Paul sails across to Europe

Acts 16:9        During the night, Paul dreams of a man from Macedonia (modern-day northern Greece) begging Paul to sail across the Aegean Sea and rescue the people of Macedonia from their sinful ways.

 

Man from Macedonia mosaic at Berea

Man from Macedonia mosaic at Veria (Berea)  (Acts 16:9)

 

Acts 16:10-11 Paul interprets this ‘vision’ as God’s call to spread the Good News in Macedonia. So, joined by Luke (the author of the Acts of the Apostles), Paul and his companions set out from Troas and sail across to the island of Samothrace, and on to Neapolis the next day (see 4 on Map 24). Paul lands on the European mainland for the first time in 51AD.

 

Neapolis and Samothrace

Neapolis (meaning ‘the new city’) was founded in the 6th century BC and became part of the Roman Empire in 168BC (see Map 24). By Paul’s day, Neapolis was a thriving port serving the city of Philippi. The city was under Turkish rule from 1371 and only became part of modern Greece after the Balkan War of 1912.

 

Harbour at Kavala (Neapolis)

The harbour at Kavala (Neapolis)  (Acts 16:11)

 

Today, the modern port city of Kavala (Neapolis) in Greece is dominated by an Ottoman Fortress, while ferryboats ply across the Aegean Sea to the island of Thasos and beyond to Samothraki (Samothrace). Visitors still stroll along the busy harbour front where, for the first time in his life, Paul set foot on European soil in 51AD.

This event is celebrated in a mosaic outside a church near the harbour. Paul is shown disembarking from a ship on one panel, while another features Paul’s vision of the man from Macedonia calling him across to Europe.

Paul sailed across from Troas to Neapolis via the island of Samothrace where modern-day visitors can see remains, dating from the 3rd century BC, of the Sanctuary of the Great Gods. Here, in Paul’s day, local initiates worshipped in the Sanctuary of Anaktoron and offered sacrifices to a panoply of gods, including Axieros, the ‘Great Mother’ goddess of fertility, and Nike, the winged goddess of victory.

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