After Paul completed the visits he wished to make in the Roman province of Galatia (Acts 16:6), he greatly desired to evangelize in areas he had not yet visited such as the province of Asia. Silas is with him in place of Barnabas, along with Timothy. Many roads were before him. If he journeys westward he would soon cross the frontier of Asia, where he could descend by the valley of the Maeander to Ephesus, after which he could then travel to Perga or Attaleia.
Paul's desire to travel directly westward and visit Asia, at this time, would go unfullfilled. God conveyed to him, through his Holy Spirit, that he was forbidden to preach in that province (Acts 16:6). Paul and company were left to advance in a north-westerly direction toward Mysia (verse 7). When the group was near Mysia, and desired to turn east and preach in the province of Bithynia, God yet again forbad them from fulfilling their desires.
Paul arrives in Troas
After passing through Mysia, puzzled as to where they should go next, Paul and company arrive at the Aegean Sea coastal town of Troas (Acts 16:8).
Troas is the name either of a district or a town. As a district it had a history of its own. Though geographically a part of Mysia, and politically a part of the province of Asia, it was yet usually spoken of as distinguished from both.
The small region referred to as Troas, extending from Mount Ida to the plain watered by the Simois and Scamander, was the scene of the Trojan war. This shore has been visited on many memorable occasions by the great men of this world. Xerxes passed this way when he undertook to conquer Greece. Julius Caesar was here after the battle of Pharsalia. But, above all, we associate the spot with a European conqueror of Asia, and an Asiatic conqueror of Europe - with Alexander the Great of Macedon and Paul of Tarsus.
In the Troas region the enthusiasm of Alexander was kindled at the tomb of Achilles, by the memory of his heroic ancestors. Here he girded on their armor and from this goal he started to overthrow the august dynasties of the East. And now the great Apostle rests in his triumphal progress upon the same poetic shore.
Turning now from the district to the city of Troas, we must remember that its full and correct name was Alexandria Troas. Sometimes, as in the New Testament, it is simply called Troas (Acts 16:8, 11, 20:5; 2Corinthians 2:12; 2Timothy 4:13) sometimes, as by Pliny and Strabo, simply Alexandria. It was not, however, one of those cities (amounting in number to nearly twenty) which were built and named by the conqueror of Darius.
When Apostle Paul's eyes, from Troas, were turned towards the West, he saw that remarkable view of Samothraoe over Imbros, which has just been mentioned. And what were the thoughts in his mind when he looked towards Europe across the Aegean? Though ignorant of the precise nature of the supernatural intimations which had guided his recent journey, we are led irresistibly to think that Paul associated his future work with the distant prospect of the Macedonian hills.
With the view of the distant land of Macedonia imprinted on his memory, and the thought of Europe's miserable Heathenism deep in his heart, Paul was prepared, like Peter at Joppa, to receive the full meaning of the voice which spoke to him in a dream.
In a vision at night Paul saw "a man of Macedonia" who pleaded with him saying, "Come over to Macedonia and help us" (Acts 16:9). In the morning he and his group determined that this was the place God wanted them to go. They soon sailed from Troas, through Samothracia, and made their way to Neapolis (verse 11). Paul, in spite of his own desires, had been directed by God to bring his precious truth, for the first time, to the European continent.