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Thursday, May 12, 2016


In a couple of Thursday studies I have been in Acts 19 – 22 for the past couple of weeks.  Last week and this morning we were following a thread through those chapters and ultimately through the book.
In Acts 19:21 Luke records Paul purposing in the Spirit to go to Jerusalem.  In Acts 20:22 – 23 Paul describes himself as bound by the Holy Spirit, and reports that the Spirit is telling him that he will be arrested and afflicted.  From Paul’s relationship with the Holy Spirit, he understands that he is supposed to go to Jerusalem, but he also knows that he will be afflicted when he gets there.

In the next chapter, while at Tyre for a week, the disciples kept telling Paul, “through the Holy Spirit,” not to set foot in Jerusalem.  A few days later while in the house of Phillip, a prophet, Agabus, tells Paul that he will be bound and handed over to the Gentiles in Jerusalem.

So we have a situation where Paul is hearing from the Holy Spirit that he is supposed to go to Jerusalem but the disciples in Tyre and Agabus in Caesarea are telling Paul through the Holy Spirit that he should not go and he will be bound and given to the Romans.

What gives?  Is this a contradiction that Luke has recorded?  What is going on here?’

I can think of three or four scenarios that may describe what is going on.  What do you see?

I will share some of my thoughts tomorrow, they may bleed over a couple of days, especially the application.


  1. To jump in at the middle, in Ch. 21:11 with Agabus, it doesn't record Agabus as saying not to go, just what would happen to him there. Paul already knew this much from the beginning, but being human perhaps the Spirit was graciously giving him opportunity to further strengthen himself in preparation. It was the associates who begged him not to go (understandably) but there is no record they did so by the Spirit.

    Ch. 21:4 is more challenging. I wouldn't put it past the Lord to use Agabus to strengthen Paul's resolve, to allow him another opportunity to check for sure what the Lord had told him.

    It's easy for me to view the Apostle Paul as a super-hero in the Christian community. Compared to me, he was. But he was still human, as he himself tried to remind us, that all he was he was by the grace of the wondrous God he served.

    Even the great Apostle had human needs, like I do. In my recent studies in Philippians and 2 Timothy it struck me in a new way that he was subject to loneliness, that it was significant to him that no one stood by him when he was on trial in Rome the first time, yet drew on the Lord for that support. He also longed for Timothy to come to him in the prison in Rome, a very significant relationship to him.

    So, perhaps he was still human after all. I look forward to further discussion on this!

    1. I may be misreading Acts 21:4. It seems to be saying that the disciples were telling Paul through, δια, the Spirit not to set foot in Jerusalem. If I am reading that correctly, the Spirit is leading them to tell Paul this who "purposed" in the Spirit to do just that.

      Am I missing something?