At this point in the text, Paul ventures past the place where the first journey ended. Yet he is not certain where to go. “And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them”(Acts 16:6-7). This must be a particularly frustrating experience for Paul. Somehow the Spirit is keeping him from preaching in certain regions, yet not giving clear indications of where he should go.
At Troas “a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia 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”(Acts 16:9-10). Macedonia is a region of northern Greece that includes Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea. A careful reading of this text shows that God does not actually tell Paul to go to Macedonia. Instead, Paul has a vision of a Macedonian man begging for his help. He then concludes that God has called him to preach the gospel there.
At times we have the misconception that the apostles’ actions and words are all directed by the Holy Spirit. This passage shows us the need even inspired apostles have to draw conclusions. They take the information that they do know—and the possibility that God can be behind their circumstances—and using their judgment, they draw conclusions about what God thinks and wants. Today we follow the same process in drawing conclusions about how God wants us to live, applying NT principles to our own lives.
------------- One Thing to Think About: Why might God want us to draw conclusions instead of simply telling us what to do in every situation?
One Thing to Pray For: Wisdom and right judgment to discern God’s will
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