Friday, 6 May 2016

Acts 21 - On receiving guests

Voyage Paul 3-pt.gif
St Paul's third voygage
Acts 21:
1 When we tore ourselves away from them, and at last put out to sea, we made a straight course, sailing to Cos, and next day to Rhodes, and thence to Patara. 2 There, finding a ship crossing to Phoenice, we went on board and set sail. 3 We sighted Cyprus, but passed it on our left, and held on for Syria, where we landed at Tyre, the port for which the vessel had shipped her cargo. 4 Here we enquired for the brethren, and made a stay of seven days with them; they, by revelation, warned Paul not to go up to Jerusalem, 5 but when the time came to an end, we left them and continued our journey. All of them, with their wives and children, escorted us until we were out of the city; and so we knelt down on the beach to pray; 6 then, when farewells had been made on either side, we went on board the ship, while they returned home. 7 The end of our voyage brought us from Tyre to Ptolemais, where we greeted the brethren and stayed one day with them; 8 the day after, we left them and arrived at Caesarea, where we went to the house of Philip the evangelist, one of the seven, and lodged with him. 
Chrysostom (Homily 45): Now that they are near to Jerusalem, they no longer hurry. For observe, I pray you, all the days. After the day of unleavened bread they came to Troas in five days; then they there spent seven; in all, twelve: then to Thasos, to Mytilene, to Trogylium and over against Chios, and to Samos and Miletus; eighteen in all. Then to Cos, to Rhodes, to Patara, twenty-one: then say five to Tyre; twenty-six: there seven; thirty-three; Ptolemais, thirty-four; then to C├Žsarea, many days; and then, thereafter, the prophet puts them up thence.
9 He had four daughters, unwedded maids, who possessed the gift of prophecy. 10 During our stay of several days there, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judaea. 11 When he visited us, he took up Paul’s girdle, and bound his own hands and feet with it; then he said, Thus speaks the Holy Spirit, The man to whom this girdle belongs will be bound, like this, by the Jews at Jerusalem, and given over into the hands of the Gentiles. 12 At hearing this, both we and our hosts implored Paul not to go up to Jerusalem. 13 To which he answered, What do you mean by lamenting, and crushing my spirits? I am ready to meet prison and death as well in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus. 14 Finding that he would not take our advice, we composed ourselves, and said, The Lord’s will be done.
15 When the time came to an end, we made all ready, and went up to Jerusalem. 16 Some of the brethren from Caesarea went with us, to take us to the house of a Cypriot called Mnason, one of the first disciples, with whom we were to lodge. 17 When we reached Jerusalem, the brethren received us with joy.
Chrys: Paul was the guest he entertained. Perchance some one of you says: Aye, if it were given me to entertain Paul as a guest, I readily and with much eagerness would do this. Lo! It is in your power to entertain Paul's Master for your guest, and you will not: for he that receives one of these least, he says, receives Me. By how much the brother may be least, so much the more does Christ come to you through him. For he that receives the great, often does it from vainglory also; but he that receives the small, does it purely for Christ's sake. It is in your power to entertain even the Father of Christ as your guest, and thou will not: for, I was a stranger, He says, and you took me in: and again, Unto one of the least of these the brethren that believe in Me, you have done it unto Me.

Though it be not Paul, yet if it be a believer and a brother, although the least, Christ comes to you through him. Open your house, take Him in. He that receives a prophet, He says, shall receive a prophet's reward.  Therefore too he that receives Christ, shall receive the reward of him who has Christ for his guest. Do not thou disbelieve His words, but be believing. Himself has said, Through them I come to you: and that you may not disbelieve, He lays down both punishments for those who do not receive, and honors for those who do receive; since He would not have done this, unless both the person honored and the person insulted were Himself.

You received Me, He says, into your lodging, I will receive you into the Kingdom of My Father; you took away My hunger, I take away your sins; you saw Me bound, I see you loosed; you saw Me a stranger, I make you a citizen of heaven; you gave Me bread, I give you an entire Kingdom, that you may inherit and possess it...

The Patriarch knew not that he was entertaining Angels, and he did entertain them. Genesis 18:3 Let us take shame to ourselves, I beseech you: he was sitting in mid-day, being in a foreign land, where he had none inheritance, not so much as to set his foot on: he was a stranger, and the stranger entertained strangers: for he was a citizen of heaven...though you may not wish to take them into your houses, at any rate in some other way (receive them), by supplying them with necessaries.
18 The next day Paul took us with him to see James; all the presbyters had gathered; 19 and he greeted them, and told them point by point of all that God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry. 20 They praised God for the news he gave, and said, Brother, thou canst see for thyself how many thousands of the Jews have learned to believe, and they are all zealous supporters of the law. 21 And this is what has come to their ears about thee; that thou dost teach the Jews in Gentile parts to break away from the law of Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children, and not to follow the tradition. 22 What will happen? Why, a multitude of them will assuredly gather round thee, hearing that thou hast come. 23 Follow our advice, then, in this; we have four men here who are under a vow; 24 if thou wilt take these with thee, and join in their purification and defray the cost for the shaving of their heads, then all will see clearly that the report they have heard about thee has no substance, and that thou dost follow the observances of the law like other men. 25 As for the Gentile believers, we have already written to them; we laid it down that they must abstain from what is sacrificed to idols, and from blood-meat and meat which has been strangled, and from fornication.
26 So, next day, Paul took the men with him, and began going to the temple, publicly fulfilling the days of purification, until the time came for each to have sacrifice made on his behalf. 27 And when the seven days were all but at an end, the Jews from Asia saw him in the temple. Whereupon they threw the whole multitude into an uproar, and laid hands on him, crying out; 28 Men of Israel, come to the rescue; here is the man who goes about everywhere, teaching everybody to despise our people, and our law, and this place. He has brought Gentiles into the temple, too, profaning these sacred precincts. 29 They had seen Trophimus, who was from Ephesus, in the city with him, and it was he whom they suspected Paul of introducing into the temple. 30 The whole city was in a commotion, and the common folk ran up from all sides. They seized Paul and dragged him out of the temple, upon which the gates were shut; 31 and they were preparing to kill him, when word came to the captain of the garrison that the whole of Jerusalem was in an uproar. 32 He at once summoned his troops, with their officers, and swept down upon them; and at the sight of the captain with his troops they left off beating Paul.
33 The captain came up and arrested him, giving orders that he should be bound with a double chain; then he asked who he was, and what he had done. 34 But some of the crowd were shouting this and some that, and it was impossible to find out the truth amidst the clamour; so he gave orders that Paul should be taken to the soldiers’ quarters. 35 When he reached the steps, he had to be carried by the soldiers because of the crowd’s violence; 36 a rabble of the common people kept following behind, with cries of, Put him to death. 37 And just as he was being taken into the soldiers’ quarters, Paul asked the captain, May I have a word with thee? At which he said, What, canst thou talk Greek? 38 Thou art not, then, that Egyptian, who raised a band of four thousand cut-throats, some time back, and led them out into the wilderness? 39 I am a Jew, said Paul, a citizen of Tarsus in Cilicia, no mean city; my request of thee is that thou wouldst let me speak to the people. 40 And so, having obtained his leave, Paul stood there on the steps, and made a gesture with his hand to the people. There was deep silence, and he began addressing himself to them in Hebrew.

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