That night Paul had a vision: A man from Macedonia in northern Greece was standing there, pleading with him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us!” So we decided to leave for Macedonia at once, having concluded that God was calling us to preach the Good News there. We boarded a boat at Troas and sailed straight across to the island of Samothrace, and the next day we landed at Neapolis. From there we reached Philippi, a major city of that district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. And we stayed there several days.
On the Sabbath we went a little way outside the city to a riverbank, where we thought people would be meeting for prayer, and we sat down to speak with some women who had gathered there. One of them was Lydia from Thyatira, a merchant of expensive purple cloth, who worshiped God. As she listened to us, the Lord opened her heart, and she accepted what Paul was saying. She was baptized along with other members of her household, and she asked us to be her guests. “If you agree that I am a true believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my home.” And she urged us until we agreed.Acts 16:9-15
When you have a vision from God it marks a turning point. For the short period of time before they sailed from Troas to Samothrace they had been blocked this way and that. But after the vision of the man calling them to Macedonia things become clear again. Well not so clear. What is ahead of them now are just the first initial steps in the next adventure. I remember when we first went to Sulawesi, knowing we were to go but not knowing who we were to meet there. The next events and connections were in God’s hands. So it was with Paul and Silas (and Luke). Yes, now Luke has joined the party. The royal “we” has been added to the story. There is much debate among the experts as to whether Luke joined them before they arrived in Troas or when they got to Troas. There are also those commentators who feel that Luke was the man in the vision calling them to Macedonia. I don’t swallow that theory. If that were the case it would be clearer in the text.
I am not giving you a map of this area with this Gem because I have already given you the map of the area in Gem 1681. You can see clearly the location of Troas, Samothrace, Macedonia and Philippi. Now you have a good grasp of the location of these places and their relationship to each other. Using the scale on the map you can see just how close everything is within Macedonia. I suggest we (you and me and Paul, Silas and Luke) all stay the night in Neapolis at the little fotel on the coast there. What’s a fotel you ask? It’s a place you get to on foot. It’s not a motel which we reach in a mobile. You will recognize it by the flash new sign above “The Neapoli Rooms” but I warn you it is quite expensive nowadays. Don’t bring much luggage because we have to walk along the shore from the port to the “Neapoli Rooms”. Then the next day we have to walk from Neapolis to Philippi, a journey of 16 kms. Not much for seasoned foot travellers like Paul and Silas but a challenge for 21 Century couch potatoes like you and me. I am not sure about Luke at this stage of the journey. He has only just joined the party from his surgery. So I don’t know how fit Luke is. Bottom line, don’t bring a lot of stuff. And one more thing before we head out in the morning – take some time to study up on Paul’s contact with the Macedonians and his relationship with Philippi. We are at the threshold of stepping into Paul’s world. So we need to understand the nature of Paul’s relationship with the Macedonians and specifically the church in Philippi.
You know what you have to do with that assignment, don’t you?
Read Paul’s letter to the Philippians. The visit to Philippi represents the next connection between Acts and the letters of Paul. Make use of it. Read it a number of times. Search for the connections in the New Testament between Paul and the Macedonians (realizing that when the Macedonians are mentioned that also includes those in Philippi, Macedonia’s major city.) It’s easy. Just type in E-Sword’s search function “Macedonia” and “Macedonians”.
Luke has already given us the clue to the fact that Philippi was “a major city of that district of Macedonia and a Roman colony”. In fact it was the leading city of the region. it was the most important city in the Province of Macedonian. It was located on the Egnatian Way, the M1. [Sorry, no the F1]. Philippi was located at the confluence (junction) between Europe and Asia. The Egnatian Way was a road that linked East and West. It was an intercontinental hub. Philippi was the first major city in the colonizing process of Macedonia. It had been built by Philip the Great of Macedon as a frontier town against Thrace. Philip’s name was then given to the city of Philippi. Luke tells us that Philippi was also a Roman Colony. The Romans knew the locational importance of Philippi and had taken control of it and set it up as a Roman Colony. This meant it was under Roman political control and filled with Roman citizens.
Take some time to settle into your room in the fotel. On Friday we will head down to the river outside the city where we hear people meet for prayer “on the Sabbath”. My timing for the next Gems is Friday not Saturday so we will join the Friday religious gathering instead. That should prove interesting. Maybe we will meet 900 M men from the region. Before we head off to the river on Friday there is time for you to read our leader’s letter to the Philippians and maybe even take in the panorama of his contact with the Macedonians. If not bring your laptop along in your backpack. In the meantime, you can relax, I will wake you on Friday.
Every day of your life, you have a choice to nurture your talents, or to neglect them.A R Bernard
You can develop skills, talents and abilities by yourself, but you can only develop character when you’re with someone.A.R. Bernard
Do all the good you can, to as many people as you can, as often as you can.Wendy Treat
The more instantly gratified we are, the less permanently satisfied we are.Matthew Ruttan
If ignorance is bliss, why aren’t there more happy people in the world?Stephen Fry