“And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them.” – Acts 16:6-7 (ESV)
Shortly after Paul and Silas met Timothy they continued on this second missionary journey that began in Syria. (see a map by typing on the word, “Syria.”) They went to Galatia and Phrygia. The Holy Spirit had forbidden them to speak the Word in Asia. Similarly, they actually attempted to go to Bithynia, but were not allowed by the Holy Spirit to go there.
Have you ever been blocked by the Spirit of God from doing something? Perhaps you were not even aware. I wonder how many times we boo-boo because we are not attentive to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Lord, make us more attentive to your Spirit’s leading us.
Forbidden. That’s an ominous word. It kind of makes me feel a bit rebellious even as I type it here. Forbidden. I think I understand a bit of what Eve felt when she looked at the forbidden fruit. We see where her disobedience landed her…and us, don’t we?
This is where being “Berean” about the process of studying can help. In looking at that Greek word for “forbidden” its meaning is this: “To cut off, weaken, and hence generally to hinder, prevent, restrain.”
In light of this, we better understand that the Spirit was not being harsh or rude as even we American Christians may think. He was being obedient to God to hinder Paul from going where God was not leading him. We might refer to it as a “closing of the door”.
The word used for “did not permit” has a similar meaning, “hinder”.
Whatever the meaning, the gist of the story here is that God had another place for Paul to go.
We’ll talk about that tomorrow.