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scripture

 

CHAPTER 21

Arrival at Tyre. 1* When we had taken leave of them we set sail, made a straight run for Cos, and on the next day for Rhodes, and from there to Patara. 2Finding a ship crossing to Phoenicia, we went on board and put out to sea. 3We caught sight of Cyprus but passed by it on our left and sailed on toward Syria and put in at Tyre where the ship was to unload cargo. 4There we sought out the disciples and stayed for a week. They kept telling Paul through the Spirit not to embark for Jerusalem. 5At the end of our stay we left and resumed our journey. All of them, women and children included, escorted us out of the city, and after kneeling on the beach to pray, 6we bade farewell to one another. Then we boarded the ship, and they returned home.

Arrival at Ptolemais and Caesarea. 7We continued the voyage and came from Tyre to Ptolemais, where we greeted the brothers and stayed a day with them. 8On the next day we resumed the trip and came to Caesarea, where we went to the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the Seven,* and stayed with him.a 9He had four virgin daughters gifted with prophecy. 10We had been there several days when a prophet named Agabus* came down from Judea. 11b He came up to us, took Paul’s belt, bound his own feet and hands with it, and said, “Thus says the holy Spirit: This is the way the Jews will bind the owner of this belt in Jerusalem, and they will hand him over to the Gentiles.”* 12When we heard this, we and the local residents begged him not to go up to Jerusalem. 13Then Paul replied, “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? I am prepared not only to be bound but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” 14c Since he would not be dissuaded we let the matter rest, saying,d “The Lord’s will be done.”*

Paul and James in Jerusalem. 15After these days we made preparations for our journey, then went up to Jerusalem. 16Some of the disciples from Caesarea came along to lead us to the house of Mnason, a Cypriot, a disciple of long standing, with whom we were to stay. 17* When we reached Jerusalem the brothers welcomed us warmly. 18The next day, Paul accompanied us on a visit to James, and all the presbyters were present. 19He greeted them, then proceeded to tell them in detail what God had accomplished among the Gentiles through his ministry. 20They praised God when they heard it but said to him, “Brother, you see how many thousands of believers there are from among the Jews, and they are all zealous observers of the law. 21They have been informed that you are teaching all the Jews who live among the Gentiles to abandon Moses and that you are telling them not to circumcise their children or to observe their customary practices. 22What is to be done? They will surely hear that you have arrived. 23* So do what we tell you. We have four men who have taken a vow.e 24Take these men and purify yourself with them, and pay their expenses* that they may have their heads shaved. In this way everyone will know that there is nothing to the reports they have been given about you but that you yourself live in observance of the law. 25f As for the Gentiles who have come to believe, we sent them our decision that they abstain from meat sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals, and from unlawful marriage.”* 26So Paul took the men, and on the next day after purifying himself together with them entered the temple to give notice of the day when the purification would be completed and the offering made for each of them.g

Paul’s Arrest. 27When the seven days were nearly completed, the Jews from the province of Asia noticed him in the temple, stirred up the whole crowd, and laid hands on him, 28h shouting, “Fellow Israelites, help us. This is the man who is teaching everyone everywhere against the people and the law and this place, and what is more, he has even brought Greeks into the temple and defiled this sacred place.”* 29For they had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian in the city with him and supposed that Paul had brought him into the temple. 30The whole city was in turmoil with people rushing together. They seized Paul and dragged him out of the temple, and immediately the gates were closed. 31While they were trying to kill him, a report reached the cohort commander* that all Jerusalem was rioting. 32He immediately took soldiers and centurions and charged down on them. When they saw the commander and the soldiers they stopped beating Paul. 33The cohort commander came forward, arrested him, and ordered him to be secured with two chains; he tried to find out who he might be and what he had done. 34Some in the mob shouted one thing, others something else; so, since he was unable to ascertain the truth because of the uproar, he ordered Paul to be brought into the compound. 35When he reached the steps, he was carried by the soldiers because of the violence of the mob, 36* i for a crowd of people followed and shouted, “Away with him!”

37Just as Paul was about to be taken into the compound, he said to the cohort commander, “May I say something to you?” He replied, “Do you speak Greek? 38So then you are not the Egyptian* who started a revolt some time ago and led the four thousand assassins into the desert?”j 39Paul answered, “I am a Jew, of Tarsus in Cilicia, a citizen of no mean city; I request you to permit me to speak to the people.” 40When he had given his permission, Paul stood on the steps and motioned with his hand to the people; and when all was quiet he addressed them in Hebrew.*

* [21:118] The third “we-section” of Acts (see note on Acts 16:1017).

* [21:8] One of the Seven: see note on Acts 6:24.

* [21:10] Agabus: mentioned in Acts 11:28 as the prophet who predicted the famine that occurred when Claudius was emperor.

* [21:11] The symbolic act of Agabus recalls those of Old Testament prophets. Compare Is 20:2; Ez 4:1; Jer 13:1.

* [21:14] The Christian disciples’ attitude reflects that of Jesus (see Lk 22:42).

* [21:1726] The leaders of the Jewish Christians of Jerusalem inform Paul that the Jews there believe he has encouraged the Jews of the diaspora to abandon the Mosaic law. According to Acts, Paul had no objection to the retention of the law by the Jewish Christians of Jerusalem and left the Jews of the diaspora who accepted Christianity free to follow the same practice.

* [21:2326] The leaders of the community suggest that Paul, on behalf of four members of the Jerusalem community, make the customary payment for the sacrifices offered at the termination of the Nazirite vow (see Nm 6:124) in order to impress favorably the Jewish Christians in Jerusalem with his high regard for the Mosaic law. Since Paul himself had once made this vow (Acts 18:18), his respect for the law would be on public record.

* [21:24] Pay their expenses: according to Nm 6:1415 the Nazirite had to present a yearling lamb for a holocaust, a yearling ewe lamb for a sin offering, and a ram for a peace offering, along with food and drink offerings, upon completion of the period of the vow.

* [21:25] Paul is informed about the apostolic decree, seemingly for the first time (see note on Acts 15:1335). The allusion to the decree was probably introduced here by Luke to remind his readers that the Gentile Christians themselves were asked to respect certain Jewish practices deriving from the law.

* [21:28] The charges against Paul by the diaspora Jews are identical to the charges brought against Stephen by diaspora Jews in Acts 6:13. Brought Greeks into the temple: non-Jews were forbidden, under penalty of death, to go beyond the Court of the Gentiles. Inscriptions in Greek and Latin on a stone balustrade marked off the prohibited area.

* [21:31] Cohort commander: literally, “the leader of a thousand in a cohort.” At this period the Roman cohort commander usually led six hundred soldiers, a tenth of a legion; but the number in a cohort varied.

* [21:36] Away with him: at the trial of Jesus before Pilate in Lk 23:18, the people similarly shout, “Away with this man.”

* [21:38] The Egyptian: according to the Jewish historian Josephus, an Egyptian gathered a large crowd on the Mount of Olives to witness the destruction of the walls of Jerusalem that would fall at the Egyptian “prophet’s” word. The commotion was put down by the Roman authorities and the Egyptian escaped, but only after thousands had been killed. Four thousand assassins: literally, sicarii. According to Josephus, these were political nationalists who removed their opponents by assassination with a short dagger, called in Latin a sica.

* [21:40] In Hebrew: meaning, perhaps, in Aramaic, which at this time was the Semitic tongue in common use.

a. [21:8] 6:5; 8:56.

b. [21:11] 11:28; 20:23.

c. [21:14] 19:1516.

d. [21:14] Mt 6:10; 26:39; Mk 14:36; Lk 22:42.

e. [21:2327] 18:18; Nm 6:121.

f. [21:25] 15:1920, 2829.

g. [21:26] 1 Cor 9:20.

h. [21:28] Rom 15:31.

i. [21:36] 22:22; Lk 23:18; Jn 19:15.

j. [21:38] 5:3637.






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