What Was Paul’s Macedonian Call?

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

What is the Macedonian Call? Is that a call that Christians will have too, except not in Macedonia?

Saul’s Call

Perhaps the reason that Jesus Himself had to directly intervene in the Apostle Paul’s life to call him as a missionary was probably because no human alive could have ever witnessed to him about Jesus Christ and then lived to tell about it. Can you imagine trying to go up to Saul and share Christ while he had been stoning, beating, and arresting Christians? Not one person tried, perhaps because it was humanly impossible, but what’s impossible for us is not impossible for God, so Saul, on his way to arrest other Christians, finally met Jesus on the Damascus Road. Saul who was “still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem” (Acts 9:-12), That’s when Jesus intervened and “a light from heaven shone around him. And falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me” (Acts 9:3-4). Saul, later called Paul, was used mightily by God in several missionary trips. Some were planned while others were a change of plans, but in the case of the Macedonian call, the Holy Spirit had different plans than Saul had. What Saul had not realized was that by persecuting Christians, He was actually persecuting Christ (Acts 9:4b). Later, Paul would be perhaps the most persecuted of all Christians in the first century after Jesus’ ascension.

Saint Paul Writing His Epistles by Valentin de Boulogne (public domain).

The Macedonian Call

The Apostle Paul and Timothy had planned on preaching the gospel in Asia, probably today in what is Asia-Minor, but then it says they were “forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia” (Acts 16:6b). It says that “when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them” (Acts 16:7). Here the Spirit of Jesus and the Holy Spirit are working together to convince Paul to avoid Asia and go to Macedonia. What happened was, “a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing there, urging him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us” (Acts 16:9), so that’s just what they did. They went to Macedonia, following the prompting of Jesus and the Holy Spirit. That’s explains why it says that “when Paul had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them” (Acts 16:10). They didn’t’ think twice about it and so they obeyed and went to Macedonian and many were saved.

Your Own Macedonian Call

Where has God called you to? How do you know it’s a Macedonian call, or a call by the Holy Spirit to go and do something or go somewhere for God’s purpose, or it’s just what you think is right? One thing that will confirm your “Macedonian Call” is that you find a purpose where you’ve been called. One man helps at a nursing home ministry and he truly believes this is his calling. He’s heard the call from God from within, but also from without, meaning the Word of God. James says that pure and undefiled religion is to keep one’s self unspotted from the world, but also to visit the orphans and widows (James 1:27), and almost 97% of nursing home or assisted care residents are orphans and most widows. This man is convinced that this is his call. What about you? Do you feel led to do something for Christ? Where or what’s your Macedonia?

The Great Commission

Just prior to Jesus’ ascension back to heaven, He commissioned the disciples, giving them an imperative command to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matt 28:19), and what do they do with these new disciples? Jesus said they should be “teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matt 28:20). Whatever you read in the gospels are those things that Jesus taught the disciples to observe. Jesus expected them to teach the new disciples to observe the very same teachings that He had given the disciples. You’ll find those teachings in the 4 gospels and in some of the books of the New Testament.

Many are Called

In regards to salvation, Jesus says, “many are called, but few are chosen” (Matt 22:14). The way to know whether you are called and have been chosen by God is whether you’re the “frozen chosen,” or someone who does nothing for Christ (Matt 25:41-46)…or, you’re doing those things which are commanded by Christ (Matt 25:35-36) as doing it unto Him (Matt 25:40). Saving faith usually has accompanying works or that faith is dead (James 2). Every believer has a gift and holds a useful purpose within the Body of Christ. In most cases, it is a very specific calling, but we need to be sure of our calling. This may be why the Apostle Peter warned us to “be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall” (2 Pet 1:10).


The churches that evangelize are the churches that won’t fossilize, because they are going into all the world, even if it’s within their small community. Their “Macedonian Call” may be different that yours is, but be sure, you have a calling. Our fruit or works don’t save us…they show us we are saved. If we abide in Him, He shall abide in us (John 15:7), and the Spirit of God will produce fruit in us, and it will be “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples” (John 15:8).

Here is some related reading for you: What Were Paul’s Missionary Journeys?

Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), Crossway Bibles. (2007). ESV: Study Bible: English standard version. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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