Chapter Twenty-One — Part Three: The Book of Acts

By: Pastors Rodney & Adonica Howard-Browne

Publish date: 01/01/2023

Foundation Scriptures:
Acts 21:20-26

1. The Jews.
a. Acts 21:20b NKJV — And they said to him, “You see, brother, how many myriads of Jews there are who have believed, and they are all zealous for the law;
b. They called him, “brother,” because they were family in the Lord and fellow workers in the truth.
c. Thousands ­— myriads (Greek myrias) — ten thousand; an innumerable multitude; an unlimited number.
d. Many tens of thousands of Jews now believed on Jesus and received Him as Lord and Messiah.
e. However, they were still very enthusiastic for the Law of Moses and reluctant to let the Law and rituals go.
f. Acts 21:21 NKJV — …but they have been informed about you that you teach all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children nor to walk according to the customs.
g. They had been (wrongly) informed that he taught the Gentiles to abandon the Law of Moses.
h. As Jesus said, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled” (Matt. 5:17-18 NKJV).
i. This is what Paul preached—that Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes (Rom. 10:4).
j. Because the Law was fulfilled in Jesus, there was no more need for circumcision or sacrifices, and the accusations made against Paul were false.
k. He was accused of teaching Jews to apostatize, but on the contrary, he emphasized that Jews should return to their God and accept Christ, the Messiah, of Whom all their prophets spoke.
l. They accused him of teaching the Jews to not circumcise their children, which was not true.
m. Circumcision was no longer necessary for the born-again Jews, but they continued with the tradition.
n. Paul did not teach circumcision to the Gentiles, because it had been decided by the Church to not require that Gentiles be circumcised.
o. The only things the Church required of the Gentiles were to abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality (Acts 15:28-29).
p. They accused him of teaching the Jews to forsake their customs, habits, and manners, but he only taught the truth—that you could not depend on these for salvation (Rom. 3:24; Eph. 1:7; 2:8-9; Col. 1:20; 2:14-17).

2. The Vow.
a. Acts 21:22 NKJV — What then? The assembly must certainly meet, for they will hear that you have come.
b. They prepared him for the meeting that would take place.
c. Acts 21:23 NKJV — Therefore do what we tell you: We have four men who have taken a vow.
d. Vow (Greek euchē) — vow; prayer.
e. This was most likely a Nazarite vow (Acts 18:18; Num. 6:1-8).
f. Acts 21:24 NKJV — Take them and be purified with them, and pay their expenses so that they may shave their heads, and that all may know that those things of which they were informed concerning you are nothing, but that you yourself also walk orderly and keep the law.
g. Shave (Greek xyraō) — shave; shear.
h. They suggested that he be purified with them and help to pay the expenses of the sacrifices and offerings (Num. 6:13-21).

3. Walk Orderly.
a. Walk orderly (Greek stoicheō) — to range in regular line; to march in (military) rank (keep step); (figuratively) to conform to virtue and piety; to walk (orderly).
b. By “walk orderly,” they meant: To walk according to religious observances.
c. Used also here: Rom. 4:12; Gal. 5:25; 6:16; Php. 3:16.
d. Romans 4:12 AMPC — As well as [that he be made] the father of those circumcised persons who are not merely circumcised, but also walk in the way of that faith which our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.
e. Galatians 5:25 AMPC — If we live by the [Holy] Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. [If by the Holy Spirit we have our life in God, let us go forward walking in line, our conduct controlled by the Spirit.]
f. They were trying to clear Paul’s reputation with the Jews.
g. Clearly, they were a bit afraid of these Jews and chose conformity over confrontation.
h. They advised him to do what they thought necessary to prove to the Jews that he still believed that the law was holy and good, and that he was not an enemy of Moses.
i. Paul could not have done this with a clear conscience if these ceremonies were done for the purpose of justification through the Law.
j. Acts 21:25 NKJV — But concerning the Gentiles who believe, we have written and decided that they should observe no such thing, except that they should keep themselves from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality.”
k. They acknowledged that the Gentiles were not subject to the same rituals and obligations.

4. Purification.
a. Acts 21:26 NKJV — Then Paul took the men, and the next day, having been purified with them, entered the temple to announce the expiration of the days of purification, at which time an offering should be made for each one of them.
b. Paul humbled himself to do these things because, as he admitted himself, he would sacrifice anything if he could just win the Jews and turn them to Christ (Rom. 9:1-3; 1 Cor. 9:20).
c. 1 Corinthians 9:20 NKJV — And to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law.