The First Lesson for this Sunday is from the Acts of the Apostles. The text is Acts 16:9-15 and begins with Paul’s journey to Macedonia and the start of his outreach in there. Last week we looked at Peter’s vision which opened his eyes to the Gentile Mission. This week we look at Paul’s vision of a Macedonian man asking him to come and bring help—preach the Gospel! Paul is in Troas when he has this vision (vs. 8). Troas was a seaport city on the site of the ancient city of Troy. Here Paul receives a clear call for spiritual help. As a result, he just got up and went! There were no discussions, no committee meetings, no master planning—he and his group simply went to Macedonia. This is a geographical area covering over 25,000 square miles and includes several modern day countries including Greece, Albania, Serbia, Kosovo and Bulgaria. The “group” with Paul would have included Timothy and Silas, and, because vs. 10 suddenly incorporates the word “we,” it appears somewhere along the way they have been joined by Luke the author of Acts.

It is interesting to note there was no synagogue in Philippi—named for Philip of Macedonia, father of Alexander the Great. This is a bit curious and may indicate an anti-Jewish attitude in the city. It may help explain the turmoil and trouble revealed in vs. 20-21. Due to the lack of a synagogue for worship, Paul heads down to the river on the Sabbath. Either there was a Jewish place of prayer established there, or Paul expected there to be one, but the choice of the river for such a place of prayer would have been natural and normal. The easily accessible water would have made the various ceremonial washings required by Jewish practice easier.

It was at the river where Paul encounters Lydia, a Gentile believer, who hears the Word preached by Paul and her heart is opened by the LORD. After baptism, she prevails upon Paul and his group to come and stay at her house and conduct their ministry from that place. This tells us Lydia was probably either a widow or was unmarried.

These verses deliver a lot of geographical and historical data, but there is little direct theology imparted. Thus, the preacher’s task is made more difficult as we will discuss later.

16:9 ὅραμα “vision”

ὤφθη from: ὁράω Aorist, passive: “to appear (passive)”

ἑστὼς from: ἵστημι Perfect, active, participle: “to stand (perfect)”

παρακαλῶν from: παρακαλέω Present, active, participle: “to encourage; entreat; to beseech”

διαβὰς from: διαβαίνω Aorist, participle: “to come over; to pass through”

βοήθησον from: βοηθέω Aorist, imperative: “to help” Some have argued this Macedonian man was Luke. Personally, I do not hold to this opinion.

16:10 ἐζητήσαμεν from: ζητέω Aorist: “to seek”

συμβιβάζοντες from: συμβιβάζω Present, participle: “to conclude; infer; to put together”

προσκέκληται from: προσκαλέομαι Perfect, middle: “to call”

εὐαγγελίσασθαι from: εὐαγγελίζω Aorist, middle, infinitive: “to proclaim the good news”

16:11 Ἀναχθέντες from: ἀνάγω Aorist, passive, participle: “to lead up; (passive: to set sail)”

εὐθυδρομήσαμεν from: εὐθυδρομέω Aorist: “to run a straight course”

16:12 διατρίβοντες from: διατρίβω Present, participle: “to remain”

16:13 ἐξήλθομεν from: ἐξέρχομαι Aorist: “to go out”

ἐνομίζομεν from: νομίζω Imperfect: “to be the custom; to suppose”

προσευχὴν “a place of prayer; prayer”

καθίσαντες from: καθίζω Aorist, participle: “to sit; to sit down; to take one’s seat”

συνελθούσαις from: συνέρχομαι Aorist, participle: “to gather; come together”

16:14 πορφυρόπωλις “a seller of purple; one who sells purple”

σεβομένη from: σέβομαι Present, middle, participle: “to worship; to fear”

διήνοιξεν from: διανοίγω Aorist: “to open”

προσέχεινPresent, infinitive: “to give heed to; to give attention to; to hold to”

16:15 ἐβαπτίσθη from: βαπτίζω Aorist, passive: “to baptize”

κεκρίκατέ from: κρίνω Perfect: “to judge; to decide”

εἰσελθόντες from: εἰσέρχομαι Aorist, participle: “to go in”

μένετε from: μένω Present, imperative: “to remain”

παρεβιάσατο from: παραβιάζομαι Aorist, middle: “to insist; to urge (strongly)”

How do you preach this text? One option is to attempt an interweaving of it with the other texts of the day, but in this case that would not be so easy! Another idea is to choose a sub-theme of the text, being careful not to impose a theme which does not present itself within the text.

Theme: Hear and Go!

I. Hear and Go

A. Paul: has a vision to go… and he goes… immediately!

B. Lydia: Hears the Word…

1. Baptized on the spot!
2. Insists Paul stay at her home and carry out the work.

C. And us…?

II. What stands in our way?

A. The world and things of the world…

B. Fear and terror of the world and the people in it…

C. Our sinful flesh…

III. How can we go… with all the roadblocks?

A. The spirit called and sent Paul…

B. The LORD opened Lydia’s heart...

C. And us…

1. Called by the Gospel…
2. Prepared by the Word…
3. Sent by the Spirit…
4. This is not of our own doing…

Additional Resources:

Concordia Theology: Various helps from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, MO to assist you in preaching Acts 16:9-15.

Text Week: A treasury of resources from various traditions to help you preach Acts 16:9-15.