Paul is considered the greatest Christian missionary and its first theologian who was born in 5 AD. His home town was in Tarsus—present day Turkey—and his parents were Jews who called him Saul. According to the Bible, he was a dedicated Christian persecutor before being converted by Jesus into a missionary and theologian. This paper will outline and summary of the events in the three missionary journeys that Paul underwent in spreading the gospel of Jesus.
The journey took place in 46-48 AD and is considered his shortest missionary despite the fact that it was very iconic in the development of the early church (Chance, 2007). According to the book of Acts (13; 1-4), his first journey began at the Sea Port of Antioch when he was still referred to as Saul. He was with Barnabas and Mark and they sailed to Syria which was 80 miles to the south-west. At Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God to synagogues in the entire Cyprian coast until they reached Paphos (Acts 13:6). Paul became the leader over Barnabas at Paphos after converting the roman Proconcus—Sergios Paulas—when he rebuked an evil wizard called Elymas (Croft, 2001).
The three sailed northwards to Asia mainland up to Pamphylia where Mark resigned from the mission and returned to Jerusalem. The two – Paul and Barnabas—continued inland more than 100 miles up to Pisidian, Anticoch where numerous populations were converted (Croft, 2001). In these regions they were persecuted until they left shaking the dust off their feet saying they would never return. Their next stop was in Iconium where they converted many Gentiles and Jews before running away after discovering an assassination plot (Acts 14: 5-6).
They went to Lystra where they converted many until they were referred by the locals as gods but they quickly explained that they were merely servants of God. However, some people in sighted the crowds that left him stoned until near death. After he healed he and Barnabas went to Derbe to preach the good news before returning to all the cities he went appointing elders in each church (Economou, 2002). He returned to Antioch his home and the two of them reported the good deeds God had done to them and how the church was opened to Gentiles (Acts 14: 27).
The journey began with a dispute with Barnabas when they disagreed whether to take Mark again with them. They parted ways and Paul took Silas and headed to Cyria in 49 AD (Acts 15: 37-40). The journey would be a three year one and he passed through Syria and Cecilia to monitor the development of churched he had set up earlier. At Lystra he met Timothy whom they would travel together through Phyrigia up to Galatia where Paul would stay due to an illness. The next step was in Troas where Jesus’s spirit had directed them so that they would take the gospel to Europe (Economou, 2002).
At Troas, Paul dreamed of a man imploring him to visit Macedonia. Indeed it was the spirit of Christ guiding him to Macedonia. At Macedonia churches were set up in Phillipi (Acts 16: 17-39), Thessalonica (Acts 17:1-9), and Berea (Acts 17:10-15). Paul and Silas were also imprisoned during this time and it was then that they were released by the angel of God. Paul was sent by the brothers to Athens whereas Timothy and Silas remained at Berea. At Athens he spread the gospel successfully and establishing a church before crossing over to Corinth (Chance, 2007). At Corinth, he wrote the two epistles to the Thessalonians and converting many people including Crispus. After the Journey he returned to Jerusalem to celebrated Pentecost accompanied by Priscilla and Aquila (Croft, 2001).
“The third mission that began in 53 AD was intended to strengthen rebuke, and teach believers” (Acts 18: 23). It began in Asia Minor through cities of Galatia, Phyrigia, Iconium, and Tarsus (Croft, 2001). At Ephesus, he stayed for three years doing miracles, and preaching and teaching (Acts 19: 11-12). In the first two years he taught twelve disciples at the school of Tyrannus and then he wrote the first epistle to the Corinthians (Chance, 2007). He was nearly killed by the idol worshipers of Ephesus after exposing the fraud of their god Artemis. He then left for Macedonia and then to Greece. Shortly before leaving Ephesus he had written the second epistle to the Corinthian (Croft, 2001).
In the three months he was in Greece he had written letters to the Romans and Galatians before heading to Macedonia, Philippi, and Troas when he discovered that he would be killed in Syria his original destination (Acts 20:3). From Troas he headed to various towns before reaching to Miletus where he held the final mass that included Ephesus church elders (Acts 20: 17-38). His final voyage landed him to Tyre and from there he returned to Jerusalem. At Jerusalem he was captured and tried for two years before being released. He travelled to Rome and during his voyage there was a ship wreck where a miracle occurred at Malta and everyone was safe and arrived at the seashore safely. In 60 AD Paul was imprisoned for three years in Rome and it is when he wrote epistles of Philippians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Philemon (Acts 28: 30)
The voyages of Paul were a success and it resulted in bringing the gospel of Jesus to not only Jews but to gentiles. This is also the reason why Paul is also referred to as the apostle of the Gentiles. The epistles he wrote during his travels can be broadly categorised as travel letters—Thessalonians, Romans, Corinthians, and Galatians; pastoral letters—Timothy and Titus; and prison letters—Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon.
Chance, B. C. (2007). Acts. Georgia: Smyth and Helwyns. Pp. 207-222
Croft, S. (2001). Missionary Journeys, Missionary Church: Acts 13-20. London: Stephen Sweet, SGA. Pp. 36-54
Economou, C. K. (2002). Paul’s Ecumenical Mission. Greek Orthodox Theological Review, 47(1-4), 199-213. Retrieved from EBSCOhost
International Bible Society, (2008). NIV Bible. International Bible Society