Here we have Paul making his final move to Jerusalem. It is like watching a bad horror movie. Everything and everyone is telling Paul not to go. Even as a reader we can find ourselves yelling at Paul, don't go to Jerusalem. Nothing good can come from the trip to Jerusalem from a human standpoint. Yet Paul keeps his resolve strong, and helps remind people it is not about him and his well being, it is about Jesus Christ.
Paul will let nothing side track him from the mission. People pleading and begging. His closest companions on mission even caution him, still he presses on. The elders in Jerusalem are concerned for Paul and give him some instructions. Note they are religious instructions. James tells Paul to go play the religious game to show the people he is not as bad as they think. The result is a riot and Paul in prison. Apparently playing the religious game will not get it done.
Through all of this Paul could have changed the outcome. At any of the cities he could have chosen to scale back the passion and settle into a nice living among the community of believers. All the rioting and beating could have simply gone away. Nope, not Paul, he was focused on the call God had given him. Many saw the cautions given through the Spirit as a reason not to go, Paul simply saw it as confirmation of what would happen when he went. What it comes down to is Paul's amazing ability to see things from a God perspective more than a human. I do not think it was just words, it really didn't matter to Paul what happened to him as long as Jesus Christ was glorified.
We often get side tracked because of self preservation. It is hard to believe that God might call us into situations where we would lose and significantly. Wait a minute I believe there was that whole Jesus thing where God lost pretty big. Following God does not mean everything will be easy and free of pain. There is not earthly safety in following God, yet there is eternal danger in not.