Acts 21

Acts chapter 21

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Acts 21

Acts 21:1-9

Acts 21:10-14 Agabus
Acts 21:15-22 Mnason
Acts 21:23-25 Nazarite Vow
Acts 21:26-30 Paul's Nazarite Vow
Acts 21:31-40 Roman Commander
ACTS 21:1  1 Now it came to pass, that when we had departed from them and set sail, running a straight course we came to Cos, the following day to Rhodes, and from there to Patara.

Who are "we" (Acts 21:1)?
Paul, Luke and the disciples Timothy, Sopater, Aristarchus, Secundus, Gaius, Tychicus and Trophyimus who were carrying the financial aid from their respective churches to the church in Jerusalem (see Acts 20).

Who are "them" (Acts 21:1)?
The elders of Ephesus who had come to meet Paul in Miletus (see Eutychus and Asia), from where Paul and his entourage "set sail" (Acts 21:1).

Where are "Cos ... Rhodes, and ... Patara" (Acts 21:1)
Cos is an island about 50 miles (80 kilometers) south of Miletus. Rhodes is an island about 50 miles southeast of Cos. The ship is island hopping along the coast of what is Turkey today. Patara is a port on the mainland (Turkey) about 50 miles east of Rhodes.

ACTS 21:2-3  2 And finding a ship sailing over to Phoenicia, we went aboard and set sail. 3 When we had sighted Cyprus, we passed it on the left, sailed to Syria, and landed at Tyre; for there the ship was to unload her cargo.

Where is "Phoenicia" (Acts 21:2)?
Phoenicia is the Mediterranean coastal region that is north of Israel, where Lebanon is today.

Why did they change ships in Patara?
Since Paul was "hurrying to be at Jerusalem" (Acts 20:16), he may have wanted to cover the remaining 400 miles (644 kilometers) of sea voyage non-stop. Indeed, the latter ship they took didn't even stop at the large island of "Cyprus" (Acts 21:2), instead passing south of it.

Where is "Tyre" (Acts 21:3)?
Tyre is a port city in Phoenicia where "the ship was to unload her cargo" (Acts 21:3).

ACTS 21:4-7  4 And finding disciples, we stayed there seven days. They told Paul through the Spirit not to go up to Jerusalem. 5 When we had come to the end of those days, we departed and went on our way; and they all accompanied us, with wives and children, till we were out of the city. And we knelt down on the shore and prayed. 6 When we had taken our leave of one another, we boarded the ship, and they returned home. 7 And when we had finished our voyage from Tyre, we came to Ptolemais, greeted the brethren, and stayed with them one day.

Why did they wait "seven days" (Acts 21:4) to board the ship in Tyre?
Since they boarded "the ship" (Acts 21:6), it most likely was the same ship, which may have needed seven days to "unload her cargo" (Acts 21:3) and to load new cargo.

How far was "Ptolemais" (Acts 21:7) from Tyre?
About 25 miles (40 kilometers) to the south, toward Jerusalem.

Then why didn't they just walk that distance, which would have taken only one day?
The "disciples" (Acts 21:4) they found in Tyre may have needed discipling and/or pleaded with Paul for seven days to try to stop him from going "to Jerusalem" (Acts 21:4).

Wasn't Paul "hurrying to be at Jerusalem ... on the Day of Pentecost"  (Acts 20:16)?
Pentecost is fifty days after the Passover, which Paul celebrated in Philippi just prior to leaving for Jerusalem. He probably felt comfortable about arriving in Jerusalem on time since it is only 120 miles (193 kilometers) south of Tyre, and the less predictable 900 mile (1,450 kilometer) sea voyage from Philippi to Tyre had been covered in 30 days:
5 days from Philippi to Troas (Acts 20:6)
7 days in Troas (Acts 20:6)
1 day (estimated) from Troas to Assos (Acts 20:13)
1 day (estimated) from Assos to Mitylene (Acts 20:14)
1 day (estimated) from Mitylene to Chios (Acts 20:15)
1 day from Chios to Samos/Trogyllium (Acts 20:15)
1 day from Samos/Trogyllium to Miletus (Acts 20:15)
1.5 days (est.) for a messenger to travel from Miletus to Ephesus (Acts 20:17)
1.5 days (est.) for the elders to travel from Ephesus to Miletus (Acts 20:18)
1 day (estimated) spent with the Ephesian elders in Miletus (Acts 20:18-38)
1 day (estimated) from Miletus to Cos (Acts 21:1)
1 day from Cos to Rhodes (Acts 21:1)
1 day (estimated) from Rhodes to Patara (Acts 21:1)
6 days (estimated) from Patara to Tyre (Acts 21:2-3)
30 days total

How can the 400 miles from Patara to Tyre be sailed in 6 days when it took 5 days to sail the 150 miles from Philippi to Troas?
While the crossing from Philippi to Troas took 5 days this time, Paul's first crossing of the same 150 miles from Troas to Philippi/Neapolis took only 2 days (75 miles/day), including a stopover at Samothrace (Acts 16:11). The distance sailed depends on the direction of the wind, which appears to have been blowing eastward since Paul's ship covered about 50 miles per day during the island hopping phase of his journey. The second ship sailed directly from Patara to Tyre. Without the overnight stops at ports, it would have averaged at least 70 miles per day, a speed which would cover the 400 miles in 6 days.

Since the disciples in Tyre "told Paul through the Spirit not to go up to Jerusalem" (Acts 21:4), was the Holy Spirit against Paul going there?
δια (dia), the original Greek word translated "through" (Acts 21:4), is a preposition whose many meanings include "on account of." The Holy Spirit most likely communicated to the disciples the harm that awaited Paul in Jerusalem, on account of which they tried to keep him from going. But going to Jerusalem and via Jerusalem to Rome was very much what God wanted. Months earlier, "Paul purposed in the Spirit, when he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem, saying, “After I have been there, I must also see Rome" (Acts 19:21). The disciples later acknowledged that it was the Lord's will for Paul to go to Jerusalem - "So when he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, "The will of the Lord be done." (Acts 21:14) - and the Lord Himself confirmed it to be His will when Paul was in Jerusalem: "But the following night the Lord stood by him and said, 'Be of good cheer, Paul; for as you have testified for Me in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness at Rome.'” (Acts 23:11)

ACTS 21:8-9  8 On the next day we who were Paul’s companions departed and came to Caesarea, and entered the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven, and stayed with him. 9 Now this man had four virgin daughters who prophesied.

Where is "Caesarea" (Acts 21:8)?
The capital of the Roman province of Judea, Caesarea is 30 miles (48 kilometers) south of Ptolemais.

Who went to Caesarea "on the next day" (Acts 21:8)?
Luke wrote, "we who were Paul's companions" (Acts 21:8), so those accompanying Paul, including Luke. Since they stayed "many days" (Acts 21:10), Paul most likely joined them later.

Who was "Philip" (Acts 21:8) who had the "four virgin daughters who prophesied" (Acts 21:9)?
"One of the seven" (Acts 21:8) deacons chosen originally by the church in Jerusalem (see Seven Men).

Why is Philip called "the evangelist" (Acts 21:8)?
He evangelized the Samaritans (see Samaria), as well as the Ethiopian eunuch (see Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch), and likely had been evangelizing all through the twenty some years that had since passed.

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