Bold Witness Provokes Controversy

MEMORY VERSE: “I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” —Acts 21:13

ACTS 21:10-14, 17-24

IN TODAY’S lesson we find Paul in Caesarea, where he had made a stop on his journey to Jerusalem. He tarried several days at Caesarea, and while there “there came down from Judaea a certain prophet, named Agabus.” Agabus gave voice to a prophecy indicating that Paul would meet with severe opposition at Jerusalem from his enemies.

Agabus was rather dramatic in the manner in which he uttered this prophecy, “He took Paul’s girdle, and bound his own hand and feet, and said, thus saith the Holy Spirit, So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.” Agabus credited the Holy Spirit for revealing this information to him. So Paul knew that this message did not represent someone’s effort to frighten him, but really came from the Lord.

The brethren who were traveling with Paul, as well as those of Caesarea, endeavored to dissuade Paul from continuing on his journey to Jerusalem. They felt that the Lord was warning him of the trouble that he would encounter, and that he should give heed to this warning. “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” Thus, in these words of our memory verse, Paul indicated that he placed a different interpretation upon the prophecy of Agabus than they had. He looked upon it not as a warning to keep out of trouble, but as a test of his willingness to endure suffering and possible death in the cause of Christ.

Paul was a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ, and it is quite possible that in this circumstance he remembered a similar one in which the Master himself had the opportunity to go to Jerusalem to suffer and die. On this occasion it was the Apostle Peter who endeavored to dissuade Jesus from taking this course. And now Paul was having an opportunity to almost literally follow in the footsteps of his Master, and he rejoiced in it.

Arriving in Jerusalem Paul first of all reported to the brethren “particularly what things God had wrought among the Gentiles by his ministry.” The Jerusalem brethren, when they heard this, glorified the Lord, and they informed Paul of the difficulties he faced in Jerusalem.

They informed Paul that in the Jerusalem area a great many Jews had also believed, and that they were all zealous of the law. They informed him that these converted Jews had heard reports that in Paul’s ministry among the Gentiles he had taught them to forsake Moses, “saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs.” The brethren in Jerusalem assured Paul that upon hearing that he was in the city they would all come together, apparently to question Paul and to condemn him if they found that the reports they had heard were true. The advice they gave Paul was, “We have four men which have a vow on them; them take, and purify thyself with them.” This purification ceremony took place in the temple.

While the intentions of the brethren at Jerusalem advising Paul to take this precautionary step were good, it did not accomplish what they had hoped it would. We read, “The Jews which were of Asia, when they saw him in the temple, stirred up all the people, and laid hands on him, crying out, Men of Israel, help; This is the man, that teacheth all men every where against the people, and the law, and this place: and further brought Greeks also into the temple, and hath polluted this holy place.”—Acts 21:27,28

This outburst by the Jews visiting Jerusalem from Asia resulted in a riot, and an attempt was made to kill Paul, but the matter was quickly reported to “the chief captain of the band, that all Jerusalem was in an uproar. Who immediately took soldiers and centurions, and ran down unto them: and when they saw the chief captain and the soldiers, they left beating of Paul.” Paul was taken into protective custody by the chief captain, and his life was saved.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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