The Bible Records What God Really Did
We have here a short passage, but God’s word overflows regardless of length and much is encapsulated in every verse. Granted, not everyone is a lover of maps (I personally struggle with busy road maps), but the fact that Luke feels the need to give us the itinerary of the apostles in their travels shows us an important matter of our faith, which is that ours is a faith where God works in His world, in space and time, working His ways among men. The Christian faith is not based upon myths or legends but upon God’s action in the real world often using real people to fulfill His divine will.
So here we are with Paul, Silas, and young Timothy who came highly recommended by the brothers in the churches of Lystra and Iconium, a lesson to us why even today we must check credentials through the brethren of faithful churches. What intrigues us in this passage is that, not once but twice, the Holy Spirit forbids the missionaries to share the gospel in certain places in Asia (Minor). It was apparently their plan to do so; after all, they had established churches in the southern parts of Asia Minor: Why not move west (the direction of which they were first forbidden) or north (the second direction of which they were forbidden). And all we can say is that God had other plans, and that plan was that Paul and his companions share the gospel across the Aegean Sea in Macedonia–the home of the Greeks–and establish churches in Philippi, Thessalonica, Berea, and Corinth, instead.
I cannot tell how the Lord communicated to them; we are simply told that the Holy Spirit forbade them. Perhaps it was an overwhelming sense which they all shared. At any rate, the Spirit spoke to Paul in a vision and settled the matter. By the way, do note that the Holy Spirit is here called the “Spirit of Jesus,” indicating once again to whom the Holy Spirit testifies, and that there is no daylight between the Holy Spirit and Jesus (John 16:12-15). As Jesus is the Son of the Father, so the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Jesus, sent by the Son to lead people to the Son, who then leads them to the Father. The Spirit of Jesus never leads God’s people to do something contrary to God’s word, who is His beloved Son.
And finally, please note the word “we” in verse ten. Why would Luke say, “we?” Obviously because he was accompanying the missionaries at this point in their journey. Luke said in his prologue to Luike/Acts in Luke 1:1-4 that he intended to write an orderly account based upon eyewitness reports, and he was one such witness, pointing again to the reliability of God’s word.