Scripture, Acts 15:36-18:22
+The Inception+ -- After the Jerusalem Council Paul
returned to Antioch where he spent some time, "teaching and preaching the Word of the Lord with many others also." "And some days after Paul said unto Barnabas, Let us go again and visit our brethren+The Companions+ (Acts 15:37-40). -- Barnabas
proposed to take John Mark, his nephew, with them on this second journey. But Paul strenuously objected, basing his objection on the ground that this young man had deserted them (Acts 13:13) at a very impoThat Paul was afterwards reconciled to Barnabas and John Mark is shown by his kindly mention of them in his Epistles (1 Cor.9:6; Col.4:10; 2 Tim 4:11;
+The Wide Scope+ is a marked feature of this journey of about 3,200 miles.
The first journey was through Cyprus, where Barnabas was well acquainted, and through that section of Asia Minor roundabout the province of Cilicia, where Paul was practically at home. Paul was born in Tarsus in Cilicia and it was to this region that he went for some part of the time between his conversion and his call to the missionary work (Acts 9:30; Gal.1:21).
The second journey carries Paul into entirely, to him, new provinces of Asia Minor and into Macedonia and
Achaia. He comes into close contact not only with the rough native populations of the Asian provinces but with the cultivated philosophers of Greece and the effeminate voluptuaries of the heathen temples. Here are new tests for this missionary and the gospel which he preaches, but he meets them all. This journey had a large significance for the spread of Christianity. Had the gospel failed to meet the wants of all sorts and conditions of men, there would have been no further triumphs for it.
+Value to the World.+ -- "This journey was not only the greatest which Paul achieved but perhaps the most
momentous recorded in the annals of the human race. In its issues it far outrivalled the expedition of Alexander the Great when he carried the arTo Paul's turning westward, instead of eastward,
through the guidance of the Spirit, and his entering upon his work in Macedonia (Acts 16:7-11) Europe to-day
owes her advancement and Christian civilization. It is stating a sober fact when it is asserted that without Christianity Europeans would now be worshipping idols, the same as the inhabitants of other sections of the world where the gospel of Christ has not been made known.
+Time and Rulers.+ -- In time this journey extended over about three years, 51-54 A.D. The rulers were: Claudius, Emperor of Rome (Nero became Emperor in 54 A.D.);
Herod Agrippa II., King of Chalcis (who also gets
Batanea and Trachontis); and Galli#NAME?2. Thessalonica (Acts 17:1-9). Thinking it best
to leave Philippi, Paul and his company passed on their way along the Egnatian road through the two beautiful Greek cities of Amphipolis and Apollonia to Thessalonica, distant about seventy-three miles from Philippi.
Thessalonica is one of the few cities which has retained its importance up to the present time. It was founded by Cassander, King of Macedon in 315 B.C. It came under the Roman rule in 168 B.C. In Paul's time it was a great commercial center, the inhabitants being Greeks, Romans, and Jews. Here was a Jewish synagogue and
for three Sabbath days Paul went into it and reasoned with the assembled Jews about Jesus Christ, declaring to them that He was the promised Messiah, and had suffered and was risen from the dead. We have the same results here which followed similar preaching elsewhere
(1 Thess.1:8). Out of the storm again emerges a
Christian church. Paul and his company, after the
usual tumult, pass on to another city but the church remains to send its blessed influence through all that region. The Epistles to the Thessalonians (see Study 7) give us some graphic pictures of the converts and their ways of working.
3. Berea (Acts 17:10-14) was a secluded inland city. It must have been somewhat of a surprise to Paul to find the Jews of this place so ready to receive the Word of God, which he preached to them in their synagogue.
There was great searching of the Scriptures and many believed. A large work was in progress when Jews from Thessalonica, hearing of the success of Paul in Berea, came down and stirred up the people against him. It became quite evident now that there was a persistent and organized effort being made to drive Paul out of this section. As the opposition seemed to be directed against Paul alone, the brethren proposed to send him away, and to have Silas and Timotheus remain for a short time. This plan was carried out.
4. Athens (Acts 17:15-34) was the most cultivated
city of the old world; a statue was set upon every
corner and an altar in every street. "Here the human mind had blazed forth with a splendor it has never
exhibited elsewhere. In the golden age of its history Athens possessed more men of the very highest genius than have ever lived in any other city. To this day their names invest her with glory. Yet even in Paul's day the living Athens was a thing of the past. Four hundred years had elapsed since its golden age, and in the course of these centuries it had experienced a sad decline. Philosophy had degenerated into sophistry, art into dilettanteism, oratory into rhetoric, poetry into verse making. It was a city living on its past." Paul entered into the open places where the people gathered and talked with them. So much interest was aroused by what he had to say that he was asked to speak to them upon Mars Hill. Thither they all went. Paul as his custom was sought a common starting point in the altar to the unknown God. So long as he spoke of God and man in general terms he was
listened to, but when he came to touch their hearts and consciences and to apply what he said, speaking of the judgment through Christ and His resurrection from the dead, he was left alone. Paul did not fail, the trouble with the Athenians was that they possessed only intellectual curiosity; they had no appetite for the truth. But still some converts were made. "Certain men clave unto him and believed; among whom were Dionysius the
Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them" (Acts 17:34).
5. Corinth. (Acts 18:1-18) was the largest and most important city in Greece. From Athens Paul came to Corinth and remained over a year and a half. We have a graphic picture of this church in the Epistles to the Corinthians. (See Study 8.) Probably no better place than this highway of all peoples could have been selected in which to preach the gospel. No one knew better than Paul how to select strategic places. A stream of travelers, merchants, scholars, and sailors was constantly passing through this great commercial city; what was preached here would be carried to the ends of the earth. It was a city of art and culture and yet a place where the vices of the east and west met and held high carnival. Religion itself was put to ignoble uses; a thousand priestesses ministered to a base worship in the magnificent temple of the goddess Aphrodite. Greek philosophy showed its decay in endless discussions about words and the tendency to set intellectual above moral distinctions. There was a denial of the future life for the sake of unlimited enjoyment in the present. Paul, when he came into the city, found a lodging with Aquila and his wife Priscilla, and wrought with them at the occupation of tent making. When Silas and Timotheus joined him he openly testified to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ. Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, was converted together with many Corinthians. Paul was comforted at this time by a vision of the Lord which bade him to speak and not to hold his peace. After a year and a half of earnest preaching an attempt was made by the Jews to drive Paul out of the city by bringing accusations against him before the Roman proconsul Gallio, but in this they were unsuccessful. Paul tarried and worked here until it seemed best for him to turn his steps homeward again to Antioch. The keynote of his preaching in this city is given by him in his First Epistle to the Corinthians where he says (2:2), "For I determined not to know anything among you save Jesus Christ and him crucified." If this gospel could win converts in Corinth, it can win converts anywhere.
+The Return Voyage+ (Acts 18:18-22) was by way of
Ephesus where he entered into the synagogue and
reasoned with the Jews. Leaving Ephesus he sailed for Caesarea where he landed. After he had gone up and saluted the church he went down to Antioch.<