Saturday, June 17, 2023

2023.06.17 Hopewell @Home ▫ Acts 21:1–14

Read Acts 21:1–14

Questions from the Scripture text: What do Acts 21:1-3 detail? In what manner? What/whom do they find in Acts 21:4? What do they do now? What are these disciples saying to whom (cf. Acts 21:11-12)?  What were Paul and company doing in Acts 21:5? Who accompanied them? What did they do on the shore? Right before what (Acts 21:6)? To whom did they come and stay with in Acts 21:7? When do they go where in Acts 21:8? To whose house? What sort of family was this by now (Acts 21:9)? Who else comes down (Acts 21:10)? What does he do in Acts 21:11? What does he say will happen? Now who joins in trying to persuade Paul not to go up to Jerusalem (Acts 21:13)? What question does Paul ask in Acts 21:13? What two things is he ready for? For what purpose? How does this teach/lead them to respond instead (Acts 21:14)?

How do believers properly treasure one another and their fellowship in the Word? Acts 21:1–14 looks forward to the morning sermon on the coming Lord’s Day. In these fourteen verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that believers properly treasure one another and their fellowship in the Word by responding to it together in love, faith, and submission toward God. 

Treasuring the Brethren. After spending so much text and emphasis on the brief interview with the Ephesian elders, the Holy Spirit now starts rushing us along with Paul toward Jerusalem. It seems that just one thing can slow him down: spending time with disciples. He finds disciples at Tyre and stays there seven days (Acts 21:4). We don’t know of any other connection between the Paul and the church at Tyre, but by the time they’ve spent a week together, their hearts are closely knit to one another. Not only the men but their wives and children accompany Paul and his companions to the beach, where all kneel down and pray together (Acts 21:5) before saying final greetings and departing (Acts 21:6). Again, in Ptolemais, they greet the brethren and spend time with them (Acts 21:7). Finally, in Caesarea, they seek out Philip and stay with him for many days.

Hearing the Word. It is interesting that the Spirit doesn’t only tell Paul the things in Acts 21:4 and Acts 21:11 directly. We know from Acts 20:23 that he has heard this before—either directly by the Spirit or through others who prophesied. But he does know that chains and tribulations await him. And the Spirit keeps on telling him that. We see two things about hearing the Word here: we see that even those who speak the Word must hear it as well, and we also see that often we need to hear the same thing several times. The Lord only has to say something once for Himself, but He accommodates our own needs by telling us the same, necessary truths over and over again.

Right Use of the Word. It is interesting that in addition to the facts of Paul’s upcoming shackles and tribulations (Acts 21:11, cf. Acts 20:23), both the disciples in Tyre (Acts 21:4) and the disciples in Caesarea, together even with Luke and others (Acts 21:12), urge Paul not to go up to Jerusalem.

But God wasn’t telling Paul about the persecution in order that he might avoid it, but rather that he might embrace it. Hearing that he might be bound for the Name of the Lord Jesus stirred up in him a love for the Name of the Lord Jesus: He is worth being bound for! Hearing that he might die for the Name of the Lord Jesus stirred up in him a love for the Name of the Lord Jesus: He is worth dying for! 

Our effect upon the brethren. Sadly, the brethren negatively affect Paul. Sometimes, when we respond strongly (“weeping”) but wrongly to events, we negatively affect others as well (“breaking my heart”). But happily, Paul positively affects the brethren. They see that nothing can persuade them to give up his plan for service and witness to the Lord, and their spirits too, now, come into submission. “We ceased, saying, ‘the will of the Lord be done.’” Let us always keep in mind that we either encourage or discourage others by how we respond to the providence of God.

How does your treasuring the brethren show up in your prayers, your time, and your wallet? When you are hearing the same thing from the Word over and over, how do you go about keeping a soft heart toward it? In what situations are you in danger of discouraging the brethren? How can you encourage others to submit to the will of the Lord together with you?

Sample prayer:  Lord, thank You for the fellowship that You give us with one another in the faith and in Your Word. Give us to trust Your good will and encourage one another in love, service, and obedience, we ask through Jesus Christ, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP16A “Keep Me, O God” or TPH409 “Blest Be the Tie That Binds” 

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