To die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus
1. Who had Paul met with in the previous chapter (20:17) and who did he commit them to (20:32)?
“From Miletus, Paul sent to Ephesus for the elders of the church.”
“ “Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.”
Apostle Paul had met with the Ephesian Elders and had committed them to God and the grace of his word. God’s word is the only thing that can build the church up. It is the only thing that can make the weak strong, the old new, the broken whole again. Paul believed in God’s promises and committed the church to God.
After that where did Paul go (2-3) and why was he going there (Acts 19:21) (acts 20:4)?
“We found a ship crossing over to Phoenicia, went on board and set sail. 3 After sighting Cyprus and passing to the south of it, we sailed on to Syria. We landed at Tyre, where our ship was to unload its cargo.”
“After all this had happened, Paul decided[a] to go to Jerusalem, passing through Macedonia and Achaia. “After I have been there,” he said, “I must visit Rome also.””
“He was accompanied by Sopater son of Pyrrhus from Berea, Aristarchus and Secundus from Thessalonica, Gaius from Derbe, Timothy also, and Tychicus and Trophimus from the province of Asia.”
Paul continued his journey from Macedonia towards Jerusalem – landing at Tyre – which is northern Lebanon. Paul was bringing with him the Gentile representatives of all the churches planted back to Jerusalem to meet the apostles and elders there and to show the work of God going on in the Gentile world.
2. Who did Paul and his companions meet in Tyre and what did they urge him (4)?
“We sought out the disciples there and stayed with them seven days. Through the Spirit they urged Paul not to go on to Jerusalem.”
They met disciples in Tyre and they urged Paul not to go to Jerusalem. These were People Paul had known and served with who were now urging him not to go to Jerusalem. What kind of pressure do you think Paul was feeling at this time? He had a firm resolution to carry out God’s will but now close friends and disciples were gently urging him not to go. What would the pressure be like?
Why do you think they urged him not to go to Jerusalem?
For a mixture of regions. For starters they loved Paul as their friend and compatriot in the struggle to serve Christ. No one wants to see their friends suffer—even receive a common cold. Everyone knew what would physically happen to Paul. Secondly perhaps they didn’t understand God’s purpose for his life and therefore could not understand his actions—thinking he could just remain in ministry in a different town and keep on working.
What did the church at Tyre do as Paul left and what does this show about them (1 Thes 5:16-18)?
“16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
The church as Tyre gathered on the beach and prayed. Though they did not understand God’s will or even know it at this time—they prayed to accept God’s will for Paul and that the entire journey would be in God’s hands and bring glory to God. Sometimes we cannot understand the will of God—or it even looks wrong. But when we trust God and know God we can trust that his will be done and then pray to show our obedience to God.
3. As the group sailed where did they land next and who did they meet (7-9)?
“7 We continued our voyage from Tyre and landed at Ptolemais, where we greeted the brothers and sisters and stayed with them for a day. 8 Leaving the next day, we reached Caesarea and stayed at the house of Philip the evangelist, one of the Seven. 9 He had four unmarried daughters who prophesied.”
First they met the disciples at Ptolemais and stayed with them for a day. Then the journey team gathered back to the ship and landed at Caesarea, which was the Roman administrative capital of Judea. In Caesarea was Philip the Evangelist, one of the seven deacons appointed along with Steven to distribute food to the widows of the church. This event is many years after we initially met him in Acts 6:5 and 8:5. He now had 4 unmarried daughters that were part of his ministry as well.
Philip was called the ‘Evangelist’ what does this term mean and why was he called it (Eph 4:11-12, 2Ti 4:5)?
“11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up”
“But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.”
The term to evangelize means to bring the word of God to large numbers of people. We take the term as someone who teaches the gospel or invites people to church. Though we are all evangelists in a sense—Philip was appointed with the special job and task of bringing the Gospel to cities and areas around Jerusalem. Being an evangelist is important but having the right “evangel” is more important.
An evangelist must know who Jesus Christ is and must know that Christ died for our sins and was raised from the dead. His shed blood paying for our sins against the Holy God. What you win them with is what you win them to. Evangelizing with half gospel or watered down prepares half-Christians and watered down Christians that are east pray for Satan and his savage wolves (Acts 20:29).
4. What was Agabus’ prophecy in verse 11, and why did he say this?
“Coming over to us, he took Paul’s belt, tied his own hands and feet with it and said, “The Holy Spirit says, ‘In this way the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem will bind the owner of this belt and will hand him over to the Gentiles.’””
At first Agabus’ message was a bit strange. Agabus was no ordinary person—he was a prophet and had come down from Jerusalem to deliver this message. Everyone around Paul, those in Tyre and Ptolemais knew what would happen to him in Jerusalem. Agabus did not need to come and make this visual display. Prophets display God’s will and what will happen so that when it does happen believers will know that this is from God and this is God’s will and that God is in control.
What did the people plead with Paul not to do (12)?
“When we heard this, we and the people there pleaded with Paul not to go up to Jerusalem.”
Even the author Luke joined in (notice “we”) in pleading with Paul not to follow this route to Jerusalem. They wanted to show their deep love for their friend.
What was his response (13)?
“Then Paul answered, “Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.””
I think Paul had finally been overcome and expressed his condition. Imagine all your friends and all your companions urging you not to follow this difficult task God has given you. How hard it would be? But Paul was ready even for this. He knew his task from Jesus Christ and he knew why it was given to him. Paul knew that the church belonged to God and the people of the church were purchased by the precious blood of Jesus Christ. Unlike Peter who proclaimed similar things in John 13:37, Paul knew Jesus and was ready.
What does it mean to ‘die for the Lord Jesus Christ,’ (John 12:24, Mark 8:34-37)?
“Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.”
“34 Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35 For whoever wants to save their life[a] will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. 36 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? 37 Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?”
To die for the name of Jesus is what we as Christians deal with everyday. In our baptism we ‘died’ as we became members of God’s family under his authority. Dying as in Paul’s case is not always physical. In fact in America it is at the moment almost impossible to die for Christ. But living and dying everyday is the challenge. To die for the Lord Jesus Christ means there is a radical change in your life and in your priorities—they are now directed to serving Jesus first. To die means overcoming your sin and directing that energy formerly dedicated to sinful activity to God. To die means to also actively take up the cross that Jesus has given you and follow Jesus.
Why could Paul trust in the Lord Jesus even knowing his impending suffering (John 6:39-40) (Genesis 1:1) (Acts 20:24) (Acts 9:15-16)?
“39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. 40 For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.””
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”
“24 However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.”
“15 But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. 16 I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.””
Knowing that you were facing impending prison and hardships would not make it easy to trust God. But through these verses we can see that Paul knew Jesus and knew that he could trust Jesus. In John 6, Jesus tells us that none of those given to him by God can be lost or snatched away. You and I as believers cannot be snatched away from Jesus no matter the difficulty.
Paul had to also believe the lynchpin of the Bible, Genesis 1:1. If we cannot believe that verse then the entire rest of the Bible doesn’t make sense. Paul knowing that God created all things was assured.
Paul mentioned that his life, his status, his station were worth nothing to him—his only aim was to finish the great task and privilege of carrying out testifying about the good news of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Finally Paul knew that this was the appointed route for Paul to take and that Paul would suffer for the name of Jesus and for the glory of Jesus.
Can you trust your life in the hands of the Lord (John 6:68)?
“Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”
5. Why did the believers give up trying to persuade Paul (Matthew 6:10)?
“your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
What do you think it means to ‘die for the name of the Lord Jesus’?