The First Missionary Journey
Paul’s First Missionary Journey began in the city of Antioch. Barnabas and Saul (as Paul was also called) had been ministering to the Lord there and were sent out by the church at the suggestion of the Holy Spirit.
Planning the Journey
Luke the historian provides us with a detailed account of Paul’s first missionary journey in the Book of Acts. From this narrative, we can learn some principles about how to plan a effective missionary journey.
- Pray for God’s guidance. Before setting out on his journey, Paul “went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and remained with him fifteen days” (Acts 9:26). While there, he met with other leaders of the church “and they prayed together with fasting” (v. 27). As they prayed, the Holy Spirit “directed them not to take the gospel to the Gentiles but to go instead to the lost sheep of Israel” (v. 30).
- Choose your companions carefully. After being directed by the Spirit, Paul set out on his journey with Barnabas and John Mark (Acts 13:5). These men were carefully chosen by Paul and approved by the church (vv. 2-3). As you consider your co-laborers, be sure to prayerfully seek God’s guidance and choose those whom you believe will be a good fit for your ministry team.
- Preach Christ crucified. On his journey, Paul “entered each synagogue and spoke boldly there for three months, arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God” (Acts 19:8). Even when he was rejected by some, Paul “shook out his clothes in protest and said to them, ‘Your blood be on your own heads! I am not responsible . . . from now on I will go preach anywhere I can , because I must proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ’” (vv. 25-26). No matter what opposition or rejection you may face, never compromise your message or veer from preaching Christ crucified as the only hope for sinners.
The Journey Begins
Paul’s First Missionary Journey began in Antioch of Syria and ended in Jerusalem. Along the way, he started churches in Derbe, Lystra, Iconium, Pisidian Antioch, and Philippi. He also met with Timothy and Silas, who would become close companions and fellow workers.
On the first missionary journey, Paul and Barnabas preaching in Salamis, the chief city on the island of Cyprus. They went first to the Jewish synagogue on the Sabbath and argued with the Jews from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Messiah. Some believed, including a number of prominent Cypriot men such as Sergius Paulus, a man of intelligence who summoned Barnabas and Paul and wanted to hear more about their faith. But Elymas the sorcerer (also called Bar-Jesus) opposed them and tried to turn Sergius away from the faith. So Paul looked intently at him and said, “You are filled with all manner of deceit and fraud! You son of the devil! You enemy of everything that is right! Will you never stop perverting the true ways of God?” Then Paul struck Elymas blind, and he turned away from him groaning and groaning, feeling his way down the road. When sergius saw what happened he was amazed and believed, even though he was astonished at Paul’s teaching about faith in Jesus.
Arrival in Antioch
Paul and Barnabas arrived in Antioch after a long and difficult journey. The people there were very friendly and they were able to find a place to stay. They immediately began preaching in the synagogue. The people of Antioch were very receptive to the message of the gospel and many of them came to faith in Jesus Christ.
The Second Missionary Journey
Paul’s second missionary journey began in Antioch of Syria (Acts ). This was about 3-4 years after his first missionary journey (Acts ). After ministering in Antioch for a time, Paul “divided” his co-workers Barnabas and John Mark, and took Silas as his co-worker (Acts 15:36-41).
Planning the Journey
The second missionary journey of Paul and Barnabas was planned by the apostle after he had received a vision from God. He saw a man from Macedonia pleading with him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us!” The vision interpretated, Paul decided to leave for Macedonia at once (Acts 16:9-10).
The Journey Begins
On his second missionary journey, Paul traveled with Silas and Timothy. They went first to Derbe, then to Lystra, where they met a young man named Timothy. Timothy became their helper, and they traveled together to many cities in the region, preaching the good news about Jesus. Eventually they arrived in Philippi, where they met a woman named Lydia who became a follower of Jesus.
The second missionary journey takes Paul to Philippi, a city in Macedonia. There he meets Lydia, a woman who is interested in the gospel. She invites Paul and his companions to stay with her, and they do.
Later, while Paul is preaching in the city, he is confronted by a group of men who are upset by his message. They drag him outside the city and beat him, but he is undeterred. The next day he leaves for Thessalonica, where he continues to preach about Jesus.
Arrival in Corinth
Paul and Silas traveled from Philippi to Amphipolis, Apollonia, and Thessalonica before arriving in the city of Berea. They preached in the synagogue there every week, but some of the Jews became jealous of the converts Paul was making. So they stirred up trouble by coming down from Thessalonica and stirring up the crowd against him. Paul then left Berea for Athens.
The Third Missionary Journey
Paul’s third missionary journey began in 54 A.D. He traveled to four different regions: Asia, Macedonia, Achaia, and Judea. This was a time of great danger for Christians, as Nero had begun his persecution of the Christians. Paul was arrested and eventuallymartyred in Rome in 67 A.D.
Planning the Journey
Paul set his sights on returning to the regions of Phrygia and Galatia, where he had previously been prevented by the Holy Spirit from preaching the gospel (Acts 16:6). From there he would journey through Derbe and Lystra back to his home in Antioch (Acts 14:26; 15:41).
On the way, however, he was again “provoked in [his] spirit” and decided to go first to Ephesus (Acts 18:19-21). This detour would turn out to be one of Paul’s most fruitful ministry ventures. For three months he taught daily in the synagogue, “reasoning and persuading . . . about the kingdom of God” (v. 4). His opponents were so provoked that they plotted to do him harm (v. 5).
The Journey Begins
The Third Missionary Journey Begins The third missionary journey begins with Paul traveling from Antioch in Syria, to Derbe and then Lystra in Galatia. Timotheus joins him on this leg of the journey. From Lystra, they go to Iconium and finally to Antioch in Pisidia where they preach in the synagogue for the first time on this trip.
Paul’s third missionary journey was characterized by a more deliberate and focused effort to evangelize specific cities and regions. After spending some time in the region of Galatia and Phrygia, “strengthening all the disciples,” he set his sights on Ephesus (Acts 18:19-21).
This city was strategically located on the coast of Asia Minor and served as a hub for trade and travel. In addition, Ephesus was home to a large population of Jews, which made it an ideal place to preaching the gospel. When Paul arrived in Ephesus, he met with the local Jews in the synagogue and “reasoned with them from the Scriptures” (Acts 18:28).
However, many of them were not receptive to his message and Paul eventually left the synagogue to start his own fellowship with “disciples who believed” (Acts 19:1-7). This new church quickly grew in numbers and became known for its boldness in proclaiming the gospel throughout the city.
As a result of their witness, “there arose no small stir concerning that Way” (Acts 19:23) and Paul spent the next two years teaching at the local school of rhetoric. His time in Ephesus was cut short when he was summoned to appear before Caesar in Rome (Acts 19:24-20:1), but his impact on this city – and on the Church as a whole – was significant.
Arrival in Rome
On his third missionary journey, Paul went to Ephesus, Corinth, and finally Rome.
At Corinth, Paul met Aquila and Priscilla, a married couple who were tentmakers by trade. They became close friends with Paul, and they later travelled together to Ephesus.
When Paul arrived in Ephesus, he found that the Christian community there was small and weak. He met with the believers and encouraged them to remain faithful to the teachings of Jesus Christ.
After spending some time in Ephesus, Paul decided to travel on to Rome. He knew that the Christians in Rome needed encouragement, just like those in Ephesus.
On his way to Rome, however, Paul was arrested and taken prisoner by the Romans. He appealed to Caesar, the Roman emperor, and was eventually brought to trial in Rome.
At his trial, Paul testified about his faith in Jesus Christ and was eventually acquitted of all charges against him. He then returned to his ministry of preaching and teaching the gospel all over the world.