New Defender's Study Bible Notes
21:4 through the Spirit. Paul had already been warned that “bonds and afflictions abide me” (Acts 20:23) if he persisted in returning to Jerusalem. At this point, however, it seems that the Holy Spirit, speaking through the Tyrian disciples, actually commanded him not to go. His “heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel [was] that they might be saved” (Romans 10:1), and he earnestly desired to witness again to his former colleagues there in the very heart of Israel, perhaps hoping that by his bringing the Gentiles’ gifts to the poor saints at Jerusalem (Romans 15:25-28), their hearts would be softened and they would turn to the Lord. He did intend then to go on to Rome and eventually to Spain, but insisted on going first back to Jerusalem. God had called him, however, to go to the Gentiles and it is hard to escape the conclusion that he was resisting the Holy Spirit at this point. Note also Acts 21:10-13. Because his motives were good, God still allowed him to go to Rome, though as a prisoner, but he never reached Spain or the regions beyond, at least as far as we know. Whether he was truly following the leading of the Spirit in this decision (Acts 20:22), or resisting it, has long been debated. In either case, God still blessed and greatly used his ministry. Whether it would have been still greater if he had continued his primary mission to the Gentiles, there is no way to know.
21:9 four daughters. Philip the evangelist was last mentioned in the book of Acts as going to Caesarea (Acts 8:40), about twenty years previously. There he apparently settled, raising a godly Christian family. His four daughters had been entrusted with the gift of prophecy (note I Corinthians 14:1-4). According to early church historians, they lived long and fruitful lives in Christ’s service.
21:15 carriages. That is, “luggage.”
21:16 an old disciple. That is, an early disciple, one of the first wave of converts in Jerusalem.
21:17 we. Evidently Luke was still with Paul as they came to Jerusalem.
21:18 unto James. Although much had transpired since Paul had been at Jerusalem, James (the brother of Jesus) was still the presiding elder in the church there (Acts 15:2,13,19).
21:21 forsake Moses. These were false charges, no doubt spread by the Jews who had opposed Paul in the cities of Asia where he had preached. Presumably many of these, like Paul, had come to Jerusalem for the festival of Pentecost, and stirred up the citizenry with these slanders when they saw Paul there. The stratagem devised by James and the Jerusalem elders to blunt these charges by having Paul associate himself with certain Jewish believers who had taken a Nazarite vow, even paying the expenses involved in the associated ritual, backfired. The very attempt to appease them by Paul was used by them to bring further false accusations against him, and to get him arrested.
21:24 be at charges. That is, “share expenses.”
21:29 Trophimus an Ephesian. Paul had brought several Gentile Christians with him to Jerusalem from various cities (Acts 20:4), presumably as evidence to the brethren of the power of the gospel among the Gentiles (Acts 21:19-20). Evidently when some of the Jews from Ephesus recognized Trophimus with Paul in the city, they jumped to the conclusion that he was also with Paul in the inner court of the temple. Jews, as approved by the Romans, had labeled this a capital crime.
21:40 Hebrew tongue. Paul had impressed the Roman soldiers with his ability in the Greek language, but the Jewish throng was accustomed to speaking in Aramaic. This is probably what is meant by the “Hebrew tongue”—that is, the tongue commonly spoken by the Hebrews.