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Apostle Paul


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The Apostle Paul's Missionary Journeys

Saul was born into a strict Jewish family, with Roman citizenship, in Tarsus, located in what is now southeastern Turkey. As Christianity was growing rapidly in the area of Jerusalem, Saul was a its furious opponent. He was present, and approved of the killing of Stephen, and presided over a mission to persecute the Christian church.

A Change of Heart

In about AD33, Saul was on the road to Damascus. On the way, he was blinded by a vision, and heard a voice asking, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?" Saul asked, "Who are you, Lord?," and the voice answered, "I am Jesus whom you are persecuting."

Humbled and afraid, Saul, also called Paul, had a change of heart. Convicted, he poured all of his tremendous energies into serving Christ. For sheer vitality, Paul had no equal. His ambition was to take the message of Jesus Christ to all of the known world. Breaking down barriers of prejudice, in Paul there was no distinction between Jew and Gentile. He preached first in Damascus, and then moved on to his home town of Tarsus.

Missionary Journeys

But it was from Antioch, where believers were first called Christians, that Paul set out, accompanied by Barnabas and John Mark, on his first missionary journey.

They went first to Cyprus, then into Asia Minor, where Mark left them. Paul's method of preaching was to start first in the synagogues, but never to hide his purpose of converting the Gentiles too. After their first journey, Paul and Barnabas returned to Antioch.

On to Europe

In his second missionary journey, Paul revisited the churches he had established in Asia Minor, strengthening the faith of the new converts. At Lystra, he was joined by Timothy, who helped him in the province of Galatia. From Troas, Paul crossed into Europe, winning converts in Philippi and along the Roman road towards Athens, the cultural center of the Mediterranean world. There he met with derision from the pagan establishment, but also won converts.

Paul settled in Corinth for a year and a half, and it was there that he began to write letters to churches he had established. These letters have been incorporated into our New Testament.

After a third journey, and two years in Ephesus, Paul returned to Jerusalem, taking with him a collection to relieve the hardship among the Christians there.

Imprisonment and Shipwreck

While in Jerusalem, the Pharisees had him arrested. As a Roman citizen, Paul appealed to Caesar, and was eventually sent to Rome for his appeal to be heard. After a shipwreck and some time in Malta, he finally arrived in Rome, where Christianity had already taken root.

He remained a prisoner there for two years, and may have traveled to Spain at some time. He was apparently executed during the persecution by Emperor Nero.

The Letters of Paul

Today, we know Paul, not only through the historical record penned by Luke in the book of Acts, but through his many letters to the churches he had founded during his missionary journeys.

While he became an apostle only after the death and resurrection of Christ, still it was his letters that made their way into our New Testament canon.

Paul's letter to the Romans is a clear explanation of his message that we are all cut off from God because of our sinful nature, and that it is only through Christ that we can be made whole in God's sight.

In his letter to the Galatians, Paul urges the new church to hold onto their freedom in Christ, and to resist the temptation to go back to the slavery of Jewish legalism.

In his two letters to the Corinthians, Paul is writing to a church in the midst of a pagan seaport.

A frequent theme in Paul's letters to the Ephesians and the Colossians is the greatness of Christ, and the new era He had made possible by his own death and resurrection. In his letter to the Philippians, Paul relates the implications of Christ's sacrifice to how we should live our lives today.

In his letters to the Thessalonians, Paul looks to the day when the new age would be fulfilled.

And as an elder and mentor, Paul writes to his frequent traveling companion, Timothy, and to Titus, encouraging them.

Paul's missionary journeys.


Overview of Bible Study