Coney Hill Baptist Church

Demonstrating God’s Love Together

Heading Home

Acts 21:1-16


Paul going home, or at least returning to report to Jerusalem.  A long time away, yet still concerned to reflect, learn lessons, move forward.  Paul was a man of the church through and through, never a ‘lone-ranger Christian’. 


This description of the return journey is, as ever, full of detail and description that sheds light on what it is to be a missionary disciple, and allows us, as well as the Christian’s in Jerusalem, to reflect on what we’ve learnt.


Mission as Relationship...

The most striking feature of these verses are the people that are mentioned, and how close they were:

The Ephesian elders – torn themselves away

The 7 day disciples of Tyre, who went and knelt and prayed with all their families as they left.

The brothers and sisters of Ptolemais

The house of Philip

The accompanying of the disciples of Caesarea


Paul’s heart was broken, not by the pressure of having to go somewhere where he would be in danger, but by the sincere concern of those around him.

Everyone a Missionary...

Paul, educated, connected, eloquent... yet flawed, physically and by virtue of his background, needing to re-build trust as well as the extraordinary, and often neglected compared to David, need for fundamental forgiveness.


Philip the Evengelist, one of the original deacons chosen in Acts 6 to ensure the widows were treated fairly, worker of miracles, teacher of the Ethiopian eunuch, an extraordinary career begun by being noticed for being wise and full of the Spirit.  Here though he is noted only for being a father, to 4 unmarried daughters. His family life was as significant a mission field and discipling arena for him as anywhere else.


These 4 unmarried girls, unnamed, young, easily overlooked, right on the margins of things and yet given prominence by their spiritual gifting, the primary gifting too.  Yet another emphasis on how no-one is excluded from significance in the kingdom of God.


Agabus, a significant prophet based in Jerusalem, who previously had predicted a famine which caused a collection to be taken among the churches, using a classic prophetic illustration.  There is a place for the ‘professional’ and the recognised, there’s a duty to acknowledge and support gifting, as well as the ‘outsider’.


Mission into the Dark...

The heart of this passage though is how a series of different people, in different places and in different ways, direct and dramatic, seek to advise Paul against going to Jerusalem.  They even did so, ‘through the Spirit’, one bound his own hands and feet as a demonstration of the danger, yet still Paul went.


Throughout these journeys we’ve grappled with the question of how God guides. How did Paul know where and when to go?   There are few easy answers to that but clearly the wrong one is to say he went where he would be safest.  Sometimes he did, he left cities where he was at risk, but, when it was demanded he went forward even when he know what threats lay ahead.



Lessons to learn .... relationship, inclusion, courage ...       


Parallels to Gethsemene, 3 times warned about ‘going up to Jerusalem – this is Paul’s passion...