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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Stewart :: The Holy Spirit: How He Works

Don Stewart :: How Did the Holy Spirit Speak to the Apostles?

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How Did the Holy Spirit Speak to the Apostles?

The Holy Spirit: How He Works – Question 16

The Bible lists three instances in which the Holy Spirit spoke to the apostles. There is an episode where He spoke to the church at Antioch to separate Saul and Barnabas for the ministry. There is also the account of the Holy Spirit forbidding Paul to go to Asia to preach the gospel. Finally, there is Paul’s statement that the Holy Spirit was continually telling him what would happen if he went to Jerusalem. The evidence is as follows.

The Holy Spirit Speaks to the Church in Antioch

We have the account of the Holy Spirit speaking to the church at Antioch. Scripture says.

While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them” (Acts 13:2 TNIV).

How did He do it? How did the Holy Spirit call Saul and Barnabas to special missionary service? The answer is we are not told, and we simply do not know. The preceding verse tells us that there were prophets at the church in Antioch. The Holy Spirit may have spoken through them in some unique way. It is also possible that Saul himself received the revelation. The special revelation could have consisted of a vision from the Lord, some verbal command, or the still small voice of the Holy Spirit. We simply are not told how it occurred.

There Is a Similar Occurrence When Paul Was Forbidden to Go to Asia

We have a similar account where the Holy Spirit is said to have spoken to the Apostle Paul and his companions. In the Book of Acts, we read the following.

Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas (Acts 16:6-8 NIV).

This incident is given to us without any explanation as to how the Holy Spirit forbade them to preach the Word of God in Asia. In some unexplained way, He told Paul and his companions not to enter Bithynia.

Paul Was Informed What Would Happen If He Went to Jerusalem

Paul also said that the Holy Spirit continuously told him what would happen if he proceeded to Jerusalem. Again, we read of this in the Book of Acts. It says.

And now I am going to Jerusalem, drawn there irresistibly by the Holy Spirit, not knowing what awaits me, except that the Holy Spirit has told me in city after city that jail and suffering lie ahead (Acts 20:22, 23 NLT).

Paul was told that trouble would happen to him if he went to Jerusalem. Once again, we are not told how the Spirit spoke only that He did speak.

These three New Testament examples reveal that the Holy Spirit has His way of communicating to the Apostles. In each case, we are not told exactly how that occurred. Consequently, we must leave it at that.

Summary – Question 16
How Did the Holy Spirit Speak to the Apostles?

The Bible says that the Holy Spirit actually “spoke” to the apostles. The Book of Acts records three episodes of this taking place.

We find that He told the church at Antioch to separate Saul and Barnabas for the ministry which He had called them. The Holy Spirit also told Paul and his companions that they could not enter into Asia.

We are also informed that Paul was continuously told through the Holy Spirit that much trouble awaited him if he went to Jerusalem.

In each of these cases we are not told how the Holy Spirit spoke to them. In some unexplained way He communicated with these people. Since we are not told exactly how He did this it would be fruitless for us to speculate. Therefore, we can conclude that the Spirit of God spoke to them but we do not know how He spoke.

How Does Someone Today Blaspheme the Holy Spirit? ← Prior Section
Do Paul and Luke Contradict Each Other concerning How the Holy Spirit Works? Next Section →
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