Costly Discipleship – Part One – Acts 21:1-26

By John Bellingham on January 26, 2014
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Costly Discipleship – Part One

Acts 21:1-26


– Having said a tearful goodbye to the Elders at Ephesus, Paul heads for Jerusalem knowing that suffering and imprisonment await him.

– Paul’s journey to Jerusalem shows us what it means to count the cost of following Jesus Christ.  Paul models costly discipleship in two ways:  1) His Inflexibility (vv. 1-16);   2) His Flexibility (vv. 17-26)


I.  Paul’s Inflexibility (vv. 1-16)

1)     The Compassion of the Church (vv. 4, 10-12)

  • The believers love Paul and desire that he would be spared from any suffering
  • Paul’s suffering in Jerusalem is continually predicted through the Prophetic Gift
  • The well intentioned warnings from these believers are reminiscent of Peter’s words to Jesus (cf. Matt 16:21-23)

2)     The Courage of the Apostle  (v. 13, cf. 20:22-25)

  • Paul is travelling to Jerusalem under the compulsion of the Spirit (cf. 20:22)
  • Paul’s final journey to Jerusalem parallels Jesus final journey to Jerusalem (cf. Luke 9:51)
  • Paul understood that suffering was an integral part of his gospel ministry (cf. 9:15-16; Colossians 1:24)

Application:  Do we have a Biblical perspective or a worldly perspective on suffering?

3)     A Perspective on Prophecy

  • Prophecy is a gift of the Spirit that will remain active until the return of Jesus Christ (Rom 12:6; 1 Cor 12:27-31, 13:8-10)
  • The New Testament gift of prophecy is best understood as “telling something that God has spontaneously brought to mind” (Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology)
  • Prophetic utterances are NOT of equal authority with Inspired Scripture (Acts 21:4)
  1. They must be sifted and tested against the Scriptures (1 Cor 14:29-38; 1 Thess 5:19-21)
  2. Our interpretation of what the Spirit is saying to us is fallible (open to error)
  • The Spirit accurately revealed that Paul would be imprisoned, but the Church’s interpretation of that message was clearly inaccurate
  • Some of the fine details of Agabus’ prophecy are inaccurate

Application:  Do not despise the gift of prophecy (1 Thess 5:19-21), but do not abuse it either!  The Word and the Spirit must always be held together.

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