Coachlight Bible Study - Acts Chapter 21

Advise and Prophesy

From Miletus to Tyre - Tyre to Caesarea - Caesarea to Jerusalem


Advice can be a wonderful thing or could be a  disaster.   In this chapter, Paul is given advice by two groups. The first  group  was  Paul's friends who cared about  him, and tried to persuade him not to go to Jerusalem because bonds and chains were waiting for him. Paul rejected this advice, even  though  it was given by those who traveled with him-men like Luke.

 The second time Paul was advised was by the elders of the church  in Jerusalem, who tried to persuade Paul to do as they suggested to convince the Jewish saints in their city that Paul had not completely renounced his Judaism personally, and that he was not teaching that other Jews who had been converted should renounce judaism. This advice Paul followed.

     At first we might conclude that Paul  made  the wrong choice in both cases. It had been prophesied that if Paul went to Jerusalem, he would be bound  and  handed over to the Gentiles  - and this came to pass.  From a human point of view, it happened because Paul took the advice of the elders in Jerusalem, worshipped  in  the temple as they  suggested, and was wrongly accused because of it..

     There  is one more “mistake” which Paul will seem to make in the final chapters of Acts. He will appeal his case to Caesar, and this will cause him to be held in jail and taken to Rome.

     These mistakes were only apparent mistakes.  The bonds and afflictions which awaited  Paul  at Jerusalem, along with his appeal to Caesar,  were God’s  means  of  proclaiming the gospel  to  “Gentiles  and kings,”  just as God had purposed and foretold


Acts 9:15  But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:

Acts 9:16  For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.


In a similar way, the advice that the elders of Jerusalem gave Paul was to help the gospel in one way, but God  used it differently to take Paul and the Gospel to Caesar in Rome.     

Christians are just as inclined to give advice today as they  were in Paul’s day. Unfortunately, much of  the  advice which is given by Christians is like that  which the saints  along the way to Jerusalem give to Paul-well-intentioned, but wrong.

In our study, we will take  note of the two very different forms of advice given to Paul in this chapter (by the saints in the cities on the way to Jerusalem,  and  by the elders in  Jerusalem).  We will  characterize  each  of these,  and  then  compare  and contrast  them.  Finally,  we will  go over some principles about advice which may guide us in the advice we give as well as in the advice we choose to follow.



I. From Miletus to Tyre-(Acts 21:1-6)

A. Paul had been advised by the Holy Spirit what awaited him in Jerusalem


Acts 20:23  Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me


B. Paul “tore themselves  away” from The Ephesian Elders

1. They took port at Cos

2. Then  Rhodes

3. Then Patara where they  found  a  ship crossing over to Phoenicia

4. They headed for Syria - passed by Cyprus

a. They landed  at Tyre

b. Their ship had to unload its cargo

5. Prophesy by saints to Paul

a. Tarried with saints there seven days

b.Through the Spirit, told Paul that he should not go up to Jerusalem.

C. Paul didn't take their advise and saied to Jerusalem

1. The saints and  their  families escorted Paul to the ship

2. They knelt down  on  the beach and prayed with  Paul before they left


II. From Tyre to Caesarea-verses  (Acts 21:7-14)

A. They sailed to Ptolemais

1. 20 miles away

2. Spent the day there

B. Left for Caesarea - 40 miles away

1. they  stayed  in  the  home  of  Philip the Evangelist

a. One  of  the  “seven”  deacons the feeding the widows - Acts 6:1-6)

b. God’s instrument in the conversion of the eunuch - Acts 8:5-8; 26-39

c. Evangelized the cities between Gaza and Caesarea -Acts 8:40

d. He had four daughters

1. They were virgins

2. They all prophsied

2. Agabus prophesied to Caesarean church

a. Agabus at Antioch had prophesied about a  famine (Acts 11:27-


b. He took Paul’s belt and bound his own feet and hands 

c. He prophesied that Paul would be bound  by  the Jews at Jerusalem 

d. He prophesied that Paul would be delivered unto the Gentiles


3.Paul given advise to stay away from Jerusalem by well meaning friends

a. From Paul's traveling companions

b. From the saints at Caesarea 

4. Paul's response

a. Why do you weep and to break mine heart?

b. for I am ready not to be bound only,

c. but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus. 

d. Paul must have remembered:


Acts 9:15  But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:

Acts 9:16  For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake. 


5.  Paul would not be persuaded

a. saints didn't press it anymore

b. Let the Lord's will be done

c. All took carriages went to Jerusalem


III.  From Caesarea to Jerusalem  Acts 21:15-40

A. They stayed at Mnason's house - a  Cyprian  disciple

B. Paul's party welcomed at Jerusalem

C. They meet with James and the elders

1. Paul reported about the salvation of many Gentiles

2. They responded with joy and glorified God

D. The Elder's request

1. Jerusalem full of  Jewish believers, who were still “zealous for the law.”

2. These  saints  had heard false reports  that Paul had been teaching

a.  Jewish converts to turn from the law

b. To turn from all  of  their Jewish practices and  rituals

3. Problem now seems to be what the Jerusalem Council did not say (Acts 15:20)

a. What they did say

1. Gentile believers obstain from meat sacrified to idols

2. Gentile believers obstain from blood

3. Gentile believers obstain from fornication


b. What they didn't say

1. Jewish Christians could keep the law, not for salvation, but as an act of love or obedience.

2. They could delight in the law, not because it gave them any merit , but because it had  been  fulfilled in Christ,

3. They didn't need law because they were now righteous in God’s sight.

4. Paul wrote to the Galatians, speaking about Isaac and Ismael:


Galatians 4:28  Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise.

Galatians 4:29  But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now.

Galatians 4:30  Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.

Galatians 4:31  So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free.

Galatians 5:1  Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

Galatians 5:2  Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing.

Galatians 5:3  For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law.

Galatians 5:4  Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.

Galatians 5:5  For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.


4. Paul could proove the false reports wrong by worshiping with the Jew converts

5.  Paul  took  the men who were “under  a  vow” and worshipped with them in the temple

E. Asian Jews Stir Up The People - falsly accuse Paul

1. They saw Paul in the temple

2. They had seen Paul with Trophimus an Ephesian earlier

3. Kicked Paul out of the temple

a. Saying Paul taught people against the law

b. Saying Paul brought Greeks into the temple

4. They were going to kill Paul

F. Roman captain came on the scene

1. He had heard of the uproar

2. The Jews quite beating Paul when they saw him

3. Seeing Paul in the middle had him put in chains

4. Began interrogating Paul

a. Who he was

b. What he had done

c. Noise from the crowd was confusing

d. Had Paul put in the castle

e. The crowd yelled, "Away with him".

5. Captain surprised when Paul spoke to him in Greek

a. He thought Paul was an Egyptian who had previously lead a disturbance

b. Paul asked if he could talk to him

c. Paul said he was

1.  He was a Jew not an Egyptian

2. He was from the north, (Cicilia), not the south, (Egypt)


IV. Contrast of the Advise from the Jerusalem Elders To That of Paul’s Traveling Companions


Compare And Contrast

Advice From Jerusalem Elders

Advice From Paul’s Companions

Heard a detailed report of Paul with the Gentiles and prophesy before giving their advise

Gave their advice immediately on hearing of Paul’s future – immediately after prophesy

Based on Principle

Based on Emotion

Urge Paul to do what is right.

Urge Paul to avoid suffering

Act to Benefit Others

Act to Benefit Self

Required Faith in God

Lacked Faith God Could Work Through Suffering

Promoted the Gospel

Hinder the Gospel


V. Application

A.     Things worked out in the sovereign will of God - just as He planned and promised


Acts 1:8   But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.


1. As the Book of Acts has unfolded the gospel has been proclaimed in the order of Acts 1:8. As the book begins in Jerusalem, so it will end in Rome.

2. The unbelief of Jews who were in Jerusalem was directly linked with the proclamation of the Gospel in Rome.

3. The charges which are to be leveled against Paul in Jerusalem will lead Paul to appeal to Caesar, and thus to go to Rome, care of the Roman army.

B. Things did not work out like would have been expected

1. For us today - we would probably be concerned for Paul's safety.

2. For the saints of that day - they told Paul not to go to Jerusalem.    

C. Good advice is not lightly or hastily given.


James 1:19 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:    


D. We should advise people only

1.      When we have a clear Biblical principle on which to base the advise, 

2.      When our advise does not encourage others to act so that it is contrary to principle

3.      When our advise is not based on  self interest


E. We should not neglect spiritual gifts


I Timothy 4:14 Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophesy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.