Tuesday, October 8, 2019

A Chronology of Paul's Ministry: Part 1

Saul’s approval of Stephen’s death in Jerusalem (Acts 8:1).
Saul’s conversion in Damascus (Acts 9:1-19).
Saul’s departure from Damascus and journey south into Arabia (Gal. 1:16-17).
Saul’s return to Damascus (Gal. 1:17).
Saul’s stay in Damascus for three years (Acts 9:19-25; Gal. 1:18).
Saul’s First Visit Back to Jerusalem for fifteen days (Acts 9:26-29; Gal. 1:18-20).
Saul’s travel to the port city Caesarea to catch a boat to Tarsus (Acts 9:30; Gal. 1:21-24).
Saul’s friend Barnabas found him in Tarsus and brought him to Antioch for a whole year (Acts 11:25-26).
Saul’s Second Visit Back to Jerusalem. Barnabas and Saul were chosen to bring financial support to the Church in Judea (Acts 11:27-30).
Saul’s return to Antioch with Barnabas and John Mark from Jerusalem (Acts 12:25).

Saul’s First Missionary Journey (Acts 13 – 14).


From Antioch, they [Barnabas, Saul, and John Mark] were sent off and first headed to Seleucia, a port city, to catch a boat going to Cyprus. They first proclaimed God’s Word in the synagogues located in the city of Salamis and then made their way across the island of Cyprus all the way to Paphos – which is on the other side. It was here that Saul’s name changed to Paul (Acts 13:1-12).

By the time they set sail from Paphos Paul had officially become the leader of the group. This may be the reason why John Mark ended up leaving the team upon reaching the port city of Perga which is located in the region of Pamphylia. It was there that John Mark decided to return to Jerusalem, but Paul and Barnabas continued on and traveled to Antioch of Pisidia [this is not the same Antioch in which they began their journey]. And after preaching a sermon in the synagogue and being rejected, Paul and Barnabas traveled east to Iconium (Acts 13:13-52).

They spent “a long time” in Iconium until they learned of a plot to stone them, so they ended up fleeing to Lystra and then Derbe, cities of Lycaonia. However, Jews from Antioch of Pisidia and Iconium came and stoned Paul while they were in Lystra, but he survived and traveled with Barnabas to Derbe the next day. Only after they had preached the Gospel in that city and had spent time making disciples did they return the way they came by heading back through Lystra, Iconium, Antioch of Pisidia, Perga, and then west to a different port city called Attalia where they boarded a ship and headed all the way back to where they began – Antioch. There they remained for quite some time (Acts 14:1-28).

Paul’s Third Visit Back to Jerusalem (Acts 15:1-21; Gal. 2:1-10). Though this is his third recorded visit back to Jerusalem following his conversion, it is both his second and final time visiting with Barnabas before the missionary split (cf. Acts 11:30; 15:2). On his first visit back, Barnabas was already there in the city (Acts 9:26-27). It is also interesting to note that this is seventeen years after Paul’s salvation [i.e. 3 + 14 = 17 years (Gal. 1:18; 2:1)]. Therefore, this event takes place roughly eighteen years after Jesus died on the cross.

Some men came down from Jerusalem to Antioch demanding that the Gentiles be circumcised and follow the Law of Moses. This dissension resulted in both Paul and Barnabas, along with a group of fellow Christians, traveling to Jerusalem to attend the very first Church council (Acts 15:1-5).

Paul had taken an uncircumcised Gentile named Titus with them to Jerusalem in order to show the apostles all that God has done and is doing (Gal. 2:1-10).

After much consideration and debate, both Peter and James stood up and made a public statement before the people. They had agreed that God was not requiring the Gentiles to become Jewish (Acts 15:6-21).

Paul’s return to Antioch (Acts 15:22-35). The apostles decided to send a letter to the Gentile Christians living in Antioch via Paul and Barnabas along with two leading men from Jerusalem: Judas and Silas. And after reading the letter and rejoicing over its encouraging words, Judas and Silas were sent back home while Paul and Barnabas remained in Antioch.

Paul’s Second Missionary Journey (Acts 15:36 – 18:22).


After spending some time in Antioch, Paul received news that the Galatian churches [Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe (Acts 14:1-7)] had been infiltrated by Jewish false teachers claiming that these new believers needed to be circumcised while keeping the customs of the Law in order to be saved. This led the Apostle Paul to author the book of Galatians [Paul’s 1st Epistle].

Thus, Paul desired to travel with Barnabas on a second missionary journey in order to see how things were going in the churches they established. However, there arose a sharp disagreement between the two regarding John Mark which ended up splitting the team in half. Barnabas and John Mark traveled to Cyprus while Paul and Silas headed northwest up into Syria and Cilicia towards the Galatian churches (Acts 15:36-41).