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Acts 16:6–10

“A vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing there, urging him and saying, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us.’ And when Paul had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them” (vv. 9–10).

Continuing on his second missionary journey, Paul was making his way west across Asia Minor with Silas and Timothy to check in on the churches that Paul and Barnabas had planted during the first missionary journey (Acts 16:1–5; see chs. 13–14; 15:36–41). Some commentators suggest that the missionaries may have been on their way to Ephesus, a major city on the west coast of Asia Minor. In today’s passage, however, we see that whatever plans they had for Asia had to change, for the Holy Spirit forbade them to continue speaking “the word” there (16:6).

Changing course, Paul and his companions headed northwest, aiming for the province of Bithynia, where there were many Jewish settlements and important cities. Luke tells us in Acts 16:7 that the “Spirit of Jesus” did not allow them to go to Bithynia. The “Spirit of Jesus,” of course, is the Holy Spirit. It could be that this message was delivered by way of a prophet’s speaking specifically in the name of Jesus, explaining the use of the title “Spirit of Jesus,” but we cannot be sure. The “Spirit of Jesus” is an appropriate title for the Holy Spirit, since Jesus gave the Spirit to His people after His ascension (2:33).

This led the missionaries to the city of Troas, an important port on the northwest corner of Asia Minor (16:8). God had been telling them where not to go, but at Troas He gave a vision to Paul with positive direction of where they should go. One night, the Apostle saw a man from Macedonia who was begging for the believers to come to Macedonia and help them (v. 9). Macedonia had been a province of the Roman Empire since 146 BC, having earlier been dominant in the Greek world during the era of Philip II and Alexander the Great.

Paul quickly understood that he had heard a word from the Lord directing him to take Silas and Timothy to Macedonia and evangelize the people there. Interestingly, when Luke describes the response to the vision, he says that “we sought to go on into Macedonia” (v. 10). The appearance of the first-person-plural pronoun “we” indicates that Luke, the writer, was with Paul and the others and that he was an eyewitness to many of the things that took place on Paul’s missionary journeys. Possibly Luke first joined them in Troas, but we do not know that for sure. We do know that Luke played a key role in Paul’s ministry (Col. 4:14; 2 Tim. 4:11).

Coram Deo Living before the face of God

The Holy Spirit is called the “Spirit of Jesus” (Acts 16:7) because the Father gives the Spirit to us in and through Jesus and because the Spirit is always pointing beyond Himself to Jesus. Many people today claim that the Holy Spirit is at work in their midst, but one sure sign that He is present is that the people making the claim are emphasizing the person and work of Jesus in their ministry.

For further study
  • Jeremiah 35:15
  • Jonah 1:1–3:3
  • Acts 16:11–15
  • Romans 15:26
The bible in a year
  • Psalms 4–6
  • Acts 16:16–40

Timothy Joins Paul and Silas

The Church Begins at Philippi

Keep Reading The Holiness of God and His People

From the July 2024 Issue
Jul 2024 Issue