This lesson will be a summary of Paul’s journeys. After his conversion, he spent time in Damascus, Jerusalem and Antioch. Then, he set out on what are now called his “missionary journeys.” During this time, Paul preached to many Jews and Gentiles and helped establish churches. These journeys set the stage for the letters he would later write to check up on and correct issues that were occurring in the churches he established. Below is a summary of his journeys, adapted from the Rose Book of Bible Charts, Maps & Timelines
Paul and Barnabus are Commissioned | Acts 13:1-3
The Holy Spirit told the church at Antioch in Syria that Paul and Barnabus were to carry the message of the Gospel to many different places. So they fasted, prayed, laid hands on them and sent them off. This is still a pattern practiced in many churches today as missionaries or ministers are set apart for service.
Paul’s First Missionary Journey | Acts 13:4 – 14:28
Paul’s first journey was primarily to Cyprus and Turkey. Barnabus and John Mark started the journey with him, but John Mark left them after their first stop. Major highlights of this trip include:
- They had an opportunity to preach to the proconsul (or governor) of Cyprus. But they encountered a magician who opposed them and tried to turn the governor against them. Paul boldly spoke the truth though, and called him out for the evil he was doing. The magician immediately became blind, and the governor believed!
- They then traveled to Antioch in Pisidia (in modern day Turkey, not the same Antioch they left from) and had an opportunity to preach in the Synagogue on the Sabbath. Many Jews and Gentiles followed them and asked them to come back the next week to preach again. Almost the whole city came out to hear them that next week and many of them believed! But the devout Jews stirred up persecution against Paul and his companions and drove them out of the city (notice a pattern here?)
- They moved on to several different cities and preached in the Synagogues there, but kept meeting opposition from some of the Jews in the area. In fact, in one city they actually stoned Paul and drug him out of the city, leaving him for dead. But when the disciples went out to check on him, he got up and went back into the city!
Paul’s Second Missionary Journey | Acts 15:36 – 18:22
Paul wanted to go back and see the various churches with Barnabus they helped establish on their first journey. But this journey began with an argument that split Paul and Barnabus apart. Remember how John Mark left them shortly after they started their first journey? Barnabus wanted to bring John Mark along with them again, but Paul didn’t trust him after what happened the first time. They had a sharp disagreement and Barnabus left with John Mark and went back to the island of Cyprus. Paul chose Silas and went north into modern day Turkey, but spent most of his time in Corinth. Major highlights of this trip include:
- Paul met a young man named Timothy on one of their first stops. His mother was a Jewish believer, but his father was Greek. Timothy was well spoken of by the believers there, so Paul decided to pick him up and put him on his team. Timothy would one day be put in charge of the church at Ephesus.
- While they were in the region, Paul had a dream that a man from Macedonia (which is north of Greece) stood before him and said: “Come over to Macedonia and help us”. Paul took this as a sign from the Holy Spirit, so they dropped their plans and left for Macedonia the next day.
- On their way to Macedonia, they met a slave girl in Philippi who had an evil spirit in her that was helping her tell the future. She was a source of profit for her owners. Paul cast the demon out and her owners were not happy that their little business was gone! So they incited the town against Paul and Silas and had them beaten and thrown in prison. They miraculously escaped, but we’ll save that for the next lesson!
- Paul preached in many cities in their synagogues. He also preached in Athens to the philosophers there. He spent a lot of time in Corinth (a year and a half). The Jews there tried to convince the Roman proconsul (or governor) named Gallio to arrest him for preaching things contrary to Jewish law, but Gallio refused since it wasn’t a matter of Roman law. After this Paul, made his way back to Antioch in Syria.
Paul’s Third Missionary Journey | Acts 18:23 – 21:16
Paul’s third missionary journey started in Asia Minor again (modern-day Turkey), where Paul traveled around encouraging the various churches in the area. Major highlights of the trip include:
- Paul spent most of his time on this journey in Ephesus. His first task there was to make sure the people there fully understood the message of the Gospel. They had only heard of John the Baptist’s preaching about repentance. Paul helped them understand that John was just pointing towards Jesus and that they needed to believe that Jesus would forgive them of their sins if they would repent.
- There was a temple to the Greek goddess Artemis in Ephesus. It was one of the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World and was a major source of activity and commerce in Ephesus. There were many vendors and craftsmen that had businesses dependent on all the people coming to worship at this temple. Well, with Paul talking about Jesus as the one true God, and people believing him, they were worried about a drop in tourism! The whole city began gathering in the amphitheater and almost started a riot. The town clerk had to bring some sanity to the crowd, telling them that if they had a charge to bring against Paul and his followers, they needed to bring it in the court of law, not by mob justice. Another close call! Paul and his men moved on.
- When they were in Troas, Paul got a little long winded in his sermon, going on well past midnight. A young man named Eutychus was hanging out in the window on the 3rd floor of their meeting room and fell asleep while Paul was preaching. He was sound asleep and fell out of the window to his death! But Paul raised him from the dead! Then they remembered the Lord’s Supper together and ate a meal. Paul kept talking until the sun came up and then continued his journeys, eventually going to Jerusalem.
Paul is Imprisoned and Sent to Rome | Acts 21:17 – 28:31
While Paul was in Jerusalem, the Jews finally succeeded in capturing Paul. They began to riot and tried to kill him, but the Roman commander stopped them and had Paul arrested. They carried Paul to Caesarea to keep him in prison (and presumably to keep him safe from the Jews). Paul stayed in prison in Caesarea for about 2 years while Felix, the governor there, was waiting for someone to pay him a bribe to let Paul go.
Eventually, Paul appealed to the fact that he was a Roman citizen and asked to be brought before the Caesar in Rome for a trial. So they took him to Rome on a boat with other prisoners. This journey was a tough one. A vicious storm erupted at sea and they were shipwrecked on an island. While they were on the island, even though Paul was bitten by a poisonous snake, God miraculously allowed him to live. After 3 months on the island waiting for conditions to improve, they finally made their way to Rome.
While in Rome, Paul took the opportunity to preach to many people, even while he was still under guard. His case was never fully settled, but the Romans allowed him to live in his own house under a guard’s watch (house arrest, basically). He stayed there for two years preaching and teaching.