Heading west along the Columbia River.
Saturday, 23 September 2023
“And see, now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there, Acts 20:22
Note: You can listen to today’s commentary courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen)
The words bear more of an emphasis than the NKJV provides – “And now, behold, I – bound in the spirit – go to Jerusalem, not knowing what will befall me in it” (CG).
The previous verse includes Paul’s words concerning “repentance toward God and faith toward the Lord Jesus Christ.” Now, he speaks of what lies ahead for him, saying, “And now, behold, I – bound in the spirit.”
These words are curious when taken in connection with the words of Agabus in verse 21:11. Paul says he is “bound” in the spirit. The word is deo and is used often concerning binding someone up, such as binding the strong man in Mark 3 or the demoniac in Mark 5. When a donkey is bound to a post, this word would be used. If one is bound in prison, this word is used.
Paul feels “bound in the spirit,” not knowing what he will next speak of. Scholars vary on whether they believe he is referring to the Holy Spirit or simply being constrained in his own spirit. Based on what Agabus says, it is most likely his own spirit, not the Holy Spirit. This will be seen as the verse continues.
Paul next says that he will “go to Jerusalem” in this state of being bound in the spirit. This is the path set before him and his traveling companions. He is so determined to get there that he has called these elders of Ephesus to come a considerable distance for this short meeting. Despite this determined trek to Jerusalem, he next says, “not knowing what will befall me in it.”
These words tell us that Paul is most likely referring to his own spirit. This is because the Holy Spirit does know, and it will be altered more fully to Paul at the meeting with Agabus. This seems more likely because it appears that Paul is drawing a contrast between his own desires and efforts and what he says in the next verse concerning what the Holy Spirit is revealing to him –
Paul is bound in his spirit to accomplish his mission.
The Holy Spirit testifies that chains and tribulations await.
For whatever reason, the Holy Spirit did not reveal everything to him directly, but rather, He will do it more fully through Agabus. It is a remarkable testimony concerning the reliability of the Book of Acts as a true account.
Life application: It is important to not mix our desires with claims of divine leading. And yet, it is as common as signs on a highway for people to do it. “I think the Lord is leading me to marry this woman.” What if someone else says the same thing? God is not in the business of causing contradictory desires in people. “I think the Lord is leading me to open this business.” What if the business fails the first year it is opened? Did the Lord lead this person to bankruptcy?
“I think the Lord is leading me to stop paying on my house and to move to Franklin, Tennessee.” The Lord tells us to pay our debts. People may do these things because they are bound in their spirits to take certain actions. And yet, they claim that it is God, the Lord, or the Holy Spirit who is directing them.
We should be careful to not make such claims. Later, when it is discovered that the thing doesn’t come about, or it turns out in a negative way, we will either have to admit we were wrong or implicitly pass the blame onto God for what happened. Rather, let us state our desires as such, pray about what we intend to do, and then acknowledge, “If it is the Lord’s will.” If what we desire doesn’t come about, or if it proves to have been the wrong decision, we will find that out in due time.
Lord God, help us to carefully consider our words and to never make claims concerning Your presence in our lives that are not in line with reality. Instead, we can acknowledge Your presence and ask for Your guidance but not bind our words so that what later transpires could possibly tarnish what we have stated about You. Help us in this, O Lord. Amen.