Online Bible Commentary
The Will of the Lord
Acts 21:8 On the next day we who were Paul's companions departed and came to Caesarea, and entered the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven, and stayed with him. 9 Now this man had four virgin daughters who prophesied. 10 And as we stayed many days, a certain prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. 11 When he had come to us, he took Paul's belt, bound his own hands and feet, and said, "Thus says the Holy Spirit, 'So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man who owns this belt, and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.' " 12 Now when we heard these things, both we and those from that place pleaded with him not to go up to Jerusalem. 13 Then Paul answered, "What do you mean by weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus." 14 So when he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, "The will of the Lord be done." (NKJV)
The time is 57 A.D. Paul is ending his third and final missionary journey. He is on his way to Jerusalem to report back to the church the successes achieved for the Lord on his trip.
Upon landing at Tyre the believers there pleaded with him not to go to Jerusalem. They believed that the Holy Spirit had warned them of danger awaiting Paul in Jerusalem. Despite their pleadings, Paul believed that he was being called to Jerusalem.
So “the next day” Paul and his traveling companions departed for Jerusalem, stopping first at Caesarea which was located some 35 miles south by boat (v. 8a). The writer of Acts, Luke, indicates by the term “we” that he is part of the travel party.
At Caesarea, the party stayed at the home of Philip, “one of the seven” deacons first appointed in Jerusalem (v. 8). This is the same Philip who evangelized in Samaria and later to the Ethiopian Eunuch. Philip “had four virgin daughters who prophesied” of the Holy Spirit (v. 9).
Paul and his party stayed with Philip for “many days”, during which time “a certain prophet named Agabus came down from Judea” (v. 10). Upon arriving, Agabus bound his own hands and feet with Paul’s belt and said "Thus says the Holy Spirit, 'So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man who owns this belt, and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles' “ (v. 11).
Upon hearing this prophecy, Paul’s travel companions and all the other Christians present “pleaded” with him to stop his journey to Jerusalem (v. 12). “Then Paul answered, ‘What do you mean by weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus’ " (v. 13).
The intense pressure upon Paul from his Christian friends has broken his heart because he knew that he could not stop his journey. He knew that he must press on and not be deterred by persecution. So finally, his fellow Christians gave in to Paul and said "The will of the Lord be done” (v. 14).
Paul knew in his heart that he must go to Jerusalem despite the risks. He had previously stated his calling from the Holy Spirit to the elders at the church in Ephesus: “And see, now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me. But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:22-24). Paul was confidant that it was God’s will for him to go to Jerusalem.
The Holy Spirit speaks to us in many ways. One way is through other Christians. Christians all along Paul’s journey to Jerusalem pleaded with him to stop his journey.
However, Paul’s personal relationship with the Holy Spirit called for him to continue his journey. It appears that this was indeed God’s will when the Lord later spoke these words to Paul: “Be of good cheer, Paul; for as you have testified for me in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness at Rome” (Acts 23:11).
Knowing God’s will for us is not always easy. Sometimes, as in this case, following a certain path may not appear to be the best decision by our Christian friends. However, when we feel the conviction of the Lord, as long as that conviction does not contradict Scripture, we must obey that calling. We must follow the will of the Lord.