Acts 20:23 MEANING

Acts 20:23
(23) The Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city.--This can hardly refer to mere internal previsions of the future, but implies, like the analogous phraseology of 1 Timothy 4:1, predictions uttered by the mouth of prophets, such as that which was afterwards spoken by Agabus (Acts 21:11). In every city, Corinth, Ber?a, Thessalonica, Philippi, Troas, there had been like utterances, of which, though they are here implied, we have no separate record. There was a general dread as to the results of his journey, which led the disciples who loved him to dissuade him from attempting it. We may trace the influence of such predictions in the anxiety which he himself expresses when he asks for the prayers of his friends at Rome (Romans 15:30-31) that he may be delivered from those that did not believe in Judaea. The words are not without their value as throwing light on the nature and limits of inspiration. The prophets of whom St. Paul speaks were truly inspired, as far as their prevision of the future was concerned, and yet that inspiration did not make them infallible advisers, and the Apostle felt that he was right in acting on those convictions of his own in which he, too, recognised the promptings of the Holy Ghost.

Verse 23. - Testifieth unto me for witnesseth, A.V. and T.R. The Holy Ghost, speaking by the prophets in the different Church assemblies, as the apostle journeyed from city to city. We have one instance of such prophesying recorded in Acts 21:10, 11. The instances to which St. Paul here alluded were not mentioned in Luke's brief narrative.

20:17-27 The elders knew that Paul was no designing, self-seeking man. Those who would in any office serve the Lord acceptably, and profitably to others, must do it with humility. He was a plain preacher, one that spoke his message so as to be understood. He was a powerful preacher; he preached the gospel as a testimony to them if they received it; but as a testimony against them if they rejected it. He was a profitable preacher; one that aimed to inform their judgments, and reform their hearts and lives. He was a painful preacher, very industrious in his work. He was a faithful preacher; he did not keep back reproofs when necessary, nor keep back the preaching of the cross. He was a truly Christian, evangelical preacher; he did not preach notions or doubtful matters; nor affairs of state or the civil government; but he preached faith and repentance. A better summary of these things, without which there is no salvation, cannot be given: even repentance towards God, and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ, with their fruits and effects. Without these no sinner can escape, and with these none will come short of eternal life. Let them not think that Paul left Asia for fear of persecution; he was in full expectation of trouble, yet resolved to go on, well assured that it was by Divine direction. Thanks be to God that we know not the things which shall befall us during the year, the week, the day which has begun. It is enough for the child of God to know that his strength shall be equal to his day. He knows not, he would not know, what the day before him shall bring forth. The powerful influences of the Holy Spirit bind the true Christian to his duty. Even when he expects persecution and affliction, the love of Christ constrains him to proceed. None of these things moved Paul from his work; they did not deprive him of his comfort. It is the business of our life to provide for a joyful death. Believing that this was the last time they should see him, he appeals concerning his integrity. He had preached to them the whole counsel of God. As he had preached to them the gospel purely, so he had preached it to them entire; he faithfully did his work, whether men would bear or forbear.Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city,.... As he passed along, where there was a church, or any number of saints: in the churches of those times there were prophets who foretold things to come, and by these the Holy Ghost testified to the apostle, as he travelled along, and called upon the churches in every city, what would befall him when he came to Jerusalem; this sense the natural order of the words requires, unless there should be a transposition of them, thus, "save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth, saying, that bonds and afflictions abide me, or wait for me in every city"; that is, this in general was only made known to him by the Spirit of God, that wherever he came, affliction and persecution would attend him, and he must expect bonds and imprisonment; these were ready for him, and be must prepare for them, as he did: and therefore, whenever they came, he was not surprised at them, they were no other than what he looked for; but the other sense seems best, for such a transposition is not very easy, and, besides, can by no means be admitted, if the sense is, as the words are read in Beza's ancient copy, and in others, and in the Vulgate Latin version, "that bonds and afflictions abide me at Jerusalem"; however, since the Holy Ghost testified before hand of the afflictions and bonds of the apostle, whether in every city or in Jerusalem, or both; it is no inconsiderable proof of the proper deity of the Spirit of God, and is an instance of his affectionate regard to the apostle, to give him previous notice of these things.
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