Next Stop – Ptolemais and Caesarea
The next stop after leaving Tyre was Ptolemais, where we greeted the brothers and sisters and stayed for one day. The next day we went on to Caesarea and stayed at the home of Philip the Evangelist, one of the seven men who had been chosen to distribute food. He had four unmarried daughters who had the gift of prophecy. Several days later a man named Agabus, who also had the gift of prophecy, arrived from Judea. He came over, took Paul’s belt, and bound his own feet and hands with it. Then he said, “The Holy Spirit declares, ‘So shall the owner of this belt be bound by the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem and turned over to the Gentiles.’”
When we heard this, we and the local believers all begged Paul not to go on to Jerusalem. But he said, “Why all this weeping? You are breaking my heart! I am ready not only to be jailed at Jerusalem but even to die for the sake of the Lord Jesus.” When it was clear that we couldn’t persuade him, we gave up and said, “The Lord’s will be done.” After this we packed our things and left for Jerusalem. Some believers from Caesarea accompanied us, and they took us to the home of Mnason, a man originally from Cyprus and one of the early believers.Acts 21:7-16
You will have seen from the last Gem that Luke has chosen to tell us the accounts related to prophetic input along the way in order to highlight the fact that Paul was compelled to go to Jerusalem by the Holy Spirit. Despite the well-meaning input from his friends he is led Jerusalem-ward by the Holy Spirit’s input and the timing of that input to him. It is also true that the prevailing winds would have been westerly which would have made the journey faster and more direct. Thus they would have been able to take the shortest route along the coast. There is a hint in the text that the urgency of getting to Jerusalem has abated. Paul does not seem to be in the same rush to get to Jerusalem by Passover. It seems they have caught up some time. Their stop in Ptolemais was only for one night and clearly nothing happened there to either add to the Holy Spirit’s leading nor to hinder it.
From Ptolemais to Caesarea is 64 kilometres and the text does not state clearly whether they went by sea or by land. It is interesting that Luke makes clear to us that the Philip they encountered in Caesarea was not Philip the apostle, but the Philip who was chosen to distribute food in Act 6. Here Luke describes him as being the Evangelist. Clearly with the dispersion due to persecution Philip headed to Caesarea and had lived there ever since. There is much debate as to whether his four daughters prophesied over Paul related to his journey Jerusalem or not. I come down on the side of “not”. If they had, surely Luke would have included their words in the context of his focus on the prophecies related to Paul going to Jerusalem. But the fact that nothing is mentioned highlights the fact that though they had the gift of prophecy (remarkably all four of them) but they had nothing to add. However Agabus comes to their home to bring his message. I mention this simply because a couple of my readers have asked, why Luke mentioned the four daughters if they didn’t have anything to contribute?
Now I will give you the next segment.
Reaching Jerusalem Where Paul is Warned of Jewish Opposition
When we arrived, the brothers and sisters in Jerusalem welcomed us warmly. The next day Paul went with us to meet with James, and all the elders of the Jerusalem church were present. After greeting them, Paul gave a detailed account of the things God had accomplished among the Gentiles through his ministry. After hearing this, they praised God. And then they said, “You know, dear brother, how many thousands of Jews have also believed, and they all follow the law of Moses very seriously. But the Jewish believers here in Jerusalem have been told that you are teaching all the Jews who live among the Gentiles to turn their backs on the laws of Moses. They’ve heard that you teach them not to circumcise their children or follow other Jewish customs. What should we do? They will certainly hear that you have come.
“Here’s what we want you to do. We have four men here who have completed their vow. Go with them to the Temple and join them in the purification ceremony, paying for them to have their heads ritually shaved. Then everyone will know that the rumours are all false and that you yourself observe the Jewish laws. “As for the Gentile believers, they should do what we already told them in a letter: They should abstain from eating food offered to idols, from consuming blood or the meat of strangled animals, and from sexual immorality.”Acts 21:17-25
The way I have divided the segments puts Mnason’s house outside of Jerusalem, not in the city as could be the case if we read verse 17 with verse 16.
- Was Mnason’s house in Jerusalem and from there they went to meet James who was the leader of the church in Jerusalem the next day?
- Or was Mnason’s house outside of Jerusalem but close to the city, which they used to break the journey?
We are not told the name of the village and so we can’t tell. But the Codex Bezae does give us some extra information.
Mnason (Clipped from the ISBE in E-Sword)
What we know of Mnason is found in Act 21:16.
- He accompanied Paul and his party from Caesarea on Paul’s last visit to Jerusalem;
- he was a Cyprian;
- “an early disciple,” an early convert to Christianity,
- the one with whom Paul’s company was to lodge.
The “Western” text of this passage is very interesting. Blass, following Codex Bezae (D), the Syriac, reads, for “bringing,” etc., “And they brought us to those with whom one should lodge, and when we had come into a certain village we stayed with Mnason a Cyprian, an early disciple, and having departed thence we came to Jerusalem and the brethren,” etc. Meyer-Wendt, Page and Rendell render the accepted text, “bringing us to the house of Mnason,” etc. However, giving the imperfect transitive of anebaı́nomen, “we were going up” to Jerusalem (Act 21:15), we might understand that the company lodged with Mnason on the 1st night of their journey to Jerusalem, and not at the city itself. “Act 21:15, they set about the journey; Act 21:16, they lodged with Mnason on the introduction of the Caesarean disciples; Act 21:17.
One of you commented on the strange nature of Mnason’s name and asked if it meant anything. Yes it means “remember”, “remembering” or “remembered”. What did Mnason do to be remembered? We don’t know except that his house was used by Paul and his companions.
Greatness is not about being noticed it’s about being remembered.Ian Vail
A lot of critics are remembered for what they fail to understand. Don’t criticise!
Reinforcing my biases isn’t thinking.Ian Vail
God wants us to rest, but He doesn’t want us to rust!Ian Vail
Education is not the filling of a pail but the lighting of a fire.William Yeats