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Volume 31 - Page 5 of 181 Index | Zoom | |
The Acts of the Apostles.
The Third Missionary Journey (19: 21 - 21: 39).
The Prison Ministry Foreshadowed (20: 17 - 38).
"Pure from the blood of all men" (20: 22 - 27).
pp. 26 - 32
From verse 18 to verse 21 of Acts 20: we have followed the Apostle's description of
the nature and substance of the ministry that he commenced in Acts 9:, and that was
now drawing to its close. At verse 22 we are conscious of a change:
"And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that
shall befall me there; save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that
bonds and afflictions abide me" (Acts 20: 22, 23).
"I go bound in the spirit."--The fact that in the next verse the Apostle speaks of "The
Holy Ghost" suggests that the earlier phrase should be interpreted in the sense that the
Apostle, though still outwardly a free man, was nevertheless already "in the spirit"
entering into, by anticipation, the bonds and afflictions that awaited him. His missionary
journeys were always under the leading or constraint of the Spirit, either directly in
relation to the immediate Person of the Holy Ghost, or by the answer of his own spirit to
the leading of the Lord. He had been "separated" by the Holy Ghost (Acts 13: 2), and
had been "sent forth by the Holy Ghost" (Acts 13: 4). Sometimes, also, he had been
forbidden of the Holy Ghost (Acts 16: 6, 7). Furthermore we read in Acts 18: 5 that
Paul's spirit was stirred within him, and in Acts 19: 21 that he "purposed" in the spirit
the journey that was now leading him to Jerusalem and Rome. So here, having arrived at
Miletus, we find that he was already the prisoner of the Lord "in spirit". He was
definitely bound for Jerusalem. On occasions in the past he had planned to visit some
particular church or country but had been "let", as he told the Romans. Now, however,
Jerusalem is most definitely his goal. As in the case of his Lord, there came a time when
he had to set his face stedfastly towards Jerusalem, even though well-meaning disciples
should urge to the contrary.
The ostensible reason for this particular journey was the delivery of the collection
made among the Gentiles for the poor saints at Jerusalem. Paul's journeys to Jerusalem
mark definite stages in his career. In Acts 9: 2 we read that Paul planned to bring those
"of this way . . . . . bound unto Jerusalem", while after his conversion we read of his
assaying to join with the disciples at Jerusalem and needing the mediation of Barnabas to
break down the barrier of fear and suspicion that would have kept him out. It was at
Jerusalem, also, that the decisive battle was fought for Gentile exemption from the
bondage of the law (Acts 15:), and it was at some such conference as this that he was
asked to "remember the poor" (Gal. 2: 10). The fulfillment of this exhortation, in the
shape of an offering collected in the churches, he was about to lay at the apostle's feet in
Jerusalem. While this was the ostensible object of his visit, however, the Apostle began
to realize that the Lord had another purpose in view. What this purpose was he did not, at