Scripture Reading: Acts 16:6-40

In 16:6-40 we have the journey of Paul and his co-workers to Philippi of Macedonia. Verses 6 through 10 record Paul’s vision of a Macedonian; verses 11 through 18, the preaching and its fruits; and verses 19 through 40, the imprisonment and the release.


Paul and his co-workers were “forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia” (v. 6), and “the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them” to go into Bithynia (v. 7). After they had come down to Troas, “a vision was seen by Paul during the night: a certain man, a Macedonian, was standing and entreating him and saying, Come over into Macedonia and help us!” (v. 9). This vision seen by Paul was neither a dream nor a trance. This is different from Peter’s experience in 10:9-16, when “a trance came upon him” (v. 10). In the vision in 16:9 a Macedonian man urged Paul to come over into Macedonia. Macedonia was a province of the Roman Empire in southeastern Europe between Thrace and Achaia on the Aegean Sea.

Acts 16:10 goes on to say, “And when he had seen the vision, we immediately endeavored to go forth into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to bring the good news to them.” This verse indicates that after seeing the vision from God, there was still the need to conclude, that is, to understand what the vision meant, by exercising the mind according to the actual situation and environment. The mind that is capable of understanding such a vision from God is a mind saturated and directed by the spirit (Eph. 4:23).

In 16:10 the pronoun “we” is used for the first time to include the writer, Luke. This indicates that from Troas Luke joined the apostle Paul in his ministry journey.

After concluding that God had called them to bring the good news to the Macedonians, Paul and his co-workers endeavored to go forth into Macedonia. This was a major step in the Lord’s move for the spreading of His kingdom to another continent, to Europe. It explains the intention of the Holy Spirit forbidding them, the Spirit of Jesus not allowing them, and also the coming of the vision in the night. To carry out this particular leading in the Lord’s strategic move required the endeavoring of the apostle and his co-workers. This they did immediately.


Acts 16:11 and 12a say, “And putting out to sea from Troas, we ran a straight course to Samothrace, and on the following day to Neapolis; and from there to Philippi, which is the leading city of that part of Macedonia, a colony.” Troas was a seaport at the northwest corner of Asia Minor opposite to Macedonia on the Aegean Sea. Samothrace was an island in the Aegean Sea between Troas and Philippi, and Neapolis was a seaport of Philippi. Acts 16:12 says that Philippi was a colony. This means that it was a fortified outpost of the Roman Empire in a foreign country, where the citizens had equal rights with those at the capital, Rome. Hence, Philippi was a strategic point for the spread of the gospel at its beginning in Europe.

A Place of Prayer

Verse 13 says, “And on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate by a river, where we supposed there was a place of prayer; and we sat down and spoke to the women who had come together.” Here the word “Sabbath” indicates how widespread Judaism and its influence was, even in Europe. This verse also speaks of a place of prayer. Man’s prayer to God affords Him an opportunity for His move among men on earth.

In 16:13 Paul followed his principle of seeking out God’s chosen people. Here in Philippi he did not go to the synagogue; instead, on the Sabbath he went to a place of prayer. It is likely that Jews and Greek proselytes who were seeking God gathered at this place. This was Paul’s reason for going there.