Summary: The Holy Spirit barred Paul's way to the north and the south and it was then that Paul could look west to see the Man of Macedonia. He found the first Church in Europe whose leader was a woman, Lydia from Thyatira
Sermon Acts 16:6-34
My favourite book in the Old Testament is the Book of Proverbs and in the New Testament is the Book of Acts.
The Book of Acts is written to Theophilus which means in Greek Lover of God from Theos meaning God and Phileo meaning love.
What he a man who was Luke’s patron for the book or was he simply named as a lover of God wanting to find out more about the Christian movement – or as it was known at that time “the Way”
Scholars are pretty well unanimous in the opinion that Acts is the sequel to the Gospel of Luke, not least because the Gospel of Luke is also addressed to Theophilus.
And Luke right at the beginning of his Gospel tells us the aim of his book and its sequel Acts when he writes this:
1 Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, 2 just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word.
3 With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4 so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught. (Luke 1:1-4)
Following the end of Luke’s Gospel, St Luke in Acts tells the story of how the church grew from a backwoods sect of Judaism to a widespread religious movement in the first century AD.
Perhaps the key verse to sum up the book of Acts can be found in Acts 1:8
Jesus said to his disciples:
“It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:7-8)
If you will bear with me I’ll give you a bit of a whistle-stop tour of the first 15 Chapters of Acts as they pertain to Acts 16
In Acts 2, we see immediate fulfilment of Jesus’ words in Acts 1:7 and 8 when the power of the Holy Spirit falls on the Church and three thousand were added to the church after one sermon and the Church grows phenomenally in Jerusalem.
But not everyone is impressed with the Gospel and in Acts 4 we read of the Jewish authorities trying to put the movement down
In Chapter 7, we read of the death of the first Christian martyr Stephen. And as Stephen is killed, a great persecution broke out against the church (Acts 8:1).
This is a key event to get the Church out of the comfort of Jerusalem and to take the Gospel to Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth”
As a result all in the church except the apostles flee Jerusalem and are scattered in Judea and Samaria, and it is specifically noted that Philip takes the Gospel to Samaria
We then hear of the conversion of St Paul in Acts 9 and in Chapter 10 we read of a watershed event of how the Gospel is taken by Peter to the Gentiles in the person of the Centurion Cornelius and all his household.
The following Chapters we follow the progress of Paul and Barnabas of what is known as the First Missionary Journey.
In Chapter 15 we read of the first Church Council in Jerusalem, where they are asked to settle the doctrinal matter which has plagues Paul and Barnabas:
“Do Gentile believers need to be circumcised to become Christians”
And the Church leadership in Jerusalem speaks a decisive no answer.”
Then at the end of Chapter 15 we read of the big split up between Paul and Barnabas over the suitability of taking John Mark on the second missionary journey.
As a result Barnabas returns to his home island of Cyprus and Paul sets off with Silas on the Second Missionary journey
And it in Acts Chapter 16 we read of Paul taking the the Gospel to Europe for the first time.
The Revd. Jerry Shirley, an American Baptist minister has summed Acts 16 particularly nicely with three headings:
1. The Vision ,
2. The Venture and
3. The Victory
1. The Vision
Up until this time, the missionary work of Paul has been confined to the Middle East and Asia.
Paul has come from the East and he tries to go south into Bithinya. He then turns north and tries to go into the province of Asia. Both times the Holy Spirit stops him.
So he goes West and lands up at Troas.