7When we had finished£ the voyage from Tyre, we arrived at Ptolemais; and we greeted the believers and stayed with them for one day. 8The next day we left and came to Caesarea; and we went into the house of Philip the evangelist, one of the seven, and stayed with him. 9He had four unmarried daughters who had the gift of prophecy. 10While we were staying there for several days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. 11He came to us and took Paul’s belt, bound his own feet and hands with it, and said, “Thus says the Holy Spirit, ‘This is the way the Jews in Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and will hand him over to the Gentiles.’” 12When we heard this, we and the people there urged him not to go up to Jerusalem. 13Then Paul answered, “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” 14Since he would not be persuaded, we remained silent except to say, “The Lord’s will be done.”
Paul and his traveling companions arrive at Caesarea and stay at the house of Philip.
We were first introduced to Philip back in Acts 6, when he was chosen as one of the seven leaders to make sure that the Greek speaking widows were not being neglected. Then in Acts 8, we learned that due to Saul’s persecution of the Christians, Philip went to Samaria to proclaim the Messiah. He was led by the Lord to the desert road to Gaza, where he encounters an Ethiopian official, witnesses to him and ends up baptizing him. He then is miraculously transported to Azotus, where he continued to proclaim the good news until he reached Caesarea. Apparently, he settled there and now has a family.
It is interesting to realize that Philip left Jerusalem because of the persecution for which Paul was responsible, and now, Philip is hosting Paul in Caesarea. It is just another reminder that God can work in mysterious ways. Sometimes, what appeared as a real negative turns out to be happening in accordance with God’s will and purposes.
While at Philip’s house, a prophet named Agabus arrives from Judea and informs them that the Holy Spirit had revealed to him that when Paul gets to Jerusalem, he will be bound by the Jews and turned over to the Gentiles.
Upon hearing this, Paul’s friends urge him not to go to Jerusalem. They took the message as a warning from the Holy Spirit for Paul not to go to Jerusalem. But Paul is not interpreting this as a warning to stay away from Jerusalem, but simply information of what will happen when he gets to Jerusalem.
In the past, Paul received specific guidance from the Lord to not go to certain place (Acts 16:6-8), but Agabus’ message was not such an instruction. Paul understood that he was to go to Jerusalem. It’s not too different than when Jesus met with Moses and Elijah to talk about what was going to happen to Him in Jerusalem. It was to prepare and be clear on what was to happen – it was not a warning to stay away from Jerusalem.
Paul is saddened by the fact that his friends are so fearful about what would happen to him in Jerusalem. Paul tells them that he is ready to be bound and to even die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.
When Jesus was facing His tribulations, even if it was not His desire, He was willing to experience the humiliation and the pain of being arrested, flogged and crucified. All for the Kingdom of God and the forgiveness of our sins.
Paul was willing to be arrested and die for the name of the Lord Jesus. He understood that the part he is being asked to play for the sake of the Kingdom includes arrests and execution. Amazingly, he was able to declare to his friends, “I am ready”.
What about us? Are we ready? Or when we hear about some crisis that could come upon us, instead of being ready to face it for the sake of the Lord, are we more ready to try to avoid it?
I’m certain that the vast majority, if not all, of us, will not be called upon to be put to death for the sake of the Kingdom. But are we ready to do God’s will when He calls?
What the Lord calls us to do is probably different for each of us and might be varied, depending on what our situation is. However, whatever it is, we should be ready and willing. Considering that it most likely will not include arrests and executions, we should be thankful for that, and be more willing to do what is put in front of us.
Before becoming a Christian, Paul persecuted the church, since he sincerely believed that Jesus was a false messiah, and that Jesus’ followers were enemies of God. Once he encountered the risen Lord on the road to Damascus, his life turned completely around. He now knew that Jesus was the Messiah and that even though Paul was His enemy, Jesus had not only forgiven Paul, He was going to make Paul a witness for Him. Paul knew that he had sinned against God, and yet, he was allowed to live and to serve God. He became a loyal servant and was willing to do whatever the Lord called him to do, even to be arrested and executed.
So, for Paul, what the Lord would have him do was not optional, but something he felt duty bound to do, as well as desired to do. That would be consistent with considering Jesus Christ as our Lord.
According to Romans 14:9, Jesus died on the cross and was resurrected so that He could be our Lord. And when we come to accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we are entering that Lord-subject relationship with Jesus.
In the first letter to the Corinthians, Paul mentions different roles of church members – preaching, teaching, ability to speak languages, ability to interpret languages, healing, being helpful, leadership, etc. We are all called to do one or more of these things. I believe being helpful would include things like encouraging, consoling, providing food, shelter, hospitality, etc.
If you have been an active member of a church body, you probably have experienced fulfilling one or more of these roles, whether you volunteered on your own, or was asked to do so by someone. If we were to follow Paul’s example, the next time an opportunity arises, instead of considering it as an option, or something to be avoided, we should be ready to act.
There are many good examples of how a servant of the Lord should live their lives. We should pick one that we like and follow it. The one that speaks to me is the parable of the worker in the field that Jesus told and is recorded in Luke 17. Once we are done doing the work of the Lord, instead of expecting accolades or being treated with honor, our attitude should be, “we have done what we should have done”, and then ask what we should do next.
Paul lived his life in appreciation for the forgiveness and purpose that Jesus Christ had given to him. Whether the next task was easy or hard, Paul was always ready to do the Lord’s will, even if it meant being bound and executed. Let us follow his example and be a loyal servant of Christ.