And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem without knowing what will happen to me there, – Acts 20:22
After we located the disciples, we stayed there seven days. They repeatedly told Paul through the Spirit not to set foot in Jerusalem – Acts 21:4
Does God contradict Himself? Paul is compelled by the Spirit to go, and disciples tell Paul through the Spirit not to set foot in Jerusalem. How can the Spirit speak both messages? Which one heard from the Spirit? Both?
I want to propose several possibilities. I believe that sometimes the Holy Spirit speaks a clear message but we add our human interpretation to what the Spirit clearly says. For example, God told both of them that persecution awaited Paul, but Paul had the compelling urge to go, while the disciples loved Paul and warned him of the danger. They interpreted the message to mean that he should not go, when in fact the true revelation was that persecution would await Paul.
Or, another possible explanation is that God gave freedom to Paul as to whether he went to Jerusalem or not, and spoke the warning to both, so that he would know what awaited him if he decided to go. Maybe it was Paul’s own spirit that cared so much for the Jews and wanted to make the biggest possible impact.
I’m glad the Bible doesn’t answer all of our questions. It keeps things interesting. Amen?