Summary: Paul’s transition from a time of tranquility to captivity actually served to take his ministry to a new realm of effectiveness.
From Tranquility to Captivity.
After we had torn ourselves away from them, we put out to sea and sailed straight to Cos. The next day we went to Rhodes and from there to Patara.
2:We found a ship crossing over to Phoenicia, went on board and set sail.
3:After sighting Cyprus and passing to the south of it, we sailed on to Syria. We landed at Tyre, where our ship was to unload its cargo.
4:Finding the disciples there, we stayed with them seven days. Through the Spirit they urged Paul not to go on to Jerusalem.
5:But when our time was up, we left and continued on our way. All the disciples and their wives and children accompanied us out of the city, and there on the beach we knelt to pray.
6:After saying good-bye to each other, we went aboard the ship, and they returned home.
7:We continued our voyage from Tyre and landed at Ptolemais, where we greeted the brothers and stayed with them for a day.
8:Leaving the next day, we reached Caesarea and stayed at the house of Philip the evangelist, one of the Seven.
9:He had four unmarried daughters who prophesied.
10:After we had been there a number of days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea.
11:Coming over to us, he took Paul’s belt, tied his own hands and feet with it and said, "The Holy Spirit says, `In this way the Jews of Jerusalem will bind the owner of this belt and will hand him over to the Gentiles.’ "
12:When we heard this, we and the people there pleaded with Paul not to go up to Jerusalem.
13:Then Paul answered, "Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus."
14:When he would not be dissuaded, we gave up and said, "The Lord’s will be done."
15:After this, we got ready and went up to Jerusalem.
Here we see Paul half way through his third missionary journey and heading for Jerusalem. Paul, originally named Saul, was converted after setting off to persecute the very faith that he now proclaimed. Upon his conversion he was prayed for by Ananias. God had prophesied this to Ananias concerning Paul.
But the Lord said to Ananias, "Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel.
Paul had already completed two missionary journeys and had fulfilled most of this prophecy. He had faithfully spread the gospel to the Jews, and then when they wouldn’t listen, the gentiles. He had set up many churches such as Ephesus and Corinth and many had come to know Jesus through him. However Paul had yet to preach to the kings of the gentiles and had yet to preach at the heart of the gentile land, Rome. Here in chapter 21 of the book of Acts we see Paul’s transition from missionary to prisoner.
Instead of Paul’s ministry ending now that he was in captivity it blossomed. Over the next few chapters we see Paul speaking to the kings and leaders of the land, Governor Felix, Governor Festus and King Agrippa to name but three. Paul was to achieve more in prison than he did in the fifteen years that he spent as a missionary. I want to look at what Paul did which ensured he took this next step on his ministry and fulfilled the prophecy that was spoken over him.
1.Keeping the Focus.
When we read through the book of Acts we see that Paul suffered for his ministry and his obedience to his calling. He was constantly under threat of death from the Jews, he had been stoned and left for dead, and his teaching had even caused a riot. In Acts chapter 21 however when we read the first 9 verses we find that Paul was actually having a fairly tranquil time. The first few verses actually sound like something out of a holiday brochure. Paul sails to Cos, Rhodes, past Cyprus and then goes down to the beach to pray with the believers in Tyre. These would have been beautiful places just as they are today. Paul may not have been on a cruise liner, but I am pretty sure that in comparison to the things that he had had to endure, this could be classed as a time of relative tranquility and relaxation.
In these towns we find Paul finding other believers and praying with them. He and his companions enjoyed their hospitality. For once we find that Paul was the one being ministered to, and not doing the ministering. Paul was probably having a Psalm 23 moment with the Lord leading him aside for rest and to restore his soul.