Virginia train tracks.
Thursday, 20 April 2023
And a vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him, saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” Acts 16:9
Note: You can listen to today’s commentary courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen)
Note: The verse as presented by the NKJV misses the mark. A far closer rendering, that of the Literal Standard Version, will be used: “And a vision through the night appeared to Paul—a certain man of Macedonia was standing, calling on him, and saying, ‘Having passed through to Macedonia, help us.’”
The previous verse told of the company of missionaries arriving at Troas. Once there, it now says, “And a vision through the night.” One can only speculate, but it appears that this is the very night that they arrived in Troas. No sooner had they arrived than a vision of the night “appeared to Paul.”
As the leader of the company and as the apostle to the Gentiles, the vision was directed to Paul. This is not unlike what happened to Peter previously in Acts 10 when he had a vision calling him to Caesarea to preach to the house of Cornelius. In the case of Paul, the vision concerned “a certain man of Macedonia.”
The group was currently in the province of Asia, but the call is from a Grecian province in Europe to the west. Of the area, Albert Barnes says –
“Of Macedonia – This was an extensive country of Greece, having Thrace on the north, Thessaly south, Epirus west, and the Aegean Sea east. It is supposed that it was populated by Kittim, son of Javan, Genesis 10:4. The kingdom rose into celebrity chiefly under the reign of Philip and his son, Alexander the Great. It was the first region in Europe in which we have any record that the gospel was preached.”
Of this man of Macedonia, Luke records that he “was standing.” The first verb is imperfect and the second is perfect. The idea is that he was standing and remained standing. While standing, he was “calling on him.”
One can think of Paul looking out into the vision and seeing a man who is standing, and the guy is beckoning to him, maybe waving his arms or folding his hands as if pleading. In this state of beckoning, he was “saying, ‘Having passed through to Macedonia, help us.’”
In other words, he is essentially saying, “You are over there. You should be over here. Once you have passed over to this side, you can help us.” How the man is identified as a Macedonian is not stated. It could be that the summons to Paul was from the west, and so as he looked out over the water toward Macedonia, he identified the man as Macedonian. Or it could be his clothing or speech identified him. However it came to him, Paul understood who he was and the substance of his words.
Life application: With only the Hebrew Scriptures, combined with their personal knowledge of the Lord, the missionaries went forth to proclaim the gospel. As such, it is not unexpected that visions would appear to lead the men concerning what they were to do. This is true with Peter, Ananias, and Paul.
The contents of the Bible were not yet compiled. Therefore, at times it was needed for the Lord to personally intervene in the lives of these men, directing them according to a set and determined plan. With the Bible now complete, we have the necessary instructions to follow through with the task of spreading the gospel.Although we should not expect visions to direct our feet, we can be certain that the Lord is directing them, nonetheless.
Those things He wants us to succeed at will succeed. Those things which are not supposed to occur will not come to pass. Our job is not to sit and wait for visions, but to be obedient to the word. The Lord will take care of the details according to His infinite wisdom.
Lord God, we know that when we are living according to Your will, You will lead our steps and keep us on the path that You would have us take. Help us to act by directing our efforts toward accomplishing our part of the Great Commission. Give us wisdom, boldness, and the opportunity to be a part of continuing the growth of the church until the day it is complete and You call us home. Amen.