Biblical Commentary        
Paul in Jerusalem
Acts 21:15-25
Acts 21

15 And after those days we took up our carriages, and went up to Jerusalem.

The prophecy of Agabus did not deter Paul, and they continued their journey to Jerusalem.
“took up our carriages” is the same as saying took their baggage.

16  There went with us also certain of the disciples of Caesarea, and brought with them
one Mnason of Cyprus, an old disciple, with whom we should lodge.
17 And when we were come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly

Paul did not travel alone. Along with Luke, there were disciples of Caesaria, and one elderly
disciple by the name of Mnason of Cyprus was who they would stay with. The brethren gladly
received the entourage, and we may assume the collection which had been gathered for the
poor saints at Jerusalem.

18 And the day following Paul went in with us unto James; and all the elders were present.
19 And when he had saluted them, he declared particularly what things God had wrought
among the Gentiles by his ministry.

The next day after they arrived in Jerusalem Paul, along with his companions, called upon
James “the brother of the Lord” and the elders. It is at this time Paul gives an account of his
second journey among the Gentiles, and all that occurred.

This James was not one of the twelve, but was "the brother of the Lord," a witness of the
risen Savior (1Co 15:7). "James the brother of John" had been slain (Ac 12:2); of James
the son of Alphaeus, little is known, but James "the brother of the Lord" (Ga 1:19) was now
the leader of the church at Jerusalem. No mention is made of any one of the twelve, and it
is probable that those still living in A.D. 58, were in other fields of labor. The "elders" are
mentioned, but not the apostles, a proof that none of the latter were present.


20 And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord, and said unto him, Thou seest, brother,
how many thousands of Jews there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the law:
21 And they are informed of thee,  that thou teachest all the Jews which are among the
Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither
to walk after the customs.
22 What is it therefore? the multitude must needs come together: for they will hear that
thou art come.
23 Do therefore this that we say to thee: We have four men which have a vow on them;
24 Them take, and purify thyself with them, and be at charges with them, that they may
shave their heads: and all may know that those things, whereof they were informed
concerning thee, are nothing; but that thou thyself also walkest orderly, and keepest the
25 As touching the Gentiles which believe, we have written and concluded that they
observe no such thing, save only that they keep themselves from things offered to idols,
and from blood, and from strangled, and from fornication.

The attitude of the church in Jerusalem has changed (at least among its rulers – James and
the elders). You will remember that they had questioned Peter as to why he had gone among
the Gentiles (Acts 11). Now they are glorifying God for what Paul has been able to accomplish
in proclaiming the gospel among the nations. However, they recognize that unrest still remains
among many of the Jews who have come to believe because they are still zealous of the law.
They are upset because of the rumors they have heard. They believe Paul “teachest all the
Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise
their children, neither to walk after the customs.”

Did Paul teach the Jews these things? His willingness to have Timothy circumcised would say

Then came he to Derbe and Lystra: and, behold, a certain disciple was there, named
Timotheus, the son of a certain woman, which was a Jewess, and believed; but his father was
a Greek: Which was well reported of by the brethren that were at Lystra and Iconium. Him
would Paul have to go forth with him; and took and circumcised him because of the Jews
which were in those quarters: for they knew all that his father was a Greek. (Acts 16:1-3 KJV)
He did not teach the Jews to forsake Moses, but he did teach them that circumcision and
walking after the customs was not what brought them salvation.

Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled
again with the yoke of bondage. Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ
shall profit you nothing. For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor
to do the whole law. Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by
the law; ye are fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by
faith. For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith
which worketh by love. Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?
This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you. (Galatians 5:1-8 KJV)

Paul was willing to do whatever it took (within the bounds of the gospel) to be able to reach all
men, Jew and Gentile.

For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the
more. And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under
the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; To them that are without
law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain
them that are without law. To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am
made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. (1 Corinthians 9:19-22 KJV)
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