Lesson (Acts 21) Paul is Arrested in Jerusalem

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This lesson is about Paul’s journey to Jerusalem.  Every place that Paul traveled the Holy Spirit warned him that prison and hardships were facing him.  Paul perseveres in the mission of sharing the Good News because he is enabled by the Holy Spirit to do the work he has been called to do.  Students will learn that believers who obey what God tells them to do are enabled by the Holy Spirit to face any situation.  This was prepared for older students but can be adapted for your ministry’s needs.  This is only a guide with suggestions to help teach this lesson. Click here to see all the lessons in this curriculum series.

Bible Story: Paul is arrested in Jerusalem
Scripture: Acts 21:1-36
Target Age Group: Age 9 – 11 (U.S. 3rd – 5th Grade)
Learning Context: Sunday School
Target Time Frame: 60 minutes
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Supply List: Bibles, signs with names of the places (and pronunciation for difficult names:  Tyre, Ptolemais (tah’luh-may-uhs), Caesarea, and Jerusalem Paul travels on his journey to Jerusalem, Name tags of those in the story (Acts 20:4-Sopater from Berea, Aristarchus and Secondus from Thessalonica, Gaius and Timothy from Derbe, Tychichus and Trophimus from Asia, Luke, Paul, Agabus) lunch bags, craft sticks, long belt (a belt from a bathrobe), Map of the journey, diagram of the temple showing the different courts.
For younger students, you might browse our growing collection of free Sunday School coloring pages.
Learning Goal: Students will learn that believers who obey God are enabled by the Holy Spirit to face every situation.
Learning Indicator: Students who participate in the location/event activity will demonstrate their comprehension of the events and where they took place during the story.  Students will also demonstrate their comprehension by answering review questions.
Learning Activity #1: Have the chairs in classroom placed as though the students are going to journey on a boat (if you have a long table the students can sit around it facing the front where you lead them through the lesson.  At each stop have student volunteers come to the front of the boat and hold a sign naming the place where Paul and his team stop.  After the team arrives in Ptolemais (Tah luh may uhs) they walk to Caesarea.  Have students walk to a different area of classroom where the remainder of the story will be told.
Learning Activity #2: Lunch bags with the names of the destinations from Paul’s journey in Acts 21; craft sticks with events that took place in the lesson.  Students will place the events in the correct bag (location) where the event took place.
Test: Review Questions
Memory Verse: Acts 20:24 “However I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me-the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.”
Memory Verse Activity: Create two sets of cards with the phrases from the verse on them.  Divide class into two teams and have a relay race to get each phrase back to the team.  Once all the cards have been retrieved the teams put the verse in the correct order.

Bible Lesson: Paul is arrested in Jerusalem

(Before the lesson, choose volunteers who will hold up a sign during the story and give name tags for the characters in the story.)
What would you do if you knew of a group of people who never heard the Good News about Jesus?  (Pray for God to send someone with the Good News)  Suppose as you pray for God to send someone to share with this people group He tells you that He wants you to go.  Would you go?  We all would like to say we would but what if God prepared our hearts and told us that this was going to a very difficult job and we would face many hardships if we obeyed Him and went.  Would we still want to go?

  • We show our love for Jesus when we commit to obey Him no matter what difficulties we face.

In our human strength we might be terrified to do something that we knew would be difficult.  Hopefully as we have been learning about the Holy Spirit in our journey through the Book of Acts we have learned how to respond to something like this if the Lord indeed asked us to go to a group of people to share the Good News, knowing it was going to be difficult.
Why is the Holy Spirit so important in the life of the believer?  (He gives them power to do the work God calls them to do)  How does the Holy Spirit help the believer as he/she follows Jesus?  (He gives boldness and courage which enables believers to stand firm in the face of difficulty)
As we have been studying about Paul and his missionary journeys can you think of times when things went well without difficulty?  (Lydia’s conversion Acts 16:11-15)  Can you think of examples of difficulties that Paul faced (Being imprisoned, riots breaking out, being stoned)? How did Paul keep going despite the difficulty and hardship?  Paul was filled with the Holy Spirit and He enabled Paul to continue to do the work God told him to do despite the difficulties he faced.
Paul has obeyed the direction of the Holy Spirit as he traveled from place to place sharing the Good News.  In Acts 20:22-23 Paul tells the leaders from Ephesus that the Holy Spirit is urging him to go to Jerusalem.  He doesn’t know why but in every city he visited, the Holy Spirit warned him that prison and hardship were facing him.
In my own strength that kind of warning would make me want to stay in bed and not go anywhere.  It would scare me.  How do you think you would feel?  As a believer we are not to do anything in our own strength.  We are God’s servants and we have to do the work He gives us in the power of His Holy Spirit.
God has given us the Bible, His very own Word to us so we can learn how to live a life that pleases Him.  Paul is our example of a man who was obedient to God and the Holy Spirit gave him the power and the comfort he needed to go through whatever situation he faced.
This morning we are going to imagine that we are travelling along with Paul and his missionary team.  Let’s board his ship and prepare to set sail! (Move to the ‘boat’ you have set up)
Let’s turn in our Bibles to Acts 21.  (Show Bible map) Paul and his team left Miletus and traveled to Cos.  The next day they went on to Rhodes and from there to Patara (Pat-uh-rah).  At Patara they found a ship that was traveling to Phoenicia.  As the ship sailed Paul and his team saw Cyprus as they passed by.  Paul must have thought back to his first missionary journey with Barnabas when they stopped in Cyprus.  Perhaps as he thought about Sergius Paulus the proconsul who believed, he prayed for him.
Finally the ship landed in the city of Tyre (Have student come to the front of the ship holding their sign).  The ship that they traveled on had packages that needed to be unloaded.  It took seven days for the boat to be unloaded.  While Paul was in Tyre he visited with believers.  As he spent time with the believers in Tyre, the Holy Spirit prepared their hearts that Paul was going to face difficulty in Jerusalem.  They didn’t want Paul to face danger so they pleaded with him not to go to Jerusalem.
At the end of the seven days, Paul and his team went down to the docks to prepare for their departure.  The believers (men, their wives and their children) followed Paul to the shore.  Before Paul boarded the ship everyone knelt down on the beach to pray.  (If you have room the students can act this out.  As you kneel on the floor ask them what they think the believers may have prayed) Everyone said good bye.  Paul and his team got on the ship and traveled to Ptolemais (tah-luh-may-uhs).
The team stayed in Ptolemais for one day.  While there they visited with believers.  When Paul visited with believers what did he usually do?  (He encouraged them to stay strong in their faith)
Paul and his team didn’t travel by boat anymore.  This time they traveled by foot.  Their next destination was Caesarea.  When they arrived in Caesarea they went to Philip’s house.  Does anyone remember who Philip is?  (He was one of the seven chosen to serve the widows, preached in Samaria-Simon the sorcerer and he shared the Good News with the Ethiopian in the chariot)
While Paul stayed with Philip and his four daughters who prophesied the prophet Agabus came to visit.  (Have a belt around volunteer playing Paul) Have volunteer playing Agabus walk up to Paul and take his belt and begin to tie up his own hands and feet.  Agabus says, “In this way the Jews of Jerusalem will bind the owner of this belt and will hand him over to the Gentiles.”
Acts 21:12-14 Once again the believers that heard that Paul was going to face difficulty in Jerusalem pleaded with him not to go.
Sometimes believers mean well when they try to protect another believer from danger.  A believer needs to be obedient to what God tells them to do even if well meaning people try to protect us.  God had clearly told Paul what to do and he could not allow the sympathy and concern of others keep him from obeying God.  The Holy Spirit would enable Paul to face any situation.
Paul and team prepared to go to Jerusalem.  When they arrived they stayed at Mnason’s (Nay-suhn) house.
Paul met with James (the half brother of Jesus) and the other Jewish believers.  He shared with them all that God had done among the Gentiles in each place he traveled.
James and the other Jewish believers praised God and rejoiced that many thousands of Jews believed.
They informed Paul of how Jewish believers had been misinformed about what he had been teaching.  Read Acts 21:21.  This was not true.  The Jewish believers told Paul how he could show that there was no truth to this rumor that was being spread about Paul.
They told Paul to take four men and join in a ceremony that showed their dedication to God.  Paul did what they asked him to do and went to the temple.
Paul was at the temple and trouble broke out.  Unbelieving Jews once again stirred up trouble and accused Paul of taking a Trophimus a Gentile into the temple area.  (Acts 21:29)  If time allows show diagram of temple and show how there were places that Gentiles could worship at the temple but were not allowed inside the temple area.  To enter the area would be punishable by death.
Paul had not disobeyed the traditions of the Jewish people but because he was with a Gentile and was at the temple the crowds assumed he broke God’s laws.
The crowd went crazy and ran from all directions and grabbed Paul.  They dragged him from the temple area and were trying to kill him.  Someone sent news to the Roman commander of the riot taking place in Jerusalem.  Immediately he went there with his soldiers.  When the rioters saw the commander and his soldiers they stopped beating Paul.
The commander arrested Paul and ordered him to be bound with two chains.  He tried to find out what the problem was but no one gave a clear answer.  It seems like the scene in Ephesus when the people in the crowd had no idea what was really happening.  (Acts 19:32) Since the commander couldn’t get the real facts he ordered that Paul be taken and placed in the barracks.  The crowd was so crazy and Paul’s life was in danger.  The soldiers picked Paul up and carried him out of the crowd.  The crowd chanted, “Away with him!”
How do you think Paul felt at this moment?  How do you think he was able to stay calm when chaos was all around him?  (The Holy Spirit enabled him to have courage)  Paul trusted fully that God would take care of him and he had already been warned that bad things were going to happen.  He could face anything as he obeyed God because the Holy Spirit would help him.
Next week we will learn more about Paul’s arrest in Jerusalem.  As we close our lesson today how can Paul’s example encourage us as we obey God?  If you are a believer the Holy Spirit lives inside you and will help you with whatever situation you face.
Close in prayer.
Review Questions:

  1. Where was Paul traveling to? (Jerusalem)
  2. Why were believers in Tyre urging Paul not to go to Jerusalem?  (The Holy Spirit revealed to them that Paul would face difficulties there)
  3. What did the believers do at the beach?  (Knelt in prayer)
  4. Who did Paul stay with in Caesarea?  (Philip)
  5. What did Agabus prophesy about Paul?  (He was going to be bound by Jews in Jerusalem and handed over to the Gentiles)
  6. Why did Paul not allow the believers to change his mind about going to Jerusalem? (He needed to obey God and God had warned him that he would face difficulties)
  7. What did the unbelieving Jews accuse Paul of doing in Jerusalem?  (Taking a Gentile into the temple courts)
  8. Who arrested Paul and why?  (Roman commander because he couldn’t find out why the people were in such an uproar)

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