Acts 21 v 1 - 26

Please look at attached map to see the route of Paul's return journey to Jerusalem.

Things are speeding up and there is the atmosphere of an approaching storm as Paul heads for Jerusalem. Twice he has been told by the Holy Spirit not to go to Jerusalem, but Paul is determined and nothing seems to be able to prevent him heading towards potential death. We can note that wherever Paul now went, there was a Christian community waiting to greet him. What was true for him in a limited sense is vastly more true today! We can travel the world and in almost every country we can find Christian fellowship. In this passage we are told about the prophet Agabus. It appears that he had something of the Old Testament prophet about him as he not only spoke the words the Holy Spirit gave him, but illustrated them with Paul's belt as he bound his hands and feet with it. This was a common event in the Old Testament, there are examples to be found in Isaiah 20 v 3,4; Jeremiah 13 v 1-11; Ezekiel 5 v 1-4; 1 Kings 11 v 29-31 and it appears that such actions were used to emphasise the seriousness of the words. Paul finally returns to Jerusalem and this proves an issue for the church and the leaders there as rumours had spread that he had encouraged Jews to forsake their ancestral faith. However untrue these rumours, it was felt by the church leaders that Paul could make his position clear by supporting four men who were in the middle of a Nazirite vow. This was a vow taken in gratitude for some special blessing from God and it involved abstention from meat and wine for thirty days and allowing one's hair to grow. This was a costly business because work had to be given up as the last week had to be spent entirely in the Temple courts. As with many such rituals, a wealthy individual could in an act of piety cover the expenses of someone undertaking the vow and Paul was asked to cover the expenses of these four in order to demonstrate his love of the Law and observance of it. Interestingly, although this whole matter was distasteful to Paul as he no longer thought such things had any relevance, he was willing to subordinate his own views for the sake of the Church. Compromise is here a sign not of weakness but of strength!


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