The Acts of the Apostles, Chapters 21-28: Introduction

Acts 21‑28  •  2 min. read  •  grade level: 12
The closing chapters of Acts from 21 to the end of the book are devoted to an episode full of interest and profit—Paul’s course from Jerusalem to Rome. And here we find ourselves in an atmosphere considerably different from what we have had before. It is no longer the mighty power of the Holy Spirit, either inaugurating the great work of God on the earth at Jerusalem, nor His equally wonderful energy in breaking through the old bottles of Judaism, when grace flowed freely, first to Samaria, then to the Gentiles, and in principle, as we know, in due time to the ends of the earth. Neither have we the apostle separated, as it is said, unto the gospel of God. These were the three great divisions and the main contents of the book up to the point we are arrived at. But now the apostle is about to become a prisoner, nor this without warning. The Holy Spirit, as we may see on the surface of the verses I have read, admonished the apostle time after time; but the apostle shows us the most striking combination of what was truly heavenly in faith and life with the strongest clinging of heart to his brethren after the flesh. This is what makes the difficulty of appreciating his history by no means small. But one may say that what was infirmity must be allowed to be infirmity on the noblest side (if anything be so, which I do not deny,) of the human heart. Nevertheless we have the immediate effect in the lesson that even this does force us into altogether new circumstances wherein God never fails to magnify Himself. He knows how to turn even that which may have been in itself mistaken to His own glory, and then He in grace forms new channels and suited ways, not without a righteous judgment of the error even if it were in the best, and so much the more remarkably because it was in the best. And this I believe to be the prominent lesson of these later chapters of the Acts.
Let us, however, pursue the course of the divine instruction.