The Journeys of Apostle Paul
gospel Apostle Paul preached (Part 4)
It is in the last chapter of Acts we find God introduces
a different message of the gospel though Paul. Paul is finally at
his last destination in Rome where this final enlightenment takes
place. Even in Rome, Paul gave priority to speaking first to the
leaders of the Jews there. They were still the chosen race, and it
was still Paul's desire that they should believe that Jesus was the
Christ. But that was not to be. The people of Israel were offered to
be part of God's plan of the Kingdom. This is not to happen until
the next age.
It is made known to the assembled Jews at Rome
that the Kingdom was postponed by the fact that God's salvation was
to be sent to the other nations (Gentiles). It is clearly evident
that here are two main divisions in the gospel message. Peter is
prominent in the first, heralding the kingdom in the land of Israel.
Paul is at the head of the second, proclaiming the kingdom to
Israelites and non-Israelites (the nations aka Gentiles) outside the
land of Israel.
Paul's final epistles were written at his
prison home in Rome. They include Ephesians, Philippians,
Colossians, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus and Philemon. Earlier he had
written Galatians in which he rebuked the Galatians.
The Divisions of Pauls Ministry
It is truly remarkable how God worked with Paul in his ministry
progressed. If one reads the accounts of the gospel as proclaimed by
Jesus, Peter and the rest of the 12 and then reads the gospel
proclaimed by Paul there seems to be an apparent conflict. Truly,
there are two gospels (evangels). One concerns the Kingdom heralded
by Jesus Himself and His Jewish followers and the other known as the
Pauline Evangel. The former evangel was based upon salvation through
a combination of repentance, faith and conformity to law; the latter
was channelled through faith and the grace of God.
addition, Paul's ministry is not strictly a progression. A
progression involves a forward movement of the same thing; but in
Paul's case it is an advancement from an initial revelation of the
essential elements of the gospel to a expanded and grander
revelation of the fullness of the gospel. His good news message is a
distinct revelation, unique in Scripture. Before reading about the
advancement of his ministry and noting its distinct characteristics,
notice how frequently he lays claim to the monopoly of it, calling
it "my gospel". See my earlier description of this on the link
Paul was not given
all his instructions concerning "his" gospel at the start. We will
see this in his acts as he carries out the work assigned to him. Not
only can we trace its association with the earlier proclaimed gospel
of the Kingdom of God, but also its gradual unfolding as a result of
continuous revelations given to him.
Soon after being called on the
Damascus road (probably 37AD), Saul (Paul) proclaiming the Lord
Jesus as the Messiah and Son of God, in the local synagogues. His
preaching soon angered the Jews and they sought to kill him, but he
escaped and went to Jerusalem. Just as the 12 Apostles were
persecuted, so was he.
Act 9:20 (KJV) And straightway he
preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God.
Act 9:21 But all that heard him were amazed ....
Act 9:22 But
Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which
dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ.
Rejected, he goes to Arabia for three years (Acts 9:23; Gal.
1:17-18) to be taught by the risen Christ. The twelve Apostles were
taught by Jesus while He was on the earth, but Saul was taught by
Christ from Heaven. He received from Christ an expanded and distinct
gospel which was to be proclaimed to the gentiles (nations), outside
of the land of Judea. After the revelation given him by Christ he
returned to Damascus, then Jerusalem. His first journey is depicted
in the map below:
Upon his return to Jerusalem the disciples were afraid of him
but Barnabas befriends him (Acts 9:26-27). He continued to expound
that Jesus is the Christ. But once again an attempt was made to slay
him. The brethren took him to Caesarea and then to Tarsus, his home
town. (Acts 9: 26- 30)
With the persecution and dispersion of
disciples from Jerusalem, Antioch in Assyria becomes a new center
for the preaching of the gospel (evangel).(Acts 11:19-24).
Barnabas then sets out to find Saul (Paul) (Acts 11:25) and together
they set out to Antioch. They stayed in Antioch preaching the about
Jesus Christ , the Messiah and Son of God. There they laboured
together unremittingly for a whole year." All this time Saul was
probably subordinate to Barnabas.
Act 11:25 (KJV) Then
departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for to seek Saul:
Act 11:26 And when
he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch.
And it came to pass,
that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and
taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first
Thereafter he and Barnabas returned to Jerusalem,
taking with them staples because of the drought which affected
Act 11:29 (KJV) Then the disciples, every man
according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the
brethren which dwelt in Judaea:
Act 11:30 Which also they did,
and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.
The many clashes Paul faced
With the baptism of Cornelius, a
non-Israelite, (Acts 10) the way was open for Gentiles (the nations)
to have access to the promises formerly set aside only for
Israelites. This dramatic change came as a shock to many Jewish
Christians who had thought circumcision and the Law were essential
for salvation. Paul faced opposition from almost everyone.
Opposition from the Pharisees, the scribes, Sanhedrin and Jewish
leaders At one point the Jewish leaders wanted to kill him.
Act 21:30 And all the city was moved, and the people ran together:
and they took Paul, and drew him out of the temple: and forthwith
the doors were shut.
Act 21:31 And as they went about to kill
him, tidings came unto the chief captain of the band, that all
Jerusalem was in an uproar.
Act 23:12 And when it was day,
certain of the Jews banded together, and bound themselves under a
curse, saying that they would neither eat nor drink till they had
Act 25:3 And desired favour against him, that he
would send for him to Jerusalem, laying wait in the way to kill him.
Persecution of Paul and Barnabas occurred in almost every city
where they preached the gospel. Severe persecution from the Jewish
leadership of Israel was horrible enough, but now, Paul and Barnabas
are harassed by the Jewish Christians for their preaching. The
liberty of Paul's gospel was assailed by "false brethren" nurtured
in the bosom of the Jewish church at Jerusalem.
2 Cor 11:26
(KJV) In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of
robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen,
in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the
sea, in perils among false brethren;
Gal 2:4 And that because of
false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out
our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us
Yes, Paul called these Jewish Christians "false
brethren". In the early stage of Paul's ministry the Jewish faction
was bent on forcing circumcision (Gal. 2:3-5) on believers. They
advocated the bondage of circumcision and keeping the law of Moses.
These attempts finally resulted in Paul carrying the issue straight
to the main church in Jerusalem. He went down to Jerusalem. The
verdict of the Jerusalem conference (Acts 15) checked the
It does not appear that the opponents ever
again openly taught circumcision as essential to salvation. The
decision of the apostles at Jerusalem made this impossible. Defeated
in their efforts, the ones demanding circumcision modified their
strategy and clothed their doctrine in subtler garb. They now
preached circumcision as the prerogative of the Jewish believer in
Christ, and as a means of perfection for the Gentile believer (Gal.
The epistle of Galatians is a very remarkable and
revealing one. . The sum and substance of its message is summarized
in verse two of chapter five: Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if
you receive circumcision, Christ will profit you nothing. The
Judaists sought to fuse law and gospel. Paul proves such fusion to
be impossible. Law and grace are irreconcilable. Every attempt to
combine them strikes equally at the majesty of the law and the power
of the gospel, making both of none effect. Paul contends with those
who would pervert his gospel, while the wavering Galatian churches
watch the progress of the struggle.
Paul, the divinely appointed
bearer of a distinctive message to the nations, champions the cause
of the gospel to the uncircumcised. Pitted against him, ever seeking
to discredit his apostleship and distort his message, are the Jewish
leaders and teachers. The Galatians oscillate between the influences
of these rival gospels. They are readily removing away from the
gospel under which they were called by Paul to another of a totally
This stigma of believing that being a
follower of Jesus Christ required at least keeping some of the Old
Covenant rules and rituals, such as Holy Days observance, water
baptism, tithing and Sabbath keeping (Sunday observance?) were
required for salvation. These are works of the law which Paul never
preached toward the end of his ministry. His prison epistles reveal
the truth of being a part of the body of Christ.
First Missionary Journey (approx.
After his call on
the road to Damascus, the next great landmark in the life of Saul
was his severance, by the holy spirit (together with Barnabas) to a
special work (Acts 13:2).
It is significant that God separated
them from the twelve. The expanded teaching of him and Barnabas when
severed from the twelve began this next phase of their work and the
first missionary journey.
Acts 13:2 (KJV) As they ministered
to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas
and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.
phase of the ministry we find that Saul is now called Paul in
Acts 13:9 (KJV) Then Saul, (who also is called
Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him,
the city of Tarsus where he was born, it was customary for parents
of the Jewish race living in Roman territory to give their children
two names, one a Hebrew name (Saul) and the other a gentile name
This phase of the ministry of Paul and Barnabas was
initially carried out independently of the twelve apostles (Acts
13:2:14:27) and later completed in association with them. In the
various synagogues in Asia he preached the hope of Israel, which was
establishment of the Kingdom of God, centred on Christ the Messiah.
Outside the synagogues in the cities he taught the justification of
God by faith, to both Jews and gentiles alike (Acts 14:28 -19:21).
Two distinct gospels. This is significant because there was a gospel
for the circumcision and another for the uncircumcised.
Paul's first missionary journey began at Antioch and
ended up there. He stands and delivers a sermon in Pisidia Antioch
which adds much clarity to his message, for there he first broaches
the grand doctrine of justification by faith (Acts 13:14-41, see
verse 39). Many wanted the gospel to be preached to them again. The
next week the whole city gathered to hear the message (Acts 13:44).
Ah, problems enter. At Antioch now, as in every city afterward, the
unbelieving Jews used their influence with their own adherents among
the Gentiles to persuade the authorities or the populace to
persecute the apostles and to drive them from the cities they
From Antioch Paul and Barnabas went to Iconium. Then
upon their preaching the Jews and city leaders planned to stone them
but they fled to Lystra. While in Lystra some Jews from Antioch and
Iconium came to the city and stirred up the people and convinced
them to stone Paul. He was stoned, was assumed dead, then rose up
and with Barnabas departed to Derbe (Acts 14:19-20). Then onto
Iconium, Pisidia Antioch, Perga, and Attalia, preaching the word
(acts 14:25). And finally to home base, Antioch. At the church in
Antioch they described how God had opened the door of faith to the
nations (gentiles). There they abode a long time with the disciples
Thereafter some Jewish leaders from Judea came
to Antioch and taught that unless you are circumcised you cannot be
saved. This caused a great deal of commotion among the disciples in
Antioch. Paul and Barnabas had a heated debate and argument with
them. It became necessary to take this issue to the Jerusalem church
for a resolution.
More detail and the decision regarding
this crucial issue can be found at the link "Jerusalem council".
The Jerusalem council decided that it was not required for
gentiles who were converted to be circumcised and keep the law of
Moses. That decision was then conveyed to the churches by Paul,
Barnabas, Silas and Judah. The churches rejoiced for the consolation
Missionary Journey (approx. 49-53 AD)
Paul and Barnabas separate and Paul
takes Silas with him as they begin the second missionary journey
through Syria and Cilicia confirming the ecclesia. Barnabas took
Mark with him and set sail to Cyprus (Acts 15:36-41).
As Paul and Silas travel through Syria and Cicilia,
Paul circumcised the disciple, Timothy because of the Jews that were
in the region. They continued on through Phrygia and Mysia
proclaiming the decrees that were ordained of the apostles and
elders as a result of the Jerusalem Council.
Then onto Troas,
then Philippi where Lydia and her household were baptised. It was in
Philippi that Paul cast a demon out of a possessed damsel who was
taunting Paul and soothsaying. Paul and Silas are thrown into jail
when the multitude rose up against them, spurred on by the damsels
masters who persuaded multitude against the disciples. They were
thrown prison. That is when the Philippians' jailer was converted,
he and his household. Another miracle. Paul then told the Roman
soldiers that you have beaten us openly un-condemned. We are Romans
he said. The soldiers in fear released them (Acts 16:11-40).
Continuing on their journey they had passed through the cities
of Amphipolis and Apollonia, arriving in Thessalonica where they
preached the Word. But once again antagonistic Jews caused an uproar
in the city so Paul and Silas had to be scurried away to Berea.
Notice how often the Jews who rejected Christ had a hatred of anyone
who accepted Him. They were relentless in persecuting the Apostles
The Bereans were more open minded than the
people of Thessalonica. They received the Word and checked up what
Paul preached with the scriptures. Many of them believed. But here
we go again. The Jews from Thessalonica came and stirred up the
people and Paul had to scurry out and went to Athens. Timothy and
Silas remained in Thessalonica. In Athens Paul a very eloquent
speech to the Athenians, who were for the most part superstitious
and full of intellectual vanity. Some believed Paul's word's and
were converted (Acts 17).
Paul travels to Corinth where
Timothy and Silas join him. He became acquainted with Priscilla and
Aquila and stayed with them. They and Paul were tent makers and Paul
spent some time with them in this craft. Paul reasoned in the
synagogue very Sabbath but eventually the antagonists opposed Paul
and blasphemed. Paul then said, from now on I will go to the
gentiles (Acts 18:6). He remained in Corinth for at least a year and
a half, preaching Jesus Christ. It is in this period that he wrote
first and second Thessalonians and probably Galatians.
Corinth, he along with Priscilla and Aquila, to Ephesus. There he
preached to the Jews and then sailed to Caesarea, and then went to
his home base of Antioch.
Third Missionary Journey (approx. 53-58 AD)
some time in Antioch, Paul departed and went through the country of
Galatia and Phrygia, strengthening the faith of the disciples. He
went along the cities of the upper coast and came to Ephesus (Acts
19:1). Paul remained in Ephesus and surrounding area for about two
years and God magnified his ministry. Mightily grew the word of God
and prevailed (Acts 19:20). It was during this period that Paul
wrote 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians and Romans.
through Asia and Macedonia strengthening the churches. His travel
companions included Sopater, Aristarchus, Secundus, Gaius, Timothy,
Tychicus and Trophimus (Acts 20:24). Paul came to Troas where we
find the account of the young man Eutychus being brought back to
life after falling from a third loft during Paul's speaking late at
night. Paul departs Troas and goes to Assos, then Mitylene. Then
sails through the islands of Chios and Samao docking at Trogyllium,
and onward to Miletus. While in Miletus he beckoned the elders from
Ephesus to come so he could give them information on caring for the
flock and warning of grievous wolves entering the congregations.
From Miletus Paul sails past Coos, Rhodes to Patara. Then
boarding another ship he sails past Cyprus and arrives at Tyre. He
stayed in Tyre for 7 days with disciples Then went to Ptolemais,
saluted the brethren and stayed with them one day and continued on
to Caesarea. There he went to the house of Philip the evangelist and
tarried in that city many days. Philip had four daughters who
The prophet Agabus came down from Judea and
revealed to Paul that he would be taken into custody by the Jews in
Jerusalem and be delivered into the hands of Roman soldiers.
Paul's complex state of affairs in
went to Jerusalem knowing trouble awaited him. In Jerusalem, Paul
and his companions were warmly received by the brethren (Act 21:17).
They went and met with James and the elders where Paul declared the
success of his ministry among the gentiles (nations). They glorified
But now an interesting occurrence. The elders
persuade Paul to obey an ordinance of purification in the temple to
display to the Jewish community that he walks orderly and keeps the
law. Paul imperfectly conformed to their request. More detail on
this incident can be found in this link (Acts 21:27). The Jews from
Asia stirred up the people in Jerusalem, dragged Paul from the
temple and were about to kill him.
Suddenly the chief captain
and Roman centurions intervened and stopped the beating of Paul and
took him to the citadel for safe keeping. Then Paul requested of the
chief captain, Claudius Lysias, that he might speak to the large
crowd which gathered at this tumult.
He spoke to the large
crowd on how he had been converted on the road to Damascus and had
preached the gospel throughout Asia (Acts 22). Then in anger the
crowd cried out that he should not live. Again Claudius Lysias the
chief captain had to step in and take Paul back to the citadel where
he was again under Roman custody.
The hatred against Paul
and the gospel was so intense that over forty Jews banded together
vowing that they would neither eat nor drink till they had killed
Paul. However Paul's sisters son caught wind of this plot and he
alerted the chief captain. Upon this news the chief captain wisely
organized a battalion of 200 soldiers and horsemen to safely
transport Paul for judgement by governor Felix of Caesarea (Acts
Paul a Prisoner
at Caesarea (58-60AD)
Caesarea he defends himself several times while he is a prisoner
(Acts 24). He is found to have done nothing worthy of bonds or
death. Governor Felix, in spite of his innocence, keeps him a Roman
prisoner hoping that a bribe will be offered to secure his release.
So Felix gives him liberties such as not being bound and the right
to have people visit him.
In two years Felix, the Roman
governor of Judea, is replaced by Porcius Festus. Governor Festus
hears the accusations against the apostle made by several Jews from
Jerusalem, none of which can be proved (Acts 25:6 - 8). Festus,
wanting to acquire favour from the Jews, asks him if he is willing
to have his case officially tried by him in Jerusalem. Paul, as a
Roman citizen, requests his case be heard by Caesar in Rome.
Festus agrees to send him to Rome. King Agrippa and his wife arrive
in Caesarea and allow Paul to defend himself against the charges
laid against him (Acts 25:13 - 26:29). Not only does Agrippa find
that he has done nothing worthy of imprisonment or death (Acts 26:30
- 31) but that Paul might have been freed if he had not appealed his
case to Caesar (Acts 26:32).
Sail to Rome - Fourth Journey (approx.
Paul and certain other prisoners under the custody of centurion
Julius, set sail to the empire capital, Rome and arrive at the port
of Sidon. They set sail again but because of unfavourable winds they
sail along the north coast of Cyprus and arrive at Myra (Acts 27).
They board another ship in Myra bound for
Italy, however, the trip begins to experience troubles. The ship
leaves Myra with 276 total people aboard her (Acts 27:37). Strong
winds prevent the vessel from sailing directly west toward Italy, so
it sails south to gain the coastal shelter of Crete. The ship docks
for a short period in Fair Havens (also called Safe Harbour).
Paul warns them not to leave port (Acts 27:9-10), but his
warnings go unheeded and the ship leaves port. Strong winds and a
stormy sea out of the North and North-East blow the vessel away from
Crete. Unable to control the ship she is allowed to go wherever the
wind takes her. After two weeks the ship finally runs aground at the
island of Malta (Melita). All those on the wrecked ship make it
safely to shore and are warmly greeted by the natives. Paul is
bitten by a poisonous viper and does not die as the natives were
sure he would. Also Paul performs miracles there, healing the sick
The weather finally improved and after 3 months
they sailed away in an Alexandrian ship. They docked at Syracuse
where they stayed for 3 days. Then on to Rhegium, then Puteoli. In
Puteoli Paul found brethren and stayed with them seven days. Also
brethren from nearby Appii Forum and The Three Taverns heard of
Paul's presence and met with Paul (Acts 28:15). Paul thanked God and
Rome (approx 63-64AD)
Rome Paul is a prisoner and is allowed to live by himself guarded
only by a Roman soldier (Acts 28:16). He is able to receive visitors
and to preach. He called the Jewish leaders in Rome together and
spoke to them about his commission and the gospel. Some believed and
some did not. It became clear to Paul that God had now set aside the
nation of Israel for this age and only the gospel of grace was of
Now for the first time the apostle makes it
publicly known to the Jews themselves that God's salvation was to be
sent directly to the other nations and that they will hear it (Acts
Acts 28:28 (KJV) Be it known therefore unto you, that
the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will
Paul dwelt two years in his own hired house and
preached to many that came to him. He preached the gospel with
confidence and with no interference. During this time he wrote
Philemon, Colossians, Ephesians and Philippians. These are sometime
referred to as the prison epistles. They have to do with the gospel
The book of Acts ends with this verse:
28:31 (KJV) Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things
which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man
A little later he penned the final epistles, 1
Timothy, 2 Timothy and Titus. We know little about Paul's life after
this except for what we can glean from a few other verses in his
epistles and historians.
Pauls final epistles
infom us about being in the body of Christ and our celestial