Acts 21

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“After greeting them, Paul gave a detailed account of the things God had accomplished among the Gentiles through his ministry” (Acts 21:19 NLT).

July 2, 2018

This was a wonderful day in the history of the early church. Paul returned from his third and longest missionary journey to give “a detailed account” to James and the elders in Jerusalem. After hearing the report of how the Gentiles all over Asia Minor and Greece had received the gospel, the elders rejoiced and praised God.

The modern practice of giving a missions report back to the home church is really not modern at all. I suppose the first missions team to report back was the “Seventy-two” sent out by Jesus who “returned with joy” (Luke 10:17). Yet, Paul and his team certainly solidified the practice of bringing back a detailed report to the sending church.

In only a few weeks, we’ll be sending out our Guatemala Missions Team. And we look forward with hope to rejoicing and praising God at their missions report when they return.

“We went ashore, found the local believers, and stayed with them a week” (Acts 21:4 NLT).

July 1, 2018

Paul and Luke went ashore at Tyre while the ship was unloaded of its cargo. They stayed with local believers there for a week. How things had changed since Paul’s first missionary journey. On his first expedition, no one had even heard the gospel. Now, as he returned to Jerusalem after his third missionary tour, believers met him at nearly every stop. Christianity was spreading like wildfire!

But Paul’s work was not yet finished. Even though fellow believers warned him not to go, Paul was determined to return to Jerusalem and ultimately, to travel to Rome to preach the gospel. His calling was not only to the Jews and Gentiles, but also to kings (See Acts 9:15). So, to Caesar he was determined to go.

“On the following day Paul went in with us to James, and all the elders were present. When he had greeted them, he told in detail those things which God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry. And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord” (Acts 21:18-20 NKJV).

July 2, 2017

The apostle Paul reported to James, the half-brother of Jesus (Gal. 1:19), and the Christian elders in Jerusalem concerning his missionary work among the Gentiles. They gave glory to the Lord when they heard his report. Yet, they also encouraged him to take steps to reconcile himself to the Jewish believers in Jerusalem by showing that he “walked orderly and kept the law” (Acts 21:25).

Paul submitted to the advice of James and the elders. Unfortunately, it was in the following of their advice that he was falsely accused by the mob and nearly beaten to death before being arrested by the commander of the Roman garrison.

Some would say that it was the following of the advice of James and the elders that led to Paul’s arrest. But Paul knew better. He knew that it was the Lord who guided his steps and determined his path. He knew that the Lord had sent him on an all-expense-paid trip to Rome to preach the gospel before Caesar.

“On the next day we who were Paul’s companions departed and came to Caesarea, and entered the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven, and stayed with him” (Acts 21:8 NKJV).

July 1, 2017

Luke the physician and the traveling companion of Paul, gave detail of their arrival in Caesarea and their lodging at the house of Philip, one of the seven original deacons. This was Caesarea Maritima (not to be confused with Caesarea Philippi), which was built by Herod the Great and named after his patron, Caesar Augustus. Paul had come and gone out to sea many times from this amazing man-made harbor, but this would be the last time that he did so as a free man. The next time he would appear in Caesarea it would be in chains, just as the prophet Agabus had warned.

At Caesarea, he would appeal to Caesar as he stood before the Roman governor, Festus, and Herod Agrippa. At Caesarea, he would make his defense, so that Agrippa replied, “Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian” (Acts 26:28). At Caesarea, Paul would depart for Rome, never to see Jerusalem again. Yet, he was willing to give his life to carry the gospel to the center of the Roman world.

“And when he had given him permission, Paul, standing on the steps, motioned with his hand to the people. And when there was a great hush, he addressed them in the Hebrew language” (Acts 21:40 ESV)

July 3, 2016

Even though Paul was beaten and falsely accused by a mob in Jerusalem, he was still determined to tell them the story of his conversion on the road to Damascus. The only reason he was in the Temple area was because the apostle James had asked him to take part in a Jewish purification rite in order to show his observance of the law to those who accused him otherwise. Paul’s submission to Christ and to the apostle James is in view here. Paul was a man under authority. So, when his life was threatened, instead of making a plea for his own life, he made a plea for those who persecuted him, that they might hear and believe the gospel.

“The commander agreed, so Paul stood on the stairs and motioned to the people to be quiet. Soon a deep silence enveloped the crowd, and he addressed them in their own language, Aramaic” (Acts 21:40 NLT)

July 3, 2014

The riotous crowd that had chanted to kill Paul now fell silent as he addressed them in their own tongue. Did he defend himself or respond in anger? No. He gave his testimony. Paul’s response was the epitome of the prayer that the early church prayed in Acts 4:29 when they prayed, “Lord, you consider their threats while granting us boldness to speak Your Word.” We can pray this prayer too. Paul was truly bold, but his courage came from a deep sense of calling by the Lord Jesus. The Lord is still calling followers that would depend on Him like Paul.