The Apostle Paul was an extremely important figure in the growth and expansion of Christianity. However, before Paul's acceptance of Christ, he was an avid persecutor of the early teachings and disciples of Jesus. From his birth all the way through this period of his young life, Paul the Apostle was known as Saul. Even during his time as a non-believer, Saul was very adamant about the spreading of his beliefs. Accordingly, he made many missionary journeys throughout this phase of his life. In fact, it was on one such voyage that the resurrected Jesus Christ first appeared to him in the veil of a great brilliant light. This beam of light was so strong that the future Apostle became blinded for a period of three days. After this time Paul began preaching in the name of Jesus Christ. Now believing that Jesus was in fact the Jewish Messiah and the Son of God, Paul quickly became a leader in the furthering of the Christian faith. So much so that many theologians now consider him to have been one of the most influential and prominent Christian figures . With his staunch and unwavering belief and his intrinsic need to travel and preach, Paul soon resumed his work as a missionary with the teachings of Jesus as his ultimate fuel. He also began to do a great deal of religious writing, much of which revolved around his idea that true and genuine faith was the fundamental key to one's salvation . Paul's travels took him many places and his ideologies, teachings and writings eventually proved to be monumental in the shaping of Christian beliefs and rituals throughout the entire Mediterranean Basin. Despite the fact that Paul made countless religious pilgrimages, Biblical authors have divided his most important travels into three distinct missions . The first of these trips takes him all the way from the island of Cyprus to Asia Minor. During this expedition, Paul initially establishes himself as the leader of the group when he miraculously blinds a highly critical and taunting magician in Cyprus . His last mission was in fact his longest journey, which lasted for more than three years . During this missionary voyage, Paul performed many miracles and continued achieving his goals of further education and conversion . Between these two notable adventures, Paul embarked on what was perhaps his most tumultuous and testing excursion. His second mission involved many important individuals, a brief period of incarceration and the eventual construction of one of the greatest Churches of that era . Consequently, the full happenings and theological relevance of this journey has been monumental on the development of Christian beliefs and the recruitment of non-believing souls.
Paul the Apostle's second historic missionary voyage was one that involved a great deal of sea travel. Taking these long sea excursions into account, this journey was likely the one to cover the greatest amount of actual mileage. According to the Biblical records this trip involved approximately twenty notable stopping points where Paul encountered new threats, challenges, followers, doubters and opportunities. The illustration below highlights the primary destinations Paul came across during his second voyage for Christ:
As elucidated in the depiction above, this journey spanned across what is nearly the entire Eastern border of the Mediterranean Sea. Beginning in Jerusalem and traveling northward, Paul spread his educational wings over Syria and continued on to Galatia where he was determined to revisit some of the churches he had helped to start there during his first great missionary journey . After completing his visits with his old friends and followers, Paul and his fellow missionaries once again turned north in the direction of the new and previously untraveled lands of Bithynia and Pontus. However, as had occurred in previous voyages, Paul was given a forbidding message from the Holy Spirit, which caused him to steer clear of this ominous territory and continue west towards Macedonia . After preaching in several locations throughout Macedonia, Paul left Corinth by ship headed for Jerusalem . However, before arriving in his final destination, the Apostle made what he thought would be a short stop in Ephesus. Though this would prove to be much more than an insignificant layover, Paul did make it back to Jerusalem several months later .
The various people Apostle Paul traveled with and came to know during his second great adventure represented an extremely important facet of Paul's essence and legacy. While he and his fellow travelers certainly encountered a great deal of opposition during this voyage, the number of his followers continued to grow with every stop. Initially, Paul and his friend Barnabas planned to travel around the Mediterranean Sea spreading the word of Jesus as they went . The trip was going to be a similar voyage to the one they had both taken just a few years earlier (Paul's first great missionary journey). However, during a brief period of rest at their first destination (Antioch), Barnabas suggested that his cousin, a young man named John Mark, accompany them as he had on their first trip . This proposition immediately caused disparity between the two friends. The reason for this arose out of the fact that John Mark had abandoned the two travelers half way through their first voyage and Paul now "though of him as a deserter." As a result of their disagreement, the two friends parted ways and Paul selected a new travel companion. The fortunate young man to be chosen was a messenger for the Church at Jerusalem and the Church at Antioch named Silas . The two journeymen made their way to several small cities in Syria and Cilicia. Though not long into their trip they met a very enthusiastic young man named Timothy in the town of Lystra . He was well spoken of by members of the local congregation and Paul instantly took a liking to him, so the travelers decided to take Timothy with them . The new band of Christian missionaries continued preaching and the numbers of believers continued to grow. The trio looked at each destination as an opportunity to strengthen the Church.
In striving to accomplish their goals and make the most of these opportunities, Paul and his disciples created what was a very new and effective method of preaching and conversion. Unlike many of his fellow Apostles and their predecessors, Paul did not aggressively force the idea of Jesus as the Son of God into the belief systems of the people . Rather, he strategically integrated his beliefs into the ideas that the masses were already used to. By not demanding that individuals make drastic changes in their lives and their beliefs, Paul was able to gain their trust before truly embarking on his Christian path of discourse . Being that many of the citizens to whom he was preaching were very poor and usually oppressed by their rulers, Paul incorporated this idea into his teachings, claiming that salvation can only be realized through faith and not through legal mechanisms . This ideology undoubtedly increased the support of his listeners. Furthermore, Paul regularly described the lives of his followers (the Gentiles) as very similar to those of most Jews, though they were quite a bit more relaxed in terms of the many ritualistic protocols and obligations that accompanied orthodox Judaism .
Despite the fact that Paul and his followers experienced great levels of success in the early stages of their journey, this was not to be a voyage devoid of resistance and subsequent conflict. In fact, perhaps the most significant event on this journey came when Paul and Silas were thrown in jail after successfully converting a slave in the Macedonian city of Philippi . While this was not an entirely unusual occurrence on the Apostle's journey, the owners of this particular slave turned out to be very high-ranking officials in the city and were able to effectively turn its entire population against the missionaries . In doing so, Paul and Silas were arrested and placed in jail on a seemingly indefinite basis. Nevertheless, Paul and his disciple never lost faith in Jesus and his will. Not long after their imprisonment their came a miraculous earthquake that destroyed the prison gates and all other obstructions, allowing the two men to make an effortless escape . This event proved to the masses that Paul was in fact a vessel of God. Moreover, one of Paul's staunchest opponents (and his jailor) was instantly converted after witnessing this divine intervention. Thus, even in the face of antagonism, Paul's following continued to grow and the teachings of the Church withstood.
After leaving the site of their incarceration Paul and his devoted followers continued south where they would preach to the Greeks. One of the more notable meetings that occurred in this phase of his journey was in the coastal city of Corinth. It was here that Paul first met Aquila and Priscilla (Dunn 1998). This young…