GOING UP TO JERUSALEM
Acts 21:1 ¶ And it came to pass, that after we were gotten from them, and had launched, we came with a straight course unto Coos, and the day following unto Rhodes, and from thence unto Patara: 2 And finding a ship sailing over unto Phenicia, we went aboard, and set forth. 3 Now when we had discovered Cyprus, we left it on the left hand, and sailed into Syria, and landed at Tyre: for there the ship was to unlade her burden. 4 And finding disciples, we tarried there seven days: who said to Paul through the Spirit, that he should not go up to Jerusalem. 5 And when we had accomplished those days, we departed and went our way; and they all brought us on our way, with wives and children, till we were out of the city: and we kneeled down on the shore, and prayed. 6 And when we had taken our leave one of another, we took ship; and they returned home again. 7 And when we had finished our course from Tyre, we came to Ptolemais, and saluted the brethren, and abode with them one day.
8 ¶ And the next day we that were of Paul’s company departed, and came unto Caesarea: and we entered into the house of Philip the evangelist, which was one of the seven; and abode with him. 9 And the same man had four daughters, virgins, which did prophesy. 10 And as we tarried there many days, there came down from Judaea a certain prophet, named Agabus. 11 And when he was come unto us, he took Paul’s girdle, and bound his own hands and feet, and said, Thus saith the Holy Ghost, So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles. 12 And when we heard these things, both we, and they of that place, besought him not to go up to Jerusalem. 13 Then Paul answered, What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart? for I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus. 14 And when he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, The will of the Lord be done. 15 And after those days we took up our carriages, and went up to Jerusalem.
At first reading, this passage only sounds like a passenger’s journal. But since we know that all scripture is inspired, and therefore is “profitable,” we must seek the Lord in prayer to have the Spirit reveal to us that which we cannot see with the natural mind.
The Sailing – It seems that almost every verse in the first eight of our text have some reference to sailing. But let us observe verses five and six, listed above. Notice the words, we departed and went our way; and, they returned home again. Here we begin to see God’s pattern for the Christian and his life. For we are but “strangers and pilgrims on the earth. (Heb. 11:13). Therefore our lives are filled with leaving one set of circumstances and proceeding into another. We oftentimes have to leave acquaintances, not realizing that we shall not see them again on this earthly journey as “pilgrims.”
Even our Lord Jesus had this in his life as our “way” and as our pattern of “life.” John 7:53 And every man went unto his own house. 8:1 Jesus went unto the mount of Olives. Both parties “went.” Both proceeded on in their ordered courses. But both walked in separate directions, for different purposes.
The sheep of God are on a journey which prepares them for an eternal state. They are not attached to this world, but seek that which the Lord Christ went to the cross to prepare for them. They forget those things which are behind, and press forward towards Him by whom their lives are given meaning and purpose. Hebrews 11:13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. 14 For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. 15 And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. 16 But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.
The Saints – These islands and coastlines in which these pilgrims now sailed are most beautiful. And they provide, not only beautiful scenery, but also some most interesting history. But our characters are not seeking seeking scenery, nor the sights, but the saints!
Coos is the home of Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, from whom we have the Hippocratic Oath, still administered today. And Rhodes had a proverb in those days that stated, “The sun shone every day in Rhodes.”* It was a location renowned for it’s ship building operation, with great forests nearby to supply the wood. It’s citizens came up with “a code of mercantile law by which commerce of later times was regulated.”* They also had passed “legislation for the protection of the poor.”*
And as they sailed from Miletus to Coos, they passed a little island, you might still recognize. It was named, Patmos! But all these facts we have to discover in natural history, for they are nowhere listed in these sacred writings! For here are but the histories of the believing souls, with one common interest; the love of the Lord Jesus Christ and his church!
Notice in verse four of our text that the King James Version says, And finding disciples. But if you take the time to look up the Greek meaning you will discover that they have a stronger meaning of, Having looked up disciples! For these are more at home with those kin folks which heaven provides them in this earthly journey! Mark 10:28 Then Peter began to say unto him, Lo, we have left all, and have followed thee. 29 And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s, 30 But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.
The Spirit – The Holy Spirit is the Divine Administrator of Christ’s true church! He alone has had all of Christ’s provisions and authority consigned to Him for the directing and maturing of the Bride, in order to fit her for the Son’s soon appearance! John 16:13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. 14 He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.
Notice these passages, giving the awareness of the Spirit’s directing these events: Acts 19:21 After these things were ended, 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 20:22 And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: 23 Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me.
Paul was “purposed,” or determined, to proceed only by the direction of the Holy Spirit. And this was even with the awareness from the Spirit that afflictions awaited him. And was this not exactly like his Master before him? Consider this verse: Matthew 4:1 Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.
But there was also a similar vision of encouragement that both had, and that is also afforded the saints throughout the ages. Heb. 12:2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
And of the mind set of Paul’s enduring hope we read: 2 Corinthians 4:17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; They both endured present trials by fixing upon future glory! Thus did Moses! Hebrews 11:27 By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.
And is this not the very heart of the Christian’s ability to persevere? For our encouragement is coupled with Christ’s endurance, both his and ours being listed together in that Hebrews 12:2 verse, just quoted! Also consider this passage: 2 Corinthians. 4:18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.
Romans 8: 24 For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? 25 But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.
Pastor Gene Breed
* The Life and Epistles of Saint Paul, Conybeare and Howson