Paul’s 2nd Journey- Macedonian Vision


2_Pauls 2nd Journey Macedonian VisionScripture Reference: Acts 15:36-41; 16:1-10

Suggested Emphasis: Missionaries go wherever God needs them to work.


Story Overview:

Paul suggested to Barnabas that they re-visit the churches they had established on their 1st missionary journey.  Before leaving Antioch he and Barnabas disagreed over who they should take with them so they each took different people and went to different places.  A young man named Timothy joined Paul as he travelled overland re-visiting churches and attempting to enter new areas to teach people about Jesus.  The Holy Spirit actively guided Paul and his companions and one night Paul had a vision of a man from the region of Macedonia standing and begging him to come and help. By entering Macedonia on this, his 2nd missionary journey, Paul was now taking the Gospel to Europe.

Background Study:

Click here for an overview of the Book of Acts

Working Hard for Unity:(Acts 15:1-35)
After returning to Antioch following their 1st missionary journey Paul and Barnabas spent time helping the Antioch church resolve some major issues regarding Jewish and Gentile relations among Christian churches.   The Christian movement had first begun in Jerusalem among the Jews so the church there was very concerned with the Jewish perspective.  But the spread of the Gospel had now opened up to Gentiles and the Antioch church was central in advancing the cause of Christ in ever-increasing mission work.  Some Jewish Christians from Jerusalem came to Antioch and began teaching that Gentile Christians must adhere to Jewish law to follow God.

The Antioch church sent Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem to meet with church leaders (including Peter and James) to resolve the conflict this was causing.  Dividing the Christian movement would have gone against Jesus’ prayer for unity (John 17) and hindered the spread of the Gospel.  The conflict was resolved through an agreement to only focus on the few ritual requirements that were currently preventing Jewish and Gentile Christians spending time together.  Paul and Barnabas delivered this news back to Antioch in the form of a letter.  To make sure they were properly represented this time, the Jerusalem church sent Christian prophets, Judas and Silas, along with Paul and Barnabas to spend time in Antioch.

A Rough Start for the 2nd Missionary Journey: (Acts 15:36-41
Just when the church conflicts between Jerusalem and Antioch were resolved it seems like a more personal conflict now erupts.  After returning from Jerusalem Paul suggested to Barnabas that they re-visit the churches that they had established on the 1st missionary journey.  Barnabas wanted to take his cousin, John Mark, along but he and Paul had what the writer of Acts calls in verse 39 a “sharp disagreement” over this point.  No details were given when John Mark’s earlier leaving was recorded in Acts 13:13 but at this point in time Paul now describes the earlier event as a desertion (Acts 15:38).

03_Paul_Antioch_Philippi_1024Paul and Barnabas could not agree on this so Barnabas decided to leave and take John
Mark to retrace the first part of the earlier journey.  They sailed for the island of Cyprus.  Although they could not come to an agreement over this Paul did not lose all respect for Barnabas.  In later writings, 1 Corinthians 9:1-16 (verse 6 in particular), Paul uses Barnabas and himself as examples of workers worthy of financial support.  And we know Paul and John Mark worked together later on a number of occasions.  At the end of his life Paul asks for John Mark and refers to the great help he had been (2 Timothy 4:11).

06_Paul_Antioch_Philippi_1024In what is later referred to as “Paul’s 2nd Missionary Journey” Paul headed out overland and went north through Syria towards Lystra and Derbe where he strengthened the churches.  He took Silas (one of the prophets from Jerusalem mentioned earlier) along with him.

Timothy Joins Paul and Silas (Acts 16:1-5)
Paul had visited Lystra on his 1st missionary journey.  He now returns and meets a disciple called Timothy.  Timothy joined Paul on his journey and continued to be mentored by him in the subsequent years to come.  Timothy’s father was a Greek and not a follower of Jesus but his mother and grandmother were Jewish Christians.  They had faithfully taught Timothy about God since he was an infant (2 Timothy 3:14-15).  Perhaps this faithfulness was one of the reasons Paul decided to invest so much time in Timothy.  Paul will later mention this when he writes Timothy two letters containing instruction for ministry.  In 2 Timothy 1:5 he refers to the sincere faith of Timothy’s mother and grandmother.

Paul’s mission work involved teaching both Jews and Gentiles and he shared the earlier decisions of the Jerusalem church with the Gentile Christians here in Lystra.  His experiences in working out the differences between the Jerusalem and Antioch churches must have influenced him in requiring Timothy to be circumcised before joining him on the journey.  Since Timothy had a Jewish mother his being circumcised meant he would be welcomed in Jewish circles to teach about Christ.  As in the case of the Gentile Christians observing basic Jewish rituals allowed fellowship between the cultures.

10_Paul_Antioch_Philippi_1024A Vision and an Open Door (Acts 16:6-10)
The language used in this passage show how the Holy Spirit was actively involved in guiding Paul and his group.  They travelled throughout Phrygia having been “kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia“.  When they tried to enter Bithynia the Spirit of Jesus “would not allow them to.” (verses 6-7, NIV)
Still searching for a place to preach Paul travels west to the coast of the Aegean Sea and the busy port city of Troas.  After so many refusals Paul finally receives a “yes” from the Holy Spirit in the form of a vision during the night.  In the vision a man from Macedonia stands before Paul begging him to come to Macedonia and help.  The next morning Paul concludes that God had called them to preach the Gospel in Macedonia.
14_Paul_Antioch_Philippi_1024This is the first record we have of the Gospel being spread across the Aegean Sea into what is now known as Europe.

Paul had been determined to head north but the Holy Spirit led him across the Aegean Sea.  In later writings Paul says that he found that  “the Lord opened a door for me” (2 Corinthians 2:12-13).

Paul is a great example of someone who submitted his life to God’s will.  It was, after all, God’s mission and not Paul’s mission.

Paul’s group now includes Paul, Silas and Timothy.  Upon leaving Troas the author of the Book of Acts, Luke, begins to use the pronoun “we” instead of “them” (verse 10).  For this reason, we can assume Luke has now joined Paul’s travel group.

The next chapters in the Book of Acts cover the spread of the Gospel throughout Macedonia, Greece and back in Asia Minor.  After his travels Paul will head back to Jerusalem.  On his way he will stop once again in Troas where a young man, Eutychus, falls from a window while Paul preaches.


Way to Introduce the Story:

Have a globe or atlas or world map to use in class today. “Let’s pretend we are going to travel to a far away country today to teach people about Jesus. (Let one of the children choose a country and find it on the globe or in the atlas.) What language would we have to know if we went there? What kind of clothes would we need to bring? What would we need to do before we left? In today’s story we are going to learn about another trip that Paul took to teach people about Jesus.”

The Story:

There were many Christians in the Antioch church. Some of them were from Jewish families and some were from Gentile families but they all loved God. Paul and Barnabas were two missionaries that were members of the Antioch church.

Once, some men from Jerusalem came to Antioch and told the Christians that Gentiles could not become Christians unless they followed Jewish rules first. But Paul and Barnabas said this was not true. They travelled to Jerusalem and talked to the church leaders there about it.

The Jerusalem leaders sent a letter back to Antioch to tell all of the Christians there that what Paul and Barnabas were saying was correct. Gentile Christians did NOT have to follow all of the Jewish rules to become Christians. But even if these rules were not required there was something else that was very important. It was important that there be PEACE and UNITY among all Christians.

In the letter the Jewish leaders suggested that the Gentile and Jewish Christians try to understand each other better when they talked about God. The leaders said that the Gentile Christians should follow some of the Jewish customs so they would not offend the Jews that wanted to learn about Jesus.

The church in Antioch thought this was a very good idea and agreed.

After some time had passed Paul began to think about all of the people he and Barnabas had visited on their 1st Missionary Journey.

When Paul asked Barnabas to go on a 2nd Missionary Journey with him Barnabas wanted to take his cousin John Mark. Paul remembered how John Mark had deserted them when they were on the 1st Journey. He did not want him to come again. Paul and Barnabas had a very big disagreement about this.

Since they could not agree about John Mark Barnabas and Paul decided to go one two different journeys.

Barnabas took John Mark and sailed to Cyprus to encourage the churches there.

But Paul went a different direction. Instead of taking a ship Paul set out walking. He travelled to many of the churches that he had established on his last journey.

Paul also took someone along with him to be a helper. He took a good worker called Silas.

On this 2nd Missionary Journey Paul visited some of the churches he had started on his 1st Journey. When they came to the town of Lystra the Christians were so happy to see Paul again.

In Lystra Paul and Silas met a young man named Timothy. Timothy’s father was a Greek and most Greeks did not follow God. But ever since he was a little boy Timothy’s mother (Eunice) and grandmother (Lois) had taught him about God. Paul was so impressed by this young man that he invited him to join him on his missionary journey. Timothy left his family and began to travel along with Paul and Silas telling people about Jesus.

After Paul, Silas and Timothy left Lystra they travelled about teaching people about Jesus. Paul always tried to think about where God would want him to go. When they tried to enter Asia but the Holy Spirit did not want them to go that direction.

Later, Paul tried to lead the group into Bithynia but he was stopped by the Holy Spirit once again. Paul was a missionary and wanted to go where God wanted him to go but the Spirit kept saying “no”.

Paul stopped in the city of Troas to decide what he should do next. But God had a special way of revealing his plans to Paul.

One night in Troas Paul received an answer from God.

A man came to him in a vision. The man in the vision was from Macedonia and he stood and begged Paul saying, “come to Macedonia and help us.”

Now Paul knew where God wanted him to go! The next morning Paul told his travel companions the good news that they were going to Macedonia. Everyone prepared for the trip. There would be many adventures ahead of them.

Macedonia was part of what is now known as Europe. Paul was the first missionary ever recorded as taking the Good News of Jesus to Europe. Paul was a missionary that was willing to go where God wanted him to go.

And how about you? Are you willing to go where God wants you to go? Are you willing to do what God wants you to do?


Ways to Tell the Story:

This story can be told using a variety of methods.  Always remain true to the facts found in the Bible but help children connect to its meaning by using drama, visual aids, voice inflection, student interaction and/or emotion.
Click here for visual aids and story-telling methods.

Click here to download the slideshow or click here for the printable illustrations.  Be selective. Each teacher is unique so only use the illustrations that best relate to the way YOU are telling the story in THIS lesson. Too many illustrations can be confusing so eliminate any that cover other stories or details you do not wish to emphasise in this lesson.

Or use the video below.  Thank you, David!

Review Questions:

  1. Why did Barnabas and Paul not go together on the second missionary journey? They disagreed over who to take with them
  2. Who joined Paul during his journey? Timothy
  3. What did Paul see in his vision? A man from Macedonia begging Paul to come there and help him
    Where did Paul go after his vision? Macedonia

Song Suggestions:

Learning Activities and Crafts:

(How to choose the best learning activities for my teaching situation)


  • Begin a map on Paul’s Second Missionary Journey.
  • Obtain a missionary report from someone your congregation supports. Read this to the class and then write notes to mail to the missionary.



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