The Holy Spirit’s Guiding Ministry
Afterwards, Paul left for Jerusalem. His main aim was to go to Jerusalem, for he knew the Holy Spirit was leading him to go there. On his way there, he arranged for a meeting with the elders from the church in Ephesus, and shared with them his urge to go to Jerusalem, as we can read in Acts 20:22-23
And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me.
It was very hard for these believers to let Paul go, as we can read in Acts 20:37-38
They all wept as they embraced him and kissed him. What grieved them most was the statement that they would never see his face again. Then they accompanied him to the ship.
The Holy Spirit had shown some of the believers in Tyre that Paul would have to face great challenges if he were to go to Jerusalem. So they tried to persuade him not to go there, as we can read in Acts 21:3-4
After sighting Cyprus and passing to the south of it, we sailed on to Syria. We landed at Tyre, where our ship was to unload its cargo. Finding the disciples there, we stayed with them seven days. Through the Spirit they urged Paul not to go on to Jerusalem.
But Paul would not be persuaded. Even the words of a visiting prophet named Agabus could not stop him from going up to Jerusalem, as we can read in Acts 21:11-15
Coming over to us, he took Paul's belt, tied his own hands and feet with it and said, "The Holy Spirit says, "In this way the Jews of Jerusalem will bind the owner of this belt and will hand him over to the Gentiles." When we heard this, we and the people there pleaded with Paul not to go up to Jerusalem. Then Paul answered, “Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I am ready not only to be bound but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” When he would not be dissuaded, we gave up and said, “The Lord’s will be done.” After this, we got ready and went up to Jerusalem.
As predicted, once Paul arrived in Jerusalem, opposition soon followed, including a plot to kill him, as we can read in Acts 23:12
The next morning the Jews formed a conspiracy and bound themselves with an oath not to eat or drink until they had killed Paul.
However, the plot was discovered, and so Paul was taken to Caesarea, as we can read in Acts 23:31-33
So the soldiers carrying out their orders, took Paul with them during the night and brought him as far as Antipatris. The next day they let the cavalry go on with him, while they returned to the barracks. When the cavalry arrived in Caesarea, they delivered the letter to the governor and handed Paul over to him.
While in Caesarea, Paul appeared before the governor, Felix, and he used that opportunity to share the gospel with the governor, as we can read in Acts 24:24-25
Several days later Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was a Jewess. He sent for Paul and listened to him as he spoke about faith in Christ Jesus. As Paul discoursed on righteousness, self-control and the judgement to come, Felix was afraid and said, “That’s enough for now! You may leave. When I find it convenient, I will send for you.”
For two years Paul shared the gospel with Felix. After that period, another governor took the place of Felix, a man named Festus. He, too, had Paul appear before him, whereupon Paul asked to be send to Rome to appear before Caesar. However, Festus had some important visitors, king Agrippa and his wife Bernice. Festus told king Agrippa about his prisoner Paul. King Agrippa became quite curious about this man Paul, and so it was arranged that Paul would appear before him, as we can read in Acts 25:23
The next day Agrippa and Bernice came with great pomp and entered the audience room with the high ranking officers and the leading men of the city. At the command of Festus, Paul was brought in.
Paul used this opportunity to share the gospel, not just with Festus, but with king Agrippa and his wife Bernice as well, as we can read in Acts 26:1-3
Then Agrippa said to Paul, “You have permission to speak for yourself.” So Paul motioned with his hand and began his defence. “King Agrippa, I consider myself fortunate to stand before you today, as I make my defence against all the accusations of the Jews, and especially so because you are well acquainted with all the Jewish customs and controversies. Therefore, I beg you to listen to me patiently.”
Paul ended his sermon to king Agrippa with the words in Acts 26:29
…. I pray God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am except for these chains.
Paul would have known that these events had been arranged by the Holy Spirit, for they were in fulfilment of what the Lord had told Ananias Paul had to do, as we can read in Acts 9:15
But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry My name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel.”