To Europe and Beyond
– Acts 16 recounts the story of Paul’s Second Missionary Journey
– Luke informs us of three new developments that serve to advance the gospel from Asia into the region we know today as Europe:
I. A New Companion (vv. 1-5)
1. Paul recruits Timothy
- Timothy was converted along with his family on the First Missionary Journey
- Timothy stepped into the role of John Mark on the new missionary team
- Timothy went on to become a very close associate of Paul
2. Paul circumcises Timothy
- Why would Paul do something that appears to flatly contradict the decision of the Jerusalem Council?
- Timothy was half-Jewish (vs. Titus – Galatians 2:3)
- Timothy’s ministry among his fellow Jews would have been hindered due to cultural offense
- Timothy’s circumcision had nothing to do with his salvation!
Application: Paul’s decision to circumcise Timothy reminds us not to place unnecessary barriers in the way of the gospel! (cf. 1 Corinthians 9:19-20)
II. A New Direction (vv. 6-10)
1. God sometimes closes doors
- Paul wanted to go Westward into Asia (Colosse and Ephesus) but was forbidden by the Holy Spirit
- Paul wanted to go North East along the Black Sea (Nicea) but was again prevented by the Spirit
Application: Have you submitted your plans and dreams to God’s perfect plan for your life?
2. God opens doors
- Vision of the Macedonian man
- Paul’s discernment and obedience to God’s direction opened the doors for European Christianity
“The invasion of Europe was not in the mind of Paul, but it was evidently in the mind of the Spirit.” – G. Campbell Morgan
Application: Be careful not to mistake opposition or persecution for a closed door. Many times God’s will is that we persevere and not give up!
III. A New Church Plant (vv. 11-15)
1. God’s plans are not always obvious
- Philippi had no established Synagogue
- The Church in Philippi began with a riverside prayer meeting
- The core of the first ‘European’ Church consisted of a group of godly women
2. Lydia’s Conversion
- The Lord took the initiative to open her heart – ‘regeneration’!
- Lydia believed along with her household and the new believers were baptized
- Lydia immediately began to show the fruit of genuine faith through works