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Farewell Tour Ends

Our sermon text for this coming Lord’s Day is Acts 21:1-16. This is the final leg of Paul’s third missionary journey as well as the last part of his “farewell tour.” Luke traces Paul’s travel through seven different towns in these sixteen verses, but little is said about five of the towns. The two towns that Luke does focus on are Tyre and Caesarea.

Paul spent seven days in Tyre (v. 3-5). During this time, there were certain “disciples” in Tyre that prophesied “through the Spirit.” The disciples warned Paul not to go to Jerusalem. Paul was not persuaded. He did not heed their warnings and continued on to Jerusalem.

Then Paul arrived at Philip’s house in Caesarea (v. 8-14). There he met his old friend, Agabus (see Acts 11:28). Agabus prophesied by the Holy Spirit, explaining how Paul would be bound hand-and-foot by the Jews in Jerusalem and delivered over to the Gentiles. This time, Luke and all of Paul’s traveling companions, along with the household of Philip, “urged [Paul] not to go up to Jerusalem” (v. 12). Once again, Paul was not to be persuaded. He did not heed the warnings of his friends and continued on to Jerusalem.

Paul’s behavior in these two cities has caused many people to question Paul’s motives for going to Jerusalem. Both in Tyre and Caesarea, there were Christians who prophesied in the Spirit concerning what would happen to Paul if he went to Jerusalem. In both cities, the Christians urged Paul not to go to Jerusalem. But in both cases, Paul ignored their concerns and went to Jerusalem anyways.

Did Paul choose to ignore the instruction of the Holy Spirit during his stay in Tyre and Caesarea? Did Paul usurp his own will over the will of God? (v. 14) How do we explain Paul’s behavior in these two towns in light of some of the verses we’ve recently dealt with; verses that seem to indicate that the Holy Spirit did desire for Paul to go to Jerusalem? (19:21; 20:23)