The conversion of Paul from Saul on his way to Damascus marked the beginning of his evangelical work.
Paul and Barnabas were believers in the newly established church in Antioch of Syria.
They received the calling from God while in church praying alongside leaders of the church.
Paul was dogmatic, without proper strategy and planning for his missionary journey.
The first missionary journey of Paul
Paul's first missionary journey began at Antioch of Syria
He sailed with Barnabas, and john Mark as their helper.
John Mark made his decision and left them as they arrived at Pisidia
Paul travelled through the following places, preaching the Good News and making disciples; the island of Cyprus, Antioch of Pisidia, Iconium, Lystra and Derbie
Through his missionary work, he received mixed reception, some places acceptance and others wild rejection, to the point of being stoned.
Paul's strategy in his missionary work
Paul used varied strategies in fulfilling his calling to the great commission
ii. He preached in synagogues and neutral grounds depending on the reception and beliefs of people he found in the city to avoid compromising of faith iii. He applied urban evangelism and church planting, preaching from town to town.
iv. He also preached in households, to focus on the entire household and not just the individual
v. Paul preached to both Jews and gentiles, without compromising, breaking the belief that Good News was for Jews only
i. Paul used varied strategies, without compromising his missionary work and the Good News.
ii. He was not dogmatic, as he had a strategy developed with the help of the Holy Spirit.
Paul's First Missionary Journey
St. Paul as many know him was a Christian persecutor turned convert while in his journey to Damascus to prosecute Christians. At the time, his name was Saul, and he served in the interest of the king until the Lord called him, Saul, Saul! Asking him why he was persecuting him. Acts chapter 9 records the conversion of Saul to Paul who then became the greatest evangelist and Christian missionary who lived. After the conversion, Paul (then Saul) began his service to the Lord and in the church at Antioch, he and his friend Barnabas (which means son of prophesy) set out on the first of the four missionary journeys that Paul undertook
. The first journey that Paul made preaching the word and bringing converts to the Lord was the shortest of all his journeys. Additionally, it came at a time when the church was still young and beginning to expand.
Paul was dogmatic regarding his evangelical work, without a plan for his missionary work. He did not have a strategy throughout his journey.
The beginning of the journey
Late spring in 44 AD the brethren at the Antioch church ordained Paul and Barnabas to be apostles. The two apostles, then alongside John (called Mark) began Paul's first missionary journey, as Acts 13: 1-52 records
. The journey started at Seleucia, which was the port city of Antioch of Syria. They sailed the journey towards Cyprus, about 80 miles south-west of the Antioch of Syria
. Notably, about this journey, many would expect it to begin at the mother- home of the church, which was at Jerusalem. However, the journey sets off from Antioch of Syria, a church established later by the believers who were escaping persecution of Christians from Jerusalem. Acts 11: 19-21, the believers that fled due to the persecution in Jerusalem, went down preaching the Good News as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch of Syria
. Additionally, they preached to Jews only initially, but later started to preach to the gentiles. Therefore, from this passage, we learn the evidence that preaching and evangelization of the Gentiles (non-Jews) began at Antioch of Syria
. The preaching was by the lay people (people who escaped from persecution from Jerusalem). Paul and Barnabas were active members of the Antioch church of Syria, serving in this church for over a year. In acts 13: 2-3, the passage records that as the church leaders were praying, alongside Paul and Barnabas, the Holy Spirit told them to allow Paul and Barnabas to go for the work that the Lord had set for them
. Thus, before leaving on the voyage, the church prayed and fasted for them. This passage does bring out the teaching on the sending of missionaries and evangelists. From this context, it is the duty of the entire church to send the missionaries, and the Holy Spirit is responsible for ratifying the missions. Therefore, the Holy Spirit is the primary commissioner of all missionary activities. Acts 13: 4 reads, and the Holy Spirit sent the two on their way to Cyprus. As the journey begins, john left with them as their helper.
Paul and Barnabas arrive in Cyprus Island
After the short travel, they arrived at Cyprus Island. As they arrive at Cyprus, they confront a challenge as John decides to leave the journey and return to Jerusalem, as the acts 13: 13 records. At Cyprus, they conducted their missioner work, working with the following strategy. Their strategy of evangelizing was to address the Jewish people first, and later evangelizes to the Gentiles. Additionally, their procedure entailed using the Old Testament as the point of reference that led the Jewish audience towards the acceptance of Jesus as the fulfillment of prophesies. As the book of Acts, 13: 32 to 33 says they told the people of the Good News that God promised the fathers salvation and fulfilled those promises by raising Jesus. With the spirit of missionary work in them, they went down, preaching from town to town across the whole island of Cyprus
. In their work, they engaged various people, of different professions and levels of life in the society. Nonetheless, despite the challenges they encountered, Paul and Barnabas continued preaching and evangelizing, converting many Jews and gentiles to Christianity and establishing worship meetings for the people in the Island. For instance, acts 13: 7 records when they met the proconsul Sergius Paulus, who was a high-ranking official of the Roman Empire. The bible further defines him as being a man of considerable insight and understanding. The official went ahead to invite Paul and Barnabas to visit his home for he wanted to listen and hear the word of God. Paul and Barnabas were pleased with the desire and set to preach to him. He believed the Good News and alongside many other Gentiles, they accepted and believed in the Lord and converted to Christianity. Another incidence that converted the governor of Cyprus was when they met the sorcerer named Bar-Jesus, who Paul ordered the devil to leave him. After Paul laid hands on him, he went blind shortly then began to see. Many people, including the governor believed, as acts 13: 9-14 records. Notably from the departing of John Mark, Paul took it seriously that when they began the second journey, they eventually split due to disagreements, where Barnabas took john and Paul took Silas. From the decision of John Mark to leave them at Cyprus and head to Jerusalem, we draw the teaching that human factors influence missionary role. Therefore, it is necessary for people to learn to trust in God for Him to fulfill his plans in them. Nonetheless, the work in Cyprus was successful, and they later left when they finished. This is the teaching of the Great Commissioning for proclaiming the Good News, which is to make disciples.
Paul and Barnabas at Antioch of Pisidia
Paul and Barnabas left Paphos, and travelled north to the Asian mainland, in which they traveled inland up the river Cetrus until they reached Pisidian Antioch. On arrival, they began their work of evangelizing to the Jews first, as their strategy entailed. The recording in acts 13: 16-51, Paul speaks to the gentiles, telling and teaching the Good News of the word. In the process of his preaching messages, many Jews believed the Word and accepted to convert to Christianity. They preached in the synagogues alongside the open grounds. When they finished speaking, the people begged them to return the following week as verse 42 records
. Many Jews left Judaism for Christianity. The following week, Paul returned to speak to the gentiles in the city. In the process of preaching to the gentiles, many believed the Good News. However, acts 13: 50-52 records that, the leaders of the Jews incite the people, stirring persecution Paul and Barnabas. They succeeded in expelling them from the Antioch of Pisidia. This passage is a teaching on the subject of the opposition that the missionaries faced while at work. Despite the preaching in which many people converted; the leaders of the region stirred disbelief and persecution ensued against Paul and Barnabas. Thus, as Paul and Barnabas were leaving the region to sail to Iconium, they shook off dust against them in protest. Nonetheless, those who believed received the…