What had begun as a questionable operation with Paul and Barnabas splitting up (Acts 15:36-39), turned out to be a very profitable work for the Lord. Paul took Silas with him to Galatia where he encouraged and strengthened the brethren who had been the victims of a subversive operation by the party of the circumcision out of Jerusalem. It was here that Paul met Timothy, part of the firstfruits of his 1st missionary journey (Acts 16:1-3). Timothy joined Paul and Silas as they departed Galatia, intending to take the Gospel to the province of Asia. Nevertheless, God had other plans and through a vision (Acts 16:9), Paul and company travelled through Asia to Troas and set sail across the Aegean Sea to bring the Gospel to Macedonia.
It seems that Luke was in Troas when Paul arrived, but it is not clear at this point why Luke was there at this time. Did he come with Paul or did Paul find him there in Troas? In any event Luke traveled with Paul and company to Philippi where Paul raised up the first church of Christ in Europe. Philippi turned out to be a church that matured quickly in the Lord, sending support for Paul on at least three different occasions both in Macedonia and in Achaia.
Luke may have stayed at Philippi, while Paul and company departed for Thessalonica, the capital of Macedonia. Wherever Paul went to preach the Gospel, he met with trouble, especially with the Jewish brethren. Thessalonica was no different and Paul had to leave probably after ministering there for a few months. He found the Jews at Berea more receptive, but the Jews from Thessalonica heard he was there and followed him, perhaps with a warrant for his arrest (Acts 17:13-14). Nevertheless, some of the brethren in Berea took Paul by sea as far as Athens. He left Timothy and Silas behind to encourage and strengthen the brethren in the three cities in Macedonia where he had raised up churches of Christ.
In Athens Paul met with a different kind of spiritual warfare; there he found the wise of this world, the powerful, those the world considered to be important people. Wherever Paul went he sought to accommodate Christ to the people to whom he ministered. To the Jew, he became as a Jew, and to the gentile he became as a gentile. I believe Paul’s speech in Athens is an important one, in that, it is probably a model of how he presented the Gospel to folks who didn’t have any Jewish background–i.e. had no knowledge of God whatsoever. Although the result in Athens was mockery and laughter—contempt for the Good News Paul brought them, is seems the seeds of Gospel did produce some fruit, how much isn’t known, but certainly productive.
After leaving Athens, Paul arrived in Corinth where he was joined by Silas and Timothy who brought good news from the churches in Macedonia (Acts 18:5). While in Corinth, Paul determined within himself to know nothing but Christ and him crucified (1Corinthians 2:2), and he vowed a vow drawing near to the Lord for the work at hand. Jesus appeared to him in a vision and promised him a good harvest in the city. Paul spent a year and a half there ministering to both Jews and gentiles. It was not without trouble, but in the end it could be seen that the Lord kept his promise. Paul shaved his head there, as a sign to the Jews (Acts 18:18), and sailed away from Europe toward Asia, leaving behind at least five lively and growing churches of Christ in Achaia and Macedonia.
Paul had grown and matured in Christ as well. He tested different methods of spiritual warfare, finding out which worked and which needed modification. He found out that separating the mission party before making strategic moves against the enemy drew fire upon himself, while the rest of the team was left unharmed. Although Paul would have to leave the cities over the trouble arising from those opposing the Gospel, the rest of the party could remain behind encouraging and strengthening the new churches. All in all, the Lord was with Paul and his mission team, and the result probably far exceeded the hopes he may have had when he and Barnabas split up.
The Lord is always faithful; even when everything seems to be falling apart. Our Savior turns an apparent loss into gain for the Kingdom, proving that nothing can work against the Gospel and prosper. Praise God who encourages us in our trouble, so that we may encourage others who are in trouble by drawing upon the encouragement by which we have been encouraged of God (2Corinthians 1:4).