Author: Ron Graham

Book of Acts

Acts 21:18-40
—Verse by verse

This page is a verse by verse study of Acts 21:18-40. These verses describe Paul’s troubles in Jerusalem at the end of his third missionary journey.

Trouble for Paul in Jerusalem.

1 Paul Meets with James and the Elders in Jerusalem

Verses 18-20a

¶ "The day following our arrival in Jerusalem, Paul went in with us to James; and all the elders were present. When he had greeted them, he reported one by one the things which God had worked among the Gentiles through his ministry. When they heard it, they glorified God." (Acts 21:18-20a).

Verses 20b-24

¶ "They said to Paul, “You see, brother, how many thousands there are among the Jews of those who have believed, and they are all zealous for the law. They have been informed about you, that you teach all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children neither to walk after the customs. What is to be done then? They will certainly hear that you have come and will assemble. So you must do what we tell you. We have four men who have taken a vow. Take them, and purify yourself with them, and pay their expenses for them, that they may have their hair cut. Then all will know that there is no truth in the tales they've heard about you, but that you yourself also observe the law." (Acts 21:20b-24).

Verse 25

¶ "But concerning the Gentiles who believe, we have already written our decision that they should observe no such thing, except that they should keep themselves from food offered to idols, from blood, from strangled things, and from fornication.”" (Acts 21:25).

2 Paul Follows Strategy Advised by James and Elders

Verse 26

¶ "So Paul took the four men the next day, and purified himself and went with them into the temple to give notice of the days of purification, at the end of which a sacrifice would be made for each of them." (Acts 21:26).

3 The Strategy Fails —Paul in Trouble

Verses 27-29

¶ "When the seven days were almost completed, the Jews from Asia, when they saw him in the temple, stirred up all the multitude. They seized him, crying out, “Men of Israel, help! This is the man who teaches all men everywhere against the people, and the law, and this place. Worse still, he brought Greeks into the temple, and has defiled this holy place!” They had previously noticed Trophimus, the Ephesian, with Paul in the city, and they assumed that Paul had brought him into the temple." (Acts 21:27-29).

Verses 30-34

¶ "All the city was stirred, and the people converged on Paul and dragged him out of the temple. The doors were quickly shut. While the crowd was attempting to kill Paul, news reached the commander of the regiment that all Jerusalem was in an uproar. Immediately he took soldiers and centurions, and ran down to the rioters —who quit beating Paul when they saw the commander and the soldiers. The commander moved in and arrested Paul, ordering him to be bound with two chains. Then the commander inquired who Paul was and what he had done. Some among the mob shouted one thing, and some another. When the commander couldn't find out the truth because of the hubub, he ordered that Paul be brought into the barracks." (Acts 21:30-34).

4 Paul Speaks to Hostile Crowd

Verses 35-40

¶ "When Paul came to the stairs, he found himself being carried by the soldiers because of the violence of the crowd that followed. They were shouting, “Kill him!” As Paul was nearly inside the barracks, he asked the commander, “May I speak to you please?” The commander said “Oh you know Greek do you? So are you that Egyptian, who lately stirred up sedition and led 4000 Assassins into the desert?” But Paul replied, “I am a Jew, from Tarsus in Cilicia, a citizen of that important city. I beg you, allow me to speak to the people.” The commander gave him permission. Paul, standing on the stairs, raised his hand to the people. A profound quiet came over them as he began speaking to them in Hebrew." (Acts 21:35-40).