NKJV - 6 Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia.
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As far as I am aware, no specific reason is given (either in the passage cited in the question, or elsewhere) as to why or exactly how Paul was prohibited from going into Asia Minor at that time. Since many churches were later established there, it would clearly not seem to be attributable to any divine plan to permanently keep the gospel from being preached there. From the dream that Paul subsequently had immediately afterward (as described in Acts 16:9), it would seem that it was God's will (for His own purposes) to have the gospel preached in Macedonia first. Perhaps reports of Paul's work in Macedonia would reach the people in Asia Minor, and prepare the way for his later evangelizing there. Also, immediately after Paul was turned away from Asia, Luke entered the narrative in Acts by joining Paul (as indicated in Acts 16:11, where the narrative switches from the third person to the first person). In view of Luke's substantial contribution to recording both the life of Jesus and the history of the early church in his gospel and in Acts, perhaps Luke's participation would not have come about if Paul had entered Asia at the time that he had originally intended.
“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. When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas. During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us.’ After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.” (Acts 16:6-10) “Asia” in the Book of Acts is modern day Turkey or Asia Minor. The cities of Phrygia, Galatia, Mysia, Bithynia and Troas are all in Asia Minor. In the beginning of Acts, chapter 16, Paul was already in “Asia” (Turkey) with the decree from Jerusalem. He had picked up Timothy in Lystra and continued in verse 4 to spread the news in southern Turkey. However, once Paul got to Phrygia (verse 6), the holy spirit kept him from preaching. So Paul and his companions moved on again and again until it was revealed to him in a vision in Troas that he was urgently needed in Macedonia (northern Greece). We believe that this was the main reason God forbade Paul from preaching in Asia Minor. It soon became clear to Paul and his companions that they would not have been where they needed to be had they lingered in Galatia any longer. Therefore, verse 6 is less about God forbidding Paul to preach in Asia and more about Paul’s trusting God’s divine timing.
The reason Paul wasn’t allowed to go to Asia is because Peter was the apostle of the gentiles and God was preparing Peter for that specific ministry. God’s plans are best and Paul wouldn’t have been the best person for the job because God had other plans for him. And later Paul would go to Asia and see what God had done. So the answer was clearly in scripture. Knowing the nature and character of God helps you understand why certain people are chosen for certain tasks. God wants what is best. Not what is good.
Why was Paul forbidden by the Holy Spirit to go north or south into Phrygia, Galatia, Asia, or Bithynia (Acts 16:6-8), but instead to go west to preach in Macedonia (Acts 16:9-10)? This is the Holy Spirit closing the door twice for Paul, why? Because the Spirit guides us to the right places, and He guides us away from the wrong places. Of course, today as we seek God’s will, we need to know where God wants us to go, but we also need to know where God does not want us to go. When I was preparing to go to the Latin America mission field, I lost 10 pounds in Guatemala in about 2 weeks. I took that as God’s direction to stay in the states. And minister here to Latinos.
We can only speculate why the Holy Spirit forbade Paul from preaching in Asia. I believe other apostles were intended to preach in this region. From 2 Tim 1:15 Paul says "This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me:..." The Holy Spirit perhaps knew beforehand this would be the inevitable result if Paul entered Asia.
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