WHAT DOES ACTS 21:23,24 TRULY MEAN?


EDITED


What Does Acts 21:23,24 TRULY mean?


Let us begin this study in God's word by reading Acts 21:23,24 out of its CONTEXT.


Acts 21:23,24.


“Do therefore this that we say to you: (The pronoun “WE” in this verse is referring to the Jewish Christians at Jerusalem. And the pronoun “YOU” in this verse is referring to the apostle Paul. In verses before these two verses the apostle James, speaking in behalf of all the Jewish Christians in Jerusalem, points out to the apostle Paul of all the MANY Jewish Christians that there are in Jerusalem. And the James says some other things and then continues to say the following) We have four men which have a vow on them;

24. Them take, and purify yourself with them, and be at charges with them, that they may shave their heads: and all may know that those things, whereof they were informed concerning you, are nothing; but that YOU YOURSELF also walk orderly, and KEEP the LAW.”

Now, the seventh day of the week Sabbath-keeping Christians use Acts 21:23,24 out of its CONTEXT to dogmatically demand that the early church KEPT the law of Moses. And then they conclude that since the apostle Paul himself KEPT the Law of Moses here in Acts 21:23,24, then this proves beyond any shadow of a doubt that ALL Christians MUST keep the Law of Moses.


But is THEIR interpretation of Acts 21:23,24 that every Christian must keep the law of Moses a SOUND Biblical interpretation?


All anyone needs to do is to read the next verse.


Please read Acts 21:25.


As touching the Gentiles which BELIEVE, we have written and CONCLUDED that THEY observe no such thing, (In other words, back in Acts chapter 15 THIS MATTER of whether or not the Gentile Christians should keep the Law of Moses was SETTLED once and for all time that NO SUCH COMMANDMENT should be given to ANY Gentile Christians for them to keep the Law of Moses) save only that they keep themselves from things offered to idols, and from blood, and from strangled, and from fornication.”

So then, does this mean that ONLY the Jewish Christians must keep the law of Moses? Well, SOME Christians have drawn that conclusion which also is NOT a SOUND Biblical teaching. And that is what led me to do this study in God’s word.

So far we know with 100% absolute assurance that the Gentile Christians are NOT to keep the Law of Moses for ANY reason. But what about the Jewish Christians?

Now the argument of the Christians that WRONGLY teach that the Jewish Christians must keep the Law of Moses CLAIM that there are TWO DIFFERENT gospels being taught in the New Testament. They say that there is one gospel for the Jews. And they say that there is a different gospel for the Gentiles.


But is their interpretation of there being TWO different gospels a SOUND Biblical interpretation?


The short answer is a blatant absolute NO! There is but ONE TRUE gospel of Jesus Christ. And we are all called to speak the SAME things according to the TRUTH of the GOSPEL of Jesus Christ.


Please read Philippians 1:27.


Only let your conversation be as it becomes the GOSPEL of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in ONE spirit, with ONE mind striving together for the FAITH of the GOSPEL;”


You see, there were some Jews Christians in the Philippian church that CONTENDED with the apostle Paul about the gospel. And they believed that all Christians must keep the Law of Moses.


Please read 1 Thessalonians 2:2.


“But even after that we had suffered before, and were shamefully entreated, as you know, AT Philippi, we were bold in our God to speak unto you the GOSPEL OF God with MUCH CONTENTION.”


The word contention means HEATED disagreement, heated dispute, heated disputation, heated argument, heated discord, conflict, friction, strife, dissension, and disharmony. And there were SOME Jewish Christians in the Philippian church that even preached the gospel with contention in order to bring even MORE persecuted and hatred toward the apostle Paul. And even in the church today there are SOME seventh day of the week Sabbath-keeping Christians who hate the apostle Paul’s teaching so much that they CLAIM that Paul is a FALSE Apostle. They claim that Paul had a vision from Satan and that it was NOT Jesus who appeared to him on the road to Damascus. Please read the studies “IS THE APOSTLE PAUL A FALSE TEACHER?” and “IS PAUL A TRUE APOSTLE OF JESUS CHRIST?” But for now, let us read Philippians 1:16 where we see that SOME Christians were preaching out of contention to ADD more persecution to Paul and the other NON Torah keeping Christians.


Philippians 1:12-17.


“But I would you should UNDERSTAND, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the GOSPEL; (And I would say that due to some Torah keeping Christians becoming Paul haters has opened the eyes of MANY Sabbath-keeping Christians that they have been deceived by a false gospel that is wrongly teaching Christians to keep the Law of Moses)

13. So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places;

14. And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word WITHOUT FEAR. (This being WITHOUT FEAR is a KEY to understanding the TRUE meaning of Acts 21:23,24 and as to WHY Paul agreed to do as he was ASKED to do. For you see, the Jewish Christians in Jerusalem FEARED that the coming of the apostle Paul to Jerusalem would only add MORE to them being persecuted by the unsaved Jews.)

15. Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will:

16. The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds:

17. But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the DEFENSE of the GOSPEL.”


So we can clearly see that the unsaved Jews were persecuting the Christians because of the GOSPEL that the Christians were preaching and teaching. And the apostle Paul was set to DEFEND the TRUTH of the GOSPEL of God no matter how much persecution that teaching of the TRUTH brought upon him. Now let us go back and read the CONTEXT of Acts 21:23,24 so that you can see the FEAR in the Jewish Christians at Jerusalem.


Please read Acts 21:17-32.


“And when we were come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly. (Or the common Christians received him gladly. Meaning that Paul and the others who came to Jerusalem with Paul had not yet gone to see the apostles and the ELDERS which were at Jerusalem that were over the church in the city of Jerusalem)

18. And the day following Paul went in with us unto James; and all the ELDERS were present.

19. And when he had saluted them, he (Speaking of Paul) declared particularly what things God had wrought among the Gentiles by his ministry.

20. And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord, and said unto him, You see, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the law: (In other words, James and the other Jewish Christians that were ELDERS in the church in Jerusalem agreed with Paul of all the things that God was doing among the GENTILE Christians. BUT you, Paul, also need to understand that God is doing good among the Jews here in  Jerusalem as well. And many of them have heard how you are teaching the Jewish Christians in the churches that you have established among the Gentiles to NOT keep the Law of Moses)

21. And they are informed of you, that you teach ALL the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs.

22. What is it therefore? (Or why are you teaching the Jewish Christians to NOT keep the Law of Moses. I THOUGHT that the whole church agreed back in Acts 15 that we should give no such commandment to the GENTILE Christians. And here you are teaching the Jewish Christian ALSO to NOT keep the Law of Moses. That is just ONE interpretation. But in truth, I personally believe that James and the elders knew full well that they agreed that NO Christians would be commanded that they must keep the Law of Moses. I personally believe that the ELDERS of the church at Jerusalem were in FEAR of the unsaved JEWS that were persecuting the church at Jerusalem. I believe that they were afraid that the unsaved Jews were going to KILL the Jewish Christians for NOT keeping the Law of Moses. Anyway, James is asking Paul to come into agreement with him and the ELDERS in the church at Jerusalem saying) the multitude must needs come together: FOR (Or BECAUSE) THEY will hear that you are come. (Now, the BRETHREN already KNEW that Paul was there and they received him GLADLY. So the THEY here is speaking of the UNSAVED JEWS)

23. Do THEREFORE this that we say to you: (Or please Paul do as we ask of you to do for the sake of these four men who have a VOW AGAINST them by some of the UNSAVED Jews who seek to KILL them.) We have four men which have a VOW ON them; (The Greek word translated as ON them also means UPON them, AT them, TOWARD them and AGAINST them. So to me, I am seeing that some UNSAVED Jews had sworn an oath and made a pact or VOW to KILL these four Jewish Christian for NOT keeping the Law of Moses. So for THEIR SAKE, Paul)

24. Them take, and purify yourself WITH them, and be at charges (Or SPEND) with them, that they may shave their heads: (In other words, please, Paul, do as they do. For you see we have asked them to do this before you arrived. We asked them to SPEND themselves and not we are asking you to SPEND yourself with them) and ALL may know that those things, whereof they were informed concerning you, are nothing; but that you yourself also walk orderly, and keep the law. (Now the old English meaning of the word SPEND is not used so much today so we do not understand what it means for someone to SPEND THEMSELVES. The word spend also means to spend time in a specific manner. This same Greek word is used in 2 Corinthians 12:15 where Paul gladly SPENT his time preaching the gospel for the sake of OTHERS)

25. As touching the Gentiles which BELIEVE, we have written and CONCLUDED that THEY observe no such thing, (In other words, back in Acts chapter 15 THIS MATTER of whether or not the Gentile Christians should keep the Law of Moses was SETTLED once and for all time that NO SUCH COMMANDMENT should be given to ANY Gentile Christians for them to keep the law of Moses) save only that they keep themselves from things offered to idols, and from blood, and from strangled, and from fornication.

26. Then Paul took the men, and the next day purifying himself with them entered into the temple, to signify the accomplishment of the days of purification, until that an offering should be offered for every one of them.

27. And when the seven days were almost ended, the Jews which were of Asia, when they saw him in the temple, stirred up all the people, and laid hands on him,

28. Crying out, Men of Israel, help: This is the man, that teaches all men every where against the people, and the law, and this place: (Here we see that there is no doubt that Paul did NOT teach the Christians to KEEP the Law of Moses. All the unsaved Jews knew full well that Paul taught both the Jewish Christians and the Gentile Christians to NOT keep the Law of Moses. And that is why some of the unsaved Jews made a VOW or and OATH to KILL the apostle Paul. But it was not yet in God’s timing for Paul to be killed) and further brought Greeks also into the temple, and has polluted this holy place.

29. (For they had seen before with him in the city Trophimus an Ephesian, whom they supposed that Paul had brought into the temple.)

30. And all the city was moved, and the people ran together: and they took Paul, and drew him out of the temple: and forthwith the doors were shut.

31. And as they went about to kill him, tidings came unto the chief captain of the band, that all Jerusalem was in an uproar.

32. Who immediately took soldiers and centurions, and ran down unto them: and when they saw the chief captain and the soldiers, they left beating of Paul.”


So then, all the effort to try and pull off this charade to pretend to keep the Law of Moses to avoid persecution from the unsaved Jews did not work.

You see, Paul was WARNED two times by the Holy Spirit to NOT come up to Jerusalem but he did not heed those warnings. Rather, Paul told those who by the Holy Spirit warned him to not go to Jerusalem that he was ready to be bound and even to be killed for the sake of the GOSPEL. Before we read those verses where Paul was being warned to not go to Jerusalem let us read Acts 23:19-23 where we see some unsaved Jews making a VOW or an OATH to kill the apostle Paul.


Please read Acts 23:19-21.


“Then the chief captain took him by the hand, and went with him aside privately, and asked him, What is that you have to tell me?

20. And he said, The Jews have agreed to desire thee that thou wouldest bring down Paul to morrow into the council, as though they would enquire somewhat of him more perfectly.

21 But do not you yield unto them: for there lie in wait for him of them more than forty men, which have bound themselves with an oath, that they will neither eat nor drink till they have killed him: and now are they ready, looking for a promise from you.”


Now, one of the reasons of why I sincerely believe that Paul was ACTING as a Jew in Acts 21:20-27 is because Paul HIMSELF said that he BECAME AS a Jew to win the Jews. And Paul also said that he BECAME AS a Gentile to win the Gentiles. Paul understood his LIBERTY in Jesus Christ. So there is no way that Paul would have spent his time in the manner of the ceremonial Laws of Moses contained in ordinances with the INTENT of his HEART that he was keeping the Law of Moses so that he would not be displeasing to God.


Please read 1 Corinthians 9:19-23.


“For though I be FREE from all men, (Meaning that Paul does not allow any man to judge him and compel him to do that which Jesus has set him FREE) YET have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more.

20. And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; (In other words, James and the ELDERS in the church at Jerusalem knew full well that Paul became AS a JEW in order to WIN as many JEWS to Jesus as he could. So the Jewish Christians in Jerusalem knew that Paul would be alright with acting like a Jew in order to keep four of his Jewish brethren in the FAITH of Jesus Christ from being KILLED by the unsaved Jews. So in Acts 21:20-24 the elders at Jerusalem asked Paul to live AS the Jews for the sake of all the Jewish Christians in Jerusalem. And obviously, Paul agreed to their pretense of him becoming like a Jew for the sake of all of the Jewish believers in Jerusalem which was the epicenter of persecution from the unsaved Jews)

21. To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law.

22. To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.

23. And this I do for the gospel's sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you.”


So then, Paul living AS a Jew was not being done to DECEIVE the Jews. But rather Paul became as a Jew in order to not be OFFENSIVE to the Jews. In other words, when Paul was with the Gentiles he ate whatever the Gentiles ate in order to not OFFEND the Gentiles. And when Paul was with the Jews, he ate as the Jews so that he would not OFFEND the Jews. For you see, IF Paul would have eaten AS the Gentiles in the presence of the UNSAVED Jews, then they would have not listened to a word he had to preach to them about Jesus being the Messiah. So what Paul did in Acts 21:20-27 was FOR the SAKE of the GOSPEL. Paul was NOT becoming as a Jew in FEAR of displeasing God.

Now let us read where Paul was WARNED to not go up to Jerusalem but he would not listen to them and went anyway.


Please read Acts 21:4.


And finding disciples, we tarried there seven days: who said to Paul through the Spirit, that he should not go up to Jerusalem.


Then a few verses later we read again where Paul is WARNED a SECOND time to NOT go up to Jerusalem by the Holy Spirit.


And when he was come unto us, he took Paul's girdle, and bound his own hands and feet, and said, Thus saith the Holy Ghost, So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owns this girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.

12. And when we heard these things, both we, and they of that place, besought him not to go up to Jerusalem.

13. Then Paul answered, What mean you to weep and to break my heart? For I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.

14. And when he would NOT be persuaded, we ceased, saying, The will of the Lord be done.


Paul understood that persecution was a part of preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. For you see, Paul suffered much persecution for preaching the TRUTH of the GOSPEL. And part of that truth was to NOT allow anyone to judge us for NOT KEEPING the Law of Moses contained in ORDINANCES. And Paul was worried that those Christians who desired to be teachers of the LAW OF MOSES would lose their salvation. And that is WHY Paul warned the Jewish Judaizing Christians in the Philippian church to work out the OWN salvation with FEAR and TREMBLING.


Please read Philippians 2:12.


Wherefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, NOT as in my presence only, but now much more in my ABSENCE, work out your OWN SALVATION with FEAR and TREMBLING.


For you see, Paul knew that he would not always be in their presence to rebuke them when the were not walking according to the TRUTH of the GOSPEL of God by becoming SUBVERTED to keep the Law of Moses contained in ORDINANCES.

And in the next study in God’s word we will cover the many verses that Paul was AFRAID that the Judaizing Jewish Christians receive their faith in Jesus Christ in VAIN. Please read the study “WAS PAUL A JUDAIZING CHRISTIAN?” In other words, did Paul teach Christians to KEEP the Law of Moses? And for further study on this subject as to whether or not Christians should keep the weekly Sabbath please read all the studies under the heading >>>“WHAT IS THE TRUE SABBATH?”<<<


Thanks for reading. And may God bless you and keep you in the TRUTH of the GOSPEL of Jesus Christ as you continue to seek the truth of the WHOLE word of Almighty God.


Your brother in our Lord Jesus Christ,

Brother Mark.



RETURN TO HOMEPAGE
AT