First Missionary Journey Scripture
STUDY III FIRST MISSIONARY JOURNEY Scripture, Acts 13:1-14:26 INTRODUCTION TO THE THREE MISSIONARY JOURNEYS Before taking up the study of the first missionary journey, attention is called to certain points which should be considered in regard to all three of them (Acts 13:1-21:17). We have now arrived at what we might call the watershed of the Acts of the Apostles. Hitherto we have had various scenes, characters, personages to consider. Henceforth Paul, his labors, his disputes, his speeches, occupy the entire field, and every other man who is introduced into the narrative plays a subordinate part. Our attention is now turned from the Jewish world, considered so largely in the first twelve chapters of the Acts, to the heathen world and the struggle which Paul and his fellow laborers had with it, in bringing it to Christ. +The Call+ to this work was by the Holy Ghost in the city of Antioch (Acts 13:1-4). Luke says, "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" (Acts 13:2, 4). Contrast this with the beginning of the work in Jerusalem which was also inaugurated by the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost (Acts 1:14; 2:1-4). This call was in accordance with what Jesus had told his disciples before His ascension (Acts 1:8). The agency of the Holy Ghost in directing and promoting this missionary work is very manifest (Acts 13:2, 4, 9, 52; 15:8, 28; 16:6; 19:2, 6; 20:23, 28; 21:11; 28:25). +The Significance+ and importance of these journeys cannot be overestimated. It is probable, when the call came, that Paul had but little idea of their magnitude and that in the end they would result in changing not only the religion, but the philosophy and civilization of the world. +Extent and Time.+ -- It is estimated that the first journey was 1,400 miles long, the second 3,200, and the third 3,500, making 8,100 miles traveled by Paul. The time occupied for the three journeys was about ten years. +The Record+ of the three missionary journeys, is briefly comprised in eight and a half chapters (Acts 13:1-21:17), and it does not profess to be a complete one. Only the most striking incidents and events, and probably not all of these, are given. There were side trips not recorded by Luke; Paul speaks of one to Illyricum (Rom.15:19), and of others in which he underwent great perils (2 Cor.11:24-27). The purpose of Luke seems to be to show how, in accordance with the command and promise of Christ, the knowledge and power of the gospel was spread, beginning in Jerusalem, through Judea, and Samaria, throughout the heathen world (Acts 1:8); everything seems to be made to bend to this purpose. Certainly there could be no more graphic and concise account of these epoch making events than that given us by this wonderful narrator. +Other Long Journeys.+ -- 1. Paul's voyage to Rome as a prisoner. Luke gives a full account of this voyage, its many interesting incidents (Acts 27:1-28:16), and of the circumstances which led up to it (Acts 21:17-27:1).2. There is every reason to believe that Paul was released at the end of his two years imprisonment in Rome (Acts 28:30) and that he made an Eastern journey as far as Colossae and a Western journey as far as Spain. NOTE. -- These last journeys are considered in chapter ten. +Method of Work and Support.+ -- Paul and his companion, or company, when they entered into a city would first seek for a lodging and then for work, going from one tent maker's door to another until finally a place was found. Then upon the following Sabbath they would seek the Jewish synagogue and after the reading of the Scriptures, when an opportunity was given, Paul would arise and begin to speak, (Acts 13:14-16) leading up through the Old Testament message (Acts 13:17-43) to the great topic of Jesus Christ as the promised Messiah and closing with an exhortation to believe on Him. Such a speech would naturally excite great interest coming from the lips of one, who by his speech and the handling of the Old Testament, would be recognized as a cultivated Jewish Rabbi. Paul would be asked to speak again the next Sabbath (Acts 13:44-52), the synagogue would be full of people and he would set forth Jesus Christ more plainly as the Savior both of Jew and Gentile. This would generally be a signal for the Jews to contradict and oppose Paul, but some Jews would believe with a number of Gentiles. This would be the starting point of the Christian church in that community. The Jews, however, who were untouched by what Paul preached, and who looked upon him as the destroyer of their religion, would raise a cry against him and seek to have him expelled from the city. This experience was frequently repeated. There were great difficulties also to be encountered when the heathen thought that their worship was in danger (Acts 19:20-30). +The Message+ which Paul bore to Jew and Gentile was the moving force of all his work. The starting point was the memorable day when Jesus Christ appeared to him on his way to Damascus. Paul believed that he received his commission as an apostle directly from Jesus Christ (Gal.1:1-24). The four main positions of Paul, set forth so plainly in his Epistle to the Romans, are: (a) All are guilty before God (Jew and Gentile). (b) All need a Savior. (c) Christ died for all. (d) We are all (through faith) one body in Christ. Paul leaves us in no doubt as to how he regards Jesus Christ. He is to him the Son of God, through whom God created all things and who is the Divine Savior of man (Eph.3:9-21; Phil.2:9-11; Rom.9:5). There is no doubt, no hesitation on Paul's part in delivering his message. He is a witness, testifying to the glory of his Divine Lord. He is a messenger who cannot alter or tamper with that which has been entrusted to him. To the rude inhabitants of the mountain regions of Asia Minor, to the philosophers in Athens, to the Roman governors in Caesarea, to the dwellers in Corinth and in Rome the purport of the Message is always the same. THE FIRST JOURNEY

Scripture, Acts 13:1-14:28

+Preparation.+ -- First, on the part of Paul. About ten years have passed since his conversion. During this time we have few notices of him, but he was undoubtedly making ready for this very important work of a missionary. Second, on the part of the church. The first step had already been taken, in the conversion of Cornelius, in the giving of the gospel to the Gentile world. Third, Paul was brought to Antioch by Barnabas to assist the church in the great revival which broke out in that second early center of Christian work and teaching (Acts 11:21-26). Fourth, the large success of the disciples who went throughout Judea and Samaria, preaching the gospel, after the death of Stephen (Acts 7:5-8:4; 11:19-21) made possible this new aggressive movement to the regions beyond. Fifth, the Christian prophets and teachers at Antioch "ministered to the Lord and fasted." They desired to know the will of the Lord and it was made known to them by the Holy Ghost. "And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away." "So they being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia (Acts 13:3, 4).

+Companions of the Journey+, Barnabas and Saul (Acts 13:2) and John Mark (Acts 13:5). Barnabas has been called the discoverer of Saul. He was probably a convert of the day of Pentecost. He was a land proprietor of the island of Cyprus and early showed his zeal for Christ by selling his land and devoting the proceeds to the cause in which he so heartily believed (Acts 4:36, 37). He early sought out and manifested, in a very practical way, his friendship for Paul (Acts 9:27; 11:22, 25, 30; 12:25). John Mark, who started on this journey with Barnabas and Saul, was a nephew of Barnabas (Acts 13:5, 13; 12:25; Col.4:10).

+Paul Comes to the Front+ when his company leave Paphos and ever after he has the first place (Acts 13: 13). Here also he is called Paul for the first time, a name which he retains.

+Extent and Time+ -- This was the shortest of the three journeys (about 1,400 miles). It extended over the island of Cyprus and a part of Asia Minor. In time it occupied about three years, 47-50 A.D.

+Rulers+ -- Claudius was the emperor of Rome, since 41 A.D. Herod Agrippa was king of Chalcis, Ananias was high priest in Jerusalem.


NOTE. -- The cities, which Paul visited in this and the other journeys, should be located upon the map by the student. It will greatly increase the interest to consult some good Bible dictionary and get well acquainted also with the history of the places.

+Salamis+, on the island of Cyprus, was the first place reached, after sailing from Seleucia (Acts 13:4, 5) the sea-port of Antioch. It was the natural thing to go first to this island as it had been the home of Barnabas and many Jews had settled there; it was about eighty miles to the southwest of Seleucia.

+Paphos.+ -- After passing through the island from east to west the missionaries came to Paphos. This city was the seat of the worship of Venus, the goddess of love. This worship was carried on with the most degrading of immoralities.

The chief incidents in the ministry here were the smiting of the Jewish sorcerer, Elymas, with blindness for his persistent opposition and the conversion of the deputy of the country, Sergius Paulus (Acts 13:6-12). Saul is filled with an unusual power of the Spirit for his work in this city and takes the name of Paul. It is now no longer Barnabas and Saul, but Paul and Barnabas.

+Perga in Pamphylia+ -- (Acts 13:13, 14). The missionaries take ship from Paphos and sail in a north-easterly direction across the Mediterranean Sea to this city of Asia Minor. John Mark, doubtless appalled by the difficulties which had already been experienced and now that the journey seemed to promise still greater hardships, left the company and returned to Jerusalem.

+Antioch in Pisidia+ (Acts 13:14-52) was about ninety miles directly north of Perga. It was a good-sized city with a large Jewish population. Luke's account of this visit is notable in that we have the chief points in Paul's speech in the synagogue set down. This address is worth study from the fact that it is the first sermon of Paul of which we have any record, and is probably the usual way in which he began his work in a great many Jewish synagogues. Paul is asked to speak to the assembled Jews. He begins upon the common ground of the history of Israel. He declares the promise of a Savior. This Savior is to be of the seed of David. Then Paul sets forth that Jesus is the promised Savior. He reminds them of the testimony of John and of those who had seen Jesus before and after His resurrection. He declares unto them the glad tidings of a Savior. He warns them of their peril in rejecting Jesus Christ. Paul is invited to speak upon the next Sabbath, but there is a division and those who oppose Paul try to drive him out of their city which they finally succeed in doing. But the Word has fallen into good soil and there is the beginning of a Christian church.

+Iconium in Lycaonia+ (Acts 14:1-5) is over one hundred miles distant from Antioch. The missionaries were now in a country of a people with strange ways. They remained here for some time and their ministry was attested by "signs and wonders." But againIt should be borne in mind, however, that while the question of the relation of the Gentile Christians to the law of Moses was decided at this council, it was one which came up again and again to hamper and bother Paul in his missionary work.


What is to be considered in the introduction to the three missionary journeys? By whom was the call to this work? What is the significance of the journeys? The extent and time? What can be said of the record? Were there other long journeys by Paul? What was the method of work and support? What was the message? The first journey; what was the preparation for it? Who the companions? Time and extent? Rulers? Give some of the incidents that took place upon the Itinerary, at Salamis, Paphos, Perga, Antioch, Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe? What can be said of the return journey? Why was the Jerusalem Council necessary, and what was decided by it?

study ii conversion
Top of Page
Top of Page