The Gospel to the Gentiles
Acts 16:6-40

After the Jerusalem meeting in Acts 15, the way was opened wide for the evangelization of the nations. From the meager beginnings we have studied--the eunuch, Cornelius, the Gentiles in Acts 11, we expand now to larger Gentile churches: Syrian Antioch (15:30ff), Syria and Cilicia (15:36ff), Galatia (16:1-5). But the task has only begun...we have heard the Macedonian call...

The move to Europe was not necessarily easy, for the desire of the missionaries was to go in other directions. But the vision was clear: and the conclusion (gathering together) was that God desired to gospel go to Macedonia. This was clearly the work of the Spirit, and now we see clearly what was not so clear to Paul and his traveling companions. The Gospel in subsequent centuries fanned out into all the world from the European base.

In summary of the second journey to this point, we might conclude that Paul and his group were conscious first of the need to establish new churches in Roman provinces where they had not traveled on the first journey. If the first was focused on Cyprus and then on to Galatia, the second revisited those areas and moved northwestward because of the inability to move more directly west into Asia (16:6). At the border of Mysia they were thinking to move to Bithynia and Pontus, but the Spirit did not allow. All of this is of the HS, and the vision also.

Soon they were in Philippi, named for Philip of Macedon in the 4th c. BC. Apparently Luke's home town, Luke knows that Macedonia has been divided into 4 districts, and Philippi is a leading city in that region. They stayed several days, and surely there were several converts, but there are only three specifically mentioned.

Now here is a wonderful story. What does it mean as we consider the gospel to the Gentiles in our day. I was you to see the power of the gospel to bring together different people under the Lordship of Jesus. These people were worlds apart racially, socially, psychologically.

I want us to see these things as we end of our brief studies in Acts. We have seen several things:

The gospel has a universal appeal, still in our world, to reach people of all stations, races, and places. The gospel has a unique message unlike any other. The gospel has a unifying power to unite those who accept it. The epic concludes: they went to the house of Lydia, the brothers....

The brothers in Philippi. A church that will mature and grow as evidenced by Paul's later letter. This is a church with tensions, but in the end they are firm in one spirit, like minded, having the same love, one in spirit and purpose. They are people of the mind of Christ. They are single hearted in their devotion, allegiant citizens of the heavenly kingdom.

Today's world is a world of social disintegration and challenge. The church has the challenge of taking the gospel into all the world. I hope we can. It's power is pervasive, its focus on Christ foundational, its motivating reasoning a reflection of reality. The book of Acts is a wonderful book of beginnings for the Spirit in the church is a power to tell that will not end. The preaching of the gospel is powerful to the religious, the irreligious, the cities, the world.

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Last updated March 20, 2005.