After Paul’s solemn and precious fellowship with the elders of the church in Ephesus (20:13-35), “he knelt down with them all and prayed” (20:36). Eventually, they escorted Paul to the ship. Acts 21:1 says, “Now it came about that when we parted from them and set sail, we took a straight course and came to Cos, and on the next day to Rhodes, and from there to Patara.” The Greek word translated “parted” may also be rendered “tore ourselves.”
At Patara Paul and his company found a ship crossing over to Phoenicia, went on board, and set sail (v. 2). They sailed to Syria and came down to Tyre. “And having sought out the disciples, we remained there seven days; and they told Paul through the Spirit not to set foot in Jerusalem” (v. 4). In 20:23 the Holy Spirit made known to Paul that bonds and afflictions awaited him in Jerusalem. The Holy Spirit’s testifying concerning this was only a prophecy, a foretelling, not a charge. Therefore, Paul should have taken it not as a command but as a warning. Now in 21:4 the Spirit took a further step to tell him, through some members of the Body, not to go to Jerusalem. In practicing the Body life, Paul should have taken this word and obeyed it as a word from the Head.
Acts 21:7 and 8 go on to say, “And when we finished the voyage from Tyre, we arrived at Ptolemais; and having greeted the brothers, we remained one day with them. And on the next day we went out and came to Caesarea; and entering into the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven, we remained with him.” Wherever Paul went he visited the brothers and stayed with them (vv. 4-7). He was actually practicing the Body life of the church, living according to what he taught concerning the Body of Christ.
Acts 21:10 and 11 say, “And while we remained there many days, a certain prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. And he came to us and took Paul’s girdle; and having bound his own feet and hands, he said, Thus says the Holy Spirit, In this way shall the Jews in Jerusalem bind the man whose girdle this is and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.” Here the Holy Spirit told Paul again, not directly but through a member of the Body, what would befall him in Jerusalem. This was again a warning in the nature of a prophecy, not a charge. It was again the Head speaking through the Body, which Paul should have listened to in the practice of the Body life.
Verse 12 continues, “And when we heard these things, both we and those in that place entreated him not to go up to Jerusalem.” The “we” includes Luke the writer. Here the Body, through many members, expressed its feeling, entreating Paul not to go to Jerusalem. But due to his strong will in being ready even to sacrifice his life for the Lord, he would not be persuaded. Concerning this, verse 13 says, “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 in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” Since Paul would not be persuaded, the members of the Body were forced to leave this matter to the will of the Lord. Verse 14 says, “And when he would not be persuaded, we were silent, having said, The will of the Lord be done.”
Acts 21:15 and 16 say, “And after these days, we got ready and went up to Jerusalem. And some of the disciples from Caesarea also went with us, bringing us to a certain Mnason of Cyprus, a disciple of long standing, with whom we were to lodge.” In verse 16 we see that they were to lodge with Mnason in Jerusalem.
Verse 17 continues, “And when we had come to Jerusalem, the brothers welcomed us gladly.” This coming to Jerusalem was the end of Paul’s third ministry journey which began in 18:23.
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