The 4th Missionary Tour of Paul (Acts 21:17-28:31)



Jerusalem is the scene of providential events which would at length lead Paul to the throne room of Rome. It was not a short journey, but lasts several years through many trials and prisons. But, as in his other missionary journey's, Paul brings many souls to Christ and furthers the cause of Christianity wherever he goes. This missionary journey is one directed entirely by forces beyond Paul's control.


  1. Introduction
    1. The Apostle Paul seemed to be a man who was either at a riot or on his way to one. This is a study of Paul's journey through the Jewish and Roman legal system, his struggles, his constant faith, and his never wavering desire to preach the gospel of Christ.
  2. Chapter 21
    1. Vs. 17 - 20
      1. Paul arrives in Jerusalem where he is gladly received. The next day he meets with James (the apostle, son of Alphaeus) and the elders. He then gives a report of his work with the Gentiles. Paul does not glorify himself but declared to them "what things god had wrought" by him. After hearing the report they glorify God, but then report of a glitch. Even though thousands of Jews had obeyed the gospel, they could not let go of the law of Moses.
    2. Vs. 21 - 22
      1. These Jewish Christians had heard false reports that Paul had taught Jewish converts to forsake Moses, not circumcise their children, and not to practice customs. This was not true. Paul had taught that circumcision had nothing to do with man's relationship with God (I Cor. 7:19, Gal 5:6) The charge against Paul was true only in the sense of his denying these customs were necessary to salvation. James and the elders asked Paul what was to be done about this. This misunderstanding had caused a lot of people to become very upset, and to question Paul.
    3. Vs. 23 - 26
      1. James and the elders have a plan to smooth things over. Paul probably would not have an opportunity to explain the false statements about him, but he could perform an act that everyone would hear about and would show that he had respect for the law of Moses. Paul would go along with four men who had taken a Nazarite vow and would join them in the purification ceremony and pay their expenses. This would show the Jews that there was no truth to the things they had heard about Paul. Paul went along and did what they asked of him. This presents a problem: It seems that Paul's actions disagree with his own teachings. But we must remember Paul's statement in I Cor. 9:20, "unto the Jews, I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews." In Romans 14, Paul teaches charity and patience towards those that are "weak in the faith" and continue to practice certain Jewish customs.
    4. Vs. 27 - 29
      1. Jews of Asia, not those of Jerusalem, see Paul in the temple. These were Jews, which had probably heard his teaching before, hated him, and had persecuted the church. They make wild, hasty accusations against him and thereby stir up the people against him. His accusers had seen him with Trophimus, a Greek from Ephesus, and now falsely assume he had brought Trophimus into the temple, defiling it. They then take hold of him.
    5. Vs. 30 - 36
      1. This disturbance grows until "all the city was moved (moved- 2795- thrown into commotion) , and the people ran together: and they took Paul, and drew (drew-1670- a person forcibly and against his will) him out of the temple." As they drug him away to kill him, word got to the chief captain of the band (5506- Roman commander of a thousand soldiers). When the soldiers got to Paul, the mob stopped beating him. Paul was then bound with chains. As the chief captain could not learn who he was, because of the confusion, he commanded him to be taken to the castle. When they arrive at the castle, the mob had become so violent, that the soldiers had to carry Paul. The mob was crying out, "Away with him."(142- to take from among the living by force)
    6. Vs. 37 - 40
      1. Before he was taken into the castle, Paul was able to speak with the captain. When the captain realized that Paul could speak Greek, he realized that he was not an Egyptian outlaw, whom he had supposed. The Paul explained that he was a Jew of Tarsus, an important city. Paul was then given permission to speak. When the mob became silent, he addressed them in Hebrew.
  3. Chapter 22
    1. Vs. 1 - 21
      1. We now begin the first of several pleas made by Paul in his self-defense. Paul spoke to them in his and their native tongue, Hebrew, which would show himself a Jew and familiar with the law. Paul explains that though he was born in Tarsus, he received his Jewish education in Jerusalem from Gamaliel (a rabbi held in high honor). He then explains his zeal toward God in that he persecuted others as they were persecuting him. Paul had been given much authority by the high priest and the body of Jewish elders to persecute Christians. He then tells of his conversion.
    2. Vs. 22 - 23
      1. The crown listened to Paul's testimony up until the point that he declares Christ said, "Depart: for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles." They hated the Gentiles and they could not believe that their messiah had given these orders to Paul. When Paul said this, the crowd again broke out into an angry mob. Their intense rage was shown in 3 acts: 1. They screamed loudly to kill him. 2. They threw off their clothes. 3. Threw dirt into the air.
    3. Vs. 24
      1. The chief captain, not understanding Hebrew, didn't know what Paul had said. He did recognize that the crowd was once again out of control and nothing Paul could say would help. He then ordered Paul to be scourged until they received a confession.
    4. Vs. 25 - 29
      1. To escape the scourging, Paul claims Roman citizenship. It was unlawful for a Roman citizen to be scourged in this way. Paul was born in Tarsus. Tarsus was not a colony of the Romans, but it was free. It is unclear how Paul is able to claim Roman citizenship.
    5. Vs. 30
      1. After all of this, the chief captain still did not know what the Jews had accused Paul of. To find out, The next action would be to order the Sanhedrin council to assemble to hear Paul.
  4. Chapter 23
    1. Vs. 1 - 5
      1. Paul begins his defense by looking right into the eyes of the council and stating his clear conscience. This resulted in Paul receiving a strike to the mouth. This was due possibly because he approached them with such boldness with his stare or maybe because he spoke to Ananias so informally by not properly addressing him. Paul then responds by accusing the high priest of hypocrisy. It was against Jewish law to punish a man unless he is worthy (Due. 25:1-2). He must be allowed to make his defense. So here we have the high priest breaking the law. Paul is now accused of reviling the high priest. Paul responds by saying he did not know he was the high priest. This causes some confusion. It is unlikely that Paul did not know who the high priest was. It may be that he meant that at the time of the strike he spoke without thinking and recognizing whom he was addressing. Some say that because of his bad eyesight, he did not see who he was addressing. Whatever the reason, Paul acknowledges that he was out of line and quotes Ex. 22:28, showing he knew the law.
    2. Vs. 11
      1. In prison, Paul must have been very discouraged. Twice he had to be rescued while trying to preach the gospel to his own people in Jerusalem. In his gloom, Christ appears to him, comforts him, and assures him that he will be able to fulfill his desire to preach the gospel at Rome (Act 19:21).
    3. Vs. 12 - 15
      1. Forty Jews conspire and take an oath to kill Paul.
    4. Vs. 16 - 22
      1. Paul's nephew learns of the conspiracy. He then informs Paul and the chief captain.
    5. Vs. 23 - 24
      1. The chief captain commands two centurions to prepare 200 soldiers, 70 horsemen, and 200 spearmen to deliver Paul safe to Felix.
    6. Vs. 25 - 30
      1. The chief captain (Claudius Lysias) wrote a letter to the high official (Felix, the governor). The letter truthfully explains what has happened, why Paul is being delivered to him, that his accusers were told to appear before Felix, and that Paul is not yet considered a convict, but someone who was rescued from a mob.
    7. Vs. 31 - 33
      1. The 200 soldiers had been commanded to take Paul to Antipatris, by night. Antipatris was half way between Jerusalem and Caesarea and probably out of reach of Paul's conspirators. The next day, the 70 horsemen continued to escort Paul to Felix in Caesarea.
    8. Vs. 34 - 35
      1. At their arrival, Paul is delivered to Felix. After Felix had examined the letter and questioned Paul's claimed province, he agreed to give Paul a fair trial when his accusers had arrived. In the meantime, he would be kept in Herod's judgment hall.
  5. Chapter 24
    1. Vs. 1 - 9
      1. The malice against Paul was strong enough that Ananias and the elders came down from Jerusalem to press charges against Paul they brought with them a Roman lawyer, Tertullus. He begins his statement by flattering Felix. He accuses Paul of being a dangerous nuisance who starts riots among the Jews all over the world, a leader of the Nazarenes (this probably meaning Christ and his followers was said with a sneer), and that he had profaned the temple. He explains that they would have dealt with him according to Jewish law, but the chief captain came and took him away, and ordered them to come before Felix. The Jews backed Tertullus up, of course.
    2. Vs. 10 - 21
      1. Paul begins his defense by flattering Felix, just as Tertullus did. Paul defends himself by saying he arrived at Jerusalem only twelve days prior. He explains that they did not find him arguing or stirring up the people anywhere in the city. Paul explains that they could not prove any of their accusations. Paul had nothing to be ashamed of and held nothing back. He admitted to being a Christian and worshipping God in the way that his accusers called a sect or heresy. "The way" that Paul spoke of was not against the law and the prophets, but a fulfillment of them. His hope of the resurrection was the same hope that the Jews had. Despite of being accused of wrong doing, he had always lived in such a way as to have a clear conscience toward God. Paul further explains that he had come to Jerusalem to bring money to the poor saints in Jerusalem. It was while he was completing the ceremony of purification that some Jews found him in the temple. There was not a multitude or a riot at the time. Those accusers were not here. If they had something on Paul, why weren't they here? Paul then challenges the men present to tell of what crime they had found Paul in, if there was one. Paul admits to one thing: That he did preach the resurrection of the dead, which the Sadducees accused him.
    3. Vs. 22 - 23
      1. Felix had a knowledge of Christianity. He would have probably released Paul, if not for trying to please the Jews. He said that he would decide the case after seeing the chief captain. Felix then ordered Paul to be kept under guard, but with some freedom and permission for his friends to see to his needs.
    4. Vs. 24 - 27
      1. After a few days Felix and his wife called for Paul and listened to him as he preached Christ. His preaching frightened Felix, probably because of some conviction, and Felix sent him away. Felix said he would hear him again when it was convenient. Felix talked with him often, hoping Paul would offer him money for his freedom. Two years later, Porcius Festus took Felix's place as governor. To please the Jews, Felix left Paul in prison.
  6. Chapter 25
    1. Vs. 1 - 5
      1. Three days after arriving in Caesarea, Festus went up to Jerusalem. On his arrival, the high priest and other Jewish leaders, met with Festus and again made charges against Paul. They asked a private favor of Festus. They wanted him to send Paul to Jerusalem, so that hey could murder him on the way. Festus denies them and tells them to go back with him to Caesarea and go through the proper legal system, if they had anything on Paul.
    2. Vs. 6 - 12
      1. Several days later and back in Caesarea, Paul is again brought back to the court to defend himself. The Jews, after coming down from Jerusalem, once again made many false accusations against Paul that they could not prove. Paul pleads not guilty to all of their charges. Festus, realizing that this is a religious dispute and wanting to gain favor with the Jews, asked Paul if he would go to Jerusalem to be tried by him. Paul ends his defense by appealing to Caesar. Paul states that if he is a lawbreaker, then he is ready to die, but if he is not, then he wants proper justice. Festus acknowledges Paul's appeal and gives it to him.
    3. Vs. 13 - 21
      1. Several days later King Agrippa and his sister, Bernice, made a visit to Festus. Festus tells Agrippa of all his dealings with Paul. Agrippa decides to hear Paul himself.
    4. Vs. 22 -27
      1. The next day Agrippa and Bernice entered the court with a lot of ceremony and honor. Festus explains to Agrippa that the Jews want to kill Paul, but he himself has found nothing to charge him with. But Festus is in a dilemma. He has agreed to allow Paul to appeal to Caesar, but he has no charge to send with him. This seemed unreasonable to Festus, and correctly so. He hoped this hearing before Agrippa would give him something.
  7. Chapter 26
    1. Vs. 1 - 3
      1. Paul begins his defense before Agrippa. Paul was glad to have the opportunity to speak, knowing he would have another opportunity to preach Christ. He was especially grateful that King Agrippa knew the Jewish religion and would hear Paul with patience and understanding.
    2. Vs. 4 - 11
      1. Paul briefly tells of his training and his beliefs before his conversion. Hid early life was open and known to all of them. The Pharisees had firmly and persistently hoped in the promise of God that a Messianic Kingdom would be established. Paul was now a prisoner for that which the Jews believed so strongly. Paul preached that Jesus fulfilled the promises. The Jews denied this, and Paul's preaching infuriated them. Paul asked the question why it was so difficult for them to believe that God raises the dead. Paul explains that he also did persecute Christians and thought as they all did.
    3. Vs. 12 - 19
      1. Paul tells the story of his conversion.
    4. Vs. 20 - 23
      1. Paul tells of his missionary work, and that it was his preaching that caused them to try to kill him. Due to God's help, he was present there and still preaching Christ.
    5. Vs. 24 - 27
      1. As Paul continued to defend himself, Festus rudely interrupted, and accused Paul of madness. He did not understand Paul's enthusiasm concerning visions and resurrection from the dead. Paul denies this accusation and declares the truthfulness of his teaching. Paul then turns to Agrippa and acknowledges that Agrippa did understand what Paul was teaching. Paul then corners Agrippa. Agrippa is now challenged to reject the prophets or believe Paul.
    6. Vs. 28
      1. This verse could mean several different things: 1. Agrippa acknowledges that he is almost convinced to become a Christian. 2. Agrippa is saying, "with small effort you are trying to persuade me to be a Christian. 3. "In this short time, you think you will make me a Christian?"
    7. Vs. 29
      1. Paul answers Agrippa by saying it was his prayer that he and everyone would not only (almost; or with little or great effort; or in little or great time) become a Christian, but be fully persuaded as he himself was. He wished everyone to be in his condition, as a Christian, except for the bonds, of course.
    8. Vs. 30 - 31
      1. Paul's words had made a good impression on them. He had not won them to Christ, but he had won their favor. They agreed that he was innocent.
    9. Vs. 32
      1. Paul had appealed to Caesar only because Festus had tried to get him to go to Jerusalem to be tried. If those events had not occurred, Paul could have now been freed. But the Roman authorities now had to ensure his safe journey to Rome.
  8. Chapter 27
    1. Vs. 1
      1. After an unknown period of time, it was decided that "we", that is Paul, Luke, and Aristarchus, would be shipped to Italy. "Augustus" pertains to the roman emperor. The centurion, Julius, was a man of great importance and authority. Paul was being shipped along with other prisoners.
    2. Vs. 2
      1. The ship they sailed on belonged to Adramyttium, a seaport of Mysia, in Roman Asia. Aristarchus was a travel companion of Paul (Act 19:29, 20:14) and was also imprisoned with him (Col. 4:10).
    3. Vs. 3
      1. The first leg of the trip was sailing from Caesarea, up the coast to Sidon. There, Julius was very kind to Paul and permitted him to leave the ship and visit for a while with "friends to refresh himself." Festus and/or Agrippa had probably told Julius to treat Paul courteously. Other prisoners did not have this privilege.
    4. Vs. 4 - 6
      1. From Sidon they s sailed along the coast of Cyprus to Myra in Lycia. In Lycia, they switched to ship from Alexandria that was sailing to Italy. This ship had a cargo of wheat and was carrying 276 passengers.
    5. Vs. 7 - 8
      1. The going was very slow, against the wind, from Myra to Cnidus. The ship then changed course and sailed for Crete to get protection from the wind.
    6. Vs. 9
      1. A lot of time had now past as they had been fighting the wind. It had come to a time of the year when sailing the Mediterranean was considered dangerous. "The fast", that is the day of atonement (Lev. 16:29-30, 23:27, Num. 29:7) had past. They kept time by counting from the day of atonement.
    7. Vs. 10
      1. Paul warns them of hurt and damage as the voyage continues.
    8. Vs. 11 - 12
      1. The centurion chose not to listen to Paul, but sail to Phonic. He did this because he trusted the captain and ship owner and because the harbor of Pheonice was better to winter in than the harbor of fair havens.
    9. Vs. 13 - 14
      1. As a favorable wind blew they were pleased and sailed again. Shortly thereafter, a northeast wind of hurricane strength blew in.
    10. Vs. 15 - 20
      1. The wind was so strong that they had to let the ship go with the wind. The sailors fight the storm.
    11. Vs. 21 - 26
      1. After much work, no food, and having lost all hope, Paul encourages. He begins by telling them they should have listened to his earlier warning. He then explains that an angel of God came to him and told him that he would appear before Caesar and all that sailed with him would be saved. He tells them to be courageous, even though there will be a shipwreck.
    12. Vs. 27 - 30
      1. When the 14th night came the sailors felt they were coming towards land. As they drifted, the sailors took depth measurements and found that they were indeed headed for land. They cast out anchors, hoping to snag something that would stop them from wrecking. Some of the sailors pretended to let down anchors, as they let down the lifeboat. They wanted to escape the shipwreck.
    13. Vs. 31 - 32
      1. Paul convinces the centurion to cut the lifeboat. He told the centurion that if the men did not stay aboard, he would be killed.
    14. Vs. 33 - 38
      1. Paul encourages the men to eat for their health and tells them that no one will lose even a hair from their head. Paul set a courageous example to the men. Paul the n gave thanks to God and ate. All the men were then encouraged and ate also. After they had eaten they cast off the cargo of wheat.
    15. Vs. 39 - 40
      1. As daylight came, they didn't know where they were. They saw a creek that they would try to run the ship into in order to save it.
    16. Vs. 41 - 44
      1. The plan did not work. The ship ran aground onto a sand bar and stuck. The waves began to destroy the ship. The soldiers wanted to kill the prisoners to keep them from escaping, but the centurion wanted to save Paul and would not allow it. He gave the command to those that could swim to shore, do so; and to the rest, drift to shore on lumber from the broken ship. All made it to land safely.
  9. Chapter 28
    1. Vs. 1 - 6
      1. The island on which they wrecked was Malta. The islanders were very kind to them and helped them. While gathering firewood, a venomous snake got mixed up in the firewood. When driven out, it bit Paul on the hand and remained fastened. The natives were very superstitious. They could obviously see that Paul was a prisoner, presumably of some great crime. When the snake bit Paul, the islanders felt that it was Paul's due justice coming to him. When he shook it off, without harm, the islanders went to the other extreme by calling him a god. It is noteworthy to recognize Paul's carefree attitude in regard to the snake. Paul had 2 promises on which to have confidence: 1. The promise of Christ to his disciples concerning snakes (Mk. 16:18; Lk. 10:19). 2. The promise that he would preach the gospel in Rome; therefore he would not die getting there.
    2. Vs. 7 - 11
      1. Nearby the shipwreck, the chief man of the island lived. He showed hospitality to Paul, Luke and probably Aristarchus and at least one soldier, or maybe even Julius. Some think the entire company with Paul. While there, Paul healed Publius' father, who was suffering from dysentery. Word of this got around quick, and Paul healed many that came to him from the island. The people of the island were very grateful to Paul. They bestowed great honor to them and gave them supplies that were needed. They had lost everything in the shipwreck. After 3 months they entered another ship from Alexandria that had wintered in Malta.
    3. Vs. 12 - 14
      1. From Malta, they sailed north to Syracuse on the island of Sicily, and stayed there for 3 days. From Syracuse they sailed to Rhegium in Italy. From Rhegium, a favorable wind blew, so the sailors made great time to Puteoli. In Puteoli, Christians were found and invited them to stay for a week. From there, they went on to Rome. Paul had finally reached Rome, but not as had expected (Rom 15:22 - 29).
    4. Vs. 15
      1. On the way from Puteoli, Christians from Rome had came down and met Paul at the Three Taverns, which was about 33 miles from Rome, and at Appiiforium, which was about 43 miles from Rome. Paul thanked God when he saw these brethren and was greatly encouraged. Vs. 16) On their arrival in Rome, the prisoners were delivered to the captain of the guard. Paul however was allowed to live by himself with one soldier. Due to the favorable terms used by Festus and Paul's good conduct and helpfulness on the voyage, the officer in charge was influenced to give Paul every privilege in his power.
    5. Vs. 17 - 22
      1. After 3 days in Rome, Paul called the Roman Jews together to explain why he was in Rome. He explains that he has done nothing against the Jewish people and customs, nor had the Romans found him guilty of anything. Paul also had to explain why he was a prisoner. He explains of his appeal to Caesar to save his own life and that it was for "the hope of Israel" that he is bound. It was the hope of Israel that a messiah would bring in the kingdom of heaven. Paul also suffered for his hope of the resurrection from the dead, which Paul preached and which proved that Jesus was the Christ. The Jews acknowledged that they had not heard of any bad things concerning Paul, but they did want to know what he thought about Christianity, that they had heard bad things about.
    6. Vs. 23 - 29
      1. A day was arranged that the Jews went to Paul and heard him preach Christ from morning to evening. Some believed and some did not. They left him after he quoted a prophesy concerning their spiritual dullness and that the Gentiles would listen to the salvation that had come to them.
    7. Vs. 30 - 31)
      1. "Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came to him, preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him."