Acts 19-23 Leaving Ephesus and Jerusalem

Psalm 127:1-5 Vanity or Victory
Ps 127:1 Song of The Steps, of Solomon* “Unless Yahweh builds the house, they labor in vain who build it. Unless Yahweh watches over the city, the watchman guards it in vain. 2 It is vain for you to rise up early, to stay up late, eating the bread of sorrow; for he gives sleep to his loved ones. 3 Behold, children are a heritage/blessing of Yahweh. The fruit of the womb is his reward. 4 As arrows in the hand of a mighty man, so are the children of youth. 5 Blessed is the man who has his quiver full of them. They won’t be disappointed when they speak with their enemies in the gate."

Observations: (*See note on Ps 120) 127:1-5 All our efforts are meaningless and futile unless the Lord blesses our endeavors. If we do nothing, there is nothing for God to bless. “God helps those who help themselves” is appropriate in many aspects of life, but not when it comes to paying for our sins (except to seek forgiveness and accept His provision). But if God doesn't help (because we're not blessable) then nothing we do will have any more lasting value than a morning mist (vanity). Getting a good night's sleep is a prerequisite to doing your best. Tired people are rarely creative and make errors that take more time. Therefore, have a bowl of ice cream and go to sleep. God will make up the difference if we are doing what is pleasing in His sight (and thus enter into the beloved category). If we plan our days to know and do God's will, then at the end of the day, we have done what God wants us to do, even if we haven't done it all. There are emergencies which require sleepless nights and supernatural power assists, but they are not the norm (unless you have kids).
Speaking of which, children (as well as spouses) are a blessing from the Lord (if cared for according to the manufacturer's directions). He who has a quiver full of them will have an empty refrigerator, and weapons against the threats and taunts of enemies. Those who have trained their children Biblically can not only enjoy them, but experience the blessing/reward of the Lord though them (note the equation: reward in verse 3 = blessed in verse 5).

Application: Make sure You're doing God's will and then you can expect His help in your work.

Prayer: God, You are the master architect and builder; I am a workman in Your service; guide me, energize me, and bless me for Your glory's sake. Thanks, for the spouse and kids, may I take good care of Your blessings. Amen.
Proverbs 31:10-12 Looking for a Virtuous Woman
Pr 31:10 “Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies. 11 The heart of her husband trusts in her. He shall have no need of spoil/lack of gain. 12 She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life.

Observations: 31:10 The perfect counterpart to a wise man is a virtuous woman. The word for virtuous is most frequently translated “army” followed by “valor” and other words indicating strength of character. It's used in Pr 12:4 of the woman who is a crown to her husband, in contrast to one that makes him ashamed and is as rottenness in his bones. Virtue is attained by having one's passions and desires under control just like army troops must control their desire for self-preservation to accomplish a higher objective. As King Lemuel's mom says, she's worth more than rubies. Like rubies, she's rare and hard to find.
31:11-12 Because of her character and the discipline to base her actions and reactions upon godly wisdom rather than foolish emotion, her husband can trust her. She will do him good, and not evil all her days. She will bless rather than curse him, forgive rather than retaliate, pray rather than nag, and get her needs met by God so she is free to meet the needs of others (the hallmark of a godly individual). These are characteristics godly men should have too. Because of their relationship, her husband will have “no need of spoil” nor “lack any gain”. The normal use of the words, especially in Proverbs is the first reading, as reflected in the KJV (but abandoned by most modern translations). Spoil would consist of servant women. A godly man with a Proverbs 31 wife would not even be attracted to someone inferior, because his virtuous woman is all he needs or desires. Jezebel (below) is the antithesis of a virtuous woman.
Application: Godly virtue is something to be sought and valued above window-dressing.
For Gals: See Happily Ever After: Waiting for Prince Charming
For Guys: See Happily Ever After: Searching for Sleeping Beauty
Prayer for Gals: Lord, help me become the godly woman You desire me to be. Amen.
Prayer for Guys: Lord, help me be worthy of being entrusted with a godly woman. Amen.

Acts 19-23 This section looks at the beginnings of the best taught church in the NT, Ephesus. Both Paul and John taught there, and from there the truth spread to the whole world. Paul bids farewell to the Ephesian elders in a key section on church leadership in chapter 20 (if you are leading a Body of believers, or aspire too, and you should, don't miss it). Paul gives a number of speeches and defenses in Jerusalem, and gets sent out of town on his way to Rome. Paul also fills us in on some of the details of his conversion, and a couple of visions Jesus gave him that we haven't heard about before.

Acts 19 The Church at Ephesus
19:1 It happened that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul, having passed through the upper country, came to Ephesus, and found certain disciples. 2 He said to them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" They said to him, "No, we haven’t heard that the Holy Spirit is (given)." 3 He said, "Into what then were you baptized?" They said, "Into John’s baptism." 4 Paul said, "John indeed baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe in the one who would come after him, that is, in Jesus." 5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 When Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke with other languages and prophesied. 7 They were about twelve men in all.
8 He entered into the synagogue, and spoke boldly for a period of three months, reasoning and persuading about the things concerning the Kingdom of God. 9 But when some were being hardened and not believeing, speaking evil of the Way before the multitude, he departed from them, and separated the disciples, reasoning daily in the school of Tyrannus. 10 This continued for two years, so that all those who lived in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks. 11 God worked special miracles by the hands of Paul, 12 so that even handkerchiefs or aprons were carried away from his body to the sick, and the evil spirits went out.
13 But some of the itinerant Jews, exorcists, took on themselves to invoke over those who had the evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, "We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preaches." 14 There were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, who did this. 15 The evil spirit answered, "Jesus I know, and Paul I know, but who are you?" 16 The man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overpowered them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. 17 This became known to all, both Jews and Greeks, who lived at Ephesus. Fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified. 18 Many also of those who had believed came, confessing, and declaring their deeds. 19 Many of those who practiced magical arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. They counted their price, and found it to be fifty thousand pieces of silver. 20 So the word of the Lord was growing and becoming mighty.
21 Now after these things had ended, Paul determined in the spirit, when he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem, saying, "After I have been there, I must also see Rome." 22 Having sent into Macedonia two of those who served him, Timothy and Erastus, he himself stayed in Asia for a while. 23 About that time there arose no small stir concerning the Way. 24 For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought no little business to the craftsmen, 25 whom he gathered together, with the workmen of like occupation, and said, "Sirs, you know that by this business we have our wealth. 26 You see and hear, that not at Ephesus alone, but almost throughout all Asia, this Paul has persuaded and turned away many people, saying that they are no gods, that are made with hands. 27 Not only is there danger that this our trade come into disrepute, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will be counted as nothing, and her majesty destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worships." 28 When they heard this they were filled with anger, and cried out, saying, "Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!" 29 The whole city was filled with confusion, and they rushed with one accord into the theater, having seized Gaius and Aristarchus, men of Macedonia, Paul’s companions in travel. 30 When Paul wanted to enter in to the people, the disciples didn’t allow him. 31 Certain also of the Asiarchs, being his friends, sent to him and begged him not to venture into the theater. 32 Some therefore cried one thing, and some another, for the assembly was in confusion. Most of them didn’t know why they had come together. 33 They brought Alexander out of the multitude, the Jews putting him forward. Alexander beckoned with his hand, and would have made a defense to the people. 34 But when they perceived that he was a Jew, all with one voice for a time of about two hours cried out, "Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!" 35 When the town clerk had quieted the multitude, he said, "You men of Ephesus, what man is there who doesn’t know that the city of the Ephesians is temple keeper of the great goddess Artemis, and of the image which fell down from Zeus? 36 Seeing then that these things can’t be denied, you ought to be quiet, and to do nothing rash. 37 For you have brought these men here, who are neither robbers of temples nor blasphemers of your goddess. 38 If therefore Demetrius and the craftsmen who are with him have a matter against anyone, the courts are open, and there are proconsuls. Let them press charges against one another. 39 But if you seek anything about other matters, it will be settled in the regular assembly. 40 For indeed we are in danger of being accused concerning this day’s riot, there being no cause. Concerning it, we wouldn’t be able to give an account of this commotion." 41 When he had thus spoken, he dismissed the assembly.

Observations: 19:1-7 In Ephesus Paul encounters a dozen Apollosesque disciples (cf 18:24-28), who were believers, but had only received John's baptism, one of repentance. They hadn't heard that the Holy Spirit was given (this verb is implied from John 7:39). John had seen the Holy Spirit descend and had clearly announced that Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit, so translations that imply they didn't know there was a Holy Spirit, don't know what's going on. Paul tells them that John said people should believe in the one coming after him, Jesus, so they were baptized in His name. Literally verse 6 begins: “and laying upon them the Paul the hands came the Spirit the Holy upon them” is a literal translation. “Laying” is an aorist passive participle (in a genitive absolute construction), modifying the aorist active indicative “came.” Any sequence or additional words is a translator's choice. The verbs which follow “speaking and prophesying” are imperfect, indicating an ongoing action. Acts 2, 10:46, and here are the only three times the Holy Spirit's gift of tongues is mentioned in Acts (1Cor 12-14 is the only other passage in the NT on the topic; Hmmmm, I wonder what the rest of the NT is about???). As in Acts 10:46 (see comments there) the giving of the Holy Spirit was delayed to tie in people to the apostolic church and doctrine. This is a transitional phase, and not applicable to modern practice (unless you have people who only know of John's baptism, and a genuine miracle working apostle on the scene). Anything else is as bogus as the contents of the handkerchiefs mentioned in verse 12.
19:8-12 Paul spent three months in the synagogue reasoning and persuading Jews about the Kingdom of God (the one promised in the OT, announced by John, and preached by Jesus and the apostles; see Introduction to Matthew if you missed it). As usual, some believed, some became the devil's agents (“hardened” is only used here, in Rom 9:18 of God fixing Pharaoh in his choice; and in Hebrews 3:8,13,15; and 4:7 of believers hardening themselves). Harden and unbelieving are imperfects, indicating an ongoing action. Some people just don't want to hear that God will judge them with positive or negative consequences, and they spoke evil of “the way” (9:2). Paul left and spent two years reasoning/teaching in a local lecture hall, so that all Asia (probably a little hyperbole) heard the word about the Lord Jesus. Ephesus was a commercial crossroads, and the home of one of the seven wonders of the word, the temple of Artemis. God authenticated the message with miracles.
19:13-20 The Seven Son's of Sceva, a traveling exorcism team and vaudeville act, tried casting out demons in the name of Jesus whom Paul preaches. The response is comical. But the effect on the people was convincing. Not only did people fear God and believe so that the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified, but they renounced their sins with words and deeds. They made a bonfire of their magic books and CD's. If a silver coin was a day's wage, that would be around five million USD. Luke gives another progress report in verse 20.
19:21-41 Paul had determined to go to Jerusalem and Rome, and sends Timothy and Erastus (Rom 16:23; 2Tim 4:20) into Macedonia. Paul's ministry had been so successful that it cut into the idol maker's trade (the magic book sellers weren't too happy either). Demetrius stirs up trouble and causes a senseless, demonic riot (when you have confused people not knowing why they are in an amphitheater, screaming the same thing for two hours, you either have the home team losing a sports event or a demonic activity). God uses the brothers to prevent Paul from getting stoned again, and a secular town clerk saves the day with sanity. He notes that Paul had neither robbed the temple or blasphemed the goddess (a good point to remember when dealing with irrational people).
Prayer: Amen.

Acts 20 Who Should Lead the Church?
20:1 After the uproar had ceased, Paul sent for the disciples, took leave of them, and departed to go into Macedonia. 2 When he had gone through those parts, and had encouraged them with many words, he came into Greece. 3 When he had spent three months there, and a plot was made against him by Jews as he was about to set sail for Syria, he determined to return through Macedonia. 4 These accompanied him as far as Asia: Sopater of Beroea; Aristarchus and Secundus of the Thessalonians; Gaius of Derbe; Timothy; and Tychicus and Trophimus of Asia. 5 But these had gone ahead, and were waiting for us at Troas. 6 We sailed away from Philippi after the days of Unleavened Bread, and came to them at Troas in five days, where we stayed seven days.
7 On the first day of the week, when the disciples were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the next day, and continued his speech until midnight. 8 There were many lights in the upper room where we were gathered together. 9 A certain young man named Eutychus sat in the window, weighed down with deep sleep. As Paul spoke still longer, being weighed down by his sleep, he fell down from the third story, and was taken up dead. 10 Paul went down, and fell upon him, and embracing him said, "Don’t be troubled, for his life is in him." 11 When he had gone up, and had broken bread, and eaten, and had talked with them a long while, even until break of day, he departed. 12 They brought the boy in alive, and were greatly comforted.
13 But we who went ahead to the ship set sail for Assos, intending to take Paul aboard there, for he had so arranged, intending himself to go by land. 14 When he met us at Assos, we took him aboard, and came to Mitylene. 15 Sailing from there, we came the following day opposite Chios. The next day we touched at Samos and stayed at Trogyllium, and the day after we came to Miletus. 16 For Paul had determined to sail past Ephesus, that he might not have to spend time in Asia; for he was hastening, if it were possible for him, to be in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost.
17 From Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called to himself the elders of the assembly. 18 When they had come to him, he said to them, "You yourselves know, from the first day that I set foot in Asia, how I was with you all the time, 19 serving the Lord with all humility, with many tears, and with trials which happened to me by the plots of the Jews; 20 how I didn’t shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, teaching you publicly and from house to house, 21 testifying both to Jews and to Greeks repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus. 22 Now, behold, I go bound by the Spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there; 23 except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions wait for me. 24 But these things don’t count; nor do I hold my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to fully testify to the Good News of the grace of God. 25 "Now, behold, I know that you all, among whom I went about preaching the Kingdom of God, will see my face no more. 26 Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent from the blood of all men, 27 for I didn’t shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God.
  • 28a Take heed, therefore, to yourselves,
  • 28b and to all the flock,
  • 28c over which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers,
  • 28d to shepherd the
  • 28e assembly of God which he purchased with his own blood.
29 For I know that after my departure, vicious wolves will enter in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 Men will arise from among your own selves, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. 31 Therefore watch, remembering that for a period of three years I didn’t cease to admonish everyone night and day with tears.
  • 32a Now, brothers, I entrust you to God,
  • 32b and to the word of his grace, which is able to build up,
  • 32c and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.
33 I coveted no one’s silver, or gold, or clothing. 34 You yourselves know that these hands served my necessities, and those who were with me. 35 In all things I gave you an example, that so laboring you ought to help the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that he himself said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.’"
36 When he had spoken these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all. 37 They all wept a lot, and fell on Paul’s neck and kissed him, 38 sorrowing most of all because of the word which he had spoken, that they should see his face no more. And they accompanied him to the ship.

Observations: 20:1-12 Paul went to Macedonia, and encouraged believers with teaching truth. He spent three months in Greece until the Jews hatched another plot (probably those tenacious Thessalonians were after him again). They go to Troas, and on the first day of the week (when the Lord rose) gather to break bread with the disciples (doesn't appear to be the fourth Sunday of the month, nor is this the Sabbath -Saturday). Paul gave a talk that was longer than Romans and the lights probably made the room really warm. The penalty for falling asleep during a sermon in those days was death (if you were sitting on a third floor window sill). Paul resurrects Eutychus and talked until the cows left home.
20:13-16 Luke “we” went ahead on the ship and met Paul as planned. He didn't want to spend time in Ephesus again because he was hurrying to Jerusalem for Pentecost. But he sends for the elders at Ephesus to come and gives them a farewell charge which serves as a model for NT leadership. Verse 28 is key and should be memorized and applied, as should verse 32.
  • 17 Leadership of a local assembly is plural, as in a team of elders (no one man shows).
  • 18 Paul invested time with the believers/leaders helping them mature, so they could help others.
  • 19 Leaders are humbly serving God in leading others, and will suffer disappointments and temptations and persecution.
  • 20a Leaders teach whatever is profitable, even if it is unpopular (just make sure it's truth).
  • 20b Teaching is both public and private (the former frequently paves the way for the latter), in both formal and informal (house to house) settings. The word for teach can mean an educational discourse or discussion, which is what would happen in most home settings.
  • 21 All people need to be taught to change their thinking (repentance) from doing their thing to doing God's will, and to have faith toward the Lord Jesus' promises.
  • 22 Leaders sometimes only know the next steps God wants them to take and need to trust that God will continue to guide as they walk in the truth. The Spirit gave Paul direction to go to Jerusalem, but didn't tell him what will happen except that bond and afflictions await him in every city.
  • 24 Leaders have faithful perseverance, caring not for their own comfort nor even lives, but living for obeying the Lord Jesus (in word and deed).
  • 25 Teaching must include all that God has declared, especially that there is a Kingdom coming in which God will reward righteousness (actually if someone is teaching the Scriptures in context, this theme is obvious).
  • 26 Leaders and teachers are like Jeremiah's watchman, if they fail to warn people from God's perspectives, they are responsible for the people's sins; if they faithfully warn them, like a watchman would of coming danger, then they are innocent of the flock's blood when they get eaten by wolves.
  • 28a Leaders must first take responsibility for their own spiritual survival and growth, being on guard against whatever dangers will trip them up.
  • 28b Leaders must then be on guard for the flock, and the dangers which can harm the sheep (many of which are self-inflicted).
  • 28c Leaders are made overseers by the Holy Spirit, not some external authority. This is the chiastic center of the verse. The word for overseer is episkopos (from which we get our word episcopalian, which as a denomination has an organizational hierarchy of bishops or overseers -same word). The Holy Spirit creates such critters by building godly traits into their lives. Organizations don't ordain them; nor carnal Christians elect them, but the Body recognizes them. In NT times, the more mature did the recognizing. See Marks and Models of Godliness, an applicational survey of the qualifications of elders from 1Timothy 3 and Titus 1 (where we'll revisit this topic), on
  • 28d The task of shepherding or pastoring is entrusted to elders. Gasp! The noun and verb for “pastor” is shepherd, which is how it is translated by most versions in every occurrence except Ephesians 4:11 (see comments there), which is the only time the word “pastor” occurs in the Bible. Double Gasp! And there it refers to a supernaturally gifted critter (non seminary trained) “pastor-teacher,” given to the early church along with the miracle working apostles and prophets to get the early church on its feet (we'll talk about evangelists in Ephesians 4). The phrase “senior pastor” is really “Chief Shepherd” which technically only belongs to one Individual (1Pt 5:1-4). Stone him!
  • 28e The church/assembly is God's, He owns it, and smart leaders remember that always.
  • 29 The flock of God will be attacked by Satan's wolves who will come from without and within using lies to draw away disciples after themselves in pride. These two hoof-prints (lies and pride) are clues to those in the church who have been taken captive to do his will (2Tim 2:24-26).
  • 31 Shepherds need to be ever vigilant admonishing (put in right mind by warning of consequences, which gives you an idea of the problem) even when it's uncomfortable.
  • 32a Leaders entrust themselves first to God for safekeeping their lives and honor.
  • 32b Leaders commit themselves to the word of God's grace (which tells of the grace that saves, empowers, and rewards) which has the power to build them up (strengthen) if they use it properly (1Cor 3:12-14; Col 1:7; Jude 1:20).
  • 32c Leaders apply God's word to their own lives (learning to do what is right in God's sight) so they get an inheritance among those who are sanctified, in the future kingdom (even if they only get grief from sheep and pain from Satan's wolves in this life).
  • 33 Leaders who serve God don't look to people for their financial needs (nor covet their stuff).
  • 34 Leaders should be supported by those they serve (1Cor 9), but recognize that God gives them their daily bread, sometimes through their own efforts. Note that Paul is an exceptional case which he describes in 1Corinthians 9. He was directly commissioned by God to preach and therefore was just doing his duty in carrying out the command. To gain greater reward/inheritance in the kingdom, he taught at his own expense and covered the expenses of those with him as well. See 35b.
  • 35a Leaders strengthen the weak.
  • 35b Leaders remember and apply the Lord Jesus' words, that it is more blessed to give than receive, on multiple levels.
20:36-37 As Paul said farewell, the love they had for each other was obvious.
Application: Being a leader is not a special calling, but a function of maturity; it yields greater pain, but greater profit, on multiple levels. Go for it.
Prayer: Lord thanks for how You served us as our chief Shepherd; I pray for all who seek to serve You by shepherding Your flock, guide them into truth, and protect them from the evil one, as they draw upon Your grace. Amen.

Acts 21 Pain in Jerusalem
21:1 When it happened that we had parted from them and had set sail, we came with a straight course to Cos, and the next day to Rhodes, and from there to Patara. 2 Having found a ship crossing over to Phoenicia, we went aboard, and set sail. 3 When we had come in sight of Cyprus, leaving it on the left hand, we sailed to Syria, and landed at Tyre, for there the ship was to unload her cargo. 4 Having found disciples, we stayed there seven days. These said to Paul through the Spirit, that he should not go up to Jerusalem. 5 When it happened that we had accomplished the days, we departed and went on our journey. They all, with wives and children, brought us on our way until we were out of the city. Kneeling down on the beach, we prayed. 6 After saying goodbye to each other, we went on board the ship, and they returned home again. 7 When we had finished the voyage from Tyre, we arrived at Ptolemais. We greeted the brothers, and stayed with them one day.
8 On the next day, we, who were Paul’s companions, departed, and came to Caesarea. We entered into the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven, and stayed with him. 9 Now this man had four virgin daughters who prophesied. 10 As we stayed there some days, a certain prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. 11 Coming to us, and taking Paul’s belt, he bound his own feet and hands, and said, "Thus says the Holy Spirit: ‘So will the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man who owns this belt, and will deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.’" 12 When we heard these things, both we and they of that place begged him not to go up to Jerusalem. 13 Then Paul answered, "What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus." 14 When he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, "The Lord’s will be done."
15 After these days we took up our baggage and went up to Jerusalem. 16 Some of the disciples from Caesarea also went with us, bringing one Mnason of Cyprus, an early disciple, with whom we would stay. 17 When we had come to Jerusalem, the brothers received us gladly. 18 The day following, Paul went in with us to James; and all the elders were present. 19 When he had greeted them, he reported one by one the things which God had worked among the Gentiles through his ministry. 20 They, when they heard it, glorified God. They said to him, "You see, brother, how many thousands there are among the Jews of those who have believed, and they are all zealous for the law. 21 They have been informed about you, that you teach all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children neither to walk after the customs. 22 What then? The assembly must certainly meet, for they will hear that you have come. 23 Therefore do what we tell you. We have four men who have taken a vow. 24 Take them, and purify yourself with them, and pay their expenses for them, that they may shave their heads. Then all will know that there is no truth in the things that they have been informed about you, but that you yourself also walk keeping the law. 25 But concerning the Gentiles who believe, we have written our decision that they should observe no such thing, except that they should keep themselves from food offered to idols, from blood, from strangled things, and from sexual immorality." 26 Then Paul took the men, and the next day, purified himself and went with them into the temple, declaring the fulfillment of the days of purification, until the offering was offered for every one of them.
27 When the seven days were almost completed, the Jews from Asia, when they saw him in the temple, stirred up all the multitude and laid hands on him, 28 crying out, "Men of Israel, help! This is the man who teaches all men everywhere against the people, and the law, and this place. Moreover, he also brought Greeks into the temple, and has defiled this holy place!" 29 For they had seen Trophimus, the Ephesian, with him in the city, and they supposed that Paul had brought him into the temple. 30 All the city was moved, and the people ran together. They seized Paul and dragged him out of the temple. Immediately the doors were shut. 31 As they were trying to kill him, news came up to the commanding officer of the regiment that all Jerusalem was in an uproar. 32 Immediately he took soldiers and centurions, and ran down to them. They, when they saw the chief captain and the soldiers, stopped beating Paul. 33 Then the commanding officer came near, arrested him, commanded him to be bound with two chains, and inquired who he was and what he had done. 34 Some shouted one thing, and some another, among the crowd. When he couldn’t find out the truth because of the noise, he commanded him to be brought into the barracks. 35 When he came to the stairs, it happened that he was carried by the soldiers because of the violence of the crowd; 36 for the multitude of the people followed after, crying out, "Away with him!"
37 As Paul was about to be brought into the barracks, he asked the commanding officer, "May I speak to you?" He said, "Do you know Greek? 38 Aren’t you then the Egyptian, who before these days stirred up to sedition and led out into the wilderness the four thousand men of the Assassins?" 39 But Paul said, "I am a Jew, from Tarsus in Cilicia, a citizen of no insignificant city. I beg you, allow me to speak to the people." 40 When he had given him permission, Paul, standing on the stairs, beckoned with his hand to the people. When there was a great silence, he spoke to them in the Hebrew language, saying,

Observations: 21:1-14 Paul is warned that dangers await in Jerusalem, but he is determined to go. Even “spirit-led” people warn Him. He is not told by the Spirit not to go, only that pain awaits, which he willingly embraces for the name/glory of his Lord Jesus.
21:15-26 The Christian elders in Jerusalem, apparently led by James hear all that God has done through Paul and glorify God. But then they come up with a plan to dispel the false rumors about Paul's teaching, paying the vows of some of the believers. He submits to it, and it almost works.
21:27-36 However, Satan's agents, this time Jews from Asia, spread lies, twist truth, cause a ruckus, and mob mentality rules. Paul gets beaten so badly he can't walk up stairs, and the Roman guard whisks him away.
21:37 Never one to pass up a crowd, even a hostile one, Paul asks for permission to speak, and the commanding officer grants him the request.
Application: If we have died to self in our decision to be baptized and follow Jesus, then any ill treatment along our path is just what we signed up for.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me have the same mindset You did in suffering to accomplish the Father's will, and may I not consider my life as dear to myself, but an offering to be given to You, either every day, or all at once. Amen.

Acts 22
22:1 "Brothers and fathers, listen to the defense which I now make to you." 2 When they heard that he spoke to them in the Hebrew language, they were even more quiet. He said,
3 "I am indeed a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, instructed according to the strict tradition of the law of our fathers, being zealous for God, even as you all are this day. 4 I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women. 5 As also the high priest and all the council of the elders testify, from whom also I received letters to the brothers, and traveled to Damascus to bring them also who were there to Jerusalem in bonds to be punished.
6 It happened that, as I made my journey, and came close to Damascus, about noon, suddenly there shone from the sky a great light around me. 7 I fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to me, Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’ 8 I answered, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ He said to me, ’I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you persecute.’ 9 "Those who were with me indeed saw the light and were afraid, but they didn’t understand the voice of him who spoke to me. 10 I said, ‘What shall I do, Lord?’ The Lord said to me, ’Arise, and go into Damascus. There you will be told about all things which are appointed for you to do.’ 11 When I couldn’t see for the glory of that light, being led by the hand of those who were with me, I came into Damascus. 12 One Ananias, a devout man according to the law, well reported of by all the Jews who lived in Damascus, 13 came to me, and standing by me said to me, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight!’ In that very hour I looked up at him. 14 He said, ‘The God of our fathers has appointed you to know his will, and to see the Righteous one, and to hear a voice from his mouth. 15 For you will be a witness for him to all men of what you have seen and heard. 16 Now why do you wait? Arise, be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.’
17 "It happened that, when I had returned to Jerusalem, and while I prayed in the temple, I fell into a trance, 18 and saw him saying to me, ’Hurry and get out of Jerusalem quickly, because they will not receive testimony concerning me from you.’ 19 I said, ‘Lord, they themselves know that I imprisoned and beat in every synagogue those who believed in you. 20 When the blood of Stephen, your witness, was shed, I also was standing by, and consenting to his death, and guarding the cloaks of those who killed him.’ 21 "He said to me, ’Depart, for I will send you out far from here to the Gentiles.’"
22 They listened to him until he said that; then they lifted up their voice, and said, "Rid the earth of this fellow, for he isn’t fit to live!" 23 As they cried out, and threw off their cloaks, and threw dust into the air, 24 the commanding officer commanded him to be brought into the barracks, ordering him to be examined by scourging, that he might know for what crime they shouted against him like that. 25 When they had tied him up with thongs, Paul asked the centurion who stood by, "Is it lawful for you to scourge a man who is a Roman, and not found guilty?" 26 When the centurion heard it, he went to the commanding officer and told him, "Watch what you are about to do, for this man is a Roman!" 27 The commanding officer came and asked him, "Tell me, are you a Roman?" He said, "Yes." 28 The commanding officer answered, "I bought my citizenship for a great price." Paul said, "But I was born a Roman." 29 Immediately those who were about to examine him departed from him, and the commanding officer also was afraid when he realized that he was a Roman, because he had bound him. 30 But on the next day, desiring to know the truth about why he was accused by the Jews, he freed him from the bonds, and commanded the chief priests and all the council to come together, and brought Paul down and set him before them.

Observations: 22:1-5 Paul starts by establishing commonality with and credentials before the crowd, and then starts his testimony.
22:6-21 Paul gives his encounter with Jesus, indicating that he could not see because of he was blinded by the glory. He tells us (who didn't read it in Acts 9 -see comments) that God appointed him to know His will, see the Righteous One, and hear His words. Paul was also instructed back then to be baptized and wash away his sins (like John's baptism), as he called upon the name of the Lord (a good OT practice for deliverance). Paul mentions a vision in the temple which we didn't hear about earlier either, that the Jews wouldn't believe him, and that God was sending him to the Gentiles.
22:22-30 When the Jews hear that God would send salvation to the Gentiles directly (without making them first become Jews ) they go ballistic. Going directly to the Gentiles undermines their sense of worth and value, and that causes them to deem Paul unfit to live. This will be the subject of a number of upcoming epistles. The commanding officer wants him to be scourged until he can figure out what crime he must have committed. Usually the Romans were wiser in these matters. Paul appeals to his Roman citizenship to avoid more unjust treatment that could have killed him, and sets up the encounter with the Jewish leaders the next day.
Application: God allows or even plans difficulties in our lives so that when we correctly respond to them, we can have an ever greater witness for Him.
Prayer: God, may I willingly submit to all You allow in my life, knowing that You know best. Amen.

Acts 23 Hope and Resurrection of the Dead
23:1 Paul, looking steadfastly at the council, said, "Brothers, I have lived before God in all good conscience until this day." 2 The high priest, Ananias, commanded those who stood by him to strike him on the mouth. 3 Then Paul said to him, "God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! Do you sit to judge me according to the law, and command me to be struck contrary to the law?" 4 Those who stood by said, "Do you malign God’s high priest?" 5 Paul said, "I didn’t know, brothers, that he was high priest. For it is written, ‘You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people.’"
6 But when Paul perceived that the one part were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, "Men and brothers, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees. Concerning the hope and resurrection of the dead I am being judged!" 7 When he had said this, an argument arose between the Pharisees and Sadducees, and the assembly was divided. 8 For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, nor angel, nor spirit; but the Pharisees confess all of these. 9 A great clamor arose, and some of the scribes of the Pharisees part stood up, and contended, saying, "We find no evil in this man. But if a spirit or angel has spoken to him, let’s not fight against God!" 10 When a great argument arose, the commanding officer, fearing that Paul would be torn in pieces by them, commanded the soldiers to go down and take him by force from among them, and bring him into the barracks. 11 The following night, the Lord stood by him, and said, "Cheer up, Paul, for as you have testified about me at Jerusalem, so you must testify also at Rome."
12 When it was day, some of the Jews banded together, and bound themselves under a curse, saying that they would neither eat nor drink until they had killed Paul. 13 There were more than forty people who had made this conspiracy. 14 They came to the chief priests and the elders, and said, "We have bound ourselves under a great curse, to taste nothing until we have killed Paul. 15 Now therefore, you with the council inform the commanding officer that he should bring him down to you tomorrow, as though you were going to judge his case more exactly. We are ready to kill him before he comes near." 16 But Paul’s sister’s son heard of their lying in wait, and he came and entered into the barracks and told Paul. 17 Paul summoned one of the centurions, and said, "Bring this young man to the commanding officer, for he has something to tell him." 18 So he took him, and brought him to the commanding officer, and said, "Paul, the prisoner, summoned me and asked me to bring this young man to you, who has something to tell you." 19 The commanding officer took him by the hand, and going aside, asked him privately, "What is it that you have to tell me?" 20 He said, "The Jews have agreed to ask you to bring Paul down to the council tomorrow, as though intending to inquire somewhat more accurately concerning him. 21 Therefore don’t yield to them, for more than forty men lie in wait for him, who have bound themselves under a curse neither to eat nor to drink until they have killed him. Now they are ready, looking for the promise from you." 22 So the commanding officer let the young man go, charging him, "Tell no one that you have revealed these things to me." 23 He called to himself two of the centurions, and said, "Prepare two hundred soldiers to go as far as Caesarea, with seventy horsemen, and two hundred men armed with spears, at the third hour of the night." 24 He asked them to provide animals, that they might set Paul on one, and bring him safely to Felix the governor.
25 He wrote a letter like this: 26 "Claudius Lysias to the most excellent governor Felix: Greetings. 27 "This man was seized by the Jews, and was about to be killed by them, when I came with the soldiers and rescued him, having learned that he was a Roman. 28 Desiring to know the cause why they accused him, I brought him down to their council. 29 I found him to be accused about questions of their law, but not to be charged with anything worthy of death or of imprisonment. 30 When I was told that the Jews lay in wait for the man, I sent him to you immediately, charging his accusers also to bring their accusations against him before you. Farewell." 31 So the soldiers, carrying out their orders, took Paul and brought him by night to Antipatris. 32 But on the next day they left the horsemen to go with him, and returned to the barracks. 33 When they came to Caesarea and delivered the letter to the governor, they also presented Paul to him. 34 When the governor had read it, he asked what province he was from. When he understood that he was from Cilicia, he said, 35 "I will hear you fully when your accusers also arrive." He commanded that he be kept in Herod’s palace.

Observations: 23:1-11 The commanding officer of the Roman garrison calls together the Jewish Council to find out the truth about Paul. Paul barely gets a sentence out of his mouth about living before God in good conscience, when the high priest orders him punched in the mouth because he disagrees with what Paul is saying. Paul, not knowing he is the high priest, properly denouncing him as a hypocrite, because he is pretending to judge according to the law while breaking the law himself. Informed that he is speaking evil against the leader of God's people, contrary to the law, Paul pleads ignorance and contritely quotes Exodus 22:28.
23:6-11 Perceiving that there are Pharisees and Sadducees, Paul gives a two sentence speech, setting the two groups at each other. He really was being judged concerning “the hope (for the dead) and resurrection of the dead.” In the next chapter he elaborates, but obviously his audience understood what he meant because they start arguing about it.
Acts 24:14 But this I confess to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect, so I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and in the Prophets. 15 I have hope in God, which they themselves also accept, that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust. 16 This being so, I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men.
The commanding officer fears Paul will be torn in two by the Jews and rescues him. That night the Lord stops by and tells him to cheer up, because He has plans to have Paul testify in Rome as he did Jerusalem (“How about we nix the beatings Lord?”).
23:12-24 Forty Jews take an oath not to eat or drink until they kill Paul, and hatch a plot with the cooperation of the Jewish council. Paul's nephew hears, and gets the message to the commanding officer, who hustles Paul off at night to Caesarea. The forty Jews must have been very hungry. (Actually they had bound themselves with a great curse, which when they ate, would come upon them.)
23:25-35 Clauduis writes to “most excellent” Felix, the governor, and the same title Luke used to address the recipient of Luke and Acts, Theophilus. The Romans once again vindicate Paul as Pilate did Jesus, of not doing anything against Roman law, nor worthy of death or imprisonment. And the stage is set for Paul's next witness to rulers and authorities.
Application: A servant of God is indestructible until they've accomplished God's will for them on earth; if you're not doing God's will, or you've done it, what's the point of hanging around?
Prayer: God, thanks that You have plans for Your people that are for good, and You can protect them and empower them to accomplish them; may I be sensitive to seek and do Your will, without fear or failure. Amen.

Digging Deeper

God in a nutshell: God has plans for His servants, to bring Him glory, and He will bring them to fruition if we seek Him. Unfortunately from our perspective, the plans might not always be to our liking, and may involve unjust treatment, pain, and even death. But none of that happens apart from the perfect will of God for those who follow and serve Him.

Build-a-Jesus: Jesus is worthy of the best we can give Him, be it daily sacrifice of our time or a one time martyrdom.

Us in a nutshell: If we willingly embrace God's will for us, regardless of what that entails, we will have chosen the best use of our time here on earth.

Where to Go for More:

Acts complete text
Bill Blurb: The application that delivers the daily emails has some size restrictions that's been causing problems. So I've eliminated the text, since I'm not editing any of it out above. If we encounter any more genealogies, I'll edit it above and put the entire text here below.

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