Luke Admits He Was Wrong

I was reading the ESV’s Bible Reading Plan feed on my Google Reader the other day and once again came across an instructive narrative in the book of Acts. Acts 21:15-21 reads:

While we were staying for many days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. And coming to us, he took Paul’s belt and bound his own feet and hands and said, “Thus says the Holy Spirit, ‘This is how the Jews at Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.’” When we heard this, we and the people there urged him not to go up to Jerusalem. Then Paul answered, “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be imprisoned but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” And since he would not be persuaded, we ceased and said, “Let the will of the Lord be done.” (italics mine)

The setting here is Paul’s return journey to Jerusalem with Luke and other disciples. Luke is the writer of the book of Acts and thus its narrator. When he writes “we,” he is including himself. But, according to this story, these disciples did not see it that way at the time. They even had witness from the Holy Spirit that Paul would be bound at Jerusalem. So they pled with him, they begged him, they urged him not to go. And Luke was doing it right there with them.

Yet Paul’s steadfastness to the name of the Lord Jesus demands that he go and be bound and die, if necessary. He loves Jesus in this kind of sacrificing, giving, suffering way that the Bible requires of all of us who are Christ’s.

So Luke, along with the other disciples, was urging Paul not to go to Jerusalem, where he would providentially be arrested and sent on to Rome, as God would have it. And this and subsequent narratives makes it clear that this was, in fact, God’s plan to send His Gospel to the ends of the earth.

As Luke writes these narratives, then, looking back (since the book doesn’t close for a few more chapters and likely months, we can safely assume Luke had some time to reflect on these events before his Holy Spirit-breathed writing of the book), he realizes and admits that he was wrong. He was, though well-intentioned, very mistaken in begging Paul not to go to Jerusalem and suffer for Jesus. Luke – the inspired writer of two hefty books of Scripture – was wrong, and he tells his readers that very thing. “I was wrong,” he is saying, “to beg Paul like this. God’s plan was bigger and harder and better than I could see at that time, and I’m so thankful.”

We ought to be humbled that this wonderful, God-given writer has grace to admit his mistakes, and may we magnify God as we admit ours, as well.


About B Treece
loved by God before I ever loved Him, saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone by the authority of the Bible alone to the glory of God alone, made to enjoy Him forever, happily married with wonder-filled children.

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