1After saying farewell to the Ephesian elders, we sailed straight to the island of Cos. The next day we reached Rhodes and then went to Patara. 2There we boarded a ship sailing for the Syrian province of Phoenicia. 3We sighted the island of Cyprus, passed it on our left, and landed at the harbor of Tyre, in Syria, where the ship was to unload. 4We went ashore, found the local believers, and stayed with them a week. These disciples prophesied through the Holy Spirit that Paul should not go on to Jerusalem. 5When we returned to the ship at the end of the week, the entire congregation, including wives and children, came down to the shore with us. There we knelt, prayed, 6and said our farewells. Then we went aboard, and they returned home.
7The next stop after leaving Tyre was Ptolemais, where we greeted the brothers and sisters but stayed only one day. 8Then we went on to Caesarea and stayed at the home of Philip the Evangelist, one of the seven men who had been chosen to distribute food. 9He had four unmarried daughters who had the gift of prophecy.
10During our stay of several days, a man named Agabus, who also had the gift of prophecy, arrived from Judea. 11When he visited us, he took Paul’s belt and bound his own feet and hands with it. Then he said, “The Holy Spirit declares, `So shall the owner of this belt be bound by the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem and turned over to the Romans.’ “12When we heard this, we who were traveling with him, as well as the local believers, begged Paul not to go on to Jerusalem.
13But he said, “Why all this weeping? You are breaking my heart! For I am ready not only to be jailed at Jerusalem but also to die for the sake of the Lord Jesus.” 14When it was clear that we couldn’t persuade him, we gave up and said, “The will of the Lord be done.”
15Shortly afterward we packed our things and left for Jerusalem. 16Some believers from Caesarea accompanied us, and they took us to the home of Mnason, a man originally from Cyprus and one of the early disciples.
Points of Interest:
- ‘These disciples prophesied through the Holy Spirit that Paul should not go on to Jerusalem’—in yesterday’s passage, Paul says that he is ‘drawn [to Jerusalem] irresistibly by the Holy Spirit.’ But in this passage, it is prophesied that Paul should not go there. Is the Holy Spirit contradicting himself? It’s often said that it is easier to hear a word from God than to interpret what it means. Perhaps this is an example of that principle. The prophecy of Agabus clearly indicates that Paul will be imprisoned in Jerusalem. Paul also, while feeling compelled by the Spirit to go to Jerusalem, heard from God that suffering and imprisonment awaited him there. Perhaps the prophets in Tyre hear the same message as Paul—that he would suffer in Jerusalem—but they interpreted it differently, understandably assuming that it means he shouldn’t go. The Tyrians may not even be aware that they’re interpreting it. Because interpretation of prophecies can often be tricky, it can be a good idea to do what they do with Agabus’ prophecy: they discuss it; then they leave the final decision about how to respond in the hands of the person to whom the prophecy is given. Paul acknowledges that it is true that he will suffer, but he believes that it is suffering with a purpose for the sake of Jesus.
Taking it home:
- Through you: In this passage, we get to see Philip, the Greek-speaker who brought Jesus’ message to the Samaritans and the Ethiopian eunuch, again; and we learn that he has four daughters with the gift of prophecy. Philip was able to raise up his family into God’s mission, and to encourage them in a gift of the Spirit different from his own. Pray that God would give you the opportunity to pass your love for Jesus on to the next generation—especially if you have children of your own—and that God would equip you to encourage them in their own gifts and ministry.
- Through your six: the Holy Spirit speaks to Paul, to guide him and to prepare him for what is coming. Because the Holy Spirit has prepared him, he won’t be surprised when his time in Jerusalem is difficult. Ask God to speak by the Holy Spirit to your six, guiding them into the future or warning them about the future.
- Through our church: Pray for prophecy in our church. Ask the Holy Spirit to give us words of prophecy for the help and encouragement of others, and also the wisdom and discernment to interpret those prophecies well.