Paul’s Disagreement with the Prophet
“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'” (Acts 21:10,11).
In Acts 21, we find an interesting scene involving Paul, the disciples and a prophet named Agabus. Agabus tied Paul’s hands and feet in a prophetic act to dramatize the word of prophecy he was going to give Paul that he would be bound and persecuted in Jerusalem. The leaders concluded from this that Paul was not to go to Jerusalem. However, Paul disagreed.
“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'” (Acts 21:4-14).
Was Paul acting in disobedience to the counsel of others and even the Holy Spirit’s confirmation by other believers? If so, does that mean that Paul was not to go? By his response, Paul seemed to know something the others didn’t. He didn’t disagree with the prophecy, he disagreed with the interpretation.
It is always the individual’s responsibility to interpret the meaning and action required from counsel from others. This is not the role of the prophetic gifts of others. He is the messenger, the recipient needs to determine the action required from the message.
There is no reason to think that Paul went to Jerusalem in violation of the will of God. The prophetic forecasts were not prohibitions from the Holy Spirit but forewarnings of what lay ahead. Paul’s friends tried to dissuade him from risking his life; but the apostle remained steadfast in accomplishing his mission that he believed was from God in spite of personal danger.
The important lesson for us is to understand that doing the will of God does not always have a positive outcome. If it did, we would make decisions based only on perceived outcome. This is not a biblical way of making decisions. Jesus was obedient to the cross