Warnings on the Way to Jerusalem (Part 2)
"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. Now this man had four virgin daughters who prophesied. And as we stayed many days, a certain prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. 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."' Now when we heard these things, both we and those from that place pleaded with him not to go up to Jerusalem. 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.' So when he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, 'The will of the Lord be done'" (Acts 21:8-14).

On their way to Jerusalem, Paul and his traveling companions came to Caesarea and stayed in the home of Philip. Philip was an evangelist in that city and was also one of the seven originally chosen to serve in the daily distribution of food among the saints (cf. Acts 6). Also, this was the same Philip whose evangelistic successes in Samaria were recorded in Acts 8. Luke informs us that Philip has four daughters who were virgins (which is an indicator of their moral purity) and they also prophesied (which is an indicator of their spiritual ability). In addition to being a faithful evangelist, Philip is also a godly father. To raise four children to young adulthood (at least) and they all be sexually pure and spiritually active in the church is a testament to a good upbringing. Lest there be any confusion here, the text does not state that these women prophesied to men (which would have been a violation of I Tim. 2:11,12). Although women are not allowed to teach or have authority over a man, this does not prohibit women from teaching other women and children. Surely these daughters of Philip were active prophetesses among that demographic (cf. Acts 2:17).

There is still time before Pentecost, so they remain in Caesarea a number of days. On one day a prophet from Judea, named Agabus, travels to Caesarea and issues another warning against Paul (cf. Acts 11:27,28). If Paul comes to Jerusalem, Agabus affirms (by inspiration) that the apostle will be bound and turned over to the Gentiles. Agabus makes his message even more memorable by physically using Paul's belt to tie up his own hands and feet, symbolic of what would befall Paul in Jerusalem.

Everyone believes Agabus' message to be accurate (and it does come true, as Luke will soon record). All the disciples (including Paul's traveling companions) plead with him to stay away from Jerusalem. Likely they suggested that others could go in his place and accomplish what he intended to do. Paul responds similarly to how he did previously. His mind is made up, and he asks - "What do you mean by weeping and breaking my heart?" He then affirms - "I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus." Paul will not yield, but why? Why is Paul so determined to go to Jerusalem when warning after warning is given? Admittedly, it is difficult to comprehend. Although I am not among the number of those who believe Paul was actually sinning by going up to the city, some affirm that the great apostle is in rebellion to the Holy Spirit on this matter. I tend to disagree for reasons cited in the prior lesson, though presenting a rock-solid case against such a possibility is a challenge.

Finally, the brethren, who see that Paul will not budge this time (cf. 19:30), stop trying and affirm - "The will of the Lord be done." Some have observed that a lot of us are like these brethren--settling for the Lord's will to be done when we finally realize that ours won't be!