I’m preaching on Acts 21-23 this week, where the apostle Paul travels for Jerusalem despite many prophecies warning him that he will face suffering and imprisonment when he gets there. The big question I have is ‘why is he so determined to go?’
One possible answer is that he wants to deliver the gift that he has been collecting among the gentile churches. This makes sense historically, and I suspect is part of the reason. The problem though, in the context of Acts, is that Luke never mentions the gift. I assume therefore that there is something else significant in his mind about the trip to Jerusalem.
The second answer for the Jerusalem trip is that Paul wants to immitate Jesus (and perhaps other prophets) who went to Jerusalem to die. Luke certainly seems to highlight some similarities between Jesus and Paul in this section of Acts – The prophecies of trouble in Jerusalem, the crowd calling for his execution and the trial before the Sanhedrin all echo Jesus’ experience. However these similarities seem to flow FROM Paul’s trip to Jerusalem rather than be motivation for his trip.
I wonder if Paul went to Jerusalem for one last desperate attempt to win the Jews for the Gospel. This would explain his willingness to go along with the cleansing ritual, and also the detailed testimony he gave to the crowd where he tried to explain why he became a follower of Jesus. Sadly of course he is emphatically rejected by the Jews in Jerusalem, and the visit to Jerusalem becomes the Launchpad for him into the heart of Rome itself.
Anyone else got any thoughts on this part of Acts?