Acts 21:10-14 - God's Will Be Done
Welcome to our Bible Study! We are studying Spiritual Applications from the Book of Acts. Today, we will talk about the will of God. Our text is Acts 21:10-14, and my title is "God's Will Be Done." My message today continues the story from last week. Our lesson is from the life of Paul who is returning from Jerusalem on his third missionary journey.
In my last message Paul was in the city of Tyre. From Tyre Paul and his group sailed to Ptolemais. After greeting the brethren and staying for a day, they went on down the coast to Caesarea. They stayed in the home of Philip the evangelist. Philip was one of the seven men chosen to serve the church (Acts 6:5) in Jerusalem. Philip had four unmarried daughters who prophesied. The travelers stayed there for several days. We learn much from this visit.
1. Agabus Prophesied That Paul Would Suffer In Jerusalem.
A prophet from Judea named Agabus came down to them with a prophecy from the Holy Spirit. As the word "down" suggests, Agabus was probably from somewhere near Jerusalem. Luke has mentioned Agabus before. In Acts 11:27-28 Luke says that Agabus came down from Jerusalem to Antioch with some other prophets and foretold a famine. This time he delivers a personal prophetic message to Paul.
Agabus gives a more specific prophecy about Paul and his journey to Jerusalem than had been spoken before. He took Paul's belt and bound his own hands and feet and said, "This is what the Holy Spirit says: 'In this way the Jews at Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.'" According to one scholar, "the action was as much part of the prophecy as the spoken words; both together communicated the powerful and self-fulfilling word of God."
2. Paul's Proclaims His Willingness To Be Bound.
Unlike the disciples at Tyre, Agabus did not say that Paul should not go to Jerusalem. When Agabus spoke, the companions of Paul as well as the local residents began begging him not to go up to Jerusalem. The desire of their hearts was that Paul would not suffer.
Paul's response to the prophecy was consistent with his position all along. He asked (verse 13), "What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but even to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus." This was similar to what he had said to the Ephesian elders. There (Acts 20:24) he said, "But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God. This is an amazing story.
Today, there are followers of Christ around the world who face difficult times. Many of them even face death. Many are willing to suffer and even to die in order to faithfully proclaim Christ. They consider it to be an honor to suffer for Jesus. We stand in awe of them and know that they are being sustained by the strong hands of Jesus and the manifest presence of the Holy Spirit. When we are with them, we know that we are in the presence of truly great servants of the Lord.
3. The Disciples Agreed That The Will Of The Lord Must Be Done.
The Spirit had repeatedly warned that there would be trouble in Jerusalem. The disciples were intense in their urging him not to go. Nevertheless, Paul was intent on going. At this point the tension between the views of Paul and the disciples was resolved. Luke states (verse 14) "And since he would not be persuaded, we fell silent, remarking, 'The will of the Lord be done!'" The disciples, including Luke, recognized that it was God's will, no matter what the cost, for Paul to go to Jerusalem.
The disciples had to reach the conclusion that the will of God overrode their concern for Paul. They came to terms with this, and the tension was resolved. They knew that they must be willing to follow Paul's understanding of the will of God. We often face situations like this. Many times it seems that things to not go just as we would like. Over time it becomes clear that all is well. God is overseeing all of our lives and all is for our long term benefit.
4. As Prophesied, Paul Encountered Persecution In Jerusalem.
Paul went on to Jerusalem. When he was in the temple, the Jews stirred up (Acts 21:27-36) a multitude against him. The Jews dragged him out of the temple, and immediately the doors of the temple were shut. They beat Paul and sought to kill him. Whether or not the Jews bound Paul as Agabus had indicated, we do not know. It very well could have happened.
We do know that the commander of the Roman cohort, along with soldiers and centurions, came and rescued Paul. The commander ordered Paul to be bound with two chains and began to question him about who he was and what he had done. All this would lead to Paul making his journey to Rome.
In summary, we see in this story the great concern that the disciples in the church had for the apostle Paul. Obviously, he was greatly loved and respected. The disciples did not want to see him suffer. So they expressed their deeply held feelings. However, the apostle knew he had to be true to the leading of the Spirit and that he must do the will of God. No doubt all of this was a comfort to Paul when he was arrested and bound in Jerusalem. He knew God was in control.