Acts 21 Commentary

Acts chapter 21 commentary Bible study

Acts Chapter 21 Commentary Bible Study

Acts 21:1-6 Commentary

Acts 21:7-9 Ptolemais
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 Bible Study Questions (Handout)
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 and eight companions who were carrying the financial aid to the church in Jerusalem from the churches in what are Turkey and Greece today: Luke, Timothy, Sopater, Aristarchus, Secundus, Gaius, Tychicus and Trophyimus (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 companions "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. Patara is a port on the mainland (Turkey) about 50 miles east of Rhodes. The ship turned the southwest corner of what is Turkey today and arrived at Patara, a port on its south coast.

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 north of Israel, where Lebanon is today.

Why did they change ships at 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), and instead passed 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 21:4-6  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.

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 load new cargo.

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 there. But going to Jerusalem and via Jerusalem to Rome was very much in God's will. 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, see Seven sons of Sceva). The disciples would soon acknowledge 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, see Agabus) - 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, see Be of Good Cheer).