Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
And it came to pass, that after we were gotten from them, and had launched, we came with a straight course unto Coos, and the day following unto Rhodes, and from thence unto Patara:
Ac 21:1-16. Sailing from Ephesus, They Land at Tyre, and Thence Sailing to Ptolemais, They Proceed by Land to Cæsarea and Jerusalem.
1. we were gotten—"torn."
from them—expressing the difficulty and pain of the parting.
with a straight course—running before the wind, as Ac 16:11.
unto Coos—Cos, an island due south from Miletus, which they would reach in about six hours, and coming close to the mainland.
the day following unto Rhodes—another island, some fifty miles to the southeast, of brilliant classic memory and beauty.
thence unto Patara—a town on the magnificent mainland of Lycia, almost due east from Rhodes. It was the seat of a celebrated oracle of Apollo.
And finding a ship sailing over unto Phenicia, we went aboard, and set forth.
2. And finding a ship—their former one going no farther, probably.
to Ph�nica—(See on Ac 11:19).
went abroad—One would almost think this extracted from a journal of the voyage, so graphic are its details.
Now when we had discovered Cyprus, we left it on the left hand, and sailed into Syria, and landed at Tyre: for there the ship was to unlade her burden.
3. when we … discovered—"sighted," as the phrase is.
Cyprus, we left it on the left hand—that is, steered southeast of it, leaving it on the northwest.
Syria, and landed at Tyre—the celebrated seat of maritime commerce for East and West. It might be reached from Patara in about two days.
there the ship was to unlade her burden—which gave the apostle time for what follows.
And finding disciples, we tarried there seven days: who said to Paul through the Spirit, that he should not go up to Jerusalem.
4-6. finding disciples—finding out the disciples, implying some search. They would expect such, from what is recorded, Ac 11:19. Perhaps they were not many; yet there were gifted ones among them.
who said to Paul … that he should not go up to Jerusalem—(See on Ac 20:23; also see on Ac 21:11-14).
And when we had accomplished those days, we departed and went our way; and they all brought us on our way, with wives and children, till we were out of the city: and we kneeled down on the shore, and prayed.
5. they all brought us on our way with wives and children … and we kneeled down on the shore and prayed—(See on Ac 20:36). Observe here that the children of these Tyrian disciples not only were taken along with their parents, but must have joined in this act of solemn worship. See on Eph 6:1.
And when we had taken our leave one of another, we took ship; and they returned home again.
And when we had finished our course from Tyre, we came to Ptolemais, and saluted the brethren, and abode with them one day.
7. when we had finished our course—completing the voyage
from Tyre, we came—which they would do the same day.
to Ptolemais—anciently called Accho (Jud 1:31), now St. Jean d'Acre, or Acre.
and saluted the brethren, and abode, &c.—disciples gathered probably as at Tyre, on the occasion mentioned (Ac 11:19).
And the next day we that were of Paul's company departed, and came unto Caesarea: and we entered into the house of Philip the evangelist, which was one of the seven; and abode with him.
8-10. next day we that were of Paul's company departed—(The words "the were of Paul's company" are omitted in the best manuscripts. They were probably added as the connecting words at the head of some church lessons).
and came to Cæsarea—a run along the coast, southward, of some thirty miles.
Philip the evangelist—a term answering apparently very much to our missionary [Howson], by whose ministry such joy had been diffused over Samaria and the Ethiopian eunuch had been baptized (Ac 8:4-40).
one of the seven—deacons, who had "purchased to himself a good degree" (1Ti 3:13). He and Paul now meet for the first time, some twenty-five years after that time.
And the same man had four daughters, virgins, which did prophesy.
9. the same man had four daughters … which did prophesy—fulfilling Joe 2:28 (see Ac 2:18). This is mentioned, it would seem, merely as a high distinction divinely conferred on so devoted a servant of the Lord Jesus, and probably indicates the high tone of religion in his family.
And as we tarried there many days, there came down from Judaea a certain prophet, named Agabus.
10. tarried there many—"a good many"
days—Finding himself in good time for Pentecost at Jerusalem, he would feel it a refreshing thing to his spirit to hold Christian communion for a few days with such a family.
there came down from Judea—the news of Paul's arrival having spread.
a certain prophet … Agabus—no doubt the same as in Ac 11:28.
And when he was come unto us, he took Paul's girdle, and bound his own hands and feet, and said, Thus saith the Holy Ghost, So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.
11-14. So shall the Jews bind the man that owneth this girdle, &c.—For though the Romans did it, it was at the Jews' instigation (Ac 21:33; Ac 28:17). Such dramatic methods of announcing important future events would bring the old prophets to remembrance. (Compare Isa 20:2, &c.; Jer 13:1, and Eze 5:1, &c.). This prediction and that at Tyre (Ac 21:4) were intended, not to prohibit him from going, but to put his courage to the test and when he stood the test, to deepen and mature it.
And when we heard these things, both we, and they of that place, besought him not to go up to Jerusalem.
12. we and they at that place—the Cæsarean Christians.
besought him—even with tears, Ac 21:13.
not to go to Jerusalem.
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.
13. Then Paul answered, What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart—Beautiful union of manly resoluteness and womanly tenderness, alike removed from mawkishness and stoicism!
I am ready not to be bound only—"If that is all, let it come."
but to die, &c.—It was well he could add this, for he had that also to do.
And when he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, The will of the Lord be done.
And after those days we took up our carriages, and went up to Jerusalem.
15, 16. we took up our carriages—"our baggage."
and went up to Jerusalem—for the fifth time after his conversion, thus concluding his third missionary tour, which proved his last, so far as recorded; for though he accomplished the fourth and last part of the missionary plan sketched out (Ac 19:21)—"After I have been at Jerusalem, I must also see Rome"—it was as "a prisoner of Jesus Christ."
There went with us also certain of the disciples of Caesarea, and brought with them one Mnason of Cyprus, an old disciple, with whom we should lodge.
16. went with us … and brought with them—rather, "brought us to."
One Mnason of Cyprus, an old disciple, &c.—not an "aged" disciple, but probably "a disciple of old standing," perhaps one of the three thousand converted on the day of Pentecost, or, more likely still, drawn to the Saviour Himself during His lifetime. He had come, probably, with the other Cyprians (Ac 11:20), to Antioch, "preaching the Lord Jesus unto the Grecians," and now he appears settled at Jerusalem.
And when we were come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly.
Ac 21:17-40. Paul Reports the Events of His Third Missionary Journey—In the Temple, Purifying Himself from a Jewish Vow, He Is Seized by a Mob and Beaten to the Danger of His Life—The Uproar Becoming Universal, the Roman Commandant Has Him Brought in Chains to the Fortress, from the Stairs of Which He Is Permitted to Address the People.
The apostle was full of anxiety about this visit to Jerusalem, from the numerous prophetic intimations of danger awaiting him, and having reason to expect the presence at this feast of the very parties from whose virulent rage he had once and again narrowly escaped with his life. Hence we find him asking the Roman Christians to wrestle with him in prayer, "for the Lord Jesus Christ's sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that he might be delivered from them that believed not in Judea," as well as "that his service which he had for Jerusalem (the great collection for the poor saints there) might be accepted of the saints" (Ro 15:30, 31).
17-19. the brethren received us gladly—the disciples generally, as distinguished from the official reception recorded in Ac 21:18.
And the day following Paul went in with us unto James; and all the elders were present.
18. Paul went in with us unto James; and all the elders were present—to "report himself" formally to the acknowledged head of the church at Jerusalem, and his associates in office. See on Ac 15:13. Had any other of the apostles been in Jerusalem on that occasion, it could hardly fail to have been noted.
And when he had saluted them, he declared particularly what things God had wrought among the Gentiles by his ministry.
19. he declared particularly—in detail.
what God had wrought among the Gentiles by his ministry—as on previous occasions (Ac 14:27; and see Ro 15:15); no doubt referring to the insidious and systematic efforts of the Judaizing party in a number of places to shrivel the Church of Christ into a Jewish sect, and his own counter-procedure.
And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord, and said unto him, Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the law:
20-25. they glorified the Lord, &c.—constrained to justify his course, notwithstanding the Jewish complexion of the Christianity of Jerusalem.
And they are informed of thee, that thou teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs.
21. they are informed … that thou teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles—those residing in heathen countries.
to forsake Moses, &c.—This calumny of the unbelieving Jews would find easy credence among the Christian zealots for Judaism.
What is it therefore? the multitude must needs come together: for they will hear that thou art come.
Do therefore this that we say to thee: We have four men which have a vow on them;
23. we have four men—Christian Jews, no doubt.
which have a vow—perhaps kept ready on purpose.
Them take, and purify thyself with them, and be at charges with them, that they may shave their heads: and all may know that those things, whereof they were informed concerning thee, are nothing; but that thou thyself also walkest orderly, and keepest the law.
24. be at charges with them—that is, defray the expense of the sacrifices legally required of them, along with his own, which was deemed a mark of Jewish generosity.
As touching the Gentiles which believe, we have written and concluded that they observe no such thing, save only that they keep themselves from things offered to idols, and from blood, and from strangled, and from fornication.
25. touching the Gentiles … we have written and concluded that they observe no such things, &c.—This shows that with all their conciliation to Jewish prejudice, the Church of Jerusalem was taught to adhere to the decision of the famous council held there (Ac 15:19-29).
Then Paul took the men, and the next day purifying himself with them entered into the temple, to signify the accomplishment of the days of purification, until that an offering should be offered for every one of them.
26. to signify—that is, announce to the priest.
the accomplishment of the days of purification, &c.—(See on Nu 6:14-21).
And when the seven days were almost ended, the Jews which were of Asia, when they saw him in the temple, stirred up all the people, and laid hands on him,
27-30. the Jews … of Asia—in all likelihood those of Ephesus (since they recognized Trophimus apparently as a townsman, Ac 21:29), embittered by their discomfiture (Ac 19:9, &c.).
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.
(For they had seen before with him in the city Trophimus an Ephesian, whom they supposed that Paul had brought into the temple.)
29. Trophimus—(See on Ac 20:4).
And all the city was moved, and the people ran together: and they took Paul, and drew him out of the temple: and forthwith the doors were shut.
30. took Paul, and drew him out of the temple; and forthwith the doors were shut—that the murder they meant to perpetrate might not pollute that holy place.
And as they went about to kill him, tidings came unto the chief captain of the band, that all Jerusalem was in an uproar.
31. tidings came—literally, "went up," that is, to the fortress of Antonia, where the commandant resided. See on Ac 21:32. This part of the narrative is particularly graphic.
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.
32. the chief captain—"the chiliarch," or tribune of the Roman cohort, whose full number was one thousand men.
Then the chief captain came near, and took him, and commanded him to be bound with two chains; and demanded who he was, and what he had done.
33. commanded him to be bound with two chains—(See on Ac 12:6).
And some cried one thing, some another, among the multitude: and when he could not know the certainty for the tumult, he commanded him to be carried into the castle.
34. some cried one thing—The difficulty would be so to state his crimes as to justify their proceedings to a Roman officer.
to be carried into the castle—rather, perhaps, "the barracks," or that part of the fortress of Antonia appropriated to the soldiers. The fort was built by Herod on a high rock at the northwest corner of the great temple area, and called after Mark Antony.
And when he came upon the stairs, so it was, that he was borne of the soldiers for the violence of the people.
35, 36. Away with him—as before of his Lord (Lu 23:18; Joh 19:15).
For the multitude of the people followed after, crying, Away with him.
And as Paul was to be led into the castle, he said unto the chief captain, May I speak unto thee? Who said, Canst thou speak Greek?
37-40. Art not thou that Egyptian, &c.—The form of the question implies that the answer is to be in the negative, and is matter of some surprise: "Thou art not then?" &c.
Art not thou that Egyptian, which before these days madest an uproar, and leddest out into the wilderness four thousand men that were murderers?
38. madest an uproar, &c.—The narrative is given in Josephus [Wars of the Jews, 2.8.6; 13.5], though his two allusions and ours seem to refer to different periods of the rebellion.
But Paul said, I am a man which am a Jew of Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, a citizen of no mean city: and, I beseech thee, suffer me to speak unto the people.
39. a citizen of no mean city—(See on Ac 16:37).
And when he had given him licence, Paul stood on the stairs, and beckoned with the hand unto the people. And when there was made a great silence, he spake unto them in the Hebrew tongue, saying,
40. stood on the stairs—"What nobler spectacle than that of Paul at this moment! There he stood, bound with two chains, ready to make his defense to the people. The Roman commander sits by, to enforce order by his presence. An enraged populace look up to him from below. Yet in the midst of so many dangers, how self-possessed is he, how tranquil!" [Chrysostom (or in his name) in Hackett].
a great silence—the people awed at the permission given him by the commandant, and seeing him sitting as a listener.
in the Hebrew tongue—the Syro-Chaldaic, the vernacular tongue of the Palestine Jews since the captivity.