Summary: People remember the next day because it indexes our life chronologically and it indexes our life emotionally. It stands in time as a point of transition from bad to good or from good to bad.

Title: The Next Day

Scripture: Acts 21:1-26

Let someone pick a random day in your life and chances are you won’t be able to remember exactly what you were doing that day. But, ask any older American what they were doing on December 7th 1941 and they can tell you. Or ask someone what they were doing on the infamous 9/11 day, or even more recently the day the tsunami hit southeast Asia.

People can associate dates, times, and facts readily. They can tell you what they were doing, and, usually they can tell you about the next day as well.

At approximately 4 p.m., August 7th 1998, raindrops bigger than a quarter started failing on the northern region of the Republic of Korea. The next day, many cities north of Seoul were flooded with 1 to 6 meters of water. People remember that day, and they remember the next day.

People remember the next day because it indexes our life chronologically and it indexes our life emotionally. It stands in time as a point of transition from bad to good or from good to bad. It stands like a signpost on the highway, marking the spot in our lives when improvement began, or when decisions were made, or when hope was given up. The next day.

The next day… There always seems to be a next day in scripture. But, in the New Testament the odd fact is, there is only the next day in the four gospels and the book of Acts. It occurs 31 times in 31 verses, but it occurs four times in our verses that we are looking at today. There is no next day in the epistles. I find that a little odd, but it’s no big hang up.

In these 26 verses, the next day not only transitions us in time, or chronologically, but it transitions us from thought to thought, or, more simply, it separates our points for us. For Paul, Luke, and their fellow travelers, it marked significant milestones and significant changes in location, in focus, and even in people.

I. The Next Day: The Praying and the Parting (vv. 1-7)

II. The Next Day: The Prophets and the Prophecy (vv. 8-17)

III. The Next Day: The Praise and the Propaganda (vv. 18-25)

IV. The Next Day: The Rites and Riots (vv. 26-29)

I. The Next Day: The Praying and the Parting

21:1 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-by 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.

Paul had chosen to bypass Ephesus and instead go to Miletus. From there he summoned the Ephesian elders to that city. Probably to give them some guidance, advice and warnings. Additionally, Luke gives us a very short but emotional description of the parting.

Why were they so emotional? What is it that binds Christians together on this earth that causes such emotions when they part?

Shared Spiritual Experiences

Going through tough times together in the Spirit with another solidifies relationships. Going through great times together in the Spirit with another solidifies relationships as well. Paul had this with the Elders of the Church of Ephesus. He spent more than three years developing that relationship in Christ and it was rock solid.

I’m sure they went through many rough experiences together, one of which was the big riot with Demetrius and the metal craftsmen concerning the Greek god Artemis.

Shared Spiritual Dependency

Leaning on the Spirit to lead and direct your congregation or group is the only way to develop a shared Spiritual Dependency. Leaning on the Spirit together builds up not only those sharing the experience, but those watching the experience from the sidelines. You and those that you go through experiences with, whether you like it or not, become the testimony of those onlookers of God’s work. That’s right! Those people watching from the sidelines are going to use that experience that they witnessed, to witness to others. You became their testimony.

Paul leaned on the support of the Ephesian elders and they leaned on him for Spiritual discernment and leadership. They all mutually depended on the Spirit.

Shared Spiritual Parenthood

In 1st Corinthians and in 1st Timothy, Paul refers to Timothy as his son. Paul was the ‘spiritual father’ of Timothy. Meaning, he led Timothy to the Lord. Likewise, Paul was probably the spiritual father of many at Ephesus as well. And, they experienced that ‘spiritual father-son’ relationship.

Shared Love in Christ

Lastly, and most importantly, they shared love in Christ. They all realized without a doubt that the love that they had for one another, was put there by God, and sustained by Him. They knew that without that common bond, their mutual love of Christ, and Christ in them, there would not have been any relationship!

Relationships can exist apart from Christ, but they are not really relationships that will last very long. Relationships built on the rock of Jesus Christ are built on a solid foundation and will never crumble. They may suffer from outside persecution or be strained by worldly desires, but they will never crumble.

II. The Next Day: The Prophets and the Prophecy

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. 16 Some of the disciples from Caesarea accompanied us and brought us to the home of Mnason, where we were to stay. He was a man from Cyprus and one of the early disciples. 17 When we arrived at Jerusalem, the brothers received us warmly.

Can you imagine five prophets in the same house at the same time? Not to mention any of Paul’s group! What a wonderful time they must have had talking about the Lord! Then, the prophecy was announced, that he would go up to Jerusalem, but would be imprisoned there and handed over to the Gentiles.

But the scripture says, he would not be dissuaded. They couldn’t convince Paul to change his mind.

III. The Next Day: The Praise and the Propaganda

18 The next day Paul and the rest of us went to see James, and all the elders were present. 19 Paul greeted them and reported in detail what God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry. 20 When they heard this, they praised God. Then they said to Paul: "You see, brother, how many thousands of Jews have believed, and all of them are zealous for the law. 21 They have been informed that you teach all the Jews who live among the Gentiles to turn away from Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or live according to our customs. 22 What shall we do? They will certainly hear that you have come, 23 so do what we tell you. There are four men with us who have made a vow. 24 Take these men, join in their purification rites and pay their expenses, so that they can have their heads shaved. Then everybody will know there is no truth in these reports about you, but that you yourself are living in obedience to the law. 25 As for the Gentile believers, we have written to them our decision that they should abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality."

Isn’t it great when you get together with friends in the Lord and talk about the accomplishments of the Lord? At this time, it was very rare to meet brothers or sisters in the Lord along the road. So, believers would take advantage of every opportunity to meet, to gather, to congregate in the Lord Jesus and talk about what the Lord has been doing in their lives.

That might be one reason there is a decline in commitment (notice I did not say attendance) to the church of Christ today. People think that they have all that they need. There are people in the world today that say, “Why travel, I can see anywhere in the world on the internet? Why go to the bother?” There are people in the world that entertain themselves at home, rather than going to church!

We need the fellowship. We need the meetings, the gatherings, the assemblies, so that we can get together and praise the Lord for what He has been doing in our lives.

Paul had that desire. The desire to let everyone know what the Lord was doing with the Gentiles. Paul had this desire to get to Jerusalem to praise God before the apostles for His mighty work among the Gentiles. Isn’t that great?

But, we said the praise…, and the propaganda. What propaganda, what ‘party line’ are we talking about? The party line that Paul, upon reaching Jerusalem, had to go through this Jewish ritual to convince the Jews that he was not teaching against the law of Moses.

The brothers that were in Jerusalem welcomed Paul’s praise of God’s mighty work, and then, in turn, praised God for the Lord’s work in Jerusalem. That’s great, isn’t it? Well, if that’s so, why didn’t they tell the Jewish believers that Paul’s work was not against Moses? Why did they continue to let that rumor float around? Why didn’t they counter the gossip with the Gospel?

I can’t tell you the answer, because I don’t know. However, they convinced Paul that he had to go through with this Jewish ritual of purification in order to show the Jews that he still observed the law.

It’s a mystery. I know that Paul said in 1st Corinthians, chapter 9, verses 22-23:

To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. 23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.

Was this purification part of that? I don’t know. However, we can learn something here, and that is we need to weigh heavily what we hear concerning our Spiritual direction. Remember in chapter 20 where Paul told the Ephesian elders that they needed to be on guard? Yet, here, we find even Paul obeying men, rather than God.

IV. The Next Day: The Rites and Riots (vv. 26-29)

26 The next day Paul took the men and purified himself along with them. Then he went to the temple to give notice of the date when the days of purification would end and the offering would be made for each of them. 27 When the seven days were nearly over, some Jews from the province of Asia saw Paul at the temple. They stirred up the whole crowd and seized him, 28 shouting, "Men of Israel, help us! This is the man who teaches all men everywhere against our people and our law and this place. And besides, he has brought Greeks into the temple area and defiled this holy place." 29 (They had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian in the city with Paul and assumed that Paul had brought him into the temple area.)

The rites and the riots. Upon reading this bit of scripture, I’m reminded of a situation that occurred in a church in Southern California. This church had been established for a few years, but had recently undergone a major facelift. They had replaced the chairs, they had put carpet on the floor, they had put in better lights, they put in more windows to let in more light, they improved the sound system and many other improvements.

One day, a young man came walking into the church without shoes. His feet were dirty. His clothes were tattered and he looked like a bum.

He walked in and sat down. He sat down by the Head Deacon. He didn’t know the man was the head deacon, he just wanted to be close to the front.

Well the Deacon looked out of the corner of his eye at the young man. His thoughts were something like this, We have brand new cloth on these chairs, and he’s going to get the dirty. Look at those feet, we’ll have to have the carpet steam cleaned in order to get the dirt out. Why do the ushers let these kind of people into the church anyway?

Well, the music was over and the pastor stood up to give his message. He asked the congregation to open up their Bibles to a certain place. While the pages were rustling, the deacon looked around his seat and discovered that he had forgotten his Bible. Meanwhile, the young man sitting next to him had already found the passage of scripture. The young man noticed that the man next to him did not have a Bible so he moved closer and whispered to the deacon that he could share his.

To the deacon’s amazement, he noticed that practically every page of that tattered, well-worn Bible had some kind of highlight. There were sentences underlined. There were notes were in the margin. There were references to other scripture passages. The deacon began to feel ashamed, especially when the pastor read this passage from Luke 14:12-14:

12 Then Jesus said to his host, "When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid.

13 But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."

He invited the young man to dinner that night and they have been friends ever since.

That man was getting caught up in the rites that lead to riots. That man was getting caught up in the traditions. Traditions that compel us to follow man rather than following Jesus. Traditions that tell us to wear a certain kind of clothes or God will be ashamed. Traditions that tell us about our hair, our shoes, our jewelry, our speech, our relationships.

These are all rites that lead to riots. Actions that bring us closer to man, but distance us from God. Actions that make men smile, but make God frown.

That deacon, like the Jews in this scripture passage wanted to grab the wrong guy. Can you imagine the deacon standing up and stirring up the whole crowd to grab him, and shouting, "Men of the Church of God, help us! This is young man has no shoes, and is getting our carpet dirty.”

He wanted to grab the wrong guy. I say wrong guy because God grabbed hold of his heart instead and convinced him that rites lead to riots!


The next day… Chances are that in 10 years you’ll not remember this day, or the next day, unless something spectacular happens.

Here are those things again that got Luke’s attention while he was traveling with Paul:

I. The Next Day: The Praying and the Parting (vv. 1-7)

II. The Next Day: The Prophets and the Prophecy (vv. 8-17)

III. The Next Day: The Praise and the Propaganda (vv. 18-25)

IV. The Next Day: The Rites and Riots (vv. 26-29)