Acts 21:17-40

Paul visits James in Jerusalem

17 When we arrived in Jerusalem, the believers there were very happy to welcome us. 18 The next day, we went with Paul to see James. The leaders of the believers were also there. 19 Paul said, ‘hello’ to them and then he told them everything about his work. God had helped him to do many good things for the Gentiles.

20 After the leaders had listened to Paul, they praised God. Then they said, ‘Brother Paul, you can see the problem. There are now many thousands of Jews who have believed in Jesus. But they also really want to obey the Law of Moses. 21 These Jews here have heard about what you teach Jewish people in other countries. They think that you say to them, “You do not need to obey the Law of Moses any longer. You do not need to circumcise your children. You do not need to live in the way that Jewish people usually live.”

21:20Brother is a name that a Christian may call another Christian.

22 We need to do something about this problem. These Jewish believers will certainly hear that you are in Jerusalem. 23 We will tell you what you must do. There are four Jewish men in our group who have made a promise to God. 24 You must go with these men to the temple. There, they will wash to make themselves clean in front of God. Join with them when they do that. Then pay the priest the money for their sacrifices. After that, the men can cut the hair off their heads. When you do that, everyone will understand about you. They will see what you have done. They will know that you yourself obey the Law of Moses. They will know that what they have heard about you is not true. 25 But it is different for the Gentiles who believe in Jesus. We have already sent a letter to them. We wrote, “Do not eat any food that people have given to their idols. Do not eat anything that still has blood in it. If people have strangled an animal to kill it, do not eat its meat. Do not have sex with anyone that you are not married to.” ’

26 So the next day, Paul went with the four men. He joined with them when they washed to make themselves clean in front of God. Then he went into the yard of the temple. He told the priest there when the four men would finish their promise to God. This would be after seven days. After that, each man would give an animal as a sacrifice to God.

21:26These men had promised something to God. It was time now to cut their hair. This showed that they had finished the time of their promise to God. The men had to wait for seven days, before they went to the temple. The priests there killed the animal that each man brought as a gift to God.

27 At the end of those seven days, some Jews from Asia region saw Paul in the temple. They said some bad things against Paul to the crowd. So the people became angry and they took hold of Paul. 28 The Jews from Asia shouted, ‘People of Israel, come and help us! This is the man who goes everywhere and he teaches everyone bad things. He speaks against us, the people of Israel. He also speaks against the Law of Moses and against this temple. Now he has even brought some Gentiles into this temple. So now this special place is not clean in front of God any longer.’

29 (These men had earlier seen Paul in the city with a man called Trophimus. Trophimus was a Gentile who came from Ephesus. They thought that Paul had brought Trophimus into the temple. That is why they shouted bad things against Paul.)

21:29Trophimus was a not a Jew so he could not go into the temple.

30 Many other people in the city heard about the trouble and they also became angry. They all ran from their homes to the temple and they took hold of Paul. Then they pulled him out of the temple and they closed the doors immediately.

21:30The crowd wanted to kill Paul, but they could not kill him in the temple. That would have caused the House of God not to be clean in front of God.

31 The angry crowd was trying to kill Paul. But someone sent a message to the leader of the Roman soldiers. The message was, ‘People are fighting everywhere in the city.’

32 So the soldiers' leader quickly took some other officers and a large group of soldiers and they ran down to the crowd. The angry crowd of people saw the leader with his soldiers. So then they stopped hitting Paul.

33 The Roman soldiers' leader went to Paul and he took hold of him. He said to his men, ‘Tie two chains round the arms of this man.’ Then he asked the people in the crowd, ‘Who is this man and what has he done?’

34 Some people in the crowd shouted one thing and other people shouted something different. There was so much noise that the leader of the soldiers was not sure about the true facts. He did not know what had really happened. So he said to his soldiers, ‘Take this man up into our strong building!’ 35 The soldiers then led Paul as far as the steps of their building. Then they had to carry him because the crowd was so angry. 36 The crowd followed behind Paul and the soldiers. They were shouting, ‘Kill him!’

37 While the soldiers were leading Paul into their building, he asked their leader, ‘Please may I say something to you?’

The soldiers' leader replied, ‘Oh! Do you speak the Greek language? 38 I thought that you must be that bad man who came from Egypt. He was the one who fought against our Roman government. Some time ago, he led 4,000 of his own men out into the wilderness, with their weapons.’

39 Paul answered, ‘I am a Jew and I was born in Tarsus in the region called Cilicia. So you see, I am a man from an important city. Please, let me speak to this crowd.’

40 The leader of the soldiers said to Paul, ‘Yes, you may speak to the people.’ So Paul stood still on the steps of the soldiers' building. He raised his hands towards them so that the people became quiet. Then he spoke to them in Aramaic, the Jewish people's own language.