Paul just noted that he did not know what would happen to him in Jerusalem, but he was going there bound in the spirit. Now, he continues that thought, saying, “except that the Holy Spirit testifies.”
The same verb, diamarturomai, translated as “testifying” in verse 20:21 is used again here. It signifies “fully testifying.” The prefix dia gives the sense of “through.” Thus, it is thoroughly testifying.
Paul was bound in his spirit, determined that he was to go to Jerusalem, and yet in this state of personal conviction, he also knew that the Holy Spirit was giving him advanced notice of what lay ahead. And more, it wasn’t just an inkling that rushed upon him for a moment, rather, the Spirit had testified to him “in every city.”
With each stop he made, he could feel the presence of the Spirit. But more, he could sense what the Spirit was conveying to him. That is then noted in the rest of the words of this verse, “saying that chains and tribulations await me.”
These words refer to the limited portion of what lay ahead that Paul was made aware of. However, this doesn’t mean that it was directly from the Spirit to him. Rather, it could be just like the meeting with Agabus. People were selected to progressively reveal to Paul what would happen.
Or it could be that because of the persecution he had faced in each and every city he had been to during his ministry, he could expect that in Jerusalem it would be even greater. Everywhere he had gone, the Jews had hounded him. They pursued him relentlessly with each step and attempted to refute him each time he opened his mouth.
Jerusalem was the hub of Jewish life. Therefore, if this spirit of enmity existed in the isolated areas where the Jews were, it could only be magnified in Jerusalem. Paul, being indwelt with the Holy Spirit, could readily discern this. Paul’s use of the term “every city” seems to imply that this might be the case.
People like Agabus were warning him externally. The Jews were hounding him personally. And so, rather than the Holy Spirit revealing it to him directly, he was being given Spirit-led warnings about what lay ahead.
Vincent’s Word Studies agrees by saying, “The compound verb signifies full, clear testimony. Not by internal intimations of the Spirit, but by prophetic declarations ‘in every city.’” It is for this reason, and despite what he knows, that he was bound in his spirit. He felt compelled to press on, and yet he perceived in his spiritual self what his physical self would soon endure.
Life application: In this life, we constantly have to make choices about what we will do. Some of them are minor and don’t need a lot of consideration, such as, “Will I leave the house at 8:05 or 8:10?” It really isn’t that big of a deal. At least, not in most circumstances.
And yet, we may leave the house at 8:10 and find out that exactly where we would have been at 8:05, we would have been caught in an exploding gas main that killed 273 people. It occurred on the subway we would have been on. The same could be true about the 8:10 train instead of the 8:05 train. And yet, if we are going to keep our job, we must act and get on the subway.
If we want our decisions to be the right ones, we should commit our day to the Lord in advance through prayer. “Lord, lead my steps according to Your wisdom. I don’t know what lies ahead, but You do. Help me to make each decision accordingly.” In this, we have entrusted our time and circumstances to His capable hands. Whether disaster or a humdrum ride to work awaits, we will know that we have at least committed ourselves to His guiding hand.
If this is true with the little things we do, how much more the larger decisions that will not only affect us but many others in their lives as well. Paul understood this. Think of the impact he has had, not only on the elders of Ephesus as they met together in Miletus, but two thousand years of people whose lives have been affected by what he experienced.
We cannot know the extent of the impact of our life beyond ourselves. So, commit your days to the Lord and His guiding hand.
Glorious God Almighty, today is a new day. We don’t know what lies ahead, but You do. You know every possible outcome of every step we will take and each decision we will make. So, Lord, we ask that You direct us according to Your wisdom. Point our feet so that they will bring about the greatest outcome for Your glory. May our days be filled with You through delight or disaster. Yes, Lord, direct us for a greater purpose. Amen.
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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...[ abbreviated | read entire ]
Friday, 22 September 2023 “testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. Acts 20:21 Note: You can listen to today’s commentary courtesy of our friends at “Bible in...[ abbreviated | read entire ]
Thursday, 21 September 2023 “how I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house, Acts 20:20 Note: You can listen to today’s commentary courtesy of our friends at...[ abbreviated | read entire ]
Wednesday, 20 September 2023 “serving the Lord with all humility, with many tears and trials which happened to me by the plotting of the Jews; Acts 20:19 Note: You can listen to today’s commentary courtesy of our friends at...[ abbreviated | read entire ]
Tuesday, 19 September 2023 And when they had come to him, he said to them: “You know, from the first day that I came to Asia, in what manner I always lived among you, Acts 20:18 Note: You can listen to today’s commentary courtesy of...[ abbreviated | read entire ]
Monday, 18 September 2023 From Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called for the elders of the church. Acts 20:17 Note: You can listen to today’s commentary courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to...[ abbreviated | read entire ]
Sunday, 17 September 2023 For Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus, so that he would not have to spend time in Asia; for he was hurrying to be at Jerusalem, if possible, on the Day of Pentecost. Acts 20:16 Note: You can listen to today’s...[ abbreviated | read entire ]
Saturday, 16 September 2023 We sailed from there, and the next day came opposite Chios. The following day we arrived at Samos and stayed at Trogyllium. The next day we came to Miletus. Acts 20:15 Note: You can listen to today’s commentary...[ abbreviated | read entire ]
Friday, 15 September 2023 And when he met us at Assos, we took him on board and came to Mitylene. Acts 20:14 Note: You can listen to today’s commentary courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen).You...[ abbreviated | read entire ]
Thursday, 14 September 2023 Then we went ahead to the ship and sailed to Assos, there intending to take Paul on board; for so he had given orders, intending himself to go on foot. Acts 20:13 Note: You can listen to today’s commentary...[ abbreviated | read entire ]