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THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 21 - Verse 4

Verse 4. And finding disciples. Christians. This is the first mention of there being Christians at Tyre; but there is no improbability in supposing that the gospel had been preached there, though it is not expressly recorded by Luke.

Who said to Paul. Comp. Ac 21:12. Their deep interest in his welfare, and their apprehension of his danger, was the reason why they admonished him not to go.

Through the Spirit. There as some difficulty in understanding this. In solving this difficulty, we may remark,

(1.) that it is evident that the Holy Spirit is meant, and that Luke means to say that this was spoken by his inspiration. The Holy Spirit was bestowed on Christians at that time in large measures, and many appear to have been under his inspiring guidance.

(2.) It was not understood by Paul as a positive command that he should not go up to Jerusalem—for, had it been, it would not have been disobeyed. Paul evidently understood it as expressive of their earnest wish that he should not go, as apprizing him of danger, and as a kind expression in regard to his own welfare and safety. Comp. Ac 21:13. Paul was in better circumstances to understand this than we are, and his interpretation was doubtless correct.

(3.) It is to be understood, therefore, simply as an inspired prophetic warning, that if he went, he went at the risk of his life; a prophetic warning joined with their individual personal wishes, that he would not expose himself to this danger. The meaning evidently is, that they said by inspiration of the Spirit, that he should not go unless he was willing to encounter danger, and the hazard of life as a consequence, for they foresaw that the journey would be attended with this hazard. Grotius renders it, "that he should not go, unless he was willing to be bound." Michaelis and Stolzius, "They gave him prophetic warning, that he should not go to Jerusalem." Doddridge, "If he tendered his own liberty and safety, not to go up to Jerusalem, since it would certainly expose him to very great hazard." The inspiration in the case was that of admonition and warning, not of positive command. Paul was simply apprized of the danger; and then left to the free determination of his own will. He chose to encounter the danger of which he was thus apprized. He did not despise the intimations of the Spirit; but he judged that his duty to God called him thus to encounter the hazards of the journey. We may be apprized of danger in a certain course, either by our friends or by the word of God, and still it may be our duty to meet it. Our duty is not to be measured by the fact that we shall experience dangers, in whatever way that may be made known to us. It is in following the will of God; and encountering whatever trials may be in our way.

{d} "said to Paul" Ac 21:12

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