Acts 16:6 – 10
6They went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. 7When they had come opposite Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them; 8so, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas. 9During the night Paul had a vision: there stood a man of Macedonia pleading with him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10When he had seen the vision, we immediately tried to cross over to Macedonia, being convinced that God had called us to proclaim the good news to them.
Several important things happen in this short passage. If you look at the map of Paul’s second journey, you will see that the little group, Paul, Silas, and Timothy, have been traveling overland, strengthening the believers in Derbe, Lystra, Iconium, and Psidian Antioch, churches that Paul and Barnabas had established on their first missionary journey. This was the region called “Galatia”. When we read Paul’s letter to the Galatians, it is addressed to all the churches in this region.
After visiting these churches Paul had planned to turn eastward into the region the Romans called Asia, perhaps going across to Smyrna and Ephesus. But the Spirit prevented them from going that way – we don’t know how the Spirit worked in this case; perhaps Paul simply got this feeling that they were not supposed to go that way, or perhaps everything they tried to do in order to go that way failed. I have certainly had times when I thought I was going to do one thing and found that it just did not work and realized later that I was not supposed to do that, but was really called to do something else! One way or another, Paul and his party were stopped in their tracks and detoured to the north; then they tried to go west into Bithynia, but were again prevented from doing so. And so they bypassed Mysia, and went down to the seashore at Troas. There Paul had a vision – a man from Macedonia stood before him begging him to bring the word to them. This would mean to cross the Aegean Sea into what is now Greece, the first mission into Europe. Paul immediately began making arrangements to sail to Macedonia.
But there is another important piece here that you will miss if you are not looking for it. The book of Acts has, up to this point, been written in the third person, “they” did this or that. Now the pronoun changes to the first person, “We immediately tried to cross over to Macedonia.” It is at this point that the author of Luke-Acts joins the missionaries in their travels. We believe that was Luke, the physician.