Once again this morning we find ourselves in Acts chapter 16! We’ve been working through the book of Acts over the last several months – typically working through about one chapter per Sunday, but despite my best intentions, chapter 16 is just taking us a bit longer to get through! For the last two Sundays we’ve only managed to cover a grand total of 10 verses.
But I guess that’s not a bad thing! There have been some great lessons for us to learn in these first few verses of Paul’s second missionary journey.
Now just to give you a quick recap of what we’ve talked about so far, Paul & Silas began this second missionary journey primarily to check up on the churches that Paul had planted on his first missionary journey. He wanted to make sure that they were growing in their faith and becoming Godly, mature followers of Jesus Christ. He wanted to make sure that they were the kind of disciples who would go on to make more disciples!
And that’s just what he found. When he arrived back in Lystra – the town where, in his first missionary journey, he had been stoned and left for dead – he found a young disciple named Timothy who had indeed been greatly growing in his faith and in fact, was the kind of companion that Paul wanted to bring along on his journeys. And so Paul invited Timothy to come along, and from that point on, Timothy (who would eventually become a key leader in the early church) traveled with Paul and Silas, and together they strengthen and encouraged all the churches in that area.
Well, after all the churches were visited and that phase of their missionary journey was done, they determined to go to some new cities and preach the Word of God where they had never been before – places that had never heard the Gospel!
And so they headed first towards the province of Asia – however, we’re told in Acts 16:6, that God stopped them from preaching there. So they headed north to the province of Bithynia – but once again, God stopped them from going there!
And I suppose this must have been a bit confusing for Paul & Silas and Timothy – after all, why would God stop them from preaching the Gospel to these people who had never heard the Good News?
Well, of course, God had a purpose and plan (as He always does) and he made that clear to Paul in a vision. In this vision, Paul saw a man from Macedonia in Northern Greece calling out to him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us!”
And so, they concluded that God was calling them to preach to the people of Macedonia!
Now just as a little bit of a side note: one thing that I didn’t mention last week is that right at verse 10 – we see that Luke, the author of the book of Acts, joins Paul, Silas, and Timothy and travels with them to the city of Philippi.
It’s not specifically stated in these verses, so it’s fairly easy to miss. But you might have noticed that the pronouns change after verse 8. In verse 8 Luke writes:
8 So instead, they went on through Mysia to the seaport of Troas.
…referring to Paul, Silas, and Timothy – “they” went on through…. But then in verse 10, he writes:
So we decided to leave for Macedonia at once, having concluded that God was calling us to preach the Good News there. Acts 16:10
“They” has now become “we” & “us” – and that will continue throughout this chapter, until “they” leave the city of Philippi at the beginning of chapter 17.
So it seems that Luke had joined this missionary team in Troas and will continue with them until they leave Philippi. Some people speculate that when Paul & Silas and Timothy left Philippi, Luke stayed behind to be the pastor of the new planted church – at least for a while – until he again rejoins Paul near the end of Paul’s third missionary journey some years later.
However, at this point in the story, Philippi doesn’t even have a church yet, so before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let’s take a look at our passage this morning.