was no mention of Paul’s death though. This might be the only comfort in the entire message. This act of the prophet and his message would surely bring the lesson closer to heart for Paul and those with him. They were already not far from Jerusalem and hence the urgency of this warning delivered by the prophet Agabus.

This man Agabus was very likely the same prophet who prophesied about the great dearth that came upon the world in Acts 11 where the brethren in the church at Antioch sent relief to the brethren in Judaea by the hands of Paul and Barnabas. As such, Paul would know this man if he was the same prophet who went to the church at Antioch in the past. Now Agabus was providentially sent by the Lord to stop Paul from going further to cause harm to himself.

Acts 21:12: And when we heard these things, both we, and they of that place, besought him not to go up to Jerusalem.
Acts 21:13: Then Paul answered, What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart? for I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.

Who would not be moved with this message of calamity soon coming upon the apostle Paul! Who in the right mind would allow Paul to undertake this unnecessary risk to venture to Jerusalem where the warnings throughout his journey to Jerusalem had been clearly posted to him! Now when they were not far from Jerusalem it would be more urgent to dissuade Paul from his onward journey to Jerusalem. He could still turn around to avert the danger he would face. At this critical juncture, the brethren no doubt would do their best to prevent Paul from risking his life at Jerusalem. There were so much unfinished work with the churches around the region and to lose Paul would be unthinkable. For Paul to abide in the flesh would certainly be more needful to the churches he had helped set up.

Unfortunately, Paul would not be moved by the sincerity of the brethren trying to persuade him from going to Jerusalem. Paul’s response was one of vehement determination to go on to Jerusalem. He told those present that he was not just prepared to be bound only but to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Why was Paul so adamant about going to Jerusalem? What did he hope to achieve? Perhaps what Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome years later could shed some light.

I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen. (Romans 9:1-5)

Paul though an apostle of the Gentiles had never forgotten his own brethren in the flesh. His love for them was exceedingly great even though he had been so severely persecuted by them everywhere he went. Human logic would dictate that he stayed away from these enemies who wanted him dead and even be very wary of these enemies. Nonetheless, he still loved his brethren dearly and was prepared to give his life for them. He was like Moses of old who wished for his brethren’s salvation even at his own loss. The price he was prepared to pay was his ultimate sacrifice for them.

Acts 21:14: And when he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, The will of the Lord be done.

After all it was Paul’s life what else could the brethren do when Paul refused to take heed to their persuasion! These men also loved this apostle greatly who had done so much for them. To see this apostle venturing into danger with an ominous future would be the least they would want to see. The outcome from this meeting with this prophet who came personally from Judaea was less than favourable for the message given did not accomplish the desired results. The Lord did send this man to warn Paul but Paul was still responsible for his own fate. The will of God is all encompassing for a child of God. In fact when Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome, he revealed to them the three categories of the will of God in a believer’s life.

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (Romans 12:1&2)

The will of God can be good, acceptable and perfect. Doing something for the Lord may be good but not acceptable. Doing something acceptable may not be the perfect will of God under certain circumstances. In this case, Paul was trying to do God’s will albeit not the perfect will of God. Moreover, God had been sending warnings to Paul to stay away from Jerusalem but to no avail. The perfect will of God was for Paul to turn around but Paul decided otherwise. Years ago when Paul was waiting upon the Lord during his mission trip, he did not enter Asia when he was forbidden of the Holy Ghost (Acts 16). This time however, Paul was walking in self-will despite the Holy Ghost putting numerous warnings along his way.

What was so important that required Paul’s presence in Jerusalem when he could be doing a lot of good to the Gentile Christians around the region? Who compelled him to go to Jerusalem? Not from any external forces but from Paul’s own inward affection. So the brethren ceased from persuading Paul and let the Lord’s will be done though this will of the Lord was against the Lord’s perfect direction and purpose. Thus this was the last warning the Lord sent to Paul along his way to Jerusalem. While Paul may be going up to Jerusalem he was actually going down as far as his calling and mission objectives were concerned.

Acts 21:15: And after those days we took up our carriages, and went up to Jerusalem.
Acts 21:16: There went with us also certain of the disciples of Caesarea, and brought with them one Mnason of Cyprus, an old disciple, with whom we should lodge.
Acts 21:17: And when we were come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly.

So Paul moved on and went up to Jerusalem with a great company where his lodging was also taken cared of by an old disciple from Cyprus. His former companion Barnabas from Cyprus was not with him after they broke company. This disciple was his earthly comfort even as he travelled into the unknown where dangers awaited him as prophesied by many during the whole trip to Jerusalem. When they reached Jerusalem, the brethren received them gladly. This was to be expected as this great man had jeopardised his life reaching the lost among the Gentiles. There would be a lot of catching up to do between the saints in Jerusalem and those with Paul. There was no record of what transpired when Paul visited Jerusalem at the end of his second mission trip but this time plenty would be recorded for the saints of all ages to learn about the perfect will of God and how God did not forsake his servant even though he could have walked contrary to the perfect will of God.

Acts 21:18: And the day following Paul went in with us unto James; and all the elders were present.
Acts 21:19: And when he had saluted them, he declared particularly what things God had wrought among the Gentiles by his ministry.

The next day Paul and his company went to meet up with James and the other elders. It is notable that no pastors are mentioned during this meeting which show who are those responsible to oversee the church of the Lord. This was another occasion for Paul to share his work with the brethren in Jerusalem. It was decided years ago in Jerusalem that Paul should go to the Gentiles to preach the gospel so it would be expected that the work among the Gentiles be shared with these saints in Jerusalem. They would be most interested to know the development of the gospel work among the Gentiles. Of course Paul would be more than delighted to share his joy and success among the Gentiles with the saints at Jerusalem.

Acts 21:20: And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord, and said unto him, Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the law:
Acts 21:21: And they are informed of thee, that thou teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs.

As expected, the saints at Jerusalem rejoiced and glorified the Lord for all that were accomplished by the apostle Paul and others for the Gentile believers to come into the fold. Notwithstanding, the brethren in Jerusalem surely would have heard about complaints against the apostle Paul with regards to the way he taught the Gentiles where the Jews were also part of the church in the Gentile lands. The told him that the multitudes of the Jews who believed the Messiah were also zealous of the Law. This was understandable as they were Jews and naturally they would follow their customs and traditions handed down to them from their ancestors. Salvation would not change their race nor their customs. They were still practising Jews even though they had believed in the Lord Jesus as their Messiah. They still kept the circumcision and all other laws required of them and they were even zealous to keep all the Law. In fact, even the apostle Peter found out to his own dismay that his own brethren and fellow believers confronted him after he went to preach to Cornelius. Peter was already apprehensive about going to the Gentiles and when his brethren charged him for not walking orderly as a Jew, it was really hard to accept. Being a Jew and a believer of the Messiah was indeed a sensitive matter.

The trouble with Paul was he was so well known in the Gentile world teaching the Gentiles that they need not become Jews and adopt Jewish practices as Christians. They took this to imply that Paul was also telling the Jews that they needed not keep the Law of Moses anymore and that would be blasphemous to them. Paul was caught in a tricky situation. Those churches outside of Israel were made up of Jewish and Gentile believers. The unbelieving Jews would have occasion to accuse Paul for teaching the Jews who had become Christians together with the Gentile Christians to forsake Moses and their customs. Did Paul really tell the Jewish believers to forsake Moses? This was apparently not true. Paul even circumcised Timothy who was half-Jews as Timothy was required to work with the Jews. For Titus, he did not circumcise him because he was a Gentile and the Law of Moses was not applicable to Titus.

So these elders at Jerusalem was expressing their concerns regarding all this accusation against Paul which may not be true. Indeed Paul was caught in a catch-22 situation. He had to teach the Gentiles but he could not exclude the Jews as well. So it would be very easy for the enemies to bring such unfounded accusation against him. But Paul did not do anything to desecrate the Jewish places of worship as he would leave their synagogues when he was no longer welcome. The trouble was the unbelieving Jews would not leave him alone to do his work. All those unfounded rumours concerning Paul instructing the Jews to forsake Moses would have reached the Jews in Jerusalem.

The NKJV jumps in to sound clever by changing thousands of Jews to myriads of Jews in verse 20. Modern scholars have a funny way of trying to make the Bible simple and readable for modern day readers. Their lies have been exposed over and again. It is really tiring to note such ridiculous changes which they call update trying to help poor readers who cannot not read archaic words from the King James Bible.

Acts 21:22: What is it therefore? the multitude must needs come together: for they will hear that thou art come.
Acts 21:23: Do therefore this that we say to thee: We have four men which have a vow on them;
Acts 21:24: Them take, and purify thyself with them, and be at charges with them, that they may shave their heads: and all may know that those things, whereof they were informed concerning thee, are nothing; but that thou thyself also walkest orderly, and keepest the law.
Acts 21:25: As touching the Gentiles which believe, we have written and concluded that they observe no such thing, save only that they keep themselves from things offered to idols, and from blood, and from strangled, and from fornication.

As such, these elders proposed a solution to get Paul out of this difficult situation. They suggested Paul keep their custom and follow the Law by taking charge of four men who had made a vow on them. If Paul could be in-charged of these men to follow through with them according to the Law of Moses, this would prove to the Jews that all those rumours concerning Paul teaching the Jews to forsake Moses would be false. Paul could also use this occasion to demonstrate that he being a Jew also walked orderly and kept the Law.

The issue of circumcision for the Gentiles had already been resolved long ago. This was not applicable to them. However for the Jews, including Jewish believers of the Messiah, they were not given licence to abandon their customs and Jewish practices. What the Gentile Christians were supposed to observe were mentioned again as decided back in Acts 15. This proposal was of course a good suggestion humanly speaking which could possibly get Paul out of trouble. Paul’s reputation among the Jews was already tarnished when he worked with the Gentiles for all these years and it would be hard for him to gain acceptance among the Jews. Moreover, he was back in the capital of Israel and it would be exceedingly dangerous for him to teach what he taught in the Gentile lands to these Jews who were very zealous of the Law, including those believers in the Messiah who would surely turn against him.

So what choice did Paul have under such a circumstance? He had been warned so many times along the way to Jerusalem that trouble would await him. He even admitted that there would be trouble but he was prepared even to die if necessary. Did he anticipate these complaints against him? Was he prepared to be obedient to the Law to please the Jews to get out of this nasty situation? Would taking up the elders’ suggestion solve his predicament? What was his real purpose of coming to Jerusalem? He had already met the Jewish apostles and elders. What more did he want from them and from the people of Israel? Would he want to enter the Temple as he desired sometime back to keep the feast of Pentecost? What was so important about keeping this feast whereas his Gentile disciples were not part of this scheme and they were doing very well? Would leaving Jerusalem now help avert the trouble he might face? There were so many questions and so many scenarios to consider.

Acts 21:26: Then Paul took the men, and the next day purifying himself with them entered into the temple, to signify the accomplishment of the days of purification, until that an offering should be offered for every one of them.
Acts 21:27: And when the seven days were almost ended, the Jews which were of Asia, when they saw him in the temple, stirred up all the people, and laid hands on him,
Acts 21:28: Crying out, Men of Israel, help: This is the man, that teacheth all men every where against the people, and the law, and this place: and further brought Greeks also into the temple, and hath polluted this holy place.
Acts 21:29: (For they had seen before with him in the city Trophimus an Ephesian, whom they supposed that Paul had brought into the temple.)

Eventually Paul took up their offer and led those men who had taken a vow and went through the customs with them according to the Law. By doing this, he could lead these men into the Temple to offer those sacrifices of old concerning the rites of keeping the vows and be sanctified by the priests in the Temple. Paul had been preaching Christ and Christ crucified to the Jews and Gentiles that the Lord Jesus Christ was the perfect Lamb of God that took away the sin of the world. All those earthly sacrifices were already the things of the past and he now found himself going back to those earthly and beggarly elements trying to please God and approach Him before the Jews: For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. (Hebrews 10:1)

It would be hard to imagine what Paul was thinking going through all these rites and rituals trying to blend in and be accepted by the Jews. Years later when he wrote to the Christians in Galatia not to turn back to those earthly elements that would bring a child of God into bondage, it was probably lessons learned in a hard way: But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? (Galatians 4:9) Was his calling to minister to the Jews? Not according to his own words: For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: (Romans 11:13) However, his love for his brethren in the flesh overrode his calling from above.

Was Paul trying to enter the Temple to preach to the Jews during the feast of Pentecost like he used to preach in synagogues everywhere he went? The Jewish apostles in the beginning preached on Pentecost and resulted in the massive spread of the Church but would Paul be given this same privilege to address the Jews and turn them to their Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ? It would be a mission impossible and suicidal to say the least. Even the Roman authorities would not want to provoke the Jews unnecessarily concerning their religious observances and the Temple in Jerusalem. Even Pilate the Roman governor had to release a prisoner during the Passover for the Jews and eventually gave in to the Jews and crucified Christ.

Finally, trouble came as warned by many through the Holy Ghost. Nearing the seven days of the purification rituals, the Jews from Asia saw Paul and caught him. These Jews were trying to nail him all along and now why would they want to let Paul get away? In the Gentile world they had no power over Paul but had to consort with the Roman Authorities to fix him but in Israel, this would be a totally different story. So they stirred up the people as predicted by the Jewish apostles and elders who advised Paul to walk orderly among them. They accused Paul for teaching men everywhere to forsake the Law and the Temple. This was a treasonous charge. How could a Jew tell others to forsake Moses and abandon the Temple? Furthermore, they accused Paul for bringing a Gentile into the temple to desecrate the Temple. This was indeed outrageous and unpardonable. The charge that Paul had brought a Gentile into the Temple would certainly attract a death sentence for him. They thought they had seen an Ephesian by the name of Trophimus with Paul and they supposed Paul had brought this man into the Temple.

Acts 21:30: And all the city was moved, and the people ran together: and they took Paul, and drew him out of the temple: and forthwith the doors were shut.
Acts 21:31: And as they went about to kill him, tidings came unto the chief captain of the band, that all Jerusalem was in an uproar.
Acts 21:32: Who immediately took soldiers and centurions, and ran down unto them: and when they saw the chief captain and the soldiers, they left beating of Paul.

This time the uproar because of the presence of Paul took place in Jerusalem. Paul was no stranger to uproar in cities. He was a controversial figure wherever he went. Paul had been on the driver’s seat for gospel work for so long and of course he could not avoid attracting the attention of the devil who would move men against him. Paul had been taking the kingdom of darkness by storm and countless of lost souls had been won to Christ, both Jews and Gentiles. His presence would bring fear to devils who knew him for he had cast out many devils in the encounter with them during his ministry. The devil would certainly not leave him alone and by God’s grace Paul had been able to do his work safely thus far until now. This uproar in Jerusalem would be different. He would not be able to get away for quite a long while.

Hearing Paul bringing a Gentile into the Temple was horror of all horrors for the Jews. The Jews who regarded the Gentiles as dogs and the Samaritans as having a devil would surely go berserk because of this incident. The Jews would never enter into the house of a Gentile and why would they allow a Gentile to come into their Temple? So when they heard that Paul had brought a Gentile into the Temple, they caught him and brought him out of the Temple and shut the doors. The Temple was not meant for the Gentiles and the doors must be shut to prevent further desecration. They then went about to kill Paul. While they were beating Paul to death, the uproar alarmed the Roman authorities. Perhaps they thought an insurrection was taking place so a huge army led by the chief captain came upon the crowd. The intervention of the Roman authorities rescued Paul from being beaten to death by this crowd mad with rage thinking that Paul had desecrated their most holy place.

Acts 21:33: Then the chief captain came near, and took him, and commanded him to be bound with two chains; and demanded who he was, and what he had done.
Acts 21:34: And some cried one thing, some another, among the multitude: and when he could not know the certainty for the tumult, he commanded him to be carried into the castle.
Acts 21:35: And when he came upon the stairs, so it was, that he was borne of the soldiers for the violence of the people.
Acts 21:36: For the multitude of the people followed after, crying, Away with him.

The confused chief captain came and took Paul and commanded Paul to be bound with two chains as he did not know why this man had caused such a huge uproar in the Temple at Jerusalem. He demanded to know who Paul was and what he had done to incite this riot. The crowd kept crying out one thing after another and there was no way for the captain to find out what was happening. Fearing the crowd would turn to further violence, the captain commanded Paul to be brought into the castle with the crowd following them. They were crying out for Paul to be taken away as he was led up the stairs into the castle. Their rage against Paul was clearly manifested and the only way for the captain to get out of this situation was to remove Paul from this people. There was no point in trying to find out from this irrational crowd what was happening that day. By taking Paul into the castle, the captain could extract information from this prisoner by whatever means at his disposal.

Acts 21:37: And as Paul was to be led into the castle, he said unto the chief captain, May I speak unto thee? Who said, Canst thou speak Greek?
Acts 21:38: Art not thou that Egyptian, which before these days madest an uproar, and leddest out into the wilderness four thousand men that were murderers?

As Paul was being led into the castle he requested to speak to the captain. The captain asked whether Paul could speak in Greek. He also inquired whether Paul was that wanted Egyptian criminal who was leading four thousands murderers in the wilderness in his rebellion against the Roman authorities. This Egyptian ringleader had also caused an uproar in Jerusalem recently and so there was reason for the chief captain to suspect Paul might be this wanted criminal. At least this was the only information he had for him to make a connection with this event where the Jews were up in arms braying for the blood of Paul.

The modern nonsensical English versions like the NIV, NASB and NKJV are again providing entertainment to Bible readers. The Roman soldiers and their centurions and chief captain did not go back to their castle. They went back to their barracks instead. What on earth were Paul and those soldiers who arrested him standing on the steps and stairs doing was indeed mysterious to say the least. Perhaps barracks in those days were many storeys high that came with lifts as well. Maybe those soldiers were riding in armoured personnel carrier armed with submachine guns blazing their way to rescue Paul. No one could prove that this is not true as this is the most updated modern version that is easier for modern readers to read and understand. By the way, the NASB and NKJV tell us that those rebels led by that Egyptian were Assassins and assassins respectively (How did they know?) but the NIV calls them terrorists (They were well ahead of the War on Terror after 9-11). Of course the chief captain became the commander according to these moderns perversions which explains why they had to return to their barracks instead of the castle.

Acts 21:39: But Paul said, I am a man which am a Jew of Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, a citizen of no mean city: and, I beseech thee, suffer me to speak unto the people.
Acts 21:40: And when he had given him licence, Paul stood on the stairs, and beckoned with the hand unto the people. And when there was made a great silence, he spake unto them in the Hebrew tongue, saying,

The NASB changed no mean city to no insignificant city while the NIV replaced it with no ordinary city as though Tarsus was a very important city in the Roman Empire. They are running out of creative ideas to change words from the Holy Bible in order to copyright their own bibles. It is a waste of money to buy these writings of men masquerading as the Holy Bible.

With the chief captain asking Paul question Paul was given a chance to tell him a bit about himself. Paul told the chief captain that he was a Jew of Tarsus a city in Cilicia. Cities did have reputation and this city of Tarsus was no mean city. The people of that city had a good reputation for not being troublemakers to the authorities. The reputation of Jerusalem was not as favourable though as numerous insurrections and troubles did take place and Rome would be keeping a close watch on this city. When those craftsmen in Ephesus caused an uproar in Acts 19, the town clerk was concerned about how they could give an account to Rome for what happened that day. It was no good to get into the black book of Rome. They might increase the presence of their security forces and the liberty of the citizen curtailed. So Paul assured the captain that he was from no mean city and he himself was a law-abiding citizen of Rome.

Paul was actually speaking to this captain in Greek and he also requested permission from him to address the Jewish crowd below waiting to see what would happen to Paul. When the captain gave him licence to speak to the Jews, Paul stood on the stairs to still the crowd with his hand. When the crowd was quiet, Paul spoke to them in the Hebrew tongue while the captain watched on and would not know what transpired. Hence Paul was warned about the trouble he would encounter in Jerusalem and now this was the beginning of his trouble. He was nearly killed by the Jews if not for the Lord to move the chief captain to intervene and Paul was rescued in the nick of time.

Now Paul was bound with two chains but he was given permission to speak to the Jews. Perhaps, the captain was thinking that Paul could handle this situation as he was from a city that did not cause much trouble to Rome. Maybe Paul could explain himself and resolve some misunderstanding and the chief captain’s problem would be solved as he had to report to Rome what happened that day as well. Any incidence of uproar was a serious matter as Rome was ruling over the empire with an iron fist. The best outcome would be for Paul to resolve this matter peacefully and everyone would be happy and return to their former status and live in peace. Nevertheless, Paul would not succeed in appeasing this crowd and he would be delivered to the Gentiles as prophesied by Agabus at the home of the evangelist Philip. This whole episode began with Paul purposed in the spirit (Acts 19:21) and bound in the spirit (Acts 20:22) to come to Jerusalem and then later to visit Rome. Now Paul was literally bound not only in the spirit but in his hands and feet as well. Paul’s liberty in conducting mission trip would take a long detour while he dealt with his legal troubles in the hands of Rome.

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