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Archive for July 9th, 2018

The scriptural experts don’t agree whether he did or not, so here is what happened, so that you can make up your own mind:

Acts 19:21 (NIV)
21 … Paul decided to go to Jerusalem

This seems simple and clear enough, right? PAUL decided to go to Jerusalem; no mention of divine influence.

Acts 20:22 (NIV)
22 “And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem

Here, Paul SAYS that he was compelled by the spirit… but was he? It’s easy to be wrong about that, to feel certain that God is telling us to do whatever we have already decided we want to do. However, even if Paul WAS compelled by the Spirit at this point, remember, sometimes God tells us to do something as a test, and then takes it back; Abraham was told to kill his son (Genesis 22), but God never actually intended for him to do it, just to see if he would be obedient. God told Abraham to kill a ram instead, before the murder took place; just imagine if Abraham had ignored the later thing that God told him, and had murdered his innocent child! God can change His instructions to us as often as He likes, and our duty is to obey whatever it is that He has told us most recently.

Acts 21:4-5 (NIV)
4 We sought out the disciples there and stayed with them seven days. Through the Spirit they urged Paul not to go on to Jerusalem. 5 When it was time to leave, we left and continued on our way.

Note carefully: THEY didn’t say that it was through the spirit, the BIBLE says that it was through the Spirit. It doesn’t matter what Paul had previously decided, or what he believed that the Holy Spirit had told him, or even with the Holy Spirit DID tell him, BEFORE this point; at this juncture, the Holy Spirit is saying that Paul should not go to go Jerusalem, and that is what he should have obeyed.

It seems perfectly clear that Paul DID disobey the Holy Spirit… so why is there a dispute about it? Because Paul wrote most of the New Testament, and if there is any reason to think that he was not in perfect obedience to God at all times, that would mean that we have to doubt EVERYTHING he said that didn’t overlap with something Jesus said earlier… and most people are unwilling to risk that, for the obvious reasons.

As is always the case when the so-called experts and authorities want to refute what the Bible says very clearly, they have come up with something that they twist around to be a reason to deny what actually happened:

Acts 21:10-12 (NIV)
10 After we had been there a number of days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. 11 Coming over to us, he took Paul’s belt, tied his own hands and feet with it and said, “The Holy Spirit says, ‘In this way the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem will bind the owner of this belt and will hand him over to the Gentiles.’”
12 When we heard this, we and the people there pleaded with Paul not to go up to Jerusalem.

But the Jews did NOT hand him over to the Gentiles, and in fact the Gentiles saved him FROM the Jews:

Acts 21:30-35 (NIV)
30 The whole city was aroused, and the people came running from all directions. Seizing Paul, they dragged him from the temple, and immediately the gates were shut. 31 While they were trying to kill him, news reached the commander of the Roman troops that the whole city of Jerusalem was in an uproar. 32 He at once took some officers and soldiers and ran down to the crowd. When the rioters saw the commander and his soldiers, they stopped beating Paul.
33 The commander came up and arrested him and ordered him to be bound with two chains. Then he asked who he was and what he had done. 34 Some in the crowd shouted one thing and some another, and since the commander could not get at the truth because of the uproar, he ordered that Paul be taken into the barracks. 35 When Paul reached the steps, the violence of the mob was so great he had to be carried by the soldiers.

Agabus was obviously WRONG, and therefore, they want us to believe, the disciples were somehow, in some unexplained way, wrong as well. But if we look more closely, we can see that Agabus SAID that the Holy Spirit said that, but it is possible for a prophet to misunderstand, misinterpret, or mis-describe what he has been told by the Holy Spirit, or even to believe that he has been told something when he has not… like when Nathan told David that God was with him in his desire to build the temple, when God had NOT said any such thing (2 Samuel 7). The disciples, however, were arguing THROUGH the Holy Spirit, not because they said so but because the BIBLE says so, and that is a VERY different thing altogether.

Agabus WAS probably told something to tell Paul, because Paul had not paid attention when the disciples told him, and the Holy Spirit was still trying to get him to listen, but Agabus got over-excited, or embroidered on it, or whatever, and ended up saying something specific that we can verify didn’t happen.

In any case, nothing in that situation counteracts what the disciples told Paul in the Spirit, leaving us with the inescapable and dismaying realization that Paul disobeyed the Holy Spirit. What does that mean for our study of the Bible? We need to remember that the only human being who has ever been infallible was JESUS, and that some of the things that Paul says, topics that Jesus didn’t cover, and especially where he doesn’t explicitly say that God told him something, need to be taken with a little bit of a grain of salt. How much of a grain of salt, how much of what he says this casts into doubt, is obviously up to your individual interpretation, or you might want to look up some articles on the subject and see what you think about what the experts have had to say. It’s a difficult and painful subject, but one that we as Christians should all be aware of and keeping in mind when we read Paul’s part of the New Testament.

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