Acts 19:21-22 - God's Purpose for Your Life

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Welcome to our Bible Study. We are studying Spiritual Applications from the Book of Acts. Today, I am talking about "God's Purpose for Your Life." Throughout his ministry, Paul worked with a strong sense of purpose. One of his goals was to minister in Ephesus. In addition, according to Acts 19:21-22, Paul purposed in the Spirit to go to Jerusalem and then to Rome. We will follow him today as these purposes are fulfilled.

1. There Was Revival At Ephesus.

At first, when Paul wanted to minister in Asia, and apparently in Ephesus, the Holy Spirit forbid him to do so. Later, on Paul's third missionary journey, he passed through Phrygia and Galatia and reached Ephesus. He had a powerful ministry (Acts 19:1-20) in Ephesus. The apostle spoke boldly in the synagogue for three months then for two years in the School of Tyrannus. All those who were in Asia, both Jews and Greeks, heard the Word. Many wonderful things happened.

  • The Holy Spirit came on some of the disciples and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.
  • Many extraordinary miracles were performed by the hands of Paul
  • Many of those who practiced magic burned their books.
  • The word of the Lord was growing mightily and prevailing.

Without doubt the revival in Ephesus was one of the highlights of Paul's missionary ministry. The fact that he was delayed in going there did not hamper his ministry once he arrived. All was done in God's timing! God will achieve His purpose in His time.

2. Paul Purposed To Go To Jerusalem.

It would have been tempting for Paul to stay in Ephesus in order to enjoy and nurture the harvest, but Paul sets his sights on other fields. In this short passage Luke tells us his travel and ministry plans. Paul is a missionary. He wants to go on! He will leave it to others to pastor the church in Ephesus.

According to Luke, Paul "purposed" in the spirit to go to Jerusalem. For the moment, let us put the emphasis on the verb "purposed." It is so important that we live our lives with a sense of purpose. When our purpose is clear, stated, and compelling, we will be productive and effective. We will be focused in all our activities. All that we do will be guided by our purpose. Some "good things" will not be done, because our purpose limits the sphere of our activity. But the same purpose widens the impact of what we do.

3. Paul Purposed "In The Spirit."

Now, let us focus on the phrase "in the Spirit." Paul purposed "in [en] the spirit" to make his journey. The preposition en can mean "in" or "by." The phrase "in the spirit" can mean "in Paul's spirit" or it can mean "in the Holy Spirit." It was Paul who did the purposing. However, when Luke says "the" Spirit, rather than "my" spirit, he may have had the Holy Spirit in mind. My view is that the Holy Spirit inspired the spirit of Paul. The apostle was led by the Spirit in resolving to go to Jerusalem.

How great it is to so live that the Holy Spirit and your spirit are united and are hard to distinguish. When this happens, we are totally submitted to Christ and the Spirit. There is great harmony between the human and the divine. So when we purpose "in the spirit," we are under the influence of the Holy Spirit. We plan our way, but the Lord directs our steps.

4. Paul's Goal Was To Go To Rome.

According to the apostle (verse 21), he wanted to go to Jerusalem and then on to Rome. He even mentions his desire to go to Spain. In his letter to the Romans, he expands on his statement of purpose. In Romans 15:20-25, he writes:

20 And thus I aspired to preach the gospel, not where Christ was already named, so that I would not build on another man's foundation;


22 For this reason I have often been prevented from coming to you;

23 but now, with no further place for me in these regions, and since I have had for many years a longing to come to you

24 whenever I go to Spain-- for I hope to see you in passing, and to be helped on my way there by you, when I have first enjoyed your company for a while--

25 but now, I am going to Jerusalem serving the saints. NAU

The apostle did not want to build on the foundation of another. He would rather open up new territory for the gospel. Although he preferred to minister to minister in-person in new territories, his letters to the churches are the basis of much of our theology and practice. Staying true to his purpose, he reached Jerusalem and then Rome.


We can learn much from the apostle Paul. He knew what he was called to do. God had called him to proclaim the gospel to the Gentiles all across the gentile world. This would prevent him from being a life-long pastor, but it would keep him on the road to open up places for the gospel. Each of us has his or her calling. When God calls us, let us to what He has asked. Our send of Spirit-inspired purpose will help us in our daily activities.

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