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Acts 21

The Road to Rome
Part IV

Acts 21:17
And when we were come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly.

Helps Word-studies: asménōs (akin to hēdomai, "experiential pleasure, delight") properly, "euphoric wishing, hoping for a change," looking for a delightful turn of events.

The excitement of the believers to see Paul and his companions goes beyond the word “gladly.” But how does this response line up with the evaluation of these believers given by James and the council?

During these next few chapters Paul will face arrest, face an angry and bias mob, interrogations, stand before the Sanhedrin, Governors, and stand before a King. All of this would have been unnecessary had Paul received and obeyed the will of his Lord.

James is facing a problem of his own making; believers are zealous for the Law. But, as we read and study this narrative, the question must be asked, exactly who is zealous for the Law? 

Paul is also facing problems of his own making, because he disobeyed the will of his Lord.  

Every child of God understands this problem, we act outside of God’s declared will and run headfirst right into a brick wall. We become so busy, or caught up in the affairs of the world, that the spiritual aspects of life get pushed to the back of the line. Time to pray, not today, maybe tomorrow. Time to read God’s Word, my schedule is just so tight. Walk in God’s love, if I do that the world will eat me live!

God has been trying to teach us a simple lesson since we were in the Garden in Eden, trust my words, trust Me.

Genesis 4:6-7a
And the LORD said unto Cain, why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted?...

Obviously, the situation is different, the administration is different, but the principles still apply. When life does not work because you have ignored the will of God, why are you upset with God? If you simply do the will of God, you WILL receive the result God has promised.

But I am in this world and if I do not engage it will only get worse.

Then engage.

Acts 17:6
And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, these that have turned the world upside down are come hither also;

“World” is the Greek word oikoumene and refers to the inhabited world, the people.

“Have turned upside down” is one Greek word, anastatoo, from the word anistemi, and means to stir up, to excite, to unsettle,1  (perhaps a political metaphor), I turn upside down.2

Helps Word-studies: anastatóō (literally, "change standing from going up to down"; see the root,  anístēmi) properly, turn something over (up to down), to upset (up-set), raising one part up at the expense of another which results in dislocation (confusion); to unsettle, make disorderly.

Paul engaged the inhabited world with the words of God specifically, words addressed to the Administration of Grace. Those words, believed, changed the course of the world by elevating the people who believed. The course of the world was up-set, over turned from darkness to light.

The lesson from God as Genesis opens, trust my words, trust ME. Engage the people with my words.

Acts 21:18
And the day following Paul went in with us unto James; and all the elders were present.

The word “day” is not in the text.

It has been approximately five years since Paul’s last visit to Jerusalem. Many amazing and wonderful things have occurred through Paul’s ministry in those years. 

Acts 21:19
And when he had saluted them, he declared particularly what things God had wrought among the Gentiles by his ministry.

The word “particularly” is listed in Blue Letter Bible under a combination of kata. The text reads, kath hen hekaston. Here kata is in the accusative case and therefore refers to a horizonal motion, meaning the ground level work among the people. Hen is speaking of one as opposed to many, as in one man speaking about one city. For hekastos we will look to Helps Word-studies.

Helps Word-studies: hékastos (from hekas, "separate") each (individual) unit viewed distinctly, i.e. as opposed to "severally" (as a group).

Acts 20:4
And there accompanied him into Asia Sopater of Berea; and of the Thessalonians, Aristarchus and Secundus; and Gaius of Derbe, and Timotheus; and of Asia, Tychicus and Trophimus.

From southern Galatia we have Gaius of Derbe. From Ephesus we have Tychicus and Trophimus. From Macedonia, in Thessalonica, we have Aristarchus and Secundus. Also from Macedonia, but this time Berea, we have Sopater. For good measure we have Luke who is coming from Philippi in Macedonia. Finally, to speak for Achaia, we have Timothy.

Paul is having each, one by one, speak of the details of the movement of God’s Word, on a horizonal level among the people, in all the areas of his travels to preach the Gospel of Grace. They have also brought an offering of shared abundance considering the multitude that will come to Jerusalem for Pentecost.

This would have taken a fair amount of time to convey the activity of these last five years.

Acts 21:20a
And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord…

The text reads God instead of the Lord.

However, you can almost see their collective yawn as they “glorified” God. 

Compare this to the reception Paul and his companions received on the street the day before from the believers; pleasure, delight, euphoric. Now consider again Helps Word-studies full description of asmenos, translated gladly, in Acts 21:17, “hoping for a change of events.”

James and this council of elders appear to be giving their best impression of the Sanhedrin as they fail to believe God while complaining about the believers.

Acts 21:20b
and said unto him, Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the law:

But James and these elders have a plan to correct the problem in Jerusalem.

Acts 21:21-24
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. 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; 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.

The Jerusalem leadership thinks the best way to stop the believers from being zealous for the Law is to show them that Paul also keeps the Law. 


Exactly who is zealous for the Law? 
The believers or James and the council of elders? 
Then, their solution, Paul you show everyone that you keep the customs and the Law!

They heard exactly how much of what God had brought to pass through Paul’s ministry? 

They did not just yawn at what was said earlier, they turned it off and heard nothing. Nothing!

“Walkest orderly” is stoicheo and means, to walk by a rule, to keep in step.
“Keepest” is the Greek word phylasso which means, to guard, to preserve, to keep secure.

Again my question, who is zealous for the Law?

Acts 21:25
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.

Their rationalization. We are not picking on the Gentiles, we are only speaking about the Judeans that require our help, and guidance, and our leadership. We could really use your help with this matter. It will bring us together.

Although God’s Word does not give us Paul’s verbal response, we see his answer in his actions.

Acts 21:26
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.

Paul agreed.

With his actions, the heart of the believers on the street we saw when Paul and company first arrived in Jerusalem, are broken. They were hoping for a change of events. Nothing is more devastating than hope lost.

Proverbs 13:12
Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life.

“Deferred” is masak in the text. It means postponed. 
“Sick” is the Hebrew word hala and means to grieve or become sick. 

James and the council’s evaluation, of the temperature of believing, zealous for the Law, is perhaps not a true evaluation of the believers, but merely a reflection of their own image in a mirror.

Paul should have seen the snare that was laid before him. But the Adversary pulled on his heart strings, “the multitude must needs come together.”

Acts 21:27-29
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, 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.)

What is a snare?

Merriam-Webster: snare: something by which one is entangled, involved in difficulties, or impeded.

Paul’s Road to Rome has just hit a delay. Paul is about to be impeded.

Acts 21:30-34
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. And as they went about to kill him, tidings came unto 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. 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. 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.

Typical rule of a mob in a riot, “some cried one thing, some another.” In other words, the mob has no idea why they are out there yelling and beating one man, to death if they could. Under the rule of the Sanhedrin, under the guidance of James and his elders, under the thumb of the Roman army, the people of Jerusalem could not be more frustrated. Paul becomes the recipient of the perfect storm of frustration in Jerusalem.

Paul should not have set a foot in Jerusalem!

The Adversary does not need intelligence to operate, quite the opposite, he needs people to be ignorant.

Hosea 4:6a
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge…

“Destroyed” is the Hebrew word dama and means to be cut off, to be undone. They are cut off from God and undone from living a life filled with blessings from God, because the leadership in Jerusalem does not believe God. Neither in the Temple or in this new council of elders.

Acts 21:34 says “they cried” meaning they were yelling. “Cried” is the Greek word epiphoneo.

Luke 23:20-21
Pilate, therefore, willing to release Jesus, spake again to them. But they cried [epiphoneo], saying, crucify him, crucify him.

Epiphoneo means to call out, loudly, to shout.

Acts 12:22
And the people gave a shout, saying, it is the voice of a god, and not of a man.

These are the three times this word epiphoneo is used. An angry mob, led by a child of the Adversary shouting out to crucify Jesus, a delirious mob shouting out to declare Herod a god, and a violent mob shouting out to kill the Apostle Paul. All three times a mob scene filled with over emotional people. When emotions are in control, the person, or people, are out of control.

Paul should not have set a foot in Jerusalem.

Acts 21:35-36
And when he came upon the stairs, so it was, that he was borne of the soldiers for the violence of the people. For the multitude of the people followed after, crying, away with him.

“Crying” is the Greek word krazo.

Helps Word-studies: krazo, (figuratively) cry out loudly with an urgent scream or shriek, using "inarticulate shouts that express deep emotion". 

Acts 21:37-38
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? Art not thou that Egyptian, which before these days madest an uproar, and leddest out into the wilderness four thousand men that were murderers?

Paul enlightens the Roman captain about his identity.

Acts 21:39-40a
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. And when he had given him licence…

​Paul has permission from the Romans to speak to the crowd and as his manner is, Paul wants to give them God’s Gospel of Grace.

Consider, Paul now needs to ask the Romans for permission to speak. It was not too many hours ago, Paul was free to speak wherever and whenever he wanted to or his Lord directed him to speak.

  G387 - anastatoō - Strong's Greek Lexicon (kjv) (
  Strong's Greek: 387. ἀναστατόω (anastatoó) to stir up, unsettle (

© Auxano Ministry 2023

A Journey through the Book of Acts