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." Now after he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go to Macedonia,
concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them.
Acts 16:9-10 (NKJV)
Received by the Council of Jerusalem the approval, Paul and Barnabas return to Antioch in the autumn of 49, but have only one desire: to start on a mission, to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ. Barnabas leaves for Cyprus in the company of Giovanni Marco, while Paolo together with Sila visits the churches of Galatia. To these latter, Timoteo is added to Listra, then to Troade Luca, the narrator of Acts. Luke tells us that others were the apostle's missionary intentions, but the Spirit does not favor the journey to Asia first and the Bithynia later. In fact, through a vision he directs them elsewhere. Luca, eyewitness, gives us the travel diary. We are at the beginning of the year 50 when, disembarking in the port of Neapolis, the current Kavala, the Pauline team set foot for the first time on the European continent and founded the first European Christian community in Philippi. Sharing the gospel is the answer to the dream rescue request.
Philippi, a city of Macedonia renowned for trade, had become a Roman colony under Emperor Augustus, so it was tax-free, had its own independence from the governor of the province and full dominance of the funds. The vision is to presage a large colony of Jews on the spot, but in reality they are a minor request, since according to Acts there is no synagogue in the city. Indeed, Paul meets the small Jewish community along the river, where, on the escort of the Babylonian exile, it was customary to meet when the synagogue was missing. Here the missionaries take part in the prayer day on Saturday, where only women are present. Paul addresses these to them, according to the scheme which he has refined over several years of preaching to the Jews. Among these, one is receptive, a trait of Lydia, originally from Tiatira and a wealthy purveyor of purple, who not only accepts the preaching of the apostle and gets baptized with all her family, but that is how her house is a provision of the four and of the community. We are amazed by the action of the Spirit, who does not know a Paul to go to Asia, but directs him in Macedonia to meet a woman of Asian descent. Moreover, it is the man who sees in the vision, but the apostle finds only women in prayer.
The first European church was born in the house of Lydia, which is a house large enough to host a community of believers in Christ composed, esteem scholars, from about thirty-five people. Undoubtedly to people and men, who also assumed leadership roles, you are clear from the letter to the Philippians when you write "to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops and with the deacons". However, women continued to play important roles in the community, as Paul mentions Evodia and Sintiche among his closest collaborators. These facts remind us of the value of presence in the community and not only, but also the ability of women to make a place of worship. Lydia descends into the baptismal waters with her family, and a few days later the same happens for the jailer of Philippi, a story that there is no distinction of sex. God opened Lidia's heart and Lidia opened the doors of her house. When the Gospel conquers our life, what we have is proposed to the cause of the Gospel.
Weekly Bible reading plan
January 28 Exodus 19-20; Matthew 18:21-35
January 29 Exodus 21-22; Matthew 19
January 30 Exodus 23-24; Matthew 20:1-16
January 31 Exodus 25-26; Matthew 20:17-34
February 1 Exodus 27-28; Matthew 21:1-22
February 2 Exodus 29-30; Matthew 21:23-46
February 3 Exodus 31-33; Matthew 22:1-22