Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible

Acts Ch.21 / 28 Ch.s


* Paul's voyage towards Jerusalem. (1-7) Paul at Cesarea. The
prophecy of Agabus, Paul at Jerusalem. (8-18) He is persuaded to
join in ceremonial observances. (19-26) Being in danger from the
Jews, he is rescued by the Romans. (27-40)

#1-7 Providence must be acknowledged when our affairs go on
well. Wherever Paul came, he inquired what disciples were there,
and found them out. Foreseeing his troubles, from love to him,
and concern for the church, they wrongly thought it would be
most for the glory of God that he should continue at liberty;
but their earnestness to dissuade him from it, renders his pious
resolution the more illustrious. He has taught us by example, as
well as by rule, to pray always, to pray without ceasing. Their
last farewell was sweetened with prayer.

#8-18 Paul had express warning of his troubles, that when they
came, they might be no surprise or terror to him. The general
notice given us, that through much tribulation we must enter
into the kingdom of God, should be of the same use to us. Their
weeping began to weaken and slacken his resolution Has not our
Master told us to take up our cross? It was a trouble to him,
that they should so earnestly press him to do that in which he
could not gratify them without wronging his conscience. When we
see trouble coming, it becomes us to say, not only, The will of
the Lord must be done, and there is no remedy; but, Let the will
of the Lord be done; for his will is his wisdom, and he doeth
all according to the counsel of it. When a trouble is come, this
must allay our griefs, that the will of the Lord is done; when
we see it coming, this must silence our fears, that the will of
the Lord shall be done; and we ought to say, Amen, let it be
done. It is honourable to be an old disciple of Jesus Christ, to
have been enabled by the grace of God to continue long in a
course of duty, stedfast in the faith, growing more and more
experienced, to a good old age. And with these old disciples one
would choose to lodge; for the multitude of their years shall
teach wisdom. Many brethren at Jerusalem received Paul gladly.
We think, perhaps, that if we had him among us, we should gladly
receive him; but we should not, if, having his doctrine, we do
not gladly receive that.

#19-26 Paul ascribed all his success to God, and to God they
gave the praise. God had honoured him more than any of the
apostles, yet they did not envy him; but on the contrary,
glorified the Lord. They could not do more to encourage Paul to
go on cheerfully in his work. James and the elders of the church
at Jerusalem, asked Paul to gratify the believing Jews, by some
compliance with the ceremonial law. They thought it was prudent
in him to conform thus far. It was great weakness to be so fond
of the shadows, when the substance was come. The religion Paul
preached, tended not to destroy the law, but to fulfil it. He
preached Christ, the end of the law for righteousness, and
repentance and faith, in which we are to make great use of the
law. The weakness and evil of the human heart strongly appear,
when we consider how many, even of the disciples of Christ, had
not due regard to the most eminent minister that even lived. Not
the excellence of his character, nor the success with which God
blessed his labours, could gain their esteem and affection,
seeing that he did not render the same respect as themselves to
mere ceremonial observances. How watchful should we be against
prejudices! The apostles were not free from blame in all they
did; and it would be hard to defend Paul from the charge of
giving way too much in this matter. It is vain to attempt to
court the favour of zealots, or bigots to a party. This
compliance of Paul did not answer, for the very thing by which
he hoped to pacify the Jews, provoked them, and brought him into
trouble. But the all-wise God overruled both their advice and
Paul's compliance with it, to serve a better purpose than was
intended. It was in vain to think of pleasing men who would be
pleased with nothing but the rooting out of Christianity.
Integrity and uprightness will be more likely to preserve us
than insincere compliances. And it should warn us not to press
men to doing what is contrary to their own judgment to oblige

#27-40 In the temple, where Paul should have been protected as
in a place of safety, he was violently set upon. They falsely
charged him with ill doctrine and ill practice against the
Mosaic ceremonies. It is no new thing for those who mean
honestly and act regularly, to have things laid to their charge
which they know not and never thought of. It is common for the
wise and good to have that charged against them by malicious
people, with which they thought to have obliged them. God often
makes those a protection to his people, who have no affection to
them, but only have compassion for sufferers, and regard to the
public peace. And here see what false, mistaken notions of good
people and good ministers, many run away with. But God
seasonably interposes for the safety of his servants, from
wicked and unreasonable men; and gives them opportunities to
speak for themselves, to plead for the Redeemer, and to spread
abroad his glorious gospel.