Daily Devotion Text

October 4, 2019

Acts 21 – 2019-10-04

By carmenhsu In Acts, Devotion Text with Comments Off on Acts 21 – 2019-10-04
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    vv.3-4: “The traveling group makes contact with the church in Tyre (v.4)-a church probably founded by Christians who ‘had been scattered by the persecution in connection with Stephen…’ Paul is not acquainted with this church, for the word translated ‘finding’ means ‘to learn the location of something by intentional searching.’”[1]

    vv.4, 11-12:Did Paul disobey the Holy Spirit?  No. Paul was compelled by the Spirit to go to Jerusalem (20:22).  The people, out of concern for him because of what they had learned through the Spirit, urged Paul not to go to Jerusalem.  The prophecy, however, did not tell Paul not to go; it was simply a warning to let him know that would happen when he did go.  All agreed on the meaning of the prophecy, but they disagreed about the correct response.”[2]

    vv.7-9: “Much has happened since Philip founded the Samaritan church and settled in Caesarea to raise a family, including ‘four unmarried daughters who had the gift of prophecy’. In particular, Luke’s careful titling of Philip as both ‘evangelist’ and ‘one of the seven’ and a companion of Stephen (Acts 6:3-6) recalls the chain of circumstance following Stephen’s death that led Paul to persecute Philip and commit other Hellenist believers to prison. It was Paul who ultimately drove them beyond Jerusalem and to Caesarea to plant and cultivate these very congregations he now visits. Paul’s personal reversal take an ironic twist when he stays with Philip, shortly before making his return to Jerusalem to be persecuted and imprisoned himself as a Hellenist believer! ‘By enmeshing Paul with Philip, Luke reminds the reader that Paul and the narrative are completing a full circle. His trip to Jerusalem is not simply a trip to a geographical place but a return to a narrative ‘place’ that is, for Paul filled with memories and possibilities of conflict.’  In fact, Paul will soon face hostile Jews similar to those who brought Stephen to trial, and the accusations they will level against Paul are like those brought against Stephen.”[3]

    vv.20-26: “When Paul arrived in Jerusalem, he presented the church with a problem. The leaders accepted him and saw God’s hand in his work; but rumors had been spread that he had encouraged Jews to forsake their ancestral faith. This Paul had never done. True, he had insisted that the Jewish Law was irrelevant for the Gentile; but he had never sought to draw the Jew away from the customs of his fathers.”[4]

    “The sensitive nature of what the believers tell Paul is evidences by the tone in which they introduce their point (vv.20b, 22b). For the sake of the many Christians who are zealous of the Jewish law, they think it a good idea for him to dispel misrepresentations about his stand on the law by showing a willingness to submit to the law publicly. He can do this by paying for the expenses of four fellow Christians who have taken a vow.”[5]

    vv.21, 24:Why did the Jewish believers still follow Old Testament customs?  The Law of Moses guided Jewish Christians in their social and family lives.  They didn’t shed their cultural practices when they followed Christ.  Looking to the law, then, to order their lives would have been natural, not just to confirm its fulfillment in Christ but to structure society as well. Their Jewish customs were not quickly dismissed.”[6]

    v.26: “Is Paul being inconsistent here? We must remember that Paul himself took a vow a few years before (18:18), so we know that he was convinced about the value of vows for Christians. But what about his opposition that works were necessary for salvation? He himself was not opposed to the law per se. We must not forget what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 9:20: ‘To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law.’ His actions in Jerusalem are consistent with the approach expressed in this verse.”[7]

    vv.27-29: “As Paul was coming to the end of his responsibilities regarding the vows, some Jews from Asia saw him in the temple. They had earlier seen Paul in the city with Trophimus (20:4), a Gentile companion from Asia, and they assumed that he was also in the temple. Had this been true, it would have desecrated the temple, for Gentiles could go only up to the outer court of the temple (‘Court of the Gentiles’). They incited the Jewish people to attack Paul (vv.27-29).

    “Bruce explains the seriousness of their charge: ‘The Roman authorities were so conciliatory of Jewish religious scruples in this regard that they authorized the death sentence for this trespass even when the offenders were Roman citizens.’ Citing evidence from Josephus and Philo, Bruce says that notices in Latin and Greek were fixed to the barrier between the inner and outer courts, warning Gentiles that death was the penalty for going any further. ‘The whole city was aroused’ (v.30a), and the people dragged Paul out of the temple. The gates of the temple were shut (v.30b), possibly to avoid defiling the temple from the chaos.

    “The rioters began beating Paul to death. The timely intervention of the Roman commander and some of his soldiers prevented this from happening (vv.31-32). The crowd kept shouting, ‘Away with him’ (v.36). Luke must surely have felt the significance of the fact that some twenty-seven years earlier, another crowd had shouted, ‘Away with this man!’ at a spot nearby (Luke 23:18).”[8]

    vv.37-40: “Lysias’s persona stands in stark contrast to the crowd, which shouts ‘one thing, some another’ (v.34a) – an atmosphere of confusion that prevents the more rational Lysias from ‘learning the facts.’  Ironically, peace is found in the barracks of pagan soldiers rather than in a synagogue of pious Jews!”[9]

    v.40:How many languages did Paul speak? At the very least, Paul knew Hebrew (his native language), Aramaic (a Hebrew dialect popular among Jerusalem Jews) and Greek (the trade language used throughout the Roman world.)”[10]

    [1] David E. Garland, Acts, The NIV Application Commentary Series (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1996) 551.

    [2] Quest Study Bible, study notes (Grand Rapids, MI:  Zondervan, 1994) 1537.

    [3] Pheme Perkins, “Acts,” New Interpreter’s Bible, Vol. VIII (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1995) 288-289.

    [4] William Barclay, Acts, Daily Study Bible Series, Rev. ed. (Philadelphia:  Westminster Press, 1975) 155.

    [5] Ajith Fernando, Acts, The NIV Application Commentary Series (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1998) 553.

    [6] Quest Study Bible, study notes (Grand Rapids, MI:  Zondervan, 1994) 1538.

    [7] Ajith Fernando, Acts, The NIV Application Commentary Series (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1998) 553-554.

    [8] Ajith Fernando, Acts, The NIV Application Commentary Series (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1998) 553-554.

    [9] Robert W. Wall, “Acts,” New Interpreter’s Bible, Vol.X (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 2002)  297-298.

    [10] Quest Study Bible, study notes (Grand Rapids, MI:  Zondervan, 1994) 1539.

  • Acts 20:36-21:16 (ESV)

    36 And when he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all.37 And there was much weeping on the part of all; they embraced Paul and kissed him, 38 being sorrowful most of all because of the word he had spoken, that they would not see his face again. And they accompanied him to the ship.

    21 And when we had parted from them and set sail, we came by a straight course to Cos, and the next day to Rhodes, and from there to Patara. 2 And having found a ship crossing to Phoenicia, we went aboard and set sail. 3 When we had come in sight of Cyprus, leaving it on the left we sailed to Syria and landed at Tyre, for there the ship was to unload its cargo. 4 And having sought out the disciples, we stayed there for seven days. And through the Spirit they were telling Paul not to go on to Jerusalem. 5 When our days there were ended, we departed and went on our journey, and they all, with wives and children, accompanied us until we were outside the city. And kneeling down on the beach, we prayed 6 and said farewell to one another. Then we went on board the ship, and they returned home.

    7 When we had finished the voyage from Tyre, we arrived at Ptolemais, and we greeted the brothers and stayed with them for one day. 8 On the next day we departed and came to Caesarea, and we entered the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven, and stayed with him. 9 He had four unmarried daughters, who prophesied. 10 While we were staying for many days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. 11 And coming to us, he took Paul’s belt and bound his own feet and hands and said, “Thus says the Holy Spirit, ‘This is how the Jews at Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.’” 12 When we heard this, we and the people there urged him not to go up to Jerusalem. 13 Then Paul answered, “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be imprisoned but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” 14 And since he would not be persuaded, we ceased and said, “Let the will of the Lord be done.”

    15 After these days we got ready and went up to Jerusalem. 16 And some of the disciples from Caesarea went with us, bringing us to the house of Mnason of Cyprus, an early disciple, with whom we should lodge.

  • Reflection Question

  • Acts 20:36-21:16
    • What aspects emerge of Paul’s relationships and the relationships among the people of the early church across many cities?
    • Evaluate my relationships. Do I have people who are precious to me because of Christ and our common bond as fellow kingdom workers?
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