4 And finding disciples, we tarried there seven days: who said to Paul through the Spirit, that he should not go up to Jerusalem.
This does not necessarily imply, as some have thought, that Paul visited Jerusalem contrary to the Spirit's command. There is an important difference between a revelation from the Spirit respecting what should happen at Jerusalem, and a command not to go there. It is in this difference that the explanation of the passage lies.
The context justifies this interpretation: that certain brethren sought to dissuade Paul from visiting Jerusalem because the Spirit had revealed that hurt awaited him there. This interpretation is in harmony with the apostle's statement to the elders of the Ephesian ecclesia
"I go bound in the Spirit unto Jerusalem. not knowing the things that shall befall me there: save that the Holy Spirit witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me."
Had Paul been influenced by the Spirit's revelation in the way that his friends apparently were, he would have had to cease from the work to which he had been divinely appointed! Paul's mission was to be accomplished through suffering. This Paul knew from the beginning. The apostle upon a subsequent occasion was very desirous that the brethren should know the good that resulted from this evil experience (Phil. i. 12).
Paul went on while his brethren trembled. Their entreaties to halt were met by that grand reply: "I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus." How unanswerable was this! All that the brethren could say was-"The will of the Lord be done." This they could not have said had they thought that Paul was going in opposition to the Spirit's command. Paul was not disobedient-banish the thought. A. T. J.
The Christadelphian, July 1887
9 And the same man had four daughters, virgins, which did prophesy.
The reasons why sisters do not take part in prayer and exhortation in Christadelphian assemblies, is because of the apostolic interdict,
"Let your women keep silence in the ecclesias," (1 Cor. 14:34); "I suffer not a woman to teach" (1 Tim. 2:12).
These words are very precise and clear, and they are in harmony with the natural fitness of things, which has some weight in the decision, as illustrated in Paul's question, "Doth not even nature itself teach you?" Paul's reference to women "praying or prophesying" must be understood in agreement with his other statements. They can be so understood.
The gift of prophecy by the pouring out of the Spirit was not confined to brethren. The promise was "On my servants and on my handmaidens will I pour out in those days of my spirit, and they shall prophesy" (Acts 2:18). But this prophesying, in the case of women, appears to have been privately performed, as in the case of Philip's four daughters (Acts 21:8-9).
There is no case on record in the apostolic writings, of the public exercise of any office by a woman. Women are very visible throughout the whole work, but it is always in a private capacity.
The Christadelphian, Jan 1886
It is no violation of God's law for sisters to attend to the breaking of bread in the absence of a brother. The restrictions laid by Paul refer to assemblies in which men are present. When brethren are there, it is against the law for sisters to take a leading part. It belongs to the brethren to fill that part, but if there are no brethren present, the case is altered.
In spiritual exercises "there are neither male nor female in Christ," and at the right time women may pray and prophesy. (Acts 21:9; 1 Cor. 11:5).
13 Then Paul answered, What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart? for I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.
In this... we have an exhibition of his courage and enterprise in the service of Christ, as well as his susceptibility to tender emotion. The ideal brother of Christ, as represented in Paul, is not all head; he is a tender-hearted loving man.
There may be many who are called brethren, through whom the truth is brought into reproach, who conform not at all to the Pauline standard. They are contentious without being faithful; intelligent, without being loving; courageous without being humble; bold, without being reverent.
They are self-assertive, without being regardful of others; sensitive to human opinion, without the fear of God; manly and resolute, without being sympathetic and considerate. Wise men will resist the influence of this class, and seek to neutralise it by the exhibition and assertion of the model Christ has given us in Paul.
This model we have only partially outlined in the matters passed in review. It is in the power of everyone to make its closer acquaintance in the daily and attentive reading of Paul's most wonderful epistles. The details exhibited, however, present a sufficiently complete picture for practical purposes.
Summarising then, we have found a man of good conscience and modest self-estimate; yet of bold self-assertion when necessary; an earnest, ardent, devoted, thorough-going friend and servant of Christ; supremely, yea, exclusively interested in Christ's affairs on earth, for which he entertained an appreciation amounting to enthusiasm.
We have found him a benevolent man, mindful of the needs of others; interested in the brethren; solicitous of their welfare, and compassionate of the poor. We have found him a man of sympathy, of affection, and of tenderness of heart, even to tears. We have found him, above all, a lover of God, a man of prayer, with constant recognition and regard for the will of God in all his matters, and a constant exemplification of sobriety and godliness.
25 As touching the Gentiles which believe, we have written and concluded that they observe no such thing, save only that they keep themselves from things offered to idols, and from blood, and from strangled, and from fornication.
The Gentile believers in the days of the apostles were commanded to abstain from blood, in the same sentence that prohibited the eating of
"things offered in sacrifice to idols * * and things strangled" (Acts 20:29),
yet Paul, in a letter written subsequently (1 Cor. 8:7-9; 10:27), recognises the eating of things offered in sacrifice to idols as permissible, with certain limitations as to others who may be "weak."
Is it so with the eating of blood? It is doubtful. The jealousy of the Jews in such matters might lend additional weight to the resolution of the apostles, without involving the conclusion that it constituted the sole reason, and in view of the command of Noah to abstain, it is safer to conclude that respect for divine precept was at the root of the apostolic interdict.
There was a reason for Paul's latitude on the eating of things offered to idols which does not exist as to the other. As he says, "an idol is nothing," and the presentation of an animal before it, made the animal no less fit for food than before, and no less suitable to be eaten by a believer, so long as his eating was not an endorsement of the idol worship.
The impropriety of eating arose from the probability of misconstruction, and not from divine interdiction. Idol worship was a human invention, and in so far as the use of flesh that had been employed in connection with the invention might be misunderstood as sympathy with it, it was expedient to abstain as from all other "appearance of evil."
But the case of eating blood stands in a different position. The prohibition in the case is in harmony with a prior divine command to abstain (Gen. 9:4). While Paul could recognise liberty in relation to a superstition, it does not follow that he would recognise it in relation to a divine prohibition.
It is safer to assume otherwise, and to obey the apostolic command to
"abstain from blood and things strangled."
We are quite sure that in such a course there is no wrong, and it is best to be on the safe side.
"He that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith; for whatsoever is not of faith is sin" (Rom. 14:23.)
The Christadelphian, April 1898
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.
The apostles and Christians (Acts 21:20) of the Hebrew nation in Palestine continued a ceremonial observance of the Mosaic festival (verse 24-26) (the annual atonement for sin excepted) and of the seventh day, until the destruction of the commonwealth by the Romans, on the same principle that New Testament Christians among the nations now observe Sunday and the laws; not as a means of justification before God, but as mere national customs for the regulation of society.
Elpis Israel 1.2.