Sunday, December 20, 2015

Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles

By: Tom Lowe

 

 

Topic #IV: The Church Advancing to the End of the Earth (Acts 13-28)   

                    

Subtopic D: The Third Missionary Journey (18:23-21:14) 

                

                          

Lesson: IV.D.7: Paul at Caesarea with Philip the Evangelist (21:1-14)

 

 

 

ACTS 21:1-14 (KJV)

 

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:

2 And finding a ship sailing over unto Phenicia, we went aboard, and set forth.

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.

4 And finding disciples, we tarried there seven days: who said to Paul through the Spirit, that he should not go up to Jerusalem.

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.

6 And when we had taken our leave one of another, we took ship; and they returned home again.

7 And when we had finished our course from Tyre, we came to Ptolemais, and saluted the brethren, and abode with them one day.

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.

9 And the same man had four daughters, virgins, which did prophesy.

10 And as we tarried there many days, there came down from Judaea a certain prophet, named Agabus.

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.

12 And when we heard these things, both we, and they of that place, besought him not to go up to Jerusalem.

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.

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

 

 

 

 

INTRODUCTION

 

Chapter 20 concluded with the tender meeting he had with the Ephesian Elders at Miletus.  Now he boards ship for the voyage that will return him to Israel.

 

After the parting scene at Miletus, Paul resumed his final voyage to Jerusalem.  At this point the “journey itinerary” was probably fixed and included a detailed listing of the ports and stopping points along the way.  The most striking characteristic of this section is the warning from Paul’s fellow Christians of the dangers that awaited him in Jerusalem.  This is a continuation of the emphasis that began in 20:22, where Paul told the Ephesian elders how the Spirit was leading him to Jerusalem and of the possible dangers that awaited him there.  This “journey itinerary” is strongly reminiscent of Jesus’ final journey to Jerusalem in the Synoptic Gospels.  The same forebodings marked Jesus’ journey—the same strong resolve on Jesus’ part, the same misgivings on the part of His disciples.  In the Gospels Jesus’ predictions of his coming passion provide the ominous tone.  For Paul’s journey the warnings of the Christians along his way serve this function.  In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus’ journey is particularly marked by sayings regarding Jerusalem as the place of rejection for God’s messengers.  In Jerusalem Jesus was arrested and executed.  In Jerusalem Paul also was arrested and his life put in extreme jeopardy.

 

 

 

COMMENTARY

 

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:

 

“And it came to pass, that after we were gotten from them, and had launched, we came with a straight course unto Coos.” Luke’s statement, “That after we were gotten from them” implies that they had to tear themselves away from their friends.  The coastal vessel (a boat not equipped for ocean travel, and which had to stay within sight of land) that carried Paul and his companions, then headed south, threading its way through the islands of the Dodecanese. 

 

“Coos” is a small island which had a city with the same name, one of the Sporades in the Aegean Sea, north-west of “Rhodes,” off the coast of Caria.  Here they spent the night (ships did not sail at night).  “Coos,” besides being famous for its medical school, was a center of Jewish Life in the Aegean.  It is now called Stanchio.

 

“And the day following unto Rhodes.” The most notable stop was at “Rhodes,” famous in ancient times for its light house, which was one of the seven wonders of the world.  Again, the city is probably meant; the city and island had the same name. 

 

“And from thence unto Patara.” From “Rhodes” the vessel headed southeast again finding and following the mainland until, after an uneventful voyage, it dropped anchor at “Patara,” a port of Lycia.“Patara,” was a city on the south-west coast of Lycia. There Paul found a larger vessel, which was about to sail across the open sea to the coast of Phoenicia (v. 2). He set out in this vessel, and reached the city of Tyre (v. 3) in perhaps two or three days.

 

 

2 And finding a ship sailing over unto Phenicia, we went aboard, and set forth.

 

Since the next port he mentions after Patara is Tyre (v. 3), it means that Paul was able to find an oceangoing vessel, one that could put out to sea boldly and sail on a direct course for “Phenicia,” a journey of around 400 miles by a course that took them south of Cyprus to Tyre, the chief city of “Phenicia,” where the “ship” was to unload its cargo (v. 3).  Such a vessel would save him endless hours of travel and speed him on his way toward Jerusalem and the Passover feast (Pentecost).  Paul wasted no time because he wanted to get to Jerusalem by Pentecost, which occurs just 50 days after Passover.  Paul had celebrated Passover with his friends in Philippi more than three weeks earlier, so he had less than 30 days to reach Jerusalem in time for the festival.

 

 

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.

 

“Now when we had discovered Cyprus.” The voyage itself was uneventful and probably lasted five or six days.  On the way, they cited the island of “Cyprus” coming up over the horizon to the south east.  Anyone who has seen one of the movies which featured the vessels of Paul’s day knows the excitement on board whenever land is cited.  The lookout in the crow’s nest {1]gives a loud shout, “Land ho!”, which would not only bring the captain on deck but the passengers as well, and there would be a burst of activity as everyone crowded to the landward side.  Word would soon circulate: “its ‘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.” At last “Cyprus,” too, dropped over the horizon, and the voyage continued swiftly now to “Tyre,” where the captain had business and the passengers a few days to stretch their legs on shore.

 

From the time the unloading took (vs. 4-6; seven days), it would appear this was a large vessel (v. 4).  The main harbor of “Tyre” lay on the southern side of the island on which the city was built.  This island, however, was now joined to the mainland by a mole {2](built by Alexander the Great) and the subsequent accumulation of sand on either side of it.  In verse 5 Luke mentions one of these sandy beaches.  The former glory of “Tyre” was somewhat diminished by this time, but it remained an important center of trade and industry.  In honor of its past greatness, the Romans had declared it a “free city” within the province of “Syria.”

 

 

4 And finding disciples, we tarried there seven days: who said to Paul through the Spirit, that he should not go up to Jerusalem.

 

“And finding disciples, we tarried there seven days.” There was a Christian church in this historic old Phoenician city, probably established there at the time of the great persecution instigated by Saul following the death of Stephen— “Now those who had been scattered by the persecution that broke out when Stephen was killed traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, spreading the WORD only among Jews” (11:19).  The missionaries knew about the church and hunted it up.  The word for “finding,” which occurs only here and in Luke 2:16, implies “to find by searching.”  Christian hospitality was extended to the travelers, and a week’s warm fellowship followed. 

 

Paul used the time spent in unloading the ship (7 days) to meet with the “disciples.”  His week in Tyre probably included a meeting similar to the meeting at Troas, for the celebration of the Lord’s Supper (20:7-12).  It is highly likely that Paul would have visited this church before (11:30, 12:25; 15:3), and the use of the term “disciples,” bears this out—these were the Christians Paul knew to be there.  Their presence went back to the events of 11:19— Now those who had been scattered by the persecution that broke out when Stephen was killed traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, spreading the word only among Jews.” While he was with them a warning came (perhaps through a Christian prophet) that he should not go to “Jerusalem.”  This was probably similar to the incident a few days later in Caesarea, in which the “Spirit” made it known that Paul’s future was fraught with danger.  Others saw this as a reason for urging him to turn back, whereas Paul himself seems to have viewed the warning as God’s way of preparing him for what lay ahead.  Paul is not to go up to “Jerusalem” unless he is prepared to make the required sacrifice.  Paul keeps saying that he is willing to lay down his life for the Lord Jesus.  He did not want to send some representative to “Jerusalem”; he wanted to go to “Jerusalem” himself.  That is the way I think it should be understood.

 

“Who said to Paul through the Spirit, that he should not go up to Jerusalem.” The gift of predicting prophesy was still active in the church at that time, and some of the believers who had the gift were shown by “the Spirit” the dangers that lay ahead for Paul at “Jerusalem.”  Not that that was news to Paul.  He had faced the issue long before coming this far— “And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace” (20:22-24). Paul was warned in Acts 20:23, not to go, but now he is commanded not to go to “Jerusalem.”

 

A casual reading of this last part of verse four might seem to indicate that the apostle was willful and headstrong, acting in deliberate defiance of the Spirit.  However, a more careful reading might indicate that Paul did not actually know that these warnings were given through the spirit.  Luke, the historian, tells his readers that the advice of the Tyrian “disciples” was spirit inspired, but he does not say that the apostle knew this as a definite fact. 

 

The fact remains that Paul had ample warning of what to expect at “Jerusalem.”  He was a godly man, spiritually sensitive and guided by the Holy Spirit.  It hardly seems possible that Paul’s decision to go to “Jerusalem” was a case of stubborn, deliberate, and willful defiance of the Holy Spirit.  He must have had some inward permission from the Holy Spirit to go to “Jerusalem,” or he would not have gone.  Perhaps he concluded that the visit was not part of God’s directing will but was still part of His permissive will.  He was sure that Romans 8:28 still held true. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). No matter what happened at “Jerusalem,” God would overrule all things for the furtherance of the Gospel.

 

Another reason I do not believe that Paul stepped out of the will of God is because of his writings later on.  When Paul was in prison in Rome, the church at Philippi sent to him an expression of their sympathy.  They loved him and they sympathized with his condition.  But Paul wrote to them: “Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel” (Philippians 1:12).  Because what happened to Paul did not hinder the spread of the gospel, I do NOT believe that Paul was out of the will of God.

 

Finally, as I have already mentioned, in 2 Timothy 4:7 Paul writes, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” This was written at the end of his life.  It seems to me that he would not say that if for a time he had stepped out of the will of God.

 

The seeming conflict in the Spirit’s directions appears more obvious here with the note that the Tyrians “through the Spirit” (under the influence of the Spirit) urged Paul “not (to) go up to Jerusalem.” Obviously the Spirit would not be giving Paul two contradictory messages at the same time.  The most likely solution is to see Paul’s resolution to go to “Jerusalem” as the primary emphasis.  Paul was absolutely convinced that God was leading him to the city.  On the other hand, the warnings along the way prepared Paul for the imprisonment and hardship that did indeed befall him there, fortified him for the experience, and convinced him that God was in it all.  Their failure to deter him only heightens the emphasis on Paul’s firm conviction that God was leading him to “Jerusalem” and had a purpose for him there.

 

The subsequent narrative reveals the divine purpose behind Paul’s journey to “Jerusalem.”  His arrest there provided him a unique opportunity for witness—before a Jewish crowd, the Jewish Sanhedrin, Roman governors, the Jewish king, and implicitly before the Roman emperor himself.  Note how in Philippians 1:12-18 Paul expressed how his imprisonment had led to an affecting door for witness.

 

 

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.

 

Such is the fellowship of the church.  Paul was not personally known to many at Tyre, and his companions were complete strangers, but by the end of the week links of Christian love had been forged and the believers felt as though they had known one another for years.  The world knows nothing like it, and no lodge or club or fraternity offers anything to compare with the fellowship of saints.  A child of God is a member of a family, a real family, and one in which the ties are often more binding than those in one’s own human family.

 

By the time the week was over, the whole church rose up in a body, men, women, and “children,” to accompany their new friends out of town and down to “the shore.” Reminiscent of the parting from the Ephesian elders, they all knelt down and “prayed.”  What a testimony that must have been to the sailors and merchants busy stowing on board the last of the cargo.  Friend, the best position to be in while praying is kneeling.  However, you can pray in any posture and anywhere.  I have “prayed” in some of the most unusual places; in my car while driving (don’t worry, I kept my eyes open), while playing football, before a business meeting, while I’m talking to someone (I have no idea what they said to me.), etc.  But the most appropriate posture when we come into the presence of Almighty God is to kneel.

 

 

6 And when we had taken our leave one of another, we took ship; and they returned home again.

 

Then came the final, last minute good-byes and handclasps—another of those bittersweet partings so common down here, made so much easier for the Christian by the blessed assurance that one day we shall all meet again in that place prepared for us by God. It is probably the case that they left on the same boat that they had arrived in, since they waited seven days for the cargo to be unloaded.

 

 

7 And when we had finished our course from Tyre, we came to Ptolemais, and saluted the brethren, and abode with them one day.

 

“We came to Ptolemais” which is known today as “Acre.” It was famous in the days of the Crusades.  The Christian crusaders gave it the name of Acre, or John of Acre, to honor a magnificent church which was built in it, and which was dedicated to the apostle John. In ancient times it was the southernmost fortress of the Phoenicians.  This Christian church had been founded probably about the same time as the church at “Tyre.” “Ptolemais” was situated on the Mediterraneancoast, on the north side of a bay which extends, in a semicircle of three leagues, as far as the peak of Mount Carmel. At the south and west sides, the city walls were washed by the sea, and for maximum assurance the whole city was surrounded by triple walls. It was in the tribe of Asher (Judges 1:31), and was originally called Accho; but was called “Ptolemais” in honor of one of the Ptolemies, who beautified and adorned it. It sustained several sieges during the Crusades, and was the last fortified place wrested from the Christians by the Turks.

 

“And saluted the brethren” means he embraced them; gave them expressions of affection and regard.  No doubt, Paul had visited these Christians before, since “Ptolemais” lay on a road that he had traveled a number of times (11:30; 12:25; 15:3).  He now spent a day with “the brethren,” perhaps again being tied to his ships schedule.

 

With only a “day” to spare, Paul made full use of the time by looking up the Christians in town.  Paul never passed up an opportunity to meet with the Lord’s people, to minister to them, to enlarge their missionary vision, and to keep them informed of God’s work in the world.  The presence with Paul of a number of his Gentile converts must have greatly added to the churches vision. 

 

 

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.

 

The clause, “We that were of Paul’s company” suggests that they had been accompanied thus far by some persons who were going only as far as Ptolemais. This clause, however, is missing in many manuscripts, and many Bible commentators and others have called it bogus. It is also missing in the Syriac and the Vulgate.  Luke does not say whether the travelers went to this area by road or by boat.  Presumably it was by boat.

 

“The next day we . . . departed, and came unto Caesarea.  On two occasions at least (9:30; 18:22) and probably more, Paul had passed through Caesarea.  Almost certainly he knew Phillip and on this occasion stayed with him for a number of days.  Phillip was last heard of in 8:40 as having come to “Caesarea” some 20 years earlier.  He had apparently made the city is home ever since.  His title “the evangelist,” may had been given to distinguish him from the apostle (though they still tended to be confused.)  But it was no empty title.  “Philip” could just as well have been known as “one of the seven,” but he had earned the right to be called by this name (8:4-40).

 

Arriving in “Caesarea,” the Roman capital of Palestine, there was one logical place to go— “the house of Philip the evangelist.”  Paul and Phillip were well acquainted, perhaps even friends, and he may have stayed with Phillip on another occasion, therefore it’s not surprising that the first place he went was “Into the house of Philip,” . . . “one of the seven” deacons, according to Acts 6:5: “This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judais.” (Acts 6:5) These were men chosen by lot for the office of deacon. They did many things that were helpful to the apostles—serving communion, waiting tables, caring for widows, and some, like Phillip were preachers (evangelists) of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. After his participation in the conversion of the Ethiopianeunuch, he went to Caesarea, and probably made his home there.  Some believe that Phillip’s “house” was the place where the believers of Caesarea assembled to worship God.

 

“The evangelist” refers to one who announces good news. In the New Testament it is applied to a preacher of the gospel, or one who declares the glad tidings of salvation. It occurs only in two other places, Ephesians 4:1; 2 Timothy 4:5. The precise rank of those who bore this title in the early Christian church cannot be determined. It is evident, however, that it is used to denote the office of preaching the gospel; and since this title is applied to “Philip,” and not to any other of the “seven” deacons, it would seem probable that he had been entrusted with a special commission to preach, and that preaching did not pertain to him as a deacon, and does not properly belong to that office. The business of a deacon was to take care of the poor members of the church, Acts 6:1-6. The office of preaching was distinct from this, though, as in this case, it might be conferred on the same individual.  Phillip’s evangelistic work was described in chapter 8.No one else in Scripture is called an “evangelist,” though Paul commanded Timothy to do the work of an “evangelist” (2 Timothy 4:5).

 

 

9 And the same man had four daughters, virgins, which did prophesy.

 

This, of course, has to be understood in the Jewish context and in light of the transitional nature of the period.  The prophetic gift possessed by the “daughters” of Phillip was quite in keeping with the prophecy of Joel 2:28 as quoted by Peter on the day of Pentecost— “In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams” (Acts 2:17).  The Holy Spirit maintains a tactful silence about what these women prophesied, but their presence and their service to the church was noted by Luke— “They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers” (Acts 1:14).  Though they were prophets, they made no prediction concerning Paul, as far as we know.  That role fell to another (Agabus, v. 10).

 

Paul had already written to the Corinthians that it was the Holy Spirit’s view that women be silent in the church (1 Corinthians 14:34-35), a truth he later elaborated in his first letter to Timothy (1 Timothy 2:11-15).  However, the four daughters of Phillip had the gift of prophecy and were definitely prophets.  The New Testament had not been written yet; so the gift of prophecy was needed in the early church. Perhaps, the prophecies were told to their father, who subsequently informed the church.

 

The fact that these four daughters of Phillip were “virgins” may indicate that they had been called by God for special ministry (1 Corinthians 7:34).  The early church regarded these women as important sources of information in the early years of the church.  Since women are not to be preachers or teachers in the church (1 Corinthians 14: 34-36; 1 Timothy 2:11-12), they probably ministered to individuals in their home or, in other non-church gatherings.

 

Perhaps the most significant observation in the present narrative is the testimony that there were women in that early church who were recognized as having the gift of prophecy.  In his Gospel, Luke mentioned Anna, who was also a prophetess who foretold the future redemptive role of the infant Jesus (2:36-38).  Peter, in his Pentecost sermon, pointed to the prophesying of “daughters” as a sign of the gift of the spirit in these last days (Acts 2:17).

 

This stay at Caesarea must have been a delightful time for the whole missionary team.  For Philip, his family, and the church it was also a breath of fresh air from the world outside of Palestine.

 

 

10 And as we tarried there many days, there came down from Judaea a certain prophet, named Agabus.

 

The travelers had been in Caesarea for several “days” when the “prophet named Agabus” “came down from Judea.” We have met “Agabus” before; on the occasion when he was in Antioch shortly after the church in that city had begun to reach out to the Gentiles.  At that time Agabus prophesied that a widespread famine would affect the world (11:27-28).  His prophecy came true and “Agabus” enjoyed considerable prestige. 

 

Politically, Caesarea was part of Judea.  It was in fact the administrative capital.  But as a predominantly Gentile city, it was deemed by many Jews to be no part of their land, and Luke’s reference reflects that attitude (1:8; 10:1). 

 

 

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.

 

The prophet repeated the earlier warnings of danger to Paul (20:23; 21:4), using a symbolic action reminiscent of the prophets of old (1 Kings 11:29-39). “He took Paul's girdle (belt, the long cloth that was wound several times around his waist.), and bound his own hands and feet” with it.  Then, just like an Old Testament prophet, he gave the interpretation of the act introduced by the usual, “Thus saith the Holy Ghost,”—terms signifying revelation through the Holy Spirit.  With this dramatic gesture, in an acting style of prophesy sometimes adopted by Old Testament prophets, Agabus “bound” himself with Paul’s “girdle.”  It was an action full of ominous significance.  Then the prophet declared that the owner of this “girdle” would be treated ruthlessly by the “Jews,” who would hand him over, “bound,” to the “Gentiles.”  But this was not so much a warning on Agabus’ part as it was a prediction.  Unlike the Christians of Tyre, he did not urge Paul not to go.  Rather, he told him what was in store for him.  These words are not unlike Jesus’ predictions concerning Himself (Luke 9:44; 18:32; 24:7; also His prediction concerning Peter, John 21:18) and may have been deliberately chosen (probably by Luke) to show the similarity between the experiences of Jesus and Paul.  Actually, though, the “Jews” did not hand Paul over as predicted, but were forced to relinquish him when the Romans intervened to stop them from murdering Paul in the Temple.  There is no question, however, that the “Jews” were ultimately responsible for Paul’s Roman imprisonment, so that the intention if not the detail of the prophesy was fulfilled— “Three days later he called together the local Jewish leaders. When they had assembled, Paul said to them: “My brothers, although I have done nothing against our people or against the customs of our ancestors, I was arrested in Jerusalem and handed over to the Romans” (28:17). No one present needed to be told what the gesture meant.  But Agabus did not leave it at that.

 

“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.” This grim statement by Agabus was Paul’s last warning, his last chance to turn back.  Two great passions tugged at Paul’s heart—his passion for “Jerusalem” and his desire to see Rome.  “Jerusalem” pulled him, Rome beckoned him.  But Paul still believed he could have both “Jerusalem” and Rome.  In the end, so he did.  He went to Rome via “Jerusalem”—in chains.  The symbolism of Agabus’ act was meant to deter the apostle, but it did not stop him for a single moment.

 

 

12 And when we heard these things, both we, and they of that place, besought him not to go up to Jerusalem.

 

When Paul’s friends “heard” this they pleaded with (him) “not to go up to Jerusalem,” but he would not heed their plea.  There was now a united outcry against Paul’s unshakable resolve to go “to Jerusalem.”  His friends and fellow-travelers from the mission field pleaded with him.  Philip and his daughters pleaded with him.  The other believers in Caesarea, who during Paul’s visit had come under the spell of his charm, genius, and love, joined their voices to the general plea.  Luke even included himself by using the plural “we,” thus including himself among those who begged the apostle to abandon his plans.  Paul was deeply moved by such an outpouring of spontaneous love and affection, and such a united interest in his personal welfare.

 

 

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.

 

Strong as he was, Paul felt himself weakening under this united pressure, but he never would have forgiven himself had he yielded to pressure in a matter about which he had such strong personal convictions.  In any case, the logic they were using made no lasting impression.  His “heart” might have been taken by storm but not his head.  He had his reasons for wanting to go to “Jerusalem,” not the least being his determination to deliver in person the cash donation to the “Jerusalem” church.  He hoped that gesture might disarm the hatred and suspicion with which he was regarded by many, even in the church.  He hoped, too, that he might help unify Jew and Gentile in the church.  The argument that he would be imprisoned did not impress him.  He had been imprisoned before.  He spent most of his life in the eye of the storm, and, in any case, he was “ready” to “die” for the cause of Christ.

 

“What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart?” Their grief was Paul’s grief, though we should probably take the expression “break mine heart” to “mean,” rather, “break my spirit,” that is, “weakening my resolve,” for he was determined to go to “Jerusalem.”  It is touching here to see the concern of the believers for the apostle Paul.  My, how they loved him!

 

“The name of the Lord Jesus.” Baptism (2:38; 8:16; 10:48; 19:5), healing (3:6, 16; 4:10), signs and wonders (4:30), and preaching (4:18; 5:40; 8:12), we’re all done in the “name of the Lord Jesus.” His “name” represents all that He is.

 

 

 

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

 

“And when he would not be persuaded.” They couldn’t change his mind, for Paul was already “persuaded.”  He had recently written to the Romans: “I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-39).  Little wonder the thought of imprisonment could not deter him.

 

“We ceased, saying, The will of the Lord be done.” Paul’s friends finally gave in.  “The will of the Lord be done” was all they could say.  They could only accept Paul’s decision and leave the matter with God.  In this context, “the will of the lord be done” seems to echo Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemane (Luke 22:42; 18:21).  How often we are driven back on God like that, when faced with a situation we cannot change.  God knew that Nero needed to have the gospel preached to him.  How else could a desperate, provincial Jewish preacher ever appear before the emperor of Rome, except the way Paul eventually did?  God’s “will” was “done.”  God’s champion on earth, Paul, confronted Satan’s champion on earth, Nero, and we can have no doubt that Paul dared to face even that lion in his den with the message of saving grace.

 

 

 

Special Notes

 

{1]A “crow's nest” is a structure in the upper part of the main mast of a ship or a structure that is used as a lookout point.

{2]A “Mole” is a pier, jetty, breakwater, or junction between places separated by water.

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