Monday in the Eleventh Week of Ordinary Time

Acts 21:1-16

Paul Sets His Face to Go to Jerusalem

As Jesus approached the end of his ministry and his upcoming passion, the Scriptures tell us that “he set his face to go to Jerusalem”; that is, there was no turning back (Luke 9:51).  Jesus knew who he was and he knew his mission and he knew that the time had come for the Father to glorify the Son (John 12:23, 27).  And so he traveled onward to Jerusalem knowing full well what lay ahead.  Well, now we meet Paul and he is heading in the same direction—to Jerusalem.  Unlike Jesus, Paul can’t be completely sure what shall happen to him there, but he does know that he may expect to suffer, and if it be God’s will, die.  So why go?  He said that he was “constrained [bound] by the Holy Spirit, not knowing what will happen to me there” (20:22).  Of course, he was to deliver the love offering to the Jerusalem church on behalf of the Gentile churches which he represented, but Paul also knows that he is not well liked and that his presence, if it should become known—and Paul being Paul, it will become known—shall most likely lead to strenuous opposition by some Jews.  But he goes anyway, because he is bound by the Holy Spirit; that is, as Paul sees it, he has no choice.

The passage we read treats of some disciples from Tyre with whom Paul was staying telling him “through the Spirit” that he should not go up to Jerusalem.  We are confused by this because Paul is certain according to the same Spirit that he should go to Jerusalem.  I have read several interpretations (e.g., the prophets at Tyre just got it wrong), but I think that when the verse says that they were speaking to Paul through the Spirit, it means not that they were prophesying through the Spirit but that they were expressing their concern for Paul’s well-being through the Spirit.  Indeed, as Christians, we are to approach one another just this way—through the Holy Spirit.  They were wrong in telling Paul not to go but only out of love for him, certainly not an egregious sin.  We later read that Agabus, that mysterious prophet who pops up twice in Acts, did rightly prophesy that Paul would be bound by the Jews and delivered over to the Gentiles (sound familiar?).  Again the brethren beg Paul not to go but Paul’s resolution is firm regardless of the cost; he has been constrained by the Holy Spirit to go to Jerusalem.

We too have been constrained or bound by the Holy Spirit, first and foremost to give glory to our God and Father, and second to be ready to offer a word to someone either of witness or of encouragement.  There may be times in your life when you feel constrained by the Holy Spirit to do something specific.  First, make sure it’s biblical; and second, be sure to do it.

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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