1. I am just curious about this verse.
  2. There is a similar event in Number 22 where Balak Summons Balaam to Curse Israel. Tanakh says an Angel tried to stop Balaam.
  3. The word spirit of Jesus comes in the entire Greek text 2 times the other one aside this is Philippians 1:19. How is this different from the Holy Spirit?
  4. All verses are from NIV

Acts 16:6 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. 7 When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to.

Numbers 22:23 When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road with a drawn sword in his hand, it turned off the road into a field. Balaam beat it to get it back on the road.

Philippians 1:19 for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.

  • Could you being your question with the specific verse you want to discuss?
    – Gina
    Commented May 13, 2021 at 11:42
  • The verse is Acts 16:6. It is in the question
    – Yeddu
    Commented May 13, 2021 at 11:43
  • There is no similarity. You are equating the Acts passage imagining as though the Spirit is standing in front of them with a sign board of road block all of a sudden, or it has paralyzed them whenever they thought of going there. I don't understand such kind of misguided comparison between the two.
    – Michael16
    Commented May 13, 2021 at 15:05
  • The verse says "would not allow them to". I read it as they tied but they were not allowed to go there. that is why I asked.
    – Yeddu
    Commented May 13, 2021 at 15:17
  • Good question, upvoted +1. See my answer below. Commented Jun 14, 2021 at 22:10

4 Answers 4


How & why did the spirit of Jesus stop Paul from entering Bithynia to preach?

There are really two aspects to this question but only one aspect has been covered 'so far' in the answers already given. Various sound reasonings for being initially forbidden to preach in Asia, and then to not subsequently be permitted to enter Bithynia, have been expressed and I will not therefore reiterate those speculations here.

The second aspect concerns the OP's point 3. The apparent difference between the Holy Spirit and the spirit of Jesus.

In Acts 16:6, we find the words the Holy Spirit being responsible for an act of forbidden approach ... For the non-trinitarians amongst us (of which I am one), I see this as the collective spirit/active force of God & Jesus, having already/previously been infused into the minds of Paul & Timothy, informing them that there was to be no preaching in Asia ... God Himself therefore (along with Jesus), making it known, in no uncertain terms, that there is to be 'no' preaching in Asia, at least for the time being. Whereas , and here's the difference, in Acts 16:7, the spirit/active force, of Jesus only, suddenly is imparted to both Paul & Timothy, with regard to the lessor directive, that entry into Bithynia is also not to be permitted.

On the question of whether the translation in Acts 16:7, not to mention Philippians 1:19, should have been translated as just Spirit, as opposed to Spirit of Jesus, the jury is still out on that one. From what I have been able to ascertain however, the 'latter' was in vogue in earlier MSS and was changed to the 'former' in later transcripts, probably to suit more trinitarian biased minds, would be my guess.

Just a short note on Numbers 22:23 and the expression the angel of the Lord. It is an established belief, at least among some circles, that Israel's guardian angel, who went before them during the 'Exodus', for instance, was a reference to Michael, the Archangel. Michael means 'who is like God' and this 'spiritual' personage of Michael could very well have been the 'pre-human' Jesus, but I fully understand that that belief is not for everyone. The donkey was impressed to the point of actually moving aside, even if Balaam wasn't.


Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

suffered them not—probably because,
(1) Europe was ripe for the labors of this missionary party; and
(2) other instruments were to be honored to establish the Gospel in the eastern regions of Asia Minor, especially the apostle Peter (see 1Pe 1:1).

Peter did a great job in Bithynia.

By the end of the first century, as testified by Pliny the governor, Bithynia was filled with Christians. "This is the first time that the Holy Ghost is expressly spoken of as determining the course they were to follow in their efforts to evangelize the nations, and it was evidently designed to show that whereas hitherto the diffusion of the Gospel had been carried on in unbroken course, connected by natural points of junction, it was now to take a leap to which it could not be impelled but by an immediate and independent operation of the Spirit; and though primarily, this intimation of the Spirit was only negative,

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown didn't think that the change of course was as dramatic as the one in Numbers 22:23,

and referred but to the immediate neighborhood, we may certainly conclude that Paul took it for a sign that a new epoch was now to commence in his apostolic labors" [Baumgarten].

  • very good map of Paul's and Peter's trips blog.obitel-minsk.com/2016/07/…
    – Yeddu
    Commented May 13, 2021 at 17:06
  • Nice. Thanks :)
    – user35953
    Commented May 13, 2021 at 17:09
  • Tony, If you see peters maps, there is no entry of Peter into Bithynia at all. So why does your commentary say "By the end of the first century, as testified by Pliny the governor, Bithynia was filled with Christians."
    – Yeddu
    Commented May 13, 2021 at 17:30
  • 1 Peter 1:1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To God's elect, exiles scattered throughout the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia,
    – user35953
    Commented May 13, 2021 at 17:41
  • Paul didn't go there. Peter mentioned it. Probably Peter went.
    – user35953
    Commented May 13, 2021 at 17:44

Correction. Good points were made by the comments below.

But, I will offer the commentary from Adam Clark that the area restricted was Proconsular Asia - the Roman part strictly controlled by Caesar, with statues erected for his worship. It was also the area where Pergamum was located with all of its pagan temple worship.

"The Asia mentioned here could not be Asia Minor in general, for Galatia, Phrygia, Pisidia, Lycaonia, and Pamphylia, were provinces of it, and in these the apostles preached; but it was what was called Proconsular Asia, which included only Ionia, AEolia, and Lydia. The apostles were not suffered to visit these places at this time; but they afterwards went thither, and preached the Gospel with success; for it was in this Proconsular Asia that the seven Churches were situated. God chose to send his servants to another place, where he saw that the word would be affectionately received; and probably those in Proconsular Asia were not, as yet, sufficiently prepared to receive and profit by it." Source: https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/acc/acts-16.html

This was the area Jesus said that Satan's seat was in Rev. 2:13. As the Adversary was always turning people away from God, the idol worship of that part of Asia was filled with many adversaries.


In terms of Balaam, he refused to allow the Holy Spirit to lead him. But he obeyed the flesh. But when it comes to Peter and Paul, it was by time. God's words will surely reach the whole world before the world will come to an end as said by his words. So it was by time for them to wait until the right time. Because later Peter did great this in the said country.

  • Hi Eric, welcome to BH-Stack Exchange, we are glad you are here. Please be sure to take the site tour and read our code of conduct. Thanks! Commented Sep 1, 2021 at 11:25
  • Hi Breman Eric, thanks for the answer. However, since this is a biblical hermeneutics site, our answers should include biblical and/or non biblical support for our position. I know that the OP did not provide scripture location for his question but it would be nice if you corrected your answer to specifically address Acts 16:7. Thanks.
    – alb
    Commented Sep 5, 2021 at 21:25
  • Please add further details to expand on your answer, such as working code or documentation citations.
    – Community Bot
    Commented Sep 5, 2021 at 21:26

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