A-Z: Famous stories from the Bible: Paul - missionary journeys

Definition

Paul was sent by God on several long journeys in order to tell people of other countries about God and Jesus. These journeys are therefore called his ‘missionary’ journeys. He had various friends and helpers on these journeys, including Mark, Silas, Timothy and Barnabas.

The first journey included Cyprus, Antioch, Lystra and Derbe.

In Lystra, Paul healed a man who had been lame from birth. When the crowd saw this, they thought that Paul and Barnabas were the Greek gods Zeus and Hermes. They wanted to sacrifice to them, but Paul and Barnabas explained that they were followers of God and that God’s power had healed the man. Then some Jews came from other places in which Paul had preached. They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, leaving him for dead. Paul and Barnabas travelled on.
This journey lasted about two years and covered about 1,500 miles.   

The second journey included Asia Minor, Philippi, Athens, Corinth and Ephesus.

Paul was called to present day Europe when God told him to go to Macedonia. At Philippi, Lydia and the jailer and his family became Christians. In Athens, Paul was amazed to see altars to so many gods. He began to preach, saying, ‘I can tell that you people of Athens are very religious. I even saw an altar inscribed ‘To an unknown god.’ I am here today to tell you about this unknown god.’ He then taught about God, and some people became believers. In Corinth, he stayed with a fellow tentmaker, Aquila, a Jew who, along with his wife Priscilla, had been forced to leave Rome. Here, God encouraged Paul to keep on preaching, even though he faced opposition.
This journey lasted about three years and covered about 3,500 miles.

The third journey included Ephesus, Macedonia and Greece, Troas, Tyre and Caesarea.

In Ephesus, God performed many miracles through Paul and many people became Christians. The silversmiths and others who made a living because of the Roman goddess Diana’s shrine in the city caused a riot against Paul and his co-workers, but the city clerk managed to quieten them down. Paul went on to Troas. There, he spoke late into the night in an upstairs room. A young boy, sitting listening in the window, was drowsy and fell out, onto the street. The fall killed him, but God restored him to life through Paul. When Paul arrived in Jerusalem, a plot against him led to his trial and, ultimately, to his journey to Rome. 

Map showing area of Paul's missionary journeys, image available through Creative CommonsThe story illustrates:

  • The power of God, channelled through his followers.
  • Paul’s determination to continue telling people about God.

Related Topics

Big Ideas: Miracles; Mission, evangelism, conversion

Bible References

The first journey Acts 13:1-52, Acts 14:1-28 The second journey Acts 15:40-41
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