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Paul Goes to Jerusalem

21 After we said goodbye to the elders, we sailed away straight to Cos island. The next day we went to the island of Rhodes, and from there we went to Patara. There we found a ship that was going to the area of Phoenicia. We got on the ship and sailed away.

We sailed near the island of Cyprus. We could see it on the north side, but we did not stop. We sailed to the country of Syria. We stopped at Tyre because the ship needed to unload its cargo there. We found the Lord’s followers there and stayed with them for seven days. They warned Paul not to go to Jerusalem because of what the Spirit had told them. But when our time there was up, we returned to the ship to continue our trip. All the followers, even the women and children, came with us to the seashore. We all knelt down on the beach, prayed, and said goodbye. Then we got on the ship, and the followers went home.

We continued our trip from Tyre and went to the city of Ptolemais. We greeted the believers there and stayed with them one day. The next day we left Ptolemais and went to the city of Caesarea. We went into the home of Philip and stayed with him. He had the work of telling the Good News. He was one of the seven helpers.[a] He had four unmarried daughters who had the gift of prophesying.

10 After we had been there for several days, a prophet named Agabus came from Judea. 11 He came to us and borrowed Paul’s belt. He used it to tie his own hands and feet. He said, “The Holy Spirit tells me, ‘This is how the Jews in Jerusalem will tie up the man who wears this belt.[b] Then they will hand him over to people who don’t know God.’”

12 When we heard this, we and the other followers there begged Paul not to go to Jerusalem. 13 But he said, “Why are you crying and making me feel so sad? I am willing to be put in jail in Jerusalem. I am even ready to die for the name of the Lord Jesus!”

14 We could not persuade him to stay away from Jerusalem. So we stopped begging him and said, “We pray that what the Lord wants will be done.”

15 After this, we got ready and left for Jerusalem. 16 Some of the followers of Jesus from Caesarea went with us. These followers took us to the home of Mnason, a man from Cyprus, who was one of the first people to be a follower of Jesus. They took us to his home so that we could stay with him.

Paul Visits James

17 The brothers and sisters in Jerusalem were very happy to see us. 18 The next day Paul went with us to visit James, and all the elders were there. 19 After greeting them, Paul told them point by point all that God had used him to do among the non-Jewish people.

20 When the leaders heard this, they praised God. Then they said to Paul, “Brother, you can see that thousands of Jews have become believers, but they think it is very important to obey the Law of Moses. 21 They have been told that you teach the Jews who live in non-Jewish regions to stop following the Law of Moses. They have heard that you tell them not to circumcise their sons or follow our other customs.

22 “What should we do? The Jewish believers here will learn that you have come. 23 So we will tell you what to do: Four of our men have made a vow[c] to God. 24 Take these men with you and share in their cleansing ceremony.[d] Pay their expenses so that they can shave their heads.[e] This will prove to everyone that the things they have heard about you are not true. They will see that you obey the Law of Moses in your own life.

25 “In regard to the non-Jewish believers, we have already sent a letter to them saying what we think they should do:

‘Don’t eat food that has been given to idols.

Don’t eat meat from animals that have been strangled or any meat that still has the blood in it.

Don’t be involved in sexual sin.’”

Paul Is Arrested

26 So Paul took the four men with him. The next day he shared in their cleansing ceremony. Then he went to the Temple area and announced the time when the days of the cleansing ceremony would be finished. On the last day an offering would be given for each of the men.

27 When the seven-day period was almost finished, some Jews from Asia saw Paul in the Temple area. They stirred up everyone into an angry mob. They grabbed Paul 28 and shouted, “Men of Israel, help us! This is the man who is teaching things that are against the Law of Moses, against our people, and against this Temple of ours. This is what he teaches people everywhere. And now he has brought some Greeks into the Temple area and has made this holy place unclean!” 29 (The Jews said this because they had seen Trophimus with Paul in Jerusalem. Trophimus was a man from Ephesus. The Jews thought that Paul had taken him into the holy area of the Temple.)

30 An angry reaction spread throughout the city, and everyone came running to the Temple. They grabbed Paul and dragged him out of the holy area, and the gates were closed immediately. 31 While they were trying to kill Paul, the commander of the Roman army in Jerusalem got word that the whole city was in a state of riot. 32 Immediately the commander ran to where the crowd had gathered, taking with him some army officers and soldiers. When the people saw the commander and his soldiers, they stopped beating Paul.

33 The commander went over to Paul and arrested him. He told his soldiers to tie him up with two chains. Then he asked, “Who is this man? What has he done wrong?” 34 Some people there were shouting one thing, and others were shouting something else. Because of all this confusion and shouting, the commander could not learn the truth about what had happened. So he told the soldiers to take Paul to the army building. 35-36 The whole crowd was following them. When the soldiers came to the steps, they had to carry Paul. They did this to protect him, because the people were ready to hurt him. The people were shouting, “Kill him!”

37 When the soldiers were ready to take Paul into the army building, he asked the commander, “Can I say something to you?”

The commander said, “Oh, you speak Greek? 38 Then you are not the man I thought you were. I thought you were the Egyptian who started some trouble against the government not long ago and led four thousand terrorists out to the desert.”

39 Paul said, “No, I am a Jew from Tarsus in the country of Cilicia. I am a citizen of that important city. Please, let me speak to the people.”

40 The commander told Paul he could speak. So he stood on the steps and waved his hand so that the people would be quiet. The people became quiet and Paul spoke to them in Aramaic.


  1. Acts 21:8 seven helpers Men chosen for a special work. See Acts 6:1-6.
  2. Acts 21:11 belt Paul’s belt; so Agabus means that the Jews in Jerusalem will tie Paul up (arrest him).
  3. Acts 21:23 vow Probably a Nazirite vow, a time of special dedication and service promised to God. See “ Nazirite” in the Word List.
  4. Acts 21:24 cleansing ceremony The special things Jews did to end the Nazirite vow. Also in verse 26.
  5. Acts 21:24 shave their heads To show that their vow was finished.

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