Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia,…
Who can read this account without being tempted to ask — Why should the Holy Ghost forbid the apostles to preach in Asia? Why not suffer them to go into Bithynia? Were not the inhabitants sitting in darkness and in the shadow of death? And did not Christ die for them? Now as God giveth no account of His matters; and as the Lord of the harvest may send forth labourers into whatever part of His harvest He pleases, it might he enough to answer that it belongs not to us to pry into those reasons which it has pleased Him to keep secret. But the matter admits of a most satisfactory explanation. No doubt the souls in Asia and Bithynia were dear to God; but Paul and Silas could not be labouring both in Asia and Macedonia at the same time; and He, who knew the hearts of all, knew in which country the minds of men were most prepared to receive the gospel. That there was such a preparation in Macedonia is intimated by the very nature of the vision. The whole may be illustrated by a familiar image. A farmer perceives his fields white for the harvest, and hires labourers to reap the corn. They go into one field, and prepare to cut it down, but he forbids them; they look to another, and attempt to enter it; but he suffers them not: he conducts them to a third which is most fully ripe, and says," This is the field, work here." Would any say that he did not care for the corn in the other fields because he passed them by? Would not everyone be sure that he only took the third before them because it was most ready for the sickle, and that he would take the others in due time? So when the Lord forbad His servants to preach in Asia and Bithynia it was not that He did not care for the souls there, but that Macedonia was the most prepared. How well prepared it was appears from Paul's epistles to the Churches in that country, at Philippi and Thessalonica. But were Asia and Bithynia therefore neglected? No. We find Paul afterwards preaching in Troas, the very port of Asia whence he sailed to Macedonia. In Ephesus also, the principal city of that Asia where he had been forbidden to preach the Word, he abode two full years, so that all they, both Jews and Greeks, that dwelt in Asia, heard the Word of the Lord Jesus. We may observe, too, that the first epistle of Peter is addressed to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. Yes! the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon Him. His tender mercies are over all His works: and we have the authority of Paul for saying that He will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
(J. Fawcett, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia,