Chapter 51.1 Westward to Europe
Acts of Christ through his apostles, A.D. 46 to 100
Luke, Beloved Physician, original pencil drawing on paper by L. Lovett, size: 10 inches x 8.5 inches, 1972
Luke, Beloved Physician, original pencil drawing on paper by L. Lovett, size: 10 inches x 8.5 inches, 1972
(CLICK on the image above for a LARGER version)

Paul’s Second Missionary Journey

In the spring of A.D. 49, Paul decided to revisit the churches he and Barnabas had founded in Cyprus and Asia Minor. To accompany him for this journey, Paul chose Silas (Silvanus), a young member of the Jerusalem church and Roman citizen. They headed overland to Galatia, while Barnabas and Mark sailed to Cyprus.

Paul and Silas traveled by road around the coast and over the pass of the Cilician Gates to Derbe, and then on to Lystra where they were joined by another young disciple named Timothy. His mother Eunice and grandmother Lois were Jewish believers, however his father a Greek. Much younger than Paul, Timothy became the apostle’s protégé, almost like a son to him. Together they revisited the small Christian communities at Iconium and Pisidian Antioch; then driven by the Spirit’s guidance, they made their way to Troas on the northwest coast of Asia Minor.

In the warm sunlight of Alexandria Troas, known to the Romans as “New Troy,” Paul and his companions stood on the shore near the dock and looked across the Aegean Sea to the northwest where Macedonia (Northern Greece) lay hidden in mist. The apostle became lost in his thoughts of where to go next as he watched a ship unload its cargo from Macedonia and a few passengers unload. Little did he know he was waiting for a divine appointment, and was startled by a tap on his shoulder from behind.

“Paul, is that you?” a friendly voice asked. As he turned around to see who it was, the man introduced himself, “My name is Luke and I am a physician from Antioch of Syria. Because of your teaching about Jesus the Christ, I have become a believer and joined the Christian community there. I was told you occasionally need a physician, and I would like to offer my services to you on your journeys. I also am keeping a log of early Christianity and would like to be your official biographer. I am not married and have nothing to keep me from traveling with you. I’m on my way to Philippi; and if you are heading in that direction, may I follow you on your journey and care for your health?”

Paul immediately felt Luke’s sincerity, but he had been uncertain about which direction his mission should take. The Spirit urged him to accept the man’s offer and he quickly answered, “Yes, I certainly need a physician; but as yet, the Lord has not revealed the next place for me to go.”

“I’ll be here a few more days to visit my patients and perhaps you will know by then,” Luke replied.

A few nights later, Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over here and help us.” Then the man disappeared. Upon awakening, the apostle had the complete picture of why he was led to Troas and where he should go next.

The next day Paul, Silas, Timothy, and their new traveling companion Luke boarded a cargo ship and sailed across the Aegean Sea to the north Aegean port of Neapolis. From there, the four walked 10 miles inland to Philippi along the great military highway Via Egnatia that linked Rome with Asia.


Philippi, a Roman colony, was founded by the father of Alexander the Great. There were not enough Jewish men for a formal synagogue, so Paul and his companions went down to the River Ganga where they expected to find a place of prayer. When they arrived at the river’s edge, they saw a small group, mostly Greek proselyte women who had gathered for an informal Sabbath service. The four men joined them, and afterwards Paul rose to speak about Jesus the Messiah.

One of those listening was a woman named Lydia, a dealer in dyed purple cloth who was a worshipper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message, and her entire household was the first in Europe to believe the good news and be baptized. She told Paul, “If you consider me to be a true believer in the Lord, come and stay at my house.” And they accepted her hospitality.

The mission at Philippi soon ran into difficulties. One day as Paul and his associates were going down to the place of prayer, they met a demon possessed slave girl who earned large profits for her masters by telling fortunes. She followed along behind them shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, and they have come to tell you how to be saved.”

This went on day after day until Paul got so exasperated that he turned and spoke to the demon within her, shouting, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her!”

Instantly it left the fortuneteller, and her face suddenly filled with joy as she fell in the dirt, trying to kiss the hem of his robe.

“You have been healed through the grace of Jesus Christ,” Paul told girl as he lifted her to her feet. “No man can ever enslave your soul again.”

The owners of the girl were furious at the loss of her gift of prophecy, which meant they could no longer earn money for her services. They brought Paul and Silas before the city magistrates, charging them with unlawful practices. The two were beaten severely by the magistrates and other enraged citizens; then thrown into the inner prison, placed in stocks, and kept under close guard.

Philippian Jailer

It was Paul’s first experience with prison, but he encouraged Silas in the dark cell, “I’ve escaped a mob in Damascus and survived a stoning at Lystra. I am confident my work will not end on the very threshold of the new world God has opened for the Gospel in Macedonia.”

His faith was rewarded. About midnight, Paul and Silas were praying and singing praises to God while the other prisoners listened. Suddenly there was a violent earthquake that shook the foundations of the jail; the doors burst open and all the prisoners found their chains unfastened. The jailer woke up to see the prison doors wide open and, assuming that the prisoners had escaped, drew his sword intending to kill himself.

Paul saw him in the moonlight and called out, “Do yourself no harm; we are all here.” It was true. Every prisoner was still there and had moved to the missionaries’ cell. Something about those men of God had kept them from running away, and they regarded the earthquake as an answer to their prayers.

The jailer called for lights, rushed in, and threw himself down before Paul and Silas, trembling with fear. He then escorted them out and asked, “Never have I seen prisoners such as you. Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

They replied, “Put your trust in the Lord Jesus, for in him lies salvation for you and your entire household.” At that late hour of the night the jailer took them to his home and washed their wounds. Afterwards Paul and Silas spoke the word of the Lord to his family and household, and they were all baptized. Grateful for all the two missionaries had done, the jailer ordered a meal to be prepared for everyone, celebrating his newfound faith in God.

The officials had acted hurriedly the day before, not troubling to discover whether Paul and Silas were Roman citizens. Alarmed to hear that they were and facing the danger of being condemned for that oversight, the magistrates personally came to the prison the next morning, humbly begging the two to leave Philippi.

After their release, Paul and Silas paid a brief visit to Lydia and other followers, appointed leaders to carry on their work, and hastily departed with Timothy to Thessalonica, largest port city of the north Aegean. Luke remained in Philippi.

At Berea, a little farther southwest, the community received the message with great eagerness, studying the Scriptures every day to see whether what Paul said was true. Many of them became believers, but jealous Jews from Thessalonica pursued Paul and he was again forced to flee for his life. At once, members of the congregation took Paul down to the coast and escorted him to Athens.

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