322 - Paul Arrives in Jerusalem
NOVEMBER 18 - Nº 322 Acts 21:1-26
After a tearful goodbye with the elders from Ephesus (see #321 - November 17) Paul boarded the ship again. It sailed from Miletus to Patara, where he and his traveling companions boarded a different ship on its way to Caesarea. Caesarea was the Roman capital of Israel and the closest port to Jerusalem. The ship stopped in Tyre for a few days to unload some cargo. This gave Paul and his friends the opportunity to look for fellow believers. They located some and stayed with them for the seven days that the ship was in port. The believers from Tyre urged Paul not to return to Jerusalem. Some of them prophesied through the Holy Spirit that his life would be in danger there. But Paul felt he needed to go despite the warnings. When it was time to leave, all the believers accompanied the travelers out of the city. They knelt on the beach and prayed together before Paul and his companions boarded the ship. After finally docking in Caesarea, Paul and his friends went to the home of Philip—one of the original deacons in the Jerusalem church (see #291 - October 18). While they were there, a prophet named Agabus came from Judea to speak to Paul. Agabus was very much like an Old Testament prophet. He not only spoke any prophecy God gave him, but he also acted it out. He borrowed Paul’s belt and tied his own hands and feet with it. Then he prophesied, “The Holy Spirit says, ‘In this way the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem will bind the owner of this belt and hand him over to the Gentiles.’” Everyone who was there became very concerned for Paul’s safety and begged him not to go to Jerusalem. But Paul responded by saying, “Why are you crying and breaking my heart? I am ready to be put in chains and even die for the sake of the Lord Jesus.” When the believers realized that they could not prevent him from going, they gave him their blessing and said, “The Lord’s will be done.” When they finally arrived in Jerusalem, Paul and his friends were warmly welcomed by the believers. The next day they went to see James (Jesus’ half-brother) who was still a leader in the church. All the church elders showed up to welcome them back. Paul gave a full report of everything that had happened on his third missionary journey. The church leaders praised God when they heard that many Gentiles had committed their lives to Jesus. Then the elders brought up a concern they had. “Some Jewish Christians think that you are teaching Jewish believers to abandon the Laws of Moses. They are afraid that you are opposed to the Jewish customs that many of them still value—customs like circumcision and not eating certain foods.” The elders asked Paul to dispel this rumor by joining four men who wanted to go through purification rites but did not have the money to pay for them. “If you go through the rites with them and pay their fees, then everyone will know that you still honor these laws,” they suggested. Paul agreed. He knew that observing such rites was not necessary, but he also knew that participating in them was not sinful. He went to the Temple with the men and began the purification process. The ritual took seven days to complete.
A great indicator of a true relationship with God is our ability to love and support other believers—even when they practice their faith a little differently than we do. Paul was willing to do anything—except sin—to bring others closer to Jesus Christ. Are you willing to love and support other believers whose faith in Jesus looks a little different than yours?