Acts 21:8-14

8 On the next day we who were Paul’s companions departed and came to Caesarea, and entered the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven, and stayed with him.

9 Now this man had four virgin daughters who prophesied.

10 And as we stayed many days, a certain prophet named Agabus came down from Judea.

11 When he had come to us, he took Paul’s belt, bound his own hands and feet, and said, “Thus says the Holy Spirit, ‘So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man who owns this belt, and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.’”

12 Now when we heard these things, both we and those from that place pleaded with him not to go up to Jerusalem.

13 Then Paul answered, “What do you mean by weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.”

14 So when he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, “The will of the Lord be done.”

unto Caesarea (v.8) — about 35 miles south by land

Philip … one of the seven (v.8) — Philip had originally been one of the seven treasurers who had had oversight of “the daily ministration” in Pentecostal days when the believers at Jerusalem had had “all things common” (See Acts 6:1-5). Since that time, however, the Jerusalem church had been scattered by a “great persecution” and Philip had been used rather as an evangelist (See Acts 8:4-40). But while Philip was perhaps no longer actively a treasurer of the Church at Jerusalem, the fact that in addition to being called “Philip the evangelist” here, he is also designated as “one of the seven,” may well imply that he still had enough association with, or knowledge of, financial matters in the Church at Jerusalem to have relieved Paul of the necessity of personally delivering the collection he had gathered for its poor. — Stam, page 263.

daughters who prophesied (v.9) — in connection with the kingdom (Acts 2:17)

many days (v.10) = more days. It might not have been any longer than a week.

Agabus (v.10) — Acts 11:28

took Paul’s belt (v.11) — in the symbolic manner of Old Testament prophets

breaking (v.13) = weakening — Paul found his resolve weakening

The question, of course, is whether the Spirit thus warned him to deter him from his purpose or to prepare him for the ordeal. We believe the former is the case. Has it ever been God’s way to prepare His servants for testings by warning them about them? Has He not rather done this by encouraging them as to His faithfulness? Certainly this is so in the case of Paul himself (See Acts 18:9; 23:11; 27:23-25).

Certainly all those present understood Agabus’ prophecy as a warning to Paul that he should not proceed, for both his co-workers, including even Luke, and the believers at Caesarea began to plead with him, with tears, to abandon his purpose (vs. 12-13). — Stam, page 265.


And if the Holy Spirit had so solemnly warned him, and he rejected these warnings, the Lord in His own gracious way over-ruled it all to His own glory and to foreshadow what might be termed “the captivity of the Gospel.” God permitted it all for His own wise purpose. He knows the end from the beginning. The blessed Gospel of the Grace and Glory of God committed to the Apostle Paul was soon to be set aside by man and the judaistic form, that perverted gospel, to gain the victory. And Paul himself arrested in Jerusalem given over into the hands of the Gentiles and sent to Rome. — Gaebelein, pages 362.

I think Stam’s point is interesting. Did God arrange it so that Paul’s final warning came at the home of Philip, a man highly qualified and absolutely to be trusted to take the money Paul was carrying to Jerusalem for him? Not only did Paul get warnings in every city along his way, but the final, strongest warning came in the presence of man ready-made to carry out Paul’s mission.

I hadn’t heard Gaebelein’s take before — that Paul’s refusal to listen to the Spirit’s warning and his subsequent imprisonment is symbolic of — and the cause of — the loss of Paul’s grace message for almost 2,000 years. My first response when reading this was, “Wow! Really?” It seems like a leap, but it makes for interesting thinking.

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