Why the Holy Spirit blocked that route when Paul plan was to turn into Asia

Posted: January 20 in Why the Holy Spirit blocked that route when Paul plan was to turn into Asia

Q. Why the the Holy Spirit blocked that route when paul plan to turn west into Asia?

Acts 16: 6 -“They went to Phrygia, and then on through the region of Galatia. Their plan was to turn west into Asia province, but the Holy Spirit blocked that route. So they went to Mysia and tried to go north to Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus wouldn’t let them go there either.”

After the Jerusalem council, Paul and Barnabas returned to Antioch, along with two others, described as “prophets”, Judas and Silas.

Paul and Barnabas had a disagreement over the usefulness of Barnabas’s cousin John-Mark, with Paul arguing that John-Mark had deserted them on their first missionary Journey. The result of this rift is that for Paul’s next journey, he would have Silas as his companion.

The Second Journey

Paul and Silas traveled to Derbe and Lystra, towns in which Paul and Barnabas had previously established communities of believers. In Lystra, Paul and Silas picked up another companion, a young man named Timotheus (Timothy), a member of the Christian community. Timothy’s father was Greek, and his mother a Jew. In light of the recent council and its pronouncements, what Paul has Timothy do is surprising:

Paul wanted to take him along on the journey, so he circumcised him because of the Jews who lived in that area, for they all knew that his father was a Greek (Acts 16:3)

The reason would seem to be that Paul, whose plan as always would be to first go to the synagogue, wanted Timothy to be “less” of a Gentile and more of a Jew. This indicates that his practice of going to the synagogue to find “ready” gentiles among the God-fearers included a sincere desire to reach the Jews as well.

From Lystra they made their way to Troas, where they picked up Luke. In the book of Acts, written by Luke, you find the subjects of travel changing from “Paul and his companions” to “we”, indicating Luke’s inclusion.

Paul intended to head toward Ephesus, an ancient Greek city and capital of the Roman province of Asia. The Holy Spirit had other plans, and He blocked their way. In Mysia, once again the Sprit blocked their planned route. Finally, the Spirit gave positive direction: Paul had a vision of a Macedonian asking for help. Paul and his three companions (Silas, Timothy, and Luke) agreed that they were being summoned to Macedonia. So the four of them crossed the north Aegean into Macedonia.

Since we have already discussed Paul’s work at Corinth, we will move on to Paul’s next stop: Ephesus. He arrived in the autumn of A.D. 52 and spent two and a half years there. To say that he left his mark on Asia Minor is an understatement. The Christianity established at Ephesus lasted until 1923 when the Greeks were expelled. While Paul spent most of this time in Ephesus, he sent his colleagues out to the cities of Asia. It is likely, for example, that the seven churches of Revelation were founded at this time. Also the “cold” church at Colossae and the “hot” church at Hierapolis (in addition to the lukewarm church at Laodicea.

And the end of his stay, Paul headed to Jerusalem. After that he had his dream trip on his mind: Spain and Rome.

Paul and Silas had already experienced some open doors. There had been open doors on the first missionary journey as church after church was planted. There had been open doors on this second missionary journey.

    • It was an open door when Paul and Silas received the support of their home church in Acts 15:40).
    • It was an open door when they were able to strengthen the churches that had been established (15:41).
    • It was an open door when they recruited Timothy (16:1-3).

But now there is a closed door. The closed door is the door to Asia. Paul and Silas had been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. This reference to Asia speaks of the Roman province of Asia. This was the area of southwestern Anatolia. It was the area in which lay the seven cities that would host the seven churches of Revelation 2-3. Paul and Silas had already seen this area as fertile ground for the gospel. They had plans to start churches in this area, but the Holy Spirit said, “Not now.”

There is a lesson here. It is that today’s closed door might be open tomorrow. God sometimes closes a door only temporarily.

We don’t like to hear about closed doors. But they are a real part of life. An unexpected and debilitating illness; the loss of a job; family problems; the onset of discouragement or depression — closed doors can take on a variety of forms. The good news is that we worship One who is able to work all things together for good. That is seen in this account. Paul was thinking of winning the land of Anatolia; God was thinking of winning all of Europe. He had temporarily closed this door only so that Paul and his missionary team would go through a better door.

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