As Paul continues on his third missionary journey from Antioch to Jerusalem, he sets his face to go to Jerusalem, because the Lord is calling him to bear witness there. (See Acts 19:21). "He was hurrying to be at Jerusalem, if possible, on the Day of Pentecost." Acts 20:16
On the return leg of this journey, he met disciples at Tyre, Ptolemais and Caesarea. In Caesarea, they met up with Phillip the Evangelist, one of the original 7 deacons in the Jerusalem Church (Acts 6:5), who later God used to bring revival to Samaria. (Acts 8:5-8) and to lead the Ethiopian eunuch to Christ. (Acts 8:26-40). Phillip married and settled in Caesarea, and in due course had 4 daughters. Together, he and his wife must have faithfully brought up their children in the way of the Lord. By the time they meet with Paul and his friends, his 4 daughters are prophetesses. What a beautiful example of faithful, godly parents serving the Lord and what a right response by the daughters to God's call on their lives. For, no one should take leadership unto themselves, unless God calls them to it. And, if God calls you, then you should not refuse it! (Luke 2:36, Ephesians 4:11)
As to the meaning of prophesying, the Greek word "prophetes" means "a proclaimer of a divine message. The prophet was one upon whom the Spirit of God rested; one, to whom and through whom God speaks. The prophesying of the New Testament prophets was both a preaching of the Divine counsels of grace already accomplished and the foretelling of the purposes of God in the future." (An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, W. E. Vine, page 222) "To prophesy is to deliver a message from God to people." (A Dictionary of the Bible and Christian Doctrine, page 235) "A prophet is a person authorised to speak for God." (The Revell Bible Dictionary, page 822) From this we conclude that: providing God calls them, Christian women today have a right to preach. (See Luke 2:36, Ephesians 4:11 as well as Acts 21:9)
Paul's Consecration Acts 21:13 "I am ready to not only be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus."
When Paul and his friends arrived back at Jerusalem, the Christian brothers "received them gladly." The next day, Paul met with James the leader of the church in Jerusalem and all the elders; telling them what God had done among the Gentiles, through his ministry. They proposed to Paul that he pay the expenses for 4 of their men who had taken purification vows to show that he and they were not against Moses' teaching.
It is one thing to consecrate yourself to the Lord in a place of prayer, but it is another thing to keep your consecration faithfully year after year. "Paul never flinched in his consecration. We see him...meeting the test laid upon him by his friends." (G. A. McLaughlin)
In verse 12, the Christians at Caesarea "pleaded with him not to go up to Jerusalem."
"The test of our friends is often more difficult than the tests of our enemies. Our friends will try to keep us from duty out of a mistaken regard for our welfare." (G. A. McLaughlin)
"Paul met a severe test from his friends here that nearly broke his heart." (McLaughlin)
The prophet Agabus (verse 10) who came from Jerusalem to Caesarea is probably the same man mentioned in Acts 11:28. His prophecy turned out to be accurate, as had the first prophecy he proclaimed, but "they interpreted the prophecy as a warning for him not to go to Jerusalem. But it was, rather, designed as information so that Paul would be prepared to encounter what was before him. Years before, when he was converted, the Lord had shown him how great things he must suffer for His sake. (Acts 9:16) So, these premonitions were nothing new." (G. A. McLaughlin)
The prophecies were not to stop him, but to strengthen him.
So, Paul was totally committed to serving the Lord; yet he was not unmoved by their love and compassion. He acknowledged their weeping and breaking his heart. In the previous chapter 20 (verses 36-37) with his farewell from the Ephesian Christians: "he knelt down and prayed with them all. Then they all wept freely and fell on Paul's neck and kissed him."
But, Paul's all-consuming passion was for the Lord Jesus Christ who loved and gave Himself for him. And, he would let nothing, not even his well-meaning friends, turn him aside from doing what the Lord had told him to do. The Lord Jesus knows what it is like when family and friends try to turn you aside from serving God as He calls you to, because "the family of Jesus tried to swerve him from the path of duty, too." (McLaughlin)
The enemies of the Christian Gospel, namely, "the Jews from the province of Asia" (Acts 21:27) who were in Jerusalem deliberately tried to stop Paul's consecration to Christ by head on public confrontation. The enemies did this by stirring up the whole crowd." (verse 27) with inflammatory remarks and false accusations against him in the temple.
Their false accusations were that Paul taught against:
From their hostile agitation came riotous behaviour:
Fortunately, news of the uproar came to the army commander, who intervened by having his soldiers rescue Paul from their murderous clutches. "God intervened through heathen soldiers." (McLaughlin) The violent mob cried out "away with him!" (verse 36), much as they had done with Jesus. Then Paul spoke to the army commander in Greek (verse 37), requesting his permission to speak to the people. This is the major reason he came to Jerusalem - to speak to the people about the Lord Jesus.
Through all the circumstances of our lives, the Lord will work, if we first of all totally consecrate ourselves to Him: even when our enemies try to silence us.
Notice what happens next: "There was a great silence." (verse 40) Only the Lord could do that. What a miracle! And, Paul, taking this God-given opportunity to speak to the people about Christ - spoke to them in their native language - Hebrew. When Paul records in 1 Corinthians 14:18, "I speak with tongues." this is what he means - I speak with languages, such as Greek, Latin and Hebrew, for preaching the Gospel as a missionary. (Acts21:37 & 40, Acts 22:27) (Latin = in Roman "rhomaisti")
The Romans had built a fortress called the Tower of Antonia right next to the temple, from where they could readily see the temple area. Paul's consecration to the Lord did not waver when confronted by hundreds of hostile Jews, hankering for his blood. Rather, he saw it as a wonderful opportunity to bear witness to Christ in Jerusalem.
As Paul faced the test of his consecration to Christ, he set his face to go to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that would happen to him there. (Acts 20:22) except that chains and tribulation awaited him.
As Paul found, and as you and I will find, The Lord's grace is more than sufficient, when our consecration to Him is tested.
Though our outward circumstances are different to Paul's, yet our consecration to Christ is sorely tested, both by friends and by enemies as his consecration was tested.
How is your consecration to Christ, today?
The Lord Jesus said to Paul, and this applies to you and me also: "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." (2 Corinthians 12:9).
So, draw upon His grace and His Strength, to keep your consecration to Him strong.
Unless otherwise stated, all Bible quotations are from the New King James Version.
Holiness, godliness, righteousness, and Christ-likeness in personal and church life