Acts 21
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Paul Sails from Miletus

1When we had torn ourselves away from them and set sail, we ran a straight course and came to Cos, and on the next day to Rhodes, and from there to Patara; 2and after finding a ship crossing over to Phoenicia, we went on board and set sail. 3After we came in sight of Cyprus, leaving it on our left (port side), we sailed on to Syria and put in at Tyre; for there the ship was to unload her cargo. 4After looking up the disciples [in Tyre], we stayed there [with them] seven days; and they kept telling Paul through the [Holy] Spirit [a]not to set foot in Jerusalem. 5When our days there came to an end, we left and proceeded on our journey, while all of the disciples, with their wives and children, escorted us on our way until we were outside the city. After kneeling down on the beach and praying, we told one another goodbye. 6Then we boarded the ship, and they returned to their homes.

7When we had completed the voyage from Tyre, we landed [twenty miles to the south] at Ptolemais, and after greeting the [b]believers, we stayed with them for one day. 8On the next day we left and came to Caesarea, and we went to the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven [deacons], and stayed with him. 9He had four virgin daughters who had the gift of prophecy. 10As we were staying there for some time, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. 11And coming to [see] us, he took Paul’s [wide] [c]band (belt, sash) and bound his own feet and hands, and said, “This is what the Holy Spirit says: ‘In this same way the Jews in Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this band, and they will hand him over to the Gentiles (pagans).’” 12Now when we had heard this, both we and the local residents began pleading with Paul trying to persuade him not to go up to Jerusalem. 13Then Paul replied, “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart [like this]? For I am ready not only to be bound and imprisoned, but even to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” 14And since he would not be dissuaded, we stopped pleading and fell silent, saying, “The Lord’s will be done!”

Paul at Jerusalem

15After this we got ready and started on our way up to Jerusalem. 16Some of the disciples from Caesarea also came with us, taking us to [the house of] Mnason, a man from Cyprus, a disciple of long standing with whom we were to lodge.

17When we arrived in Jerusalem, the [d]brothers and sisters welcomed us gladly. 18On the next day Paul went with us to [see] [e]James, and all the elders of the church were present. 19After greeting them, Paul began to give a detailed account of the things that God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry. 20And when they heard it, they began glorifying and praising God; and they said to him, “You see, brother, how many thousands of believers there are among the Jews, and they are all enthusiastic supporters of the Law [of Moses]. 21Now they have been told about you, that you are teaching all the Jews who are living among the Gentiles to turn away from [the Law of] Moses, advising them not to circumcise their children or to live according to the [Mosaic] customs. 22What then should be done? They will certainly hear that you have arrived. 23Therefore do just what we tell you. We have four men who have taken a vow; 24take these men and purify yourself along with them, and pay their expenses [for the temple offerings] so that they may shave their heads. Then everyone will know that there is nothing to the things they have been told about you, but that you yourself also follow and keep the Law. 25But with regard to the Gentiles who have believed [in Christ], we have sent them a letter with our decision that they should abstain from meat sacrificed to idols and from [consuming] blood and from [the meat of] what has been strangled and from sexual immorality.” 26Then Paul took the [four] men, and the next day he purified himself along with them [by submitting to the ritual]. He went into the temple to give notice of [the time] when the days of purification [ending each vow] would be fulfilled and the usual offering could be presented on behalf of each one.

Paul Seized in the Temple

27When the seven days [required to complete the ritual] were almost over, [some] Jews from [the province of] Asia [Minor], caught sight of him in the temple, and began to stir up the crowd, and they seized him, 28shouting, “Men of Israel, help us! This is the man who teaches all men everywhere against our people and the Law and this place. And besides, he has brought Greeks into the temple and has defiled this holy place.” 29For they had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian in the city with Paul, and they assumed that he had brought the man into the temple [beyond the court of the Gentiles]. 30Then the whole city was provoked and confused, and the people rushed together. They seized Paul and dragged him out of the temple, and immediately the gates were closed. 31Now while they were trying to kill him, word came to the commander of the [Roman] garrison that all Jerusalem was in a state of upheaval. 32So he immediately took soldiers and centurions and ran down among them. When the people saw the commander and the soldiers, they stopped beating Paul. 33Then the commander came up and arrested Paul, and ordered that he be bound with two chains. Then he asked who he was and what he had done. 34But some in the crowd were shouting one thing and others something else; and since he could not determine the facts because of the uproar, he ordered that Paul be taken to the barracks [in the tower of Antonia]. 35When Paul got to the steps, he was carried by the soldiers because of the violence of the mob; 36for the majority of the people kept following them, shouting, “Away with him! [Kill him!]”

37Just as Paul was about to be taken into the barracks, he asked the commander, “May I say something to you?” And the man replied, “Do you know Greek? 38Then you are not [as I assumed] the Egyptian who [f]some time ago stirred up a rebellion and led those 4,000 men of the Assassins out into the wilderness?” 39Paul said, “I am a Jew from [g]Tarsus in Cilicia (Mersin Province, Turkey), a citizen of no insignificant city; and I beg you, allow me to speak to the people.” 40When the commander had given him permission, Paul, standing on the steps, gestured with his hand to the people; and when there was a great hush, he spoke to them in the Hebrew dialect (Jewish Aramaic), saying,

[a] 4 Clearly the disciples felt prompted by the Holy Spirit to tell Paul not to go to Jerusalem. But a question remains as to whether the Spirit was actually forbidding Paul to go, or only preparing him for what he would have to suffer in Jerusalem (cf v 11). Either explanation is possible, but many Bible scholars prefer the latter.
[b] 7 Lit brethren.
[c] 11 This was not a belt like men wear today, but a band (sash, girdle), about six inches wide, usually made of leather, worn on top of the outer garment. It was fastened around the midsection of the body and served as a kind of pocket or pouch to carry personal items such as a dagger, money or other necessary things.
[d] 17 Lit brethren.
[e] 18 The half brother of Jesus, author of the Letter of James and leader of the church in Jerusalem, not to be confused with James the Apostle (John’s brother).
[f] 38 Lit before these days.
[g] 39 A major city located at the crossing of several ancient trade routes, Tarsus (Tarsos, Tarsisi) was also known for its literary schools which rivaled those located in Athens and Alexandria.

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