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Road ahead

BRUCE C WEARNE, in his examination of the Book of Acts, looks at a passage in which, just as Christ did, Paul set his face to continue to Jerusalem despite the danger he knew he would face there…

Our voyage from Tyre terminated with our arrival at Ptolemais, where we greeted the brothers and sisters, remaining a day with them. Then the day following, we left and came to Caesarea where the household of Philip the evangelist, one of the seven, extended hospitality to us. His four unmarried daughters engaged in prophesying. During our stay over a few days, a prophet named Agabus came from Judea to confront us. He took Paul’s belt, and binding his own feet and hands, said, “This is what the Holy Spirit says, ‘This is the way Jews at Jerusalem shall bind the man whose belt this is and hand him over to the Gentiles.'” Upon hearing this we, and others present, begged him not to go up to Jerusalem. Paul answered us, “What is this? Why weep and break my heart? Am I not ready to be imprisoned and even to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus?” And he would not be persuaded, so we had to desist saying, “The Lord’s will be done.” After these days we prepared ourselves and went up to Jerusalem. Some of the disciples from Caesarea accompanied us, to bring us to the house of Mnason of Cyprus, a long- term disciple, so we could lodge with him. – Acts 21:7-16/translitaration by Bruce C Wearne

 Road ahead

A HARD ROAD: Determined to see God’s will done, Paul continued his journey to Jerusalem despite warnings he received. PICTURE: Rob Bye/Unsplash


Paul, like Jesus before him, set his face to go up to Jerusalem. He did so knowing full well the danger he faced as Jesus’ disciple. 

The Gospel of Luke tells us that Jesus set his face to go up to Jerusalem (Luke 9: 51-6). This caused the Samaritans anguish and they refused Him and the disciples hospitality. Some years after that, Philip preached the Gospel in Samaria. Then Peter and John discovered Samaritan hospitality when the people of that region came to believe that Jesus was the prophet foretold by Moses.

And Luke has also told us that around the time of Paul’s conversion, the region of Judaea, Galilee and Samaria experienced a peace that had not been known for centuries.

Now Paul returned to this prominent Samaritan sea-port where the Holy Spirit had been poured out and where Philip had settled with his talented, prophetic daughters.

The resistance in this Samaritan town on the occasion of Paul’s “going up to Jerusalem” was from a spiritual outlook somewhat different from what it had been for Jesus on His way up to Jerusalem. The Samaritans may have had a custom of not welcoming those going up to Jerusalem. But now those who offered hospitality strongly advised against “going up” by the “Holy Spirit”. It is important to note that Agabus, the well-known prophet in those parts, had alerted the followers of Jesus to their God-given responsibility to care for those suffering famine (Acts 11:27-30).

And Paul and Barnabas had collected monies from the churches at Syrian Antioch and throughout Galatia to make good their common bonds as servants of God’s Son.

Now, this same Agabus, who had helped to shape Paul’s concerns for those fellow Jews in Judaea, had another word, a warning. Luke’s account of the warnings from the believers of Tyre indicates that they were fully responsive to what God’s Spirit required. Paul and his party were alerted to the dangers that lay ahead. 

But Paul would not be diverted; he was “going up”. Obedience to God’s Spirit was tested since Paul was also required by the same Spirit to do what he was called to do. No doubt Paul had to answer those who felt he was needlessly putting himself in harm’s way. He persuaded them. “The Lord’s will be done!” is no passive resignation but a confession of faith, a characteristic of the party’s entire journey to Jerusalem. But then, how else are Christians to travel? 



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