Acts 21

Devotional by Cheryl Spafford

Read Acts 21

Acts 21

Paul Goes to Jerusalem

21 And when we had parted from them and set sail, we came by a straight course to Cos, and the next day to Rhodes, and from there to Patara. And having found a ship crossing to Phoenicia, we went aboard and set sail. When we had come in sight of Cyprus, leaving it on the left we sailed to Syria and landed at Tyre, for there the ship was to unload its cargo. And having sought out the disciples, we stayed there for seven days. And through the Spirit they were telling Paul not to go on to Jerusalem. When our days there were ended, we departed and went on our journey, and they all, with wives and children, accompanied us until we were outside the city. And kneeling down on the beach, we prayed and said farewell to one another. Then we went on board the ship, and they returned home.

When we had finished the voyage from Tyre, we arrived at Ptolemais, and we greeted the brothers and stayed with them for one day. On the next day we departed and came to Caesarea, and we entered the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven, and stayed with him. He had four unmarried daughters, who prophesied. 10 While we were staying for many days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. 11 And coming to us, he took Paul’s belt and bound his own feet and hands and said, “Thus says the Holy Spirit, ‘This is how the Jews at Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.’” 12 When we heard this, we and the people there urged 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 imprisoned but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” 14 And since he would not be persuaded, we ceased and said, “Let the will of the Lord be done.”

15 After these days we got ready and went up to Jerusalem. 16 And some of the disciples from Caesarea went with us, bringing us to the house of Mnason of Cyprus, an early disciple, with whom we should lodge.

Paul Visits James

17 When we had come to Jerusalem, the brothers received us gladly. 18 On the following day Paul went in with us to James, and all the elders were present. 19 After greeting them, he related one by one the things that God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry. 20 And when they heard it, they glorified God. And they said to him, “You see, brother, how many thousands there are among the Jews of those who have believed. They are all zealous for the law, 21 and they have been told about you that you teach all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or walk according to our customs. 22 What then is to be done? They will certainly hear that you have come. 23 Do therefore what we tell you. We have four men who are under a vow; 24 take these men and purify yourself along with them and pay their expenses, so that they may shave their heads. Thus all will know that there is nothing in what they have been told about you, but that you yourself also live in observance of the law. 25 But as for the Gentiles who have believed, we have sent a letter with our judgment that they should abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality.” 26 Then Paul took the men, and the next day he purified himself along with them and went into the temple, giving notice when the days of purification would be fulfilled and the offering presented for each one of them.

Paul Arrested in the Temple

27 When the seven days were almost completed, the Jews from Asia, seeing him in the temple, stirred up the whole crowd and laid hands on him, 28 crying out, “Men of Israel, help! This is the man who is teaching everyone everywhere against the people and the law and this place. Moreover, he even brought Greeks into the temple and has defiled this holy place.” 29 For they had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian with him in the city, and they supposed that Paul had brought him into the temple. 30 Then all the city was stirred up, and the people ran together. They seized Paul and dragged him out of the temple, and at once the gates were shut. 31 And as they were seeking to kill him, word came to the tribune of the cohort that all Jerusalem was in confusion. 32 He at once took soldiers and centurions and ran down to them. And when they saw the tribune and the soldiers, they stopped beating Paul. 33 Then the tribune came up and arrested him and ordered him to be bound with two chains. He inquired who he was and what he had done. 34 Some in the crowd were shouting one thing, some another. And as he could not learn the facts because of the uproar, he ordered him to be brought into the barracks. 35 And when he came to the steps, he was actually carried by the soldiers because of the violence of the crowd, 36 for the mob of the people followed, crying out, “Away with him!”

Paul Speaks to the People

37 As Paul was about to be brought into the barracks, he said to the tribune, “May I say something to you?” And he said, “Do you know Greek? 38 Are you not the Egyptian, then, who recently stirred up a revolt and led the four thousand men of the Assassins out into the wilderness?” 39 Paul replied, “I am a Jew, from Tarsus in Cilicia, a citizen of no obscure city. I beg you, permit me to speak to the people.” 40 And when he had given him permission, Paul, standing on the steps, motioned with his hand to the people. And when there was a great hush, he addressed them in the Hebrew language, saying:

Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The ESV text may not be quoted in any publication made available to the public by a Creative Commons license. The ESV may not be translated in whole or in part into any other language.


It’s easy to get lost trying to keep track of where Paul is, who he’s with, and where he’s headed next. It reminds me of college students on a road trip who have a destination in mind (a famous baseball stadium, best hot dog stand, placing a foot on the border of Canada & USA, etc.), but no set plan for how they’re going to get there. I encourage you to slow yourself down and mark “time words” (i.e., after this…, the next day…, when it was time to leave…) in Paul’s final journey before Jerusalem. We learn things when we slow ourselves down. Paul shows us that the journey itself, the people we meet along the way, the moments when we let the Spirit guide us, and the time we dedicate to praying alongside fellow believers are equally significant to merely completing tasks, ticking off boxes, or reaching our destination. 

My word for this year has been “savor.” I want to savor moments with family, moments in ministry, and moments in every other opportunity God allows that is life-giving and chock-full of life lessons. As a believer, you too can hear and discern God’s will for your life. Some days those steps are simple steps of faith that your Almighty God is on his throne and cares about the details of your life. Other days, it may be more difficult to choose obedience. Amid a health crisis, difficult circumstances, or difficult relationships, keeping the faith and remaining obedient is undeniably hard. Seek him and you will know his faithfulness in these days. May Acts 21:19-20a be true of you as you live out the life God has given you.

Reread verses 4-6 and 10-14. Did you notice the Spirit was revealing the truth of Paul’s looming persecution? How would you have responded?

14 thoughts on “Day Twenty-One | The Book of Acts

  1. What a question! To have this understanding that persecution is close by would trouble me, cause me to be fearful of the answers to questions I’d ask like “what about my family? My future?” Then I’d have to look back at how the Lord brought me from a life of despair into one of hope and remember that His plan for my life is connected to His Kingdom and not my own. My response may not be a swift acceptance but I’d eventually get there.

  2. Dear Father, when that day comes…when that moment comes, I pray that I will stand strong through the power of Your Holy Spirit and bear witness to Your faithfulness and the saving power of our Lord, Jesus Christ…


  3. 1 Corinthians 13:8-10 says Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.

    I believe the above scripture will help us to answer why Paul refused to look back based on all the warnings from the Holy Spirit that came through other believers and prophet Agabus. Paul was a man that truly love God and all that God stands for. He said in Philippians 1:21 for to me, to live is Christ and to die is a gain. Even though Paul has been aware of all the challenges and storms that he will encounter right before he started his ministry, but he had counted the cost to go all the way and not to stop half way even if it will take life. That’s why I quoted the above scripture, that knowledge ,tongues and prophecy will fade but when which is perfect comes ( Love) abides in a man’s life, such person is unstoppable and fearless. The Bible says there’s no fear in perfect love.

    So my prayer today for us all and the body of Christ at large is for the Lord to help us to Love HIM with all our hearts, our lives, our will, strengths and with all HE has blessed us with in Jesus Name…🙏 We pray for grace to be faithful and endure to the end no matter what comes our ways in Jesus Mighty Name…🙏🙏🙏

  4. Good word, Cheryl! I definitely need to slow down and be present, with a kingdom lens.

  5. “For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
    he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent
    and set me high upon a rock.” Psalm 27: 5

  6. We look at these verses and at the begin and place after place Paul visited there were believers there because of his ministry presenting the Good News.
    I pray that CFBC will be a place in the future anyone from the past can come back and say it is still a place that present the the same message that was present in the past. I think we have on rose color glasses and do not realize we could become a persecuted church.

  7. I don’t think I would have been as courageous to continue on the journey and perhaps would have been more cautious. Am I a coward? Was he/Paul foolish? Perhaps wisdom is knowing when to courageously trust God in the face of certain dangers, while also being cautious and careful to avoid other dangers.

  8. Paul was/is a giant of a good example, isn’t he?
    I’m so grateful that he fell in love with Jesus and had the background and drive to tell others. I’m grateful that Luke was with him and wrote about it, too!

  9. How I will respond is that when Paul is going through a difficult time like this, I can also help him remember the story of Joesph and how God had delivered him to be the pharaoh to honor God as a king from Genesis.

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