Paul – part 2

His early years

With the proclamation of the Messiahship of Jesus to the synagogues in Damascus, Paul caused consternation amongst the Jews. He then went on to visit Arabia and probably to rethink out his beliefs. There had been no hint of his purpose being to preach until then.

He then returned to Damascus but his aggressive preaching forced him to flee to Jerusalem. He was viewed with suspicion until Barnabas secured his acceptance. After the hostility he returned to Tarsus and remained in obscurity for some years.

Later Barnabas brought him back to Antioch to assist him in his teaching ministry and then took him on to Jerusalem.

Missionary Journeys

These were inaugurated at the Antioch church under the direction of the Holy Spirit sending forth “Barnabas and Saul”

(Acts 13 v1-3).

First Missionary Journey 

These began in spring AD48 among the Jews in Cyprus.

After events in Paphos, (Acts13v4-12) Saul became known as Paul and became the recognized leader of the missionary party. He aimed to take the Gospel to new and untrodden regions. He went to Pisidian Antioch and found a ready opening in the Jewish synagogue. His message to the Jews and God fearing Gentiles is reported at length in Acts 13v16-41. This made a deep impression and they asked for more on the next Sabbath. On the next Sabbath the large crowd, of mainly gentiles, caused deep resentment among the Jewish leaders. So Paul announced he was turning to the gentiles and they formed the core of his church in Pisidian Antioch. Jewish led opposition caused him to move to Iconium, south east of Antioch, with the same results and a flourishing Church therein. So they fled on to Lystra, where there was seemingly no synagogue and a congenital cripple was healed. This led to a pagan attempt at offering sacrifices to the missionaries, as gods in human form. Paul was horrified at this. (14v15-17) Agitators turned the disillusioned pagans against the missionaries and in the uproar Paul was stoned. Paul became unconscious, so they dragged him out of the city, and left him for dead. As the disciples stood around him he regained consciousness and the next day they moved on to neighbouring Derbe. This was a fruitful and unmolested ministry. He later returned to his Syrian Antioch converts and organised them into churches, reporting that

“God had opened a door of faith unto the Gentiles.” (14v27).This was the summary of Paul’s philosophy of his Gentile missions, salvation solely through faith in Jesus Christ.

During this time Timothy was also converted.

Jerusalem Conference 

(Acts 15 and Gal 2v 1-10)

This was caused by the mass influx of the Gentiles into the Church. It resulted in the opposition of the Pharisaic party in the Church, who taught that unless the people received circumcision they could not be saved. As this caused controversy Paul, Barnabas and others were sent to Jerusalem to sort it out.

The two different standpoints in the Bible passages mentioned above, are explained by Luke’s being more historic and Paul’s more personal. After ample discussion of the problems, the conference refused to impose the law on Gentiles believers and only requested they abstain from any offensive practices.

After this Paul and Barnabas continued their ministry in Antioch.

Next time

Paul’s further missionary journeys.