Paul's First Missionary Journey by sofina Ali


Antioch, in modern day Turkey was where Paul started his first missionary journey with Barnabas as they were set apart by the Holy Spirit. Antioch was founded near the end of the 4th century BC by Seleucus, one of Alexander the Great's generals. The city's geographical, military, and economic location benefited its occupants, particularly such features as the spice trade, the Silk Road, and the Persian Royal Road. It eventually rivalled Alexandria as the chief city of the Near East. This type of city would have been very familiar to Paul as he grew up in a similar city called Tarsus which was also very Hellenistic, but also very Jewish. It was from here Paul and Barnabas set out on the first real missionary expedition of the church and ushered in a new phase of work for the church.

Paul and Barnabas leave Antioch


After sailing from Seleucia, the port of Antioch they arrived in Cyprus and headed to the largest city on the island, Salamis. Cyprus was where Barnabas was from as before the Roman's took over in 1st century BC large numbers of Jews had migrated there. More had migrated there when copper mines opened there during Herod's reign.

There were several synagogues in Salamis which Paul and Barnabas went to seek and audience for the gospel in. They had John Mark, Barnabas' cousin who had come with them, assist them. There has been speculation to who this was as he possibly has eye-witness knowledge of certain parts of the gospel.


Paul and Barnabas then went to Cyprus' capital, Paphos where they aroused the curiosity of the Roman proconsul Sergius Paulus and he summed them to preach for him.

Here at the court they meet Bar-Jesus (Elymas), a Jewish false prophet and magician, who was concerned that if the proconsul was too distracted with Christianity he would have no time for his magic so he tried to dissuade the proconsul from believing.

Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, denounces Bar-Jesus and calls down judgement from God for attempting to prejudice the proconsul against the Gospel and Bar-Jesus is temporarily blinded.

Paul meeting with Sergius Paulus

Pisidian Antioch

After the missionary tour of Cyprus was complete they sailed to Asia Minor, landing at Perga in Pamphylia though there is no mention of evangelical work there and so travel inland to Pisidian Antioch where John Mark leaves them.

On arrival Paul went to the synagogue, as was procedure. Paul went to preach after there was prayers and lessons from the Torah. The response to the gospel here was favourable, his words had aroused interests and many wanted to learn more and so they were invited back for the next Sabbath where a large, mainly Gentile, crowd showed up. This annoyed the Jews to see so many Gentiles in their synagogue and though many Jews acted favourable to the message they could not accept that salvation would be offered to Gentiles as well as Jews and so now the majority of Jews acted with hostility towards Paul and Barnabas.

Paul now argues that tough the gift was brought to the Jews first, if they deny it it will be passed on to those who appreciate it. This fierce rejection by the Jews marks a turning point in Acts as from now on Paul focuses more on preaching to the Gentiles, though never forgetting the Jews right to have the gospel first.

The Jewish leaders acted hostile to them as well as they were 'stealing' their Gentile converts. They are unable to stop the gentiles believing but they can throw Paul and Barnabas out of the city by prejudicing leaders against them, and so turning their backs on the Jews they decided it wise to move on for a while at least.


Here Paul used the same method as he did in Pisidian Antioch and it brought about the same results. Some Jews and many Gentiles were converted and there was major opposition and despite Paul's gesture in disowning Jews at Pisidian Antioch he still went to the synagogue.

They performed 'signs and wonders', confirming the truth of the message. This made the people more and more divided until one turned into a mob and started to stone them. The hostility from the gentiles led them to stay a long time in Iconium, in contrast with they way the acted in Pisidian Antioch. They, however, managed to escape. They left behind a number of converts in Iconium and a number of Christian inscriptions have been found.

The stoning of Paul and Barnabas


Lystra was a Roman colony, settlements of Roman soldiers on a military road. The colonies were designed to keep the enemies of the Roman Empire in check, making the Roman occupation more effective.

Paul does not go to a synagogue, maybe there wasn't one one large enough to warrant one. Which preaching he noticed a lame man listening. The man had faith and Paul healed him, paralleling this with the healing at great beautiful. The crowd, speaking Lycaomian, a language Paul and Barnabas did not understand, called them Gods, deciding Barnabas was Zeus and Paul was Hermes.

The word of the miracle spread to one of the priests as the city shrines and a sacrifice and procession was prepared. It is only at this point Paul and Barnabas realise what was going on and tried to persuade the priest the error of his ways. They tear their garments, a Jewish reaction to experiencing blasphemy. When Paul addresses the crowd, the first completely non-Jewish audience. The talk is more simplistic and does not lean on knowledge of Jewish Culture as here there was a polytheistic, society which were not Jewish.

Jews from Psisdian Antioch and and Iconium were able to sway the mood of the crowd in Derbe as they may have had contact with Derbe. The mood of the crowd turned from adulation to hostility. An attempt was made to stone them.


We are very briefly told that their mission in Derbe was a success. After Derbe Paul and Barnabas re-trace their steps back through Lystra, Iconium and Pisidian Antioch - all places hostile towards them, all to strengthen the churches there, though there was presumably hostility to them coming back. Paul appointed elders in the church to lead them.


Upon returning to Antioch Paul and Barabas produced reports to the churches they had set up. The officials in Antioch were interested to hearing the mission to the Gentiles and welcomed the successes of Paul and Barnabas, welcoming the Gentiles into the church community.


Created with images by LoggaWiggler - "citadel hill amman jordan"

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