After Miletus, Luke records Paul’s journey in some detail. Still en route to Jerusalem, the apostle spent a week in Tyre, on the Phoenician coast, where the ship was to be unloaded (Acts 21:1-6). However, while he was there, the believers urged him not to go to Jerusalem. That the believers were led by the Spirit to warn Paul not to go to Jerusalem is not necessarily in contradiction to the apostle’s earlier guidance.
The Greek etheto en to pneumati in Acts 19:21 should likely be rendered as “resolved/purposed in the Spirit” (ESV, NRSV, NKJV), rather than as if Paul had come to this decision all by himself. The point is that the Spirit may have shown the Tyrean Christians the dangers that lay ahead of Paul; and so, out of human concern, they recommended that he not proceed with his intent. Paul himself was not sure about what would happen to him in Jerusalem (Acts 20:22-23). Divine guidance does not always make everything clear, even for someone like Paul.
Read Acts 21:10-14. What special incident took place in Caesarea concerning Paul’s trip to Jerusalem?
Agabus was a prophet from Jerusalem who had already been introduced in the famine episode in Acts 11:27-30. In a way similar to some Old Testament prophecies (for example, Isa. 20:1-6, Jer. 13:1-10), his message was an acted one; it functioned as vivid illustration of what would happen to Paul when he arrived in Jerusalem and how his enemies would hand him over to the Gentiles (the Romans).
Those who were with Paul apparently took Agabus’s message as a warning, not as a prophecy, and so they tried by all means to convince the apostle he should not go up to Jerusalem. Though deeply touched by their reaction, Paul was determined to accomplish his mission, even at the cost of his own life. For him, the integrity of the gospel and the unity of the church were more important than his own personal safety or interests.
“Never before had the apostle approached Jerusalem with so sad a heart. He knew that he would find few friends and many enemies. He was nearing the city which had rejected and slain the Son of God and over which now hung the threatenings of divine wrath.”—Ellen G. White, The Acts of the Apostles, pages 397, 398.
|Misunderstood, maligned, mistreated, and often reviled, Paul nevertheless pressed on in faith. How can we learn to do the same in discouraging circumstances?|