Acts 20:22 And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: Acts 21:4 And finding disciples, we tarried there seven days: who said to Paul through the Spirit, that he should not go up to Jerusalem.
Scofield notes on the above verses:
In Acts 20:22 Paul’s own spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:23, note) is meant; in Acts 21:4 the Holy Spirit. Paul’s motive in going to Jerusalem seems to have been his great affection for the Jews (Romans 9:1-5), and his hope that the gifts of the Gentile churches, sent by him to poor saints at Jerusalem (Romans 15:25-28), would open the hearts of the law-bound Jewish believers to the “gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24).
Let’s line up the verses and run this matter through the book of Acts.
Acts 18:21. He leaves Ephesus saying, “I must by all means keep this feast that cometh at Jerusalem.”
Acts 19:21. Paul purposed in his spirit to go to Jerusalem.
Acts 20:16. He hasted to get to Jerusalem for the feast of Pentecost, if at all possible. (It appears that he did not make it to Jerusalem for the feast of Acts 18:21 because in 20:16 he determines to sail by Ephesus – where he left in 18:21 – on his way to Jerusalem for the feast of Pentecost.)
Acts 20:22-23. Paul is bound by HIS spirit to go to Jerusalem. Says he doesn’t know what will happen, but figures if he’s persecuted, then it’ll be no different than his treatment in any other city.
Acts 21:4. Warned by disciples in Tyre, “who said to Paul through the Spirit that he should not go up to Jerusalem.”
Acts 21:10-12. In Caesarea, Agabus (through the Holy Ghost) tells Paul exactly what will happen when he goes to Jerusalem. His companions and the believers urge him not to go. Paul answers, “What mean ye to weep and to break MINE heart.”
Acts 22:17-20. The Lord gave Paul one more shot once he got to Jerusalem. While he was praying in the temple, he was in a trance and saw the Lord telling him, “Make haste, and get thee quickly out of Jerusalem: for they will not receive thy testimony concerning him.” Instead of dropping everything and skipping town, Paul stayed and tried to reason with the Lord. The Lord answered, “Depart: for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles.”
It couldn’t be any more clear. Paul went to Jerusalem because he wanted do – despite the fact that God left no doubt about the fact that it wasn’t what He wanted Paul to do. A couple lessons we learn from this. (1) Don’t follow Paul’s example. It didn’t end well, and it never will. (2) Don’t exalt a man. It’s OK to follow Paul – as he follows Christ. But even Paul’s going to let you down every now and then. So keep your eyes on Jesus. He’s always faithful. He’s always true. He never fails.
Acts 23:11. And here’s the third lesson: (3) Don’t let past failures keep you from doing what you can for the Lord today and in the future. Yeah, Paul messed up. But God wasn’t through with him. “Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome.” Forget what’s behind, reach forth to what’s before, and press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:13-14).
Acts 24:11. Paul says he went to Jerusalem to worship.
Acts 24:17. Paul says he went to Jerusalem to bring alms.
Scofield’s note from Acts 9:26 – The Acts records four visits of Paul to Jerusalem after his conversion: (1) Acts 9:23-30. This seems identical with the visit of Galatians 1:18-19. The “apostles” of verse 27 were Peter, and James, the Lord’s brother. (2) Acts 11:30. Paul may have been in Jerusalem during the events of Acts 12:1-24 (see v. 25). (3) Acts 15:1-30; Galatians 2:2-10. (4) Acts 21:17-23, 35.