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21 After parting from the Ephesian elders, we sailed straight to Cos. The next day we reached Rhodes and then went to Patara. There we boarded a ship sailing for the Syrian province of Phoenicia. We sighted the island of Cyprus, passed it on our left, and landed at the harbor of Tyre, in Syria, where the ship unloaded. We went ashore, found the local believers, and stayed with them a week. These disciples warned Paul—the Holy Spirit prophesying through them—not to go on to Jerusalem. At the end of the week when we returned to the ship, the entire congregation including wives and children walked down to the beach with us where we prayed and said our farewells. Then we went aboard, and they returned home.

The next stop after leaving Tyre was Ptolemais, where we greeted the believers but stayed only one day. Then we went on to Caesarea and stayed at the home of Philip the Evangelist, one of the first seven deacons.[a] He had four unmarried[b] daughters who had the gift of prophecy.

10 During our stay of several days, a man named Agabus, who also had the gift of prophecy, arrived from Judea 11 and visited us. He took Paul’s belt, bound his own feet and hands with it, and said, “The Holy Spirit declares, ‘So shall the owner of this belt be bound by the Jews in Jerusalem and turned over to the Romans.’” 12 Hearing this, all of us—the local believers and his traveling companions—begged Paul not to go on to Jerusalem.

13 But he said, “Why all this weeping? You are breaking my heart! For I am ready not only to be jailed at Jerusalem but also to die for the sake of the Lord Jesus.” 14 When it was clear that he wouldn’t be dissuaded, we gave up and said, “The will of the Lord be done.”

15 So shortly afterwards we packed our things and left for Jerusalem. 16 Some disciples from Caesarea accompanied us, and on arrival we were guests at the home of Mnason, originally from Cyprus, one of the early believers; 17 and all the believers at Jerusalem welcomed us cordially.

18 The second day Paul took us with him to meet with James and the elders of the Jerusalem church. 19 After greetings were exchanged, Paul recounted the many things God had accomplished among the Gentiles through his work.

20 They praised God but then said, “You know, dear brother, how many thousands of Jews have also believed, and they are all very insistent that Jewish believers must continue to follow the Jewish traditions and customs.[c] 21 Our Jewish Christians here at Jerusalem have been told that you are against the laws of Moses, against our Jewish customs, and that you forbid the circumcision of their children. 22 Now what can be done? For they will certainly hear that you have come.

23 “We suggest this: We have four men here who are preparing to shave their heads and take some vows. 24 Go with them to the Temple and have your head shaved too—and pay for theirs to be shaved.

“Then everyone will know that you approve of this custom for the Hebrew Christians and that you yourself obey the Jewish laws and are in line with our thinking in these matters.

25 “As for the Gentile Christians, we aren’t asking them to follow these Jewish customs at all—except for the ones we wrote to them about: not to eat food offered to idols, not to eat unbled meat from strangled animals, and not to commit fornication.”

26-27 So Paul agreed to their request and the next day went with the men to the Temple for the ceremony, thus publicizing his vow to offer a sacrifice seven days later with the others.

The seven days were almost ended when some Jews from Turkey saw him in the Temple and roused a mob against him. They grabbed him, 28 yelling, “Men of Israel! Help! Help! This is the man who preaches against our people and tells everybody to disobey the Jewish laws. He even talks against the Temple and defiles it by bringing Gentiles in!” 29 (For down in the city earlier that day, they had seen him with Trophimus, a Gentile[d] from Ephesus in Turkey, and assumed that Paul had taken him into the Temple.)

30 The whole population of the city was electrified by these accusations and a great riot followed. Paul was dragged out of the Temple, and immediately the gates were closed behind him. 31 As they were killing him, word reached the commander of the Roman garrison that all Jerusalem was in an uproar. 32 He quickly ordered out his soldiers and officers and ran down among the crowd. When the mob saw the troops coming, they quit beating Paul. 33 The commander arrested him and ordered him bound with double chains. Then he asked the crowd who he was and what he had done. 34 Some shouted one thing and some another. When he couldn’t find out anything in all the uproar and confusion, he ordered Paul to be taken to the armory.[e] 35 As they reached the stairs, the mob grew so violent that the soldiers lifted Paul to their shoulders to protect him, 36 and the crowd surged behind shouting, “Away with him, away with him!”

37-38 As Paul was about to be taken inside, he said to the commander, “May I have a word with you?”

“Do you know Greek?” the commander asked, surprised. “Aren’t you that Egyptian who led a rebellion a few years ago[f] and took 4,000 members of the Assassins with him into the desert?”

39 “No,” Paul replied, “I am a Jew from Tarsus in Cilicia which is no small town. I request permission to talk to these people.”

40 The commander agreed, so Paul stood on the stairs and motioned to the people to be quiet; soon a deep silence enveloped the crowd, and he addressed them in Hebrew as follows:


  1. Acts 21:8 one of the first seven deacons, see 6:5; 8:1-13.
  2. Acts 21:9 unmarried, literally, “virgin.”
  3. Acts 21:20 they are all very insistent that Jewish believers must continue to follow the Jewish traditions and customs, literally, “they are all zealous for the law.”
  4. Acts 21:29 a Gentile, implied.
  5. Acts 21:34 armory, literally, “castle,” or “fort.”
  6. Acts 21:37 a few years ago, literally, “before these days.”

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