THE STORY OF THE EARLY CHURCH
Verses about the Apostles' "TRAVELS and ACTS"
back to J B Phillips HomePage
Map - Pauls First Missionary Journey, with Barnabas to Cyprus and Asia Minor c AD46-48
Key: 1. Paul's First Journey as
recorded in the Acts of the Apostles. Also in text in [red square brackets]
Only stages 1 -15 are covered here in Paul's First Missionary Journey. Stages 16-19 cover the later journey to the Council at Jerusalem
to Contents List
4.1 BARNABAS & PAUL REACH CYPRUS; THE ROMAN PROCONSUL IS CONVERTED
Acts 13:4-12 - So these two (Barnabas and Paul), sent at the Holy Spirit's command, went down (from Syrian Antioch ) to Seleucia  and from there sailed off to Cyprus. On their arrival at Salamis  they began to proclaim God's message in the Jewish synagogues, having John (Mark) as their assistant. As they made their way through the island as far as Paphos  they came across a man named Bar-Jesus, a Jew who was both a false prophet and a magician. This man was attached to Sergius Paulus, the proconsul (or Roman governor of the island province of Cyprus), who was himself a man of intelligence. He (Sergius Paulus) sent for Barnabas and Saul as he was anxious to hear God's message. But Elymas the magician (for that -"magician" - is the translation of his name), opposed them doing his best to dissuade the proconsul from accepting the faith. Then Saul (who is also called Paul - for the first time in the New Testament), filled with the Holy Spirit, eyed him closely and said, "You son of the devil, you enemy of all true goodness, you monster of trickery and evil, is it not time you gave up trying to pervert the truth of the Lord? Now listen, the Lord himself will touch you, for some time you will not see the light of the sun - you will be blind!"
Immediately a mist and then utter blackness came over his eyes, and he went round trying to find someone to lead him by the hand. When the proconsul (Sergius Paulus) saw what had happened he believed, for he was shaken to the core at the Lord's teaching.
to Contents List
4.2 THEY CROSS TO ASIA MINOR AND ENTER GALATIA; IN PISIDIAN ANTIOCH THE JEWS REJECT, THE GENTILES ACCEPT THE GOSPEL
Acts 13:13-15 - Then Paul and his companions set sail from Paphos and went to Perga  in Pamphylia. There John (Mark) left them and turned back to Jerusalem (an action which later led to a split between Barnabas and Paul), but they continued their journey through Perga to the Antioch in Pisidia . They went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day and took their seats. After the reading of the Law and Prophets, the leaders of the synagogue sent to them with a message, "Men and brothers, if you have any message of encouragement for the people, by all means speak."
- Luke now records in Acts 13:16-41 (Part 35.1) the only complete sermon of Paul out of the many hundreds, or even thousands he must have given in his thirty year ministry. Paul outlines the history of Israel leading to the coming of Jesus who as prophesied, was put to death by the people he came to save, but raised again from the dead.
Paul succeeds in arousing deep interest -
Acts 13:42-50 - As they were going out (from the synagogue in Pisidian Antioch) the people kept on asking them to say all this again on the following Sabbath. After the meeting of the synagogue broke up many of the Jews and devout proselytes (Gentile converts to Judaism) followed Paul and Barnabas (the first time Paul's name is placed before Barnabas') who spoke personally to them and urged them to put their trust in the grace of God.
- but a week later he meets bitter opposition
On the next Sabbath almost the entire population of the city assembled to hear the message of God, but when the Jews saw the crowds they were filled with jealousy and contradicted what Paul was saying, covering him with abuse........
After being rejected by the Jews, Paul uses scripture (Acts 13:46-47 following, repeated in Part 35.2) to show that the Gospel of Jesus Christ must be taken to the Gentiles:
(Verse 46 starts ...) At this Paul and Barnabas did not mince their word but said, "We felt it our duty to speak the message of God to you first, but since you spurn it and evidently do not think yourselves fit for eternal life, watch us now as we turn to the Gentiles! Indeed the Lord has commanded us to do so with the words:
'I have set you to be a light to the Gentiles, that you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth.' (Isaiah 49:6)"
(Verse 48 continues ...) When the Gentiles heard this they were delighted and thanked God for his message. All those who were destined for eternal life believed, and the Word of the Lord spread over the whole country. But the Jews worked upon the feelings of religious and respectable women and some of the leading citizens, and succeeded in starting a persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from the district.
to Contents List
4.3 THEY GO ON TO ICONIUM. EJECTED FROM ICONIUM, THEY HEAL IN LYSTRA AND ARE TAKEN FOR "GODS"; THEY PREACH AT DERBE
Acts 13:51-14:21a - But they on their part simply shook off the dust from their feet in protest and went on to Iconium . And the disciples continued to be full of joy and the Holy Spirit.
Jewish behaviour repeats itself
(Chapter 14 ......) Much the same thing happened at Iconium. On their arrival they went to the Jewish synagogue and spoke with such conviction that a very large number of both Jews and Greeks believed. But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the feelings of the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers. So they remained there for a long time and spoke fearlessly for the Lord, who made it plain that they were proclaiming the Word of his grace, by allowing them to perform signs and miracles. But the great mass of the people of the city were divided in their opinions, some taking the side of the Jews, and some that of the apostles. But when a hostile movement arose from both Gentiles and Jews in collaboration with the authorities to insult and stone them, they got to know about it, fled to the Lycaonian cities of Lystra  and Derbe , and the surrounding countryside - and from there they continued to proclaim the Gospel.
A miracle in a completely pagan city
Now it happened one day at Lystra that a man was sitting who had no power in his feet. He had in fact been lame from birth and had never been able to walk. He was listening to Paul as he spoke, and Paul, looking him straight in the eye and seeing that he had the faith to be made well, said in a loud voice, "Stand straight up on your feet!"
And he sprang to his feet and walked. When the crowd saw what Paul had done they shouted in the Lycaonian language, "The gods have come down to us in human form!"
They began to call Barnabas Jupiter (the principal god of the Romans, known to the Greeks as Zeus), and Paul Mercury (the Roman messenger of the gods, or the Greek Hermes), since he was the chief speaker. What is more, the high priest of Jupiter whose temple was at the gateway of the city, brought garlanded oxen to the gates and wanted to offer sacrifice with the people. But when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul (the first time disciples other than the original twelve plus Matthias are called apostles), heard of their intention they tore their clothes and rushed into the crowd, crying at the top of their voices, "Men, men, why are you doing these things? We are only human beings with feelings just like yours! .....
- Paul and Barnabas (Acts 14:15b-17 following, repeated in Part 35.3) shout to the crowd about the greatness of God -
(Verse 15b starts ...) We are here to tell you good news - that you should turn from these meaningless things to the living God! He is the one who made heaven and earth, the sea and all that is in them. In generations gone by he allowed all nations to go on in their own ways - not that he left men without evidence of himself. For he has shown kindnesses to you; he has sent you rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, giving you food and happiness to your hearts' content."
(Verse 18 continues ....) Yet even with these words, they only just succeeded in restraining the crowd from making sacrifices to them.
Paul is dogged by his Jewish enemies
Then some Jews arrived from Antioch and Iconium (probably the same people who earlier hounded Paul and Barnabas from these cities) and after turning the minds of the people against Paul they stoned him and dragged him out of the city thinking he was dead. But while the disciples were gathered in a circle round him, Paul got up and walked back to the city. And the very next day he went out with Barnabas to Derbe, and when they had preached the Gospel to that city and made many disciples,.......
to Contents List
4.4 PAUL & BARNABAS RETURN THROUGH LYSTRA, ICONIUM & ANTIOCH, AND SAIL BACK TO SYRIAN ANTIOCH
Acts 14:21b-28 - ..... they turned back to Lystra , Iconium  and Antioch . They put fresh heart into the disciples there, urging them to stand firm in the faith, and reminding them that it is "through many tribulations that we must enter into the kingdom of God." (A message similar to the opening verses of James' Letter possibly written around this time.) They appointed elders for them in each Church, and with prayer and fasting commended these men to the Lord in whom they had believed. They then crossed Pisidia and arrived in Pamphylia. They proclaimed their message in Perga  and then went down to Attalia . From there they sailed back to Antioch (in Syria)  where they had first been commended to the grace of God for the task which they had now completed. When they arrived there they called the Church together and reported to them how greatly God had worked with them and how he had opened the door of faith for the Gentiles. And here at Antioch they spent a considerable time with the disciples.
to Contents List
continuing the Apostle's "Travels and Acts", on to Part 5, Acts 15 OR back to J B Phillips HomePage
J.B.Phillips, "The New Testament in Modern English", 1962 edition, published by HarperCollins, is presented here with the kind permission of Mrs Vera Phillips and the J.B.Phillips estate
Maps by Gordon Smith can be used without further permission. Please quote http://www.ccel.org/bible/phillips/JBPhillips.htm