Acts 16:9
And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(9) There stood a man of Macedonia.—The term is probably used in its later sense as applied to the Roman province, which included Macedonia, properly so called, Illyricum, Epirus, and Thessaly, the province of Achaia including, in like manner, the whole of Southern Greece. The vision which St. Paul looked on explained to him all the varied promptings and drawings-back of his journey. This was the door that was to be opened to him. The faith of Christ was to pass from Asia to Europe, and the cry, “Come over and help us,” was to him as a call from the whole western world. In view of this, he did not now tarry to preach at Troas. Probably, indeed, as the next verse implies, that work had been already done.

Acts 16:9-10. And — While they were in this place, undetermined, probably, to what coast of Europe they should sail, if, according to their intention, they crossed the sea; a vision appeared to Paul in the night — To direct them: it was not a dream, though it was by night. No dream is mentioned in the New Testament, except that of Joseph, and of Pilate’s wife. There stood a man of Macedonia — Before him, probably an angel, clothed in the Macedonian habit, or using the language of that country, and representing the inhabitants of it; and prayed him — With great earnestness; saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us — Against Satan, ignorance, and sin. And after he had seen the vision — And given an account of it to his companions; immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia — Willingly obeying the heavenly admonition; assuredly gathering — From this vision; that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel unto them — In that country. This is the first place in which Luke intimates his attendance on the apostle. And here he does it only in an oblique manner. Nor does he throughout the history once mention his own name, or any one thing which he did or said for the service of Christianity; though Paul speaks of him in the most honourable terms, Colossians 4:14; 2 Timothy 4:11; and probably, as the brother whose praise in the gospel went through all the churches, 2 Corinthians 8:18. The same remark may be made on the rest of the sacred historians, who every one of them show the like amiable modesty.16:6-15 The removals of ministers, and the dispensing the means of grace by them, are in particular under Divine conduct and direction. We must follow Providence: and whatever we seek to do, if that suffer us not, we ought to submit and believe to be for the best. People greatly need help for their souls, it is their duty to look out for it, and to invite those among them who can help them. And God's calls must be complied with readily. A solemn assembly the worshippers of God must have, if possible, upon the sabbath day. If we have not synagogues, we must be thankful for more private places, and resort to them; not forsaking the assembling together, as our opportunities are. Among the hearers of Paul was a woman, named Lydia. She had an honest calling, which the historian notices to her praise. Yet though she had a calling to mind, she found time to improve advantages for her soul. It will not excuse us from religious duties, to say, We have a trade to mind; for have not we also a God to serve, and souls to look after? Religion does not call us from our business in the world, but directs us in it. Pride, prejudice, and sin shut out the truths of God, till his grace makes way for them into the understanding and affections; and the Lord alone can open the heart to receive and believe his word. We must believe in Jesus Christ; there is no coming to God as a Father, but by the Son as Mediator.And a vision - See the notes on Acts 9:10.

There stood a man - etc. The appearance of a man who was known to be of Macedonia, probably by his dress and language. Whether this was in a dream, or whether it was a representation made to the senses while awake, it is impossible to tell. The will of God was at different times made known in both these ways. Compare Matthew 2:12; note, Acts 10:3. Grotius supposes that this was the guardian angel of Macedonia, and refers for illustration to Daniel 10:12-13, Daniel 10:20-21. But there seems to be no foundation for this opinion.

Of Macedonia - This was an extensive country of Greece, having Thrace on the north, Thessaly south, Epirus west, and the Aegean Sea east. It is supposed that it was populated by Kittim, son of Javan, Genesis 10:4. The kingdom rose into celebrity chiefly under the reign of Philip and his son, Alexander the Great. It was the first region in Europe in which we have any record that the gospel was preached.

And help us - That is, by preaching the gospel. This was a call to preach the gospel in an extensive pagan land, amid many trials and dangers. To this call, notwithstanding all this prospect of danger, Paul and Silas cheerfully responded, and gave themselves to the work. Their conduct was thus an example to the church. From all portions of the earth a similar call is now coming to the churches. Openings of a similar character for the introduction of the gospel are presented in all lands. Appeals are coming from every quarter, and all that seems now necessary for the speedy conversion of the world is for the church to enter into these vast fields with the self-denial, the spirit, and the zeal which characterized the apostle Paul.

9, 10. a vision appeared to Paul in the night—while awake, for it is not called a dream.

There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us—Stretching his eye across the Ægean Sea, from Troas on the northeast, to the Macedonian hills, visible on the northwest, the apostle could hardly fail to think this the destined scene of his future labors; and, if he retired to rest with this thought, he would be thoroughly prepared for the remarkable intimation of the divine will now to be given him. This visional Macedonian discovered himself by what he said. But it was a cry not of conscious desire for the Gospel, but of deep need of it and unconscious preparedness to receive it, not only in that region, but, we may well say, throughout all that western empire which Macedonia might be said to represent. It was a virtual confession "that the highest splendor of heathendom, which we must recognize in the arts of Greece and in the polity and imperial power of Rome, had arrived at the end of all its resources. God had left the Gentile peoples to walk in their own ways (Ac 14:2). They had sought to gain salvation for themselves; but those who had carried it farthest along the paths of natural development were now pervaded by the feeling that all had indeed been vanity. This feeling is the simple, pure result of all the history of heathendom. And Israel, going along the way which God had marked out for him, had likewise arrived at his end. At last he is in a condition to realize his original vocation, by becoming the guide who is to lead the Gentiles unto God, the only Author and Creator of man's redemption; and Paul is in truth the very person in whom this vocation of Israel is now a present divine reality, and to whom, by this nocturnal apparition of the Macedonian, the preparedness of the heathen world to receive the ministry of Israel towards the Gentiles is confirmed" [Baumgarten]. This voice cries from heathendom still to the Christian Church, and never does the Church undertake the work of missions, nor any missionary go forth from it, in the right spirit, save in obedience to this cry.

A man; an angel in the appearance and likeness (in habit and demeanour) of one of that country.

Macedonia; a Grecian province in Europe, extending to the Archipelago.

Help us; as to our souls, with the saving light of the gospel: God sends the ministers of the gospel to help such as would otherwise perish: with the gospel, salvation comes. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night,.... Either in a dream, or, it may be, when he was awake:

there stood a man of Macedonia; an angel in the form of a man; the Syriac version reads, "as a man of Macedonia", and who might appear in a Macedonian habit, or speak in the Macedonian language; or the apostle might conclude him to be so, from his making mention of Macedonia, as the place where he requested him to come, and assist:

and prayed him, saying, come over into Macedonia; Macedonia was a very large country in Europe; which formerly consisted, as Pliny (o) says, of a hundred and fifty people, or nations, and was called Emathia; it took its name of Macedonia from Macedo, a son of Jupiter, and of Thyd, a daughter of Deucalion: according to Ptolomy (p) it had on the north Dalmatia, superior Mysia and Thracia; on the west, the Ionian sea; on the south Epirus; and on the east, part of Thracia, and the gulfs of the Aegean sea. It had formerly other names besides Emathia and Macedonia, as Mygdonia and Edoma, and is now called Albania or Ronnelli. Troas, where the apostle now was, when he had this vision, was just by the Hellespont, over which he must go to Macedonia; and therefore the Macedonian prays him to "come over", adding,

and help us; by praying and preaching, to pull down the kingdom of Satan, to destroy superstition and idolatry, to enlighten the eyes of men, and turn them from darkness to light, from the power of Satan to God, and save them from utter ruin and destruction. This shows what a miserable condition this country was in; and that God had some chosen people among them to gather in, whose time was now come; and of what use and service the angels, Christ's ministering spirits, are, who are helpful in weakening the kingdom of Satan, and advancing the interest of Christ, and in spreading his Gospel, and particularly in directing the ministers of it where to preach it; though it follows not from hence, that this angel presided over the whole country, and was their tutelar angel, as some think.

(o) Hist. Nat. l. 4. c. 10. (p) Geograph. l. 3. c. 13.

{5} And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us.

(5) They are the ministers of the Gospel by whom he helps those who are likely to perish.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Acts 16:9. καὶ ὅραμα: used by St. Luke eleven times in Acts elsewhere (in N.T. only once, Matthew 17:19), three times in 1–12., and eight times in 12–28 (see Hawkins, Horæ Synoptiœ, p. 144). But St. Luke never uses ὄναρ; sometimes ὅρ. διὰ νυκτός as here, sometimes ὅρ. alone. It is quite arbitrary on the part of Baur, Zeller, Overbeck to interpret this as a mere symbolical representation by the author of the Acts of the eagerness of the Macedonians for the message of salvation; see as against this view not only Wendt and Zöckler but Spitta, p. 331. Hilgenfeld, Zeitschrift für wissenschaft. Theol., ii., p. 189, 1896, thinks that the “author to Theophilus” here used and partly transcribed an account of one of the oldest members of the Church of Antioch who had written the journey of St. Paul partly as an eye-witness, and see for the question of the “We” sections Introduction.—ἀνήρ τις ἦν Μ.: Ramsay, here in agreement with Renan, identifies this man with St. Luke, St. Paul, pp. 202, 203. But it can scarcely be said that anything in the narrative justifies this identification. Ramsay asks: Was Luke already a Christian, or had he come under the influence of Christianity through meeting Paul at Troas? and he himself evidently sympathises entirely with the former view. The probability, however, of previous intercourse between Luke and Paul has given rise to some interesting conjectures—possibly they may have met in student days when Luke studied as a medical student in the university (as we may call it) of Tarsus; in the passage before us the succeeding words in Acts 16:10 lead to the natural inference that Luke too was a preacher of the Gospel, and had already done the work of an Evangelist. Ramsay admits that the meeting with Luke at Troas may have been sought by Paul on the ground of the former’s professional skill, p. 205. He further maintains that Paul could not have known that the man was a Macedonian unless he had been personally known to him, but surely the man’s own words sufficiently implied it (Knabenbauer), even if we do not agree with Blass, in loco, that Paul must have recognised a Macedonian by his dress. At all events it is quite unnecessary with Grotius (so Bede) to suppose that reference is made to the angel of Macedonia, “angelus Macedoniam curans,” Daniel 10:12. On the importance of this verse in the “We” sections see Introduction: Ramsay, p. 200, Blass, Proleg., p. x.9. a vision appeared] So also to Ananias (Acts 9:10). Cp. also Acts 10:3; Acts 10:17; Acts 10:19, Acts 11:5, Acts 12:9, Acts 18:9. This was a part of the fulfilment of the prophecy of Joel about which St Peter spake on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:17).

a man of Macedonia] The words which he spake made clear his nationality.Acts 16:9. Ὅραμα διὰ τῆς νυκτὸς, a vision in the night) It is not said to have been a dream; although it was the night. So ch. Acts 18:9. No other dream is mentioned in the New Testament, except the dreams which were vouchsafed to Joseph in those earliest times, Matthew 1, 2, and the dream of the wife of Pilate, a Gentile. In Acts 2:17, the words are repeated from Joel. The night is seasonable for learning the Divine will.—ἀνὴρ, a man) Who represented not Lydia, nor perhaps the gaoler of Philippi, but rather all from among the Macedonians who were about to believe, even though they themselves did not yet know the fact; for the man says, Help US. He was an angel, or a kind of apparition, as in ch. Acts 10:11.—Μακεδὼν, a Macedonian) whom, from his costume, or language, or some other indication, Paul distinguished; the fact (event) afterwards corresponding thereto. As yet Paul had not come into Europe.—βοήθησον, help) by (preaching) the Gospel, Acts 16:10, against Satan against blindness.Verse 9. - There was a man... standing, beseeching him, and saying for there stood a man... and prayed him, saying, A.V. Thus was ushered in the most momentous event in the history of Europe, the going forth of the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem to enlighten the nations of the West, and bring them into the fold of Jesus Christ. Paul saw and heard this in a vision in the night. It is net called a dream (Bengel), but was like the vision seen by Ananias (Acts 9:10), and those seen by Paul (Acts 9:12; Acts 10:5; Acts 18:9). A vision (ὅραμα) is distinguished from a dream (ἐνύπνιον, Acts 2:17). It is applied to things of a marvelous character seen objectively, as to the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:9)and to the burning bush (Acts 7:31).
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