Two Examples

In the 21st chapter of Acts, we find two recorded incidents that answer that question. The first example is when Paul landed at the Mediterranean port city of Tyre:

And after looking up the disciples, we stayed there seven days; and they kept telling Paul through the Spirit not to set foot in Jerusalem (Acts 21:4).

Because of this one verse, some commentators conclude that Paul disobeyed God by continuing on his way to Jerusalem. In the light of the rest of the information given to us in the book of Acts, however, we cannot rightly make that conclusion. This will become clear as we progress in the story.

Apparently the disciples in Tyre were spiritually sensitive and discerned that trouble awaited Paul in Jerusalem. They subsequently tried to convince him not to go. William’s translation of the New Testament bears this out, as it translates this same verse: “Because of impressions made by the Spirit they kept on warning Paul not to set foot in Jerusalem.”

The disciples in Tyre met with no success, however, because Paul continued his journey toward Jerusalem in spite of their warnings.

This teaches us that we must be very careful not to add our own interpretation to revelations we receive in our spirits. Paul knew full well that trouble awaited him in Jerusalem, but he also knew it was God’s will for him to journey there regardless. If God reveals something to us by the Holy Spirit, that doesn’t necessarily mean we are supposed to go and tell it, and we must also be careful not to add our own interpretation to what the Spirit has revealed.