This chapter is somewhat controversial. It could be understood to be saying that the Holy Spirit is telling Paul not to go to Jerusalem and that Paul participating in a Jewish ritual is not what God wanted. On the other hand, it could be seen as Paul being warned what will happen, but he is not being told by God not to go. What is clear is that the church in Jerusalem is now openly embracing Paul’s ministry to Gentiles while still not wanting to close the door on Jews. Paul’s desire to connect himself to his Jewish heritage is misunderstood and leads to his arrest.
Paul was trying to convince Jews he was still one of them, but his actions were perceived to be against Jewish traditions. Our best attempts at trying to help people can often be misunderstood. We may want to help someone turn away from an incorrect belief or activity, but it may be perceived as close-minded or judgmental. We can’t control how people respond to what we do, but we can check our motives to make sure they are based on love and a genuine desire to encourage.