Chapter twenty-one finally brings Paul to Jerusalem, after a series of short stops along the way. The “WE” throughout the chapter tells us that Luke had joined Paul again in Troas like he did the first time (Acts 16:11). In Tyre, the believers repeatedly told Paul to not go to Jerusalem, but he would not stop (Acts 21:1-9). Again, in Caesarea, the Holy Spirit used a prophet to tell of the danger awaiting Paul in Jerusalem, and those believers begged him to stay as well, but again he refused (Acts 21:10-14). 1
Arriving in Jerusalem Paul was greeted warmly by the believers and the church elders (Acts 21:15-26). Though they celebrated the ministry God had done through him, they warned that his detractors had spread lies about him even throughout Jerusalem. In response, they thought if the Jews could see him participating in a traditional Jewish vow ceremony before God, they would realize the truth that he was not against them. Paul agreed and completed a seven-day vow of purification, which was completed with a sacrifice in the Temple. Near the end of that week, as Paul prayed in the Temple, he was dragged out by an angry mob which assumed he had taken a Gentile into the Temple with him. 2 As they began to beat Paul, he was rescued by some Roman soldiers and carried out of harm’s way, but under arrest. When Paul asked to address the crowd, the officer was startled to realize that Paul was not the wanted criminal the centurion thought he was.
- Notice that Paul did not disobey the Holy Spirit here. The Spirit did not tell him to stay away from Jerusalem, only that danger awaited him there. It was the believers who took that as a sign that he should not go. ↩
- Since it was Trophimus whom they protested as being in the Temple, this indicates that Luke, who was with Paul at this time, was not prohibited from being there, suggesting that he was probably Jewish. ↩