As this chapter opens, Paul’s group was saying goodbye to the Ephesian elders and was heading for Jerusalem. On the way, they stopped at Tyre and found disciples there, so they stayed for seven days. These people urged Paul not to go to Jerusalem. But they left to continue their journey. As they were leaving, the families of the disciples knelt with them on the beach to pray, and Paul and his group were on their way.
They made another stop on their journey in Caesarea and stayed at the home of Philip, who was one of the Seven chosen in Chapter 6. Philip had four daughters who prophesied. The group had been there a number of days and Agabus came and told a prophesy to Paul. Remember Agabus from Chapter 11? He prophesied about the drought. Agabus took Paul’s belt and tied his own hands and feet. He then said, “The Holy Spirit says, ‘In this very way the Jews of Jerusalem will bind the owner of this belt and will hand him over to the Gentiles.”’ When the people heard this, they began begging Paul not to go to Jerusalem. Now remember, Paul already knew of his coming bondage. He had felt bondage in every city. He told the people that he was not only ready to be bound, but to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus. When the group couldn’t convince him, they gave up and prayed the Lord’s will be done. Are you ready to be bound for Christ? Are you ready to die for the name of Christ? I would like to think I am, but I have not been faced with that situation. We may see a time, in our own country, where this will happen. What will your position be? I pray that I can be willing to face any situation, even death, for the name of Christ. Are you willing to allow those you love to be faced with bondage or death for the name of Christ and commit them to the will of the Lord? I pray that if anyone of my children or loved ones feel the call to live a life on the edge, in a country they will face certain death proclaiming the name of the Lord, I will find glory in You for that life and will thank You and will pray Your will be done.
In Jerusalem, Paul and his company stayed at the home of Mnason, a disciple from the early church. They visited with James, and all the elders were present. Paul reported to them the work God had done among the Gentiles. Everyone present gave thanks for this work. The group did share with Paul that many thousands of Jews have believed, but they are still zealous for the law. Word had spread that Paul was teaching they Jews to turn from Moses and not to circumcise their children or live according to Jewish custom. They asked Paul to go through the ceremonial purification rites so no one would question what Paul was teaching. Paul went with them and gave notice to the temple of the days of purification. Before the seven days were over, some Jews from Asia saw Paul at the temple and started trouble, making assumptions that Paul had defiled the Temple. The whole city became aroused and people ran from everywhere, seizing Paul. They dragged him out of the temple and were trying to kill him when word reached the commander of the Roman troops. When the commander came, they stopped beating Paul. The commander arrested him and ordered him to be bound and carried to the barracks, when the crowd became so loud and unruly, again. The soldiers carried Paul to keep the crowd off of him. I see this, even though it was harsh, as a protection from God, that the crowd did not succeed in killing Paul. And even after this beating and bondage, what do you think Paul does? Do you think he goes quietly? Do you think he fights them back? No, we see Paul asking the commander to speak. The commander asks, “Do you speak Greek? Aren’t you the Egyptian who started a revolt and led four thousand terrorists out into the desert some time ago? Paul answered, “I am a Jew from Tarsus in Cilicia, a citizen of no ordinary city. Please let me speak to the people.” Paul obtained the commander’s permission, stood on the steps, quieted the crowd and spoke to them in their language. Paul didn’t give up, he didn’t go quietly, but he also didn’t lash out in anger. Paul simply asked to speak. I can’t help but believer he was anticipating what the Holy Spirit might do next. I pray that we can live our lives in anticipation of what the Holy Spirit is going to do.