Acts 21:27-36 – Paul’s Life – Not His Own
Diving Deeper Lesson Outline for Acts 21:27-36
The title is drawn from the way Paul lived his life for Christ and the cause of the Gospel.
Our text details yet another situation where Paul could have walked away giving the warnings he received about the coming sufferings he would face.
Yet, he chose to be obedient to God’s call on his life no matter the cost.
The question is why did Paul live with such abandon?
Why did he live his life as if not his own?
1) PAUL’S LIFE – NOT HIS OWN
This theological and real world reality of Paul’s life is yet another way we should seek to imitate him.
I would describe this theological and real world reality as a life of forfeiture.
Paul lived like he did because he had forfeited his life to Christ!
Forfeit means “to lose or to be liable to lose”.
It is the idea of losing ownership of something.
When we enter into a relationship with Christ a forfeiture happens.
In fact, salvation is not even possible if forfeiture of our life does not take place.
Our life is no longer ours but Christ’s.
In the words of Jesus:
Mark 8:35 – For whoever would save his life will lose it but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.
Luke 17:33 – Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it.
Through his actions, Paul demonstrated that he lived his life in forfeiture.
We will explore two things in our text that illustrate Paul’s life of forfeiture – obedience and suffering.
Forfeiture of ownership revealed through his Obedience:
Obedience to God via submission to James.
As discussed the last few weeks, Paul in obedience to God, obeyed the wishes of James and the rest of the elders in the church at Jerusalem.
His ability and willingness to submit to authority demonstrates a view of himself much different than our own.
Obedience to God in going to Jerusalem.
His obedience to God’s call to go to Jerusalem, despite the cost, can also be traced throughout Acts.
Acts 19:21 – Now after these events Paul resolved in the Spirit to pass through Macedonia and Achaia and go to Jerusalem, saying, “After I have been there, I must also see Rome.”
Acts 20:16 – For Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus, so that he might not have to spend time in Asia, for he was hastening to be at Jerusalem, if possible, on the day of Pentecost.
Acts 20:22-23 – And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, constrained by the Spirit, not knowing what will happen to me there, 23 except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me.
Acts 21:15 – After these days we got ready and went up to Jerusalem.
Paul’s willingness to obey God’s call to go to Jerusalem was not even thwarted by prophecy of suffering and the pleading of his disciples.
Acts 21:10-12 – While we were staying for many days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. 11 And coming to us, he took Paul’s belt and bound his own feet and hands and said, “Thus says the Holy Spirit, ‘This is how the Jews at Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.’ ” 12 When we heard this, we and the people there urged him not to go up to Jerusalem.
And the reality of suffering leads us to the next way Paul demonstrated his forfeiture.
POI – In fact, at the very beginning of Paul’s ministry, suffering was ordained by God.
Acts 9:16 – For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.”
Forfeiture of ownership revealed through his Suffering:
Paul, by enduring so much suffering for Christ’s sake, demonstrated he lived his life in forfeiture.
Vs. 27 – laid hands on him.
Vs. 28 – false accusations.
Vs. 30 – seized and dragged him out of temple.
Vs. 31 – sought to kill him.
Vs. 32 – beat by crowd.
Vs. 33 – arrested and bound in chains.
Vs. 35 – violence of crowd directed at him.
Vs. 36 – away with him.
There are countless other examples of the suffering endured by Paul in the Book of Acts.
What are some of the other examples?
Clearly we see, then, that Paul was obedient to God’s will and suffered for Christ’s sake.
How is it that these actions demonstrate that Paul lived his life in forfeiture?
How do Paul’s actions reveal a life in forfeiture?
The obvious answer to this question is that the obedience and suffering we discussed do not serve his own interests.
So Paul was either crazy or his obedience and suffering served the interests of the one to whom his life was forfeited – Jesus Christ.
In fact, Paul taught us that it was for Jesus and the Gospel he lived and not himself.
Acts 20:24 – But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.
Acts 21:13 – Then Paul answered, “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be imprisoned but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.”
Philippians 3:8 – Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ…
“Suffered the loss” here is the same word often translated as forfeited.
2 Corinthians 5:14-15 – For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.
So we see in Paul’s own word’s the connection between a life of forfeiture and a willingness to be obedient and to suffer.
But we are not Paul.
Do we also have to live life like Paul?
Jesus speaks to the risk of resisting forfeiture of your life to the right thing – namely Himself:
Luke 9:25 – For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?
So, again, without forfeiture of your life to Christ there is no salvation.
Jesus also reveals here that a failure to do so is costly – you gain nothing and lose it all.
But there is also a day to day forfeiture required and the Christian can resist this full surrender.
Jesus put it this way: And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me – Luke 9:23.
“Deny” is often translated as “renounce”, “reject” or “refuse” in the New Testament.
Strongs defines it as “to disregard ones own interests” and “to act entirely unlike oneself”.
Our lives our not ours anymore and we are called to deny, renounce, reject and refuse them daily – a life of forfeiture.
I think Acts reveals that Paul’s was an example of a life lived for Christ that was fully forfeited on a daily basis.
Why do we resist forfeiture and what are the consequences of resistance?
The easy answer is that we don’t want to obey, submit and suffer.
As a result of our resistance I think we lose our full portion of peace and satisfaction in Christ this side of heaven.
And our struggle to retain ownership of our life after we have forfeited it to Christ at salvation accounts for some of the frustration and lack of spiritual growth we experience as a Christian.
How have you demonstrated forfeiture of ownership of your life on a day to day basis?
POI – When something is not ours we tend to take more risks with it!
Whether it be a yard tool, a rental car or a vacation house.
We care less about it’s condition and more about how it serves its purpose.
Paul knew his life was not his and so he took risks.
Living a life of forfeiture can be freeing and exhilarating!
Caution Forfeiture may lead to death & persecution at worst and not living in a comfort zone at best!