Paul's Vision in Troas
6Paul and his friends went through Phrygia and Galatia, but the Holy Spirit would not let them preach in Asia. 7After they arrived in Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not let them. 8So they went on through Mysia until they came to Troas.
9During the night, Paul had a vision of someone from Macedonia who was standing there and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us!” 10After Paul had seen the vision, we began looking for a way to go to Macedonia. We were sure that God had called us to preach the good news there.
Lydia Becomes a Follower
11We sailed straight from Troas to Samothrace, and the next day we arrived in Neapolis. 12From there we went to Philippi, which is a Roman colony in the first district of Macedonia.
We spent several days in Philippi. 13Then on the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to a place by the river, where we thought there would be a Jewish meeting place for prayer. We sat down and talked with the women who came. 14One of them was Lydia, who was from the city of Thyatira and sold expensive purple cloth. She was a worshiper of the Lord God, and he made her willing to accept what Paul was saying. 15Then after she and her family were baptized, she kept on begging us, “If you think I really do have faith in the Lord, come stay in my home.” Finally, we accepted her invitation.
We call the book “The Acts of the Apostles.” But as we read the book we realize we should call it “The Acts of the Holy Spirit through the Apostles.” For as Luke shows us in this text, the real leader of God’s mission in the world is not an apostle, but the Holy Spirit.
The Spirit prevents Paul and his companions from going where they had planned to go. “The Spirit of Jesus would not let them,” says Luke (16:6). It was not yet time to move into Bithynia. The door was closed at the moment.
But the Spirit opened a different door. Paul has a vision of someone begging him to come to Macedonia. Who was it? Luke himself? From this point on in Acts, Luke uses the plural pronouns “we” and “us.” Whoever was calling “come over,” the Spirit was moving Paul where he had not planned to go. That is because Paul was not in control of the mission.
Neither are we. The leader of the mission leads his mission by closing doors and opening doors. Our role is to be attentive to his movements, to listen for his leading.
And then in Philippi, the Spirit does something he had been doing all along. He opened the heart of a human being to the message. Luke tells us that the Lord moved upon a business woman named Lydia, “and he made her willing to accept what Paul was saying” (16:14). He is doing this today. He did it for me. He is doing it for you. He is doing it for people in our lives.
Living God, Please make us sensitive to what you are doing in us and in those around us. Grant us grace to co-operate with you as the leader. In Jesus’ name, and for his greater fame. Amen.