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INSIGHTS FOR STUDENTS

Detour: An unplanned visit and a conversation spawn a new church
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Acts 16

During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing
and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.”
Acts 16:9

In his travels, Paul concentrates on the chief trade towns and capital cities
of the Roman provinces. From this melting pot of diverse cultures the gospel
message can radiate out across the globe. If a young church shows promise,
Paul stays on, sometimes as long as three years, to direct its spiritual
growth. His letters glow with affection for the friends he develops in this
way.

This chapter contains one of the Bible’s most famous episodes of divine
guidance: Paul’s vision of a man of Macedonia. Yet the account actually shows
how uncommon such a revelation is. It certainly startles Paul, who abruptly
changes his travel plans. Following his normal procedure, Paul arranges this
missionary trip strategically, linking together major towns and cities in
sequence. But this time he runs into a roadblock and must adjust his
itinerary.

A Woman and a Jailer

As a result of this change, one of Paul’s favorite churches comes into
existence. Philippi is a leading city in the region of Macedonia, the place to
which the vision has directed him. A casual conversation with a woman by a
river opens the way for Paul (women play a crucial role in many of the early
churches). What takes place in Philippi stands almost as a pattern for Paul’s
never-dull missionary visits: early acceptance, violent opposition and
providential deliverance from danger.

When in danger, Paul does not hesitate to use the prestige and status that
come with his Roman citizenship. He is escorted from Philippi with proper
respect, but he leaves behind two transformed households: one led by a woman
cloth merchant and the other by a city jailer. From that unlikely combination
grows the lively church at Philippi, to whom Paul later addresses the book of
Philippians.

Life Questions

How has God used a casual conversation to bring someone or something important
into your life?

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~Acts 1:8, Luke 9:23~

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