WE CONTINUE IN THE BOOK OF ACTS, WHICH IS OUR NECESSARY PRIMER TO GIVE US THE CONTEXT AND BACKGROUND FOR UNDERSTANDING EVERYTHING THAT COMES IN THE NEW BLOOD-COVENANT SCRIPTURES FOLLOWING THE GOSPELS (AND ESPECIALLY FOR UNDERSTANDING PAUL’S LETTERS). AFTER NEARLY 20 YEARS, ACTS 21 BRINGS PAUL BACK FROM TRAVELING THE AEGEAN SEA REGION, TO JERUSALEM ... FOR 2 PURPOSES: FIRST, TO OBEY THE TORAH COMMANDMENT THAT HE PARTICIPATES IN THE PILGRIMAGE FESTIVAL OF PENTECOST. SECOND, HE WAS DELIVERING MONEY THAT HE HAD COLLECTED FROM THE VARIOUS FELLOWSHIPS HE VISITED. THE MONEY WAS FOR 2 DIFFERENT PURPOSES: 1) CHARITY FOR THE POOR BELIEVERS IN JERUSALEM, AND 2) THE HALF- SHEKEL TEMPLE TAX THAT EVERY JEW, NO MATTER WHERE THEY LIVED, WAS TO CONTRIBUTE ANNUALLY FOR THE OPERATIONAL EXPENSES OF THE TEMPLE. SO, SOME OF THE MONEY WAS GIVEN TO JAMES (THE LEADER IN JERUSALEM) TO BE DISTRIBUTED; AND SOME WAS GIVEN TO THE PRIESTS AS THE TEMPLE TAX.
17The brothers and sisters in Jerusalem were very happy to see us. 18The next day Paul went with us to visit James, and all the elders were there too. 19After greeting them, Paul told them point by point all that YAHUSHA had used him to do among the nations. PAUL HAD GREAT RESPECT FOR JAMES AS ONE OF THE LEADER OF THE WAY IN JERUSALEM.
20When the leaders heard this, they all praised YAHUSHA, saying to Paul,
1After we said goodbye and tore ourselves away from them, we sailed a straight course to Cos island. The next day we went to the island of Rhodes, and from there we went to Patara. 2There we found a ship that was going to the area of Phoenicia. We got on the ship and sailed away. 3We sailed near the island of Cyprus. We could see it on the north side, but we did not stop. We sailed to the country of Syria. We stopped at Tyre because the ship needed to unload its cargo there. WE SEE JUST HOW WIDESPREAD THE JEWS WERE - THERE WAS HARDLY A PLACE IN ALL OF THE KNOWN WORLD WHERE YOU WOULDN’T FIND AT LEAST A FEW JEWISH FAMILIES.
4We found YAHUSHA’S followers there and stayed with them for seven days, and they warned Paul (through the Spirit) not to go to Jerusalem. 5But when our time there was up, we returned to the ship to continue our trip. All the followers, even the women and children, came with us to the seashore. We all knelt down on the beach, prayed, embraced 6and said goodbye. Then we got on the ship, and the followers went home.
7We continued our trip from Tyre and went to the city of Ptolemais. We greeted the believers there and stayed with them one day. 8The next day we left Ptolemais and went to the city of Caesarea. We went into the home of Philip and stayed with him. He had the work of telling the Good News. He was one of the seven helpers. 9He had four unmarried daughters who had the gift of prophesying.
10After we had been there for several days, a prophet named Agabus came from Judea. 11He came to us and took Paul’s belt, then used it to tie his own hands and feet together. Then he said, “YAHUSHA’S Spirit tells me, ‘This is how the Jews in Jerusalem will tie up the man who wears this belt. Then they will hand him over to the unbelieving nations.’”
12When we heard this, we and the other followers there begged Paul not to go to Jerusalem. 13But he said, “Why are you weeping and trying to break my heart with your sadness? I’m willing to be put in jail in Jerusalem. I am even ready to die for the name of my Master YAHUSHA!” 14We could not persuade him to stay away from Jerusalem. So we stopped begging him and said, “We pray that the desire of YAHUSHA will be done.” After this this we got ready and left for Jerusalem.
PAUL HAS BEEN WARNED TWICE NOW BY PEOPLE WHO HAVE SEEN AND HEARD GLIPSES OF THE DANGER HE FACES IN JERUSALEM. YES THEY ARE LEGITIMATE IN HEARING FROM YAHUSHA, AND GENUINE IN THEIR LOVE TO TRY AND SWAY THEIR BROTHER AWAY FROM TROUBLES. BUT PAUL IS ALSO BEING LED AND HAS FACED WHAT THE END OF HIS LIFE WILL PROBABLY LOOK LIKE FOR STANDING UP TO AUTHORITIES IN THE NAME OF YAHUSHA THE WAY HE IS. SO IT'S NOT THAT YAHUSHA'S VOICE IS GIVING CONTRADICTING ADVICE TO DIFFERENT PEOPLE - IT'S THAT THESE PEOPLE WERE INTERESTED IN PAUL'S SAFETY, WHILE PAUL WAS FOCUSSED ON THE WORK!
16Some of the followers of YAHUSHA from Caesarea went with us. These followers took us to the home of Mnason, a man from Cyprus, who was one of the first people to be a follower of YAHUSHA. They took us to his home so that we could stay with him.
“Brother, you can see that thousands of Jews have become believers, and are still passionate about YAHUAH’S Torah Instruction. 21Words been getting around that you teach the Jews who live out in the Nations to ignore Moses’ Laws, and not to circumcise their sons or follow the practices. 22What should we do then? These Jewish believers here will learn that you’ve come here and there'll be a riot! 23So we’ll tell you what to do: Four of our men have made a vow (NAZIRITE VOW?) to YAHUSHA. 24So go with these guys when they get cleansed and pay their expenses so that they can all shave their heads (SIGNIFYING THE END OF A VOW WHERE HAIR WAS TO BE GROWN). This will prove to everyone that the things they have heard about you are not true. They will see that you obey the Law of Moses in your own life. 25Now in regard to the non-Jewish believers, we have already sent a letter to them saying what they should do:
* Don’t eat food that has been offered to idols.
* Don’t eat meat from animals that have been strangled
* Don’t eat meat that still has the blood in it.
* Don’t be involved in whoring/sexual sin.’”
26So Paul took the four men with him. The next day he shared in their cleansing ceremony and went to the Temple area, announcing that their time of separation had finished, giving an offering for each of the men with him.
27When the seven-day period was almost finished, some Jews from Asia saw Paul in the Temple area. They stirred up everyone into an angry mob. They grabbed Paul 28and shouted, “Men of Yisharal, help us! This is the man who is teaching things that are against the Law of Moses, against our people, and against this Temple of ours. This is what he teaches people everywhere. And now he has brought some Greeks into the Temple area and has made this set-apart place unclean!” 29(The Jews said this because they had seen Trophimus with Paul in Jerusalem, and Trophimus was a man from Ephesus. So the Jews thought that Paul had taken him into the set-apart area of the Temple which was forbidden for Gentiles.)
30An angry reaction spread throughout the city, and everyone came running to the Temple. They grabbed Paul and dragged him out of the set-apart area, and the gates were closed immediately. 31While they were trying to kill Paul, the commander of the Roman Army in Jerusalem got word that the whole city was in a state of riot. 32Immediately the commander ran to where the crowd had gathered, taking with him some army officers and soldiers. When the people saw the commander and his soldiers, they stopped beating Paul.
33The commander went over to Paul and arrested him. He told his soldiers to tie him up with two chains. Then he asked, “Who’s this man? What’s he done wrong?” 34Some people there were shouting one thing, and others were shouting something else, so because of all this confusion and shouting, the commander couldn't understand the truth of what was going on. So he told the soldiers to take Paul to the army building. 35-36The whole crowd was following them, and when the soldiers came to the steps, they had to carry Paul. They did this to protect him, because the people were ready to bash him, and were all shouting, “Kill him! - Kill him!”
37When the soldiers were ready to take Paul into the army building, he asked the commander, “Can I say something to you?” The commander said, “Oh, you speak Greek? 38Then you are not the man I thought you were. I thought you were the Egyptian who started some trouble against the government not long ago and led four thousand terrorists out to the desert.”
39Paul said, “Nah mate, I’m a Jew from Tarsus in the country of Cilicia . . . . and a Roman citizen! Please, let me speak to the people.”
40The commander told Paul he could speak, so he stood on the steps and waved his hand so that the people would be quiet. The people became quiet and Paul spoke to them in the Hebrew language.
1Paul said, “Men, brothers, fathers, please listen to me! Let me explain myself to you!"
2And when the Jews heard Paul speaking in Hebrew, they all shut up and Paul said, 3“I'm a Jew, born in Tarsus, in the country of Cilicia. I grew up in this city. I was a student of Gamaliel, who carefully taught me everything about the Law of our fathers. I was very serious about serving Alahim, the same as all of you here today. 4I persecuted the people who followed 'the Way' and killed
many of them. I arrested men and women and put them in jail. 5The High Priest and the whole council of Elders can tell you that this is true. One time these leaders gave me some letters for the Jewish brothers in the city of Damascus. I was going there to arrest the followers of YAHUSHA and bring them back to Jerusalem for punishment.
6But then something happened to me on my way to Damascus. It was about noon and suddenly a bright light from Heaven shone all around me. 7I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’
8“I asked, ‘Who are you, Master?’ And the voice said, ‘I am YAHUSHA from Nazareth, the one you are hatefully persecuting.’ 9The men who were with me did not hear the voice, but they saw the light. 10I said, ‘What shall I do, Master? And He said, ‘Get up and go into Damascus. There you will be told all that I've planned for you to do.’
11I could not see, because the bright light had made me blind. So the men led me into Damascus. 12In Damascus a man named Ananias came to me. He was a man who was devoted to YAHUSHA and obeyed the Law of Moses. All the Jews who lived there respected him. 13He came to me and said, ‘Saul, my brother, look up and see again!’ Immediately I was able to see him.
14Ananias told me, ‘The Alahim of our fathers chose you long ago to know His plan. He chose you to see the Righteous One and to hear the voice of His mouth. 15You will be His witness to all people. You will tell them what you have seen and heard. 16Now, don’t wait any longer. Get up, be immersed and wash away your sins, trusting in YAHUSHA to deliver you".
17“Later, I came back to Jerusalem. I was praying in the Temple area, and I saw a vision. 18I saw YAHUSHA and He said to me, ‘Hurry and leave Jerusalem now! The people here will not accept the truth you tell them about Me.’ 19I said, ‘But, Master, the people know that I was the one who put the believers in jail and beat them. I went through all the Synagogues to find and arrest the people who believe in You. 20The people also know that I was there when Stephen, Your witness, was killed. I stood there and agreed that they should kill him. I even held the coats of the men who were killing him!’ 21But YAHUSHA said to me, ‘Leave now. I will send you far away to the Nations now.’”
22And the people stopped listening when Paul said this last bit. They all shouted, “Get rid of this man! He doesn’t deserve to live.” 23They kept on shouting, ripping off their clothes and throwing dust into the air. 24Then the commander told the soldiers to take Paul into the army building and beat him. He wanted to make Paul explain why the people were shouting against him like this. 25So the soldiers were tying Paul, preparing to beat him. But he said to an army officer there, “Do you have the right to beat a Roman citizen who has not been proven guilty?”
26And when the officer heard this, he went to the commander and told him about it. The officer said, “Don't you know what you're doing? This man is a Roman citizen!” 27Then the commander came to Paul and said, “Tell me, are you really a Roman citizen?” He answered, “Yes.” 28The commander said, “I paid a lot of money to become a Roman citizen.” But Paul said, “Well I was born one mate!”
29Then the men who were preparing to question Paul moved away from him immediately, and the commander was afraid because he had already put Paul (a Roman citizen - a very big deal) in chains. 30The next day the commander decided to learn why the Jews were accusing Paul. So he ordered the Chief Priests and the whole High Council to meet together. He had Paul’s chains taken off and had him brought in to face the council.