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.
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.