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Chapter 14: Paul Goes to Jerusalem

Paul’s journey to Jerusalem was filled with danger, for by this time the Jews considered him to be their greatest enemy. While in Greece, Paul discovered a Jewish plot to kill him when he was on his way to the ship that was to take him to Syria. Acts 20:3 says,

{Acts 20:3} 3 And there he spent three months, and when a plot was formed against him by the Jews as he was about to set sail for Syria, he determined to return through Macedonia.

Seven of Paul’s friends traveled to Troas together to make it look like Paul was with them, but Paul and Luke sailed from Philippi and rejoined their friends in Troas. Paul and Luke left after the week of Unleavened Bread (Passover) in 58 A.D. (Acts 20:6).

It took five days to get to Troas on the coast of Asia, where he met a number of brethren. Timothy met him there, as well as Trophimus the Ephesian (20:4), who was soon to be the cause of Paul's arrest in Jerusalem (21:29).

After spending a week in Troas (20:6), Paul gathered with the believers on the first day of the week to “break bread,” i.e., have communion, as was the common practice, intending to continue his journey the next day (Monday). Paul got long-winded and ended up preaching until midnight. His preaching was finally interrupted when a young man named Eutychus fell asleep and fell from the third-story window!

The fall killed him, of course, but Paul raised him from the dead. Then he continued preaching until daybreak (20:11). It is amazing that this unusual miracle is treated like any other “normal” miracle, although it appears that no one wanted to sleep after that event!

For some reason Paul separated himself from the rest of the brethren and walked to Assos, while the rest of them went by ship. We are not told the reason, but presumably it was because Jews from the synagogue were watching Paul's movements. At Assos, Paul joined them on the ship and came to Mitylene, then Chios, then to Samos, and finally to Miletus. They bypassed Ephesus deliberately, knowing that once they got to talking, it would be hard to get away. They needed to be in Jerusalem by Pentecost (20:16).

Even so, Paul sent word to Ephesus and had them meet him in Miletus, where he gave them a final message in Acts 20:17-35. Paul knew by revelation that this was the last time he would see them, as we read in verses 37 and 38,

{Acts 20:37} 37 And they began to weep aloud and embraced Paul, and repeatedly kissed him, {Acts 20:38} 38 grieving especially over the word which he had spoken, that they should see his face no more. And they were accompanying him to the ship.

From there, Paul and his friends set sail for Cos, Rhodes, Patara, and then to Tyre, where the ship had to unload cargo (21:3). They spent a week visiting the brethren in Tyre, who urged Paul not to go to Jerusalem. Luke is careful to record all of these warnings, not to tell us that Paul was stubborn, but so that we might know that Paul knew well ahead of time that he would be arrested. He seems to have accepted this as the will of God for him.

From Tyre the ship sailed to Ptolemais and then to Caesarea, where they stayed at the house of Philip the Evangelist. It is doubtful if Cornelius was still there, of course, since his conversion had taken place 24 years earlier. Yet Paul must have enjoyed the fellowship of the many fellow believers in that city.

The prophet Agabus then came from Judea and confirmed to Paul that he would be arrested. Everyone then urged Paul to stay away from Jerusalem, but Paul knew that this revelation was not so that he could avoid arrest, but so that he would know ahead of time that his arrest was the will of God for him. Surely that knowledge would comfort him in the trying days ahead.