Acts 21-23: Paul Is Arrested in Jerusalem

New Testament: Student Study guide, (2003), 107–108

One of the most difficult lessons to learn in mortality is that service in the kingdom of God is not always easy. Even the most faithful of God’s servants must endure hardship and trials. Paul suffered a great deal for the cause of Jesus Christ. After his return to Jerusalem after his third missionary journey, he was arrested and imprisoned for several years by Roman authorities. Through all of this the Lord sustained and protected him and gave him the opportunity to preach the gospel before kings and rulers.

Understanding the Scriptures

Acts 21

Girdle (v. 11)Sash or cloth to wrap around the waist 
Zealous (v. 20)Eager, devoted 
Vow (v. 23)Special promise to demonstrate dedication to God 
Tumult (v. 34)Uproar, riot 

Acts 22

This way (v. 4)Followers of Christ, Christians 
In a trance (v. 17)Carried away in the Spirit 
Martyr (v. 20)Person killed for his beliefs 
Cast off their clothes (v. 23)Tore off their coats to demonstrate anger 

Acts 23

Whited wall (v. 3)Wall painted to look clean; symbol for those who pretended to be good but were inwardly evil 
Dissension (vv. 7, 10)Disagreement, argument 
Conspiracy (v. 13)Plot or scheme to do evil 

Acts 23:24–35—Who Was Felix?

Antonius Felix was a Roman who was appointed governor of the province of Judea. His headquarters were at Caesarea. His wife, Drusilla (see Acts 24:24), was the daughter of Herod Agrippa I. Felix was replaced by Porcius Festus (see Acts 24:27). For more information, see the Bible Dictionary, “Felix” (p. 674).

ruins of Caesarea

Ruins of Caesarea

Studying the Scriptures

Do activities B and D and then one other activity (A, C, or E) as you study Acts 21–23.

Activity A iconPaul’s Return Trip to Jerusalem


The Roman conquest of the land where Paul traveled was, in some ways, a blessing. The Roman Empire brought an enforced peace that made travel safer, and the construction of better roads made travel easier. Still, travel in Paul’s day was much more difficult than it is today. Whether Paul traveled on foot or by sea, his journeys usually took weeks or even months, and his return trip to Jerusalem was no exception.

On his way to Jerusalem, Paul stopped to visit branches of the Church. Below is a list of places mentioned in Acts 21. Keeping his mode of travel in mind, list in your notebook about how many miles Paul had to travel from each city to get to the next (see Bible map 13).

  1. 1.

    Coos (Cos)

  2. 2.


  3. 3.


  4. 4.


  5. 5.


  6. 6.


  7. 7.


  8. 8.


Activity B iconAgabus Prophesies about Paul

A Church member named Agabus had the spirit of prophecy and foretold what would happen to Paul in Jerusalem.

  1. 1.

    Review Acts 21:10–13 and write what Agabus prophesied.

  2. 2.

    Summarize how Paul responded and tell why you think Paul felt that way.

  3. 3.

    What passages of scripture would bring you courage and comfort if the Savior were to ask you to give your life in His service?

Activity C iconPaul Is Arrested in Jerusalem

The Lord often has an interesting way of accomplishing His purposes. Paul knew by revelation that he would yet testify in Rome (see Acts 19:21; 23:11), but his journey to Rome actually began with his arrest in Jerusalem. As you review Acts 21:27–40, consider the statements below and determine which are true:

  1. 1.

    Paul took a Gentile to the temple with him (see Acts 21:29).

  2. 2.

    Paul taught the people that the gospel replaced the law of Moses (see v. 28).

  3. 3.

    A Roman soldier saved Paul’s life (see v. 32).

  4. 4.

    Paul and an Egyptian created an uproar in the city (see v. 38).


Activity D iconPaul Testifies before Kings and Rulers

The Roman captain let Paul speak to the Jews who had attacked him. Paul took the opportunity to share his conversion story and testimony. Most of what he said is similar to what we read in Acts 9:1–18. What new information do we learn in Acts 22:17–21 that was not a part of the story in Acts 9?

Activity E iconThe Benefits of Being a Roman Citizen

Roman citizens received special benefits that were not available to citizens of the countries they conquered. For example, Roman citizens could not be punished without a trial (see Acts 16:37). They could also appeal to Rome for a hearing before Caesar (see Acts 25:11). A person could become a citizen by birth (if one’s parents were Romans) or buy citizenship, but that was very expensive. Paul was a Roman citizen by birth, but we do not know the details why.

  1. 1.

    Read Acts 22:24–23:35 (see also JST, Acts 22:29–30). Record the ways Paul was treated differently because he was a Roman citizen.

  2. 2.

    What does it cost to be a citizen or member of God’s kingdom? What benefits does such membership bring?