In 50 AD Paul left Asia for the first time to enter Europe with the Gospel. It is likely that the message that Jesus was the resurrected Messiah had already reached places such as the city of Rome as a result of the events on the Day of Pentecost. Only seven years later, in 57 AD, Paul writes to the church in Rome seeking their support and announcing his desire to visit them for the first time, so, obviously, the church was in Rome before both Paul and Peter arrived there.
In Acts 16:11-13 (today’s devotional text) Paul was in Troas, the ancient city of Troy and the site of a famous medical school. Luke, who was a medical doctor from Antioch, was most likely trained in the medical school at Troas. It is apparent that Luke joins Paul in Troas because the written narrative in the book of Acts switches in verses 16:10, 11 from third person (“he said” or “they went”) to first person (“we heard” or “we went”). So, beginning here in Troas Dr. Luke travels with Paul and documents the adventures, sermons, conversations and events until the book of Acts closes in 62 AD with Paul in under house arrest Rome waiting for his trial date before Nero. It seems that Luke uses these years (60-62 AD) to edit his notes and write the book of Acts. (He probably used the three years before, 57-60, while Paul waited in prison in Caesarea to investigate facts and write his gospel account in the Gospel of Luke.)
In 50 AD Paul, Luke and the ministry team left Troas and crossed the north portion of the Agean Sea through the Hellenspont by first landing on the island of Samothrace. The ports are on the north side of this island still twenty-five miles south of the coast of Europe.
After spending the night on the Mediterranean isle of Samothrace, Luyk says docked at Neapolis, the main port for Macedonia. From Samothrace the Roman highway Egnatian Way (map here; road marker here) could be used to travel the nine miles into Philippi.
Since the Jewish religion has multiple rituals and rites that involve dipping in water it was common for them to build their synagogues near a water source such as a sea, a spring or a river. Luke says that on the Jewish Sabbath they went outside the city to the river planning on finding “a place of prayer”, which was what Jews would call a synagogue building. When Paul, Luke and the ministry team arrived at the synagogue by the river (River Gangites, or one of its streams) they sat down and began to speak with a group of woman who had gathered at the synagogue for prayer on the Sabbath Day.