Acts 16:6—Why did the Holy Spirit forbid Paul to preach in Asia when Jesus said to go into all the world?

Problem: Jesus commanded His followers to “make disciples of all the nations” (Matt. 28:19) and to be witnesses to “the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). But in Acts 16 Paul and Timothy “were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia” (v. 6).

Solution: Paul was only forbidden immediately. God had a more strategic route for the Gospel through Europe first (Acts 16:9). Eventually, however, the Gospel got to Asia and to every place through Paul’s converts in Europe (cf. 1 Thes. 1:7) and by Paul himself (Acts 19:10, 22, 26; 20:4, 16, 18; 1 Cor. 16:19). So, the prohibition was only temporary, not permanent.

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This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.