Unit 05 04 Paul the Missionary Part 2


The second category that I've identified in Paul's life can be entitled Paul's conversion. Now, obviously, this is not a long period of time, but it certainly was a significant event in Paul's life. It's described three different times in the book of Acts. And you might want to read those accounts more carefully. But Paul also appeals to it in his own letters. And it was an important point with him, for instance, writing to the Galatians, he's pretty animated, because you see some in Galatians, some opponents of Paul who come from Jerusalem, said, you know, the Paul only got the gospel second hand, he only got it indirectly, when he spent time with James and with Peter. And so Paul, at the very beginning of the body of Galatians, the first thing that he talks about when he gets to the heart of the letter is, he says, pretty strongly I did not receive it, namely, the Gospel from any human source, like Peter, or James or anyone else. Nor was I taught it, rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ. So it was crucial for Paul that his calling his apostleship, was grounded not in any kind of group or human activity, but it was grounded in his call from Jesus Christ Himself. And Paul appeals to it another context to for example, in First Corinthians nine, Paul is in a sense, defending his apostleship over against Peter, apparently, the Corinthians were impressed with the apostle Peter and provided shelter and food for him and his wife. And now they didn't do the same thing for Paul and Paul's argument to them as well. Haven't I seen the Lord? And this is a question asked in a certain way, which means, yes, I have, right. I'm just as privileged or entitled to that kind of respect from you, as you gave to Peter. And then in chapter 15, when Paul is defending the resurrection and the different people to whom Jesus appeared, He says, And last of all, He that is the Lord Jesus appeared to me, also. And so Paul's conversion was a big part in his life, and especially for remember the kind of mentality he had in his early life, which we talked about in our previous session, that kind of zealous, Pharisee mentality that he had, we can only begin to imagine how dramatic how earth shaking, it must have been for him to encounter Jesus and have to rethink his orientation and his allegiances and his commitment. The next category that we need to talk about is entitled early missionary activity. I want to highlight for something for you at this point, notice the years they're 33 to 47. In other words, there are a lot of years, there are some 14 years here that we generally speaking, we know very little about. We're going to get to what we wrongly call in a little bit, Paul's first missionary journey. But we're going to see already now that when Paul engaged in his first missionary journey, it really wasn't his first missionary journey. He had actually been a Christian for quite a while and had been involved in missionary activity for quite a while. And so I want to stress for you that we have this large chunk of Paul's life about which we don't know that much this 14, possibly 17, but most likely 14 year period. So this early missionary period, 14 years can be divided into about three different timeframes. The first timeframe is the three year Arabia and Damascus ministry. When Paul was converted in that dramatic encounter with Christ, then we read that he spent three years in Arabia. Now because the Bible doesn't say much about this, scholars start postulating Well, what did he do and where did he go? And sometimes a picture is painted a pall of as kind of going to Arabia in the desert and he had to have a kind of mastic experience. He had to, you know, he had to kind of rethink things. He had to reframe his way of thinking so dramatic was his conversion, and his new perspective from his former way of life. I think though, that's a bit of a romanticized and unjustified conclusion. When we read about Arabia, that's not the Arabian Peninsula, but it more accurately is the Nabatean kingdom, the NABBA, tea and kingdom.


And I don't think that Paul was engaged in some kind of monastic self reflective experience the whole time, for two reasons. One, it doesn't fit the character of Paul. Paul is always an active person who in a sense, challenges others with the gospel and thereby quickly gets into trouble. And so we don't have a picture of Paul kind of receding like a wallflower into the desert and doing nothing for us. long period of time. And what's more, the second reason I think this is because of a brief comment that Paul makes in his second letter to the Corinthians 11, verse 32, they reread that the king of Damascus, King Arretez was out to get Paul. Now a couple of important things about this brief text. First of all, Damascus, a big city is in the region of Arabia. So that would fit the explanation that I've given you that Arabia is not just wilderness wandering for Paul, but it's actually living in communities and engage in some kind of missionary activity. And because we read that the king of the city was after Paul, well, that presupposes that Paul had done something to get the Kings attention. And more than that, to get the king ticked off with him, such that he wanted him arrested. And this fits exactly what Paul does later in life, when you preach the gospel, when you preach Jesus Christ crucified, resurrected, and returning, especially, that's a challenge to the existing political authorities and structures that gets you as a preacher often in trouble. And so that suggests that this three year Arabian Damascus ministry, even though we know very little about it was probably a time when Paul was involved in some kind of missionary activity. Well, after the three years, remember this whole periods about 14 years, after the three year period, we have a brief period in which Paul travels then to Jerusalem. And we call that conversion visit, only stress that because Paul makes later visits to Jerusalem. And I don't want you to confuse those later visits with this one. It's called the conversion visit because this is the first visit to Paul, a Paul to Jerusalem after his conversion. And at first, none of the disciples wanted to meet him. It's like you meet with Paul, who I don't want to meet with. Well, you mean with Paul, you see, some of them thought it was just some massive ploy on Paul's part, to kind of pretend to be a Christian and maybe infiltrate the Christian groups. And maybe this fear is indeed justified if we know the kind of zealousness that Paul had in his pre Christian, you know, period, how aggressively he opposed the church. But then we read about Barnabas, and I stress that because that explains why Barnabas connects with Paul later in life. Barnabas is the guy who brings Paul to the disciples. And they find out that Paul's conversion was a genuine one. But Paul's presence again, creates controversy. And things get a little too sensitive for the Christian church with Paul around. And so the apostle say, Paul, you know, it would be better for us, you know, if you would maybe leave town, things are a little too tense and hot for us because of your presence. And notice where they send him. You're not surprised if you've been following this series on Paul's the missionary, they send him to Tarsus, well, that makes sense. They send him to his home town. So where is Paul now? Well, he's in Tarsus in the province of silicea. And he's there for about 10 years, right, a long period of Paul's life about which we know virtually nothing. I mean, he does say in Galatians, I went to Syria and Cilicia. So he does acknowledge where he went, which confirms the testimony of x. And though we don't read anything about this, we can only imagine that Paul does what he cannot help but do namely, preach the gospel. That's what he writes later to the Corinthians, Woe to me unless I preach the gospel. So we imagine that Paul was involved in some kind of ministry, in his hometown, and maybe in the larger region of Cilicia.


Now, during this 10 year period, okay, then toward the end, something happens, namely, Barnabas comes into the picture. Now Barnabas is the guy who introduced Paul to the apostles and Paul's conversion visit. So he's one of the leading Christians working with the Apostles in Jerusalem. But the church in Antioch in Syria to the North was growing, partly because Christians had to flee some persecution, and partly because of the missionary activity in which they were engaged. And so the Christians in Antioch and the Nora said, you know, we're in trouble over here. And so they asked the apostles and leaders in Jerusalem to send for send some help. And so Barnabas was sent from Jerusalem, up to Antioch to minister there. So Barnabas is ministering in Antioch in the north, and he himself is busy and he suddenly remembers Paul, he suddenly remembers this very gifted fellow, right, who is now also a convert of the gospel, who's not so far away and Tarsus. And so we read about in x 11. Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he had found him brought him to Antioch so for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with a church and great numbers of people. So hopefully in your mind, Paul is in the city of Antioch. And he's working as a helper to Barnabas. And this then brings that 14 year period that we know very little about a 14 year period, which you probably haven't even thought of before, unless you've carefully read the scriptures or maybe examine Paul's life. But we call that the early missionary activity. Well, we move to the next period. And we can one more thing sorry, in the early missionary period, and that is the famine relief visit to Jerusalem. So while Paul was in the north in Antioch, working with Barnabas word came that there was a famine in the area of Jerusalem and Palestine. And so the church in the north and Antioch decided to have a offering for the needy Christians down there. And I just want to make sure you don't confuse this relief gift. And this trip was something that Paul did later in his life. Later on in Paul's life, we'll talk about the kind of duck collection, where Paul hit upon a number of his Gentile churches for a gift to needy Christians in the Jerusalem and Palestine area. But this is now a specific offering from the Church of Antioch and someone had to deliver it, and the people who deliver it were Barnabas, and Paul. So this would then be Paul's second or next visit to Jerusalem, not his conversion visit, we call this the famine relief visit. Well, now we move to the next category, which is traditionally called first missionary journey. And I hope you realize how inappropriately this obviously is in terms of a title because Paul has been a missionary and engaged in outreach activity for a number of years. But in any case, the church identifies Barnabas and Paul to be sent out and to engage in an evangelistic journey. And they're joined by a third person, John Mark. And after they are commissioned, they sail over to the island of Cyprus. Now, this makes sense because Barnabas is from Cyprus. And so naturally, Barnabas would go to a place where he has some local connections, where he has some family and some other familiar faces, where he can network and maybe enhance his ministry. And so we don't have time in this presentation to look at all the details of each missionary journey. I want to encourage you to read carefully through the biblical text, and flesh out the greater details that are found in all of these journeys so that this becomes more familiar to you. But they leave Cyprus and they convert actually, probably the most important convert of Paul's entire life, the pro Council, the governor of Cyprus, and of the region of Galicia, and they sail from Cyprus North landing just outside of PR gate. And then something important happens it's not a happy event.


John Mark bails on them John Mark, for whatever reason, we don't know why maybe he was nervous, maybe he was scared, maybe it was homesick, but for whatever reason, he leaves the group. And it's just bow just the two of them Barnabas and Paul, and they travel inland to Antioch and tie conium and dirt obey and Lystra and all kinds of amazing things happen to them, be sure you read the biblical texts and learn more about all of these events. They backtrack the same way they came leaving behind elders and all of these places, so that these fledgling churches would have some leadership and could flourish and grow. And the two of them returned to Antioch, the place where they started the end of the so called first missionary journey. Now, the next big event in Paul's life is yet another trip to Jerusalem, not the conversion visit, not the famine visit, but the Jerusalem Council visit. And the reason it was necessary is that some Christians from Jerusalem some Jewish believers went north to Antioch and said, you know, to really be a Christian, you have to be circumcised, you can't be saved unless you are circumcised. And so the church in the north and Antioch were perplexed by this claim. They were not happy with it. And so they said, well, let's send some representatives to the apostles, the leaders in Jerusalem to discuss this matter. And so they picked again because they must have been leaders Paul and Barnabas. And Paul and Barnabas traveled to Jerusalem where the Jerusalem Council is held. And the decision I think is known to you the Jerusalem Council decided that Gentile Christians don't have to be circumcised Sighs but but just because I'm thinking now as a Jewish Christian leader in Jerusalem, just because we've given in on the circumcision issue, we don't want our Gentile brothers and sisters to think that anything goes and we know how Gentile Christians are, we're worried about certain practices, certain sins they might be tempted to. And so we're going to write them a letter, and we're not going to send it with Paul and Barnabas, we're going to send it with two of our own people to make sure that it's delivered and read and interpreted in the right letter and the right way. And so this letter goes out, it's often referred to as the apostolic decree, right, it, it records the decree the decision of the apostles on the issue of circumcision, but it also spells out some other things that they were concerned about. So Paul has the visit. It's a successful visit, they come back with the report. And then later on, of course, the church in Antioch and other places would have gotten this apostolic decree this letter delivered by two other people representing then the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem. So that leads them to the next historical event, the second missionary journey, which again is a bit artificial, but the name has been around for so long it we're kind of stuck with it. And so Paul and Barnabas said to themselves, well, let's go back and revisit the churches, we started last time to see how they're doing and to encourage them. And they agreed on that, but then they disagreed on something else. They disagreed whether to take John Mark with them again. Barnabas said yay, and Paul said Nay, and it's a bit sad to hear that the


disagreement was so sharp, so strong that they had to part ways. Now part of the explanation for Barnabas willingness to take John Mark is, is that Barnabas and John Mark were cousins. So there was a family connection. So that may be one reason why Barnabas was willing to give John Mark a second chance. And, and we don't know why. But Paul must have had some pretty strong compelling reasons not to take him. Maybe Paul was worried about what kind of impact John Mark would have on their ministry. But this sad event ultimately has a happy outcome, which I have to tell you already. Now. Because later in Paul's life, we can tell from his letters that Paul is involved in ministry, both again with Barnabas, and also with John Mark. And so it's good to see how ultimately Grace triumphs over sin and that Paul, who is, after all, an apostle who preaches a message of reconciliation demonstrates that also in his relationship with these Christian leaders. Well, the two of them split and so Barnabas now with John Mark goes to Cypress, right the place where they were last time to revisit the churches. They had found it. And so Paul is going to go somewhere else. Paul goes by land and he goes first to the places in Asia Minor, where he and Barnabas established churches on the first missionary journey. The Paul needs a partner. And so who's this partner? Well, maybe not surprisingly, it's silence. Remember, Silas is in the area because he was selected by the Jerusalem leaders to deliver that apostolic decree. And so now Paul and Silas take out and they revisit the churches of Lystra and Derbe Bay and I conium. And during that way, they picked up an additional person, an important person in Paul's life, one who became his spiritual son, his name is Timothy. And so we have the three missionaries who keep traveling and they hit to troll as and again, I I can't have time to go through all these details. I want to encourage you to read the acts accountant to flesh out all of these important stories to a greater degree. But intro as Paul has the vision of the Macedonian man, they're picked up by a fourth person Luke, because x shifts from the third person they did these things to suddenly the first person we did these things, and they sail that is now the four of them Paul, Silas, John Mark and Luke to Philippi. Then those famous events and Philippi happen, and then Luke is left behind it goes back to the third person and they go down the road through and fipple s and Apollonia to Thessaloniki and important church mission. They're run out of town to Berea. Paul goes by himself to Athens joined later by by Timothy and by Silas. Paul sends them back. Paul goes on to Corinth. He's in Corinth for a year and a half one of his longer stays. And then finally Paul sails across the Aegean to Ephesus, they want him to stay Paul says no, I've got to keep going. And he ultimately goes down to Jerusalem to visit the Christians there, and then finally ends up back where we started in Antioch of Syria. Thus the end of the so called second missionary journey.


Then the third missionary journey. And so Paul starts off yet again and goes through. The region that we typically identify with as Glacia obviously encourages those churches that he founded in beforehand. And this time, seeing the second journey, the spirit didn't allow Paul to head straight to Ephesus. Paul does go there. And Ephesus is a very important center, by far the most important city in anywhere in this region. And Paul is there for two years and three months. And x says the whole area, the whole region heard the gospel as a result of his ministry. But during this time, other things happen, even some things that x don't tell us about. For instance, during this two years and three months, Paul makes an emergency visit to quorums. X doesn't mention it, but it's described in Paul's letters to the Galatians. Paul has an emergency visit sales across the Aegean to Corinth, and then comes back again because of some difficulties over there. But also during this time, I think it's important for you to realize that Paul starts his collection, Paul's collection. And so this is different from the famine relief that the Antiochian church gave earlier in Paul's life. Now this is now Paul toward the end of his life, trying to urge all of his different Gentile congregations to contribute to this collection. And I think Paul wants this collection to be a powerful sign not only of the effectiveness of His ministry, but a way of bridging the Gentile and Jewish communities, how the Gentile communities can be a blessing then to the Jewish Christian community. And so Paul is traveling on the third missionary journey and he revisits churches in Macedonia, like in Philippi, and in Thessaloniki, maybe an abalone and a fipple. S and other places in the area. And Paul finally makes his way to Corinth. And Paul is in Corinth, now for on the third missionary journey for a short time actually, for Do I have a slide here? No, I don't for that for about three months. And during the three months stay because he's waiting for the winter season to change. It's dangerous to sail on the Mediterranean even today, with modern ships during those winter months. He's ready to sail to the east back on the end of the third missionary journey, where there's a plot against his life. So Paul's got all this cash with him. He's collecting all these offerings from different churches. And he's got a lot of people with him, because churches have given not only money, but representatives. So Paul's got a large entourage. And so because of a plot against Paul's life, the group splits Paul backtracks. As you can see on the map, he retraces by land, a good chunk of the group sale and they meet over by tro as and they continue on the rest of the third missionary journey together. And so Paul ultimately goes to Jerusalem yet again, it will be ultimately his fifth visit. And this time he's got all of this money which he gives to the needy Christians in that area. Now, on this end, part of the third missionary journey, Paul does something he goes to the temple. This is what we talked about earlier. And the Jews who are not Christians think they see this Gentile with Paul, his name is Trophimus from Ephesus. They wrongly think that Paul has brought him into the inner part of the temple, which is a big prohibition and one which the Romans allowed the Jewish to Kunduz to control as part of their own individual Jewish laws. And so a crowd descended on Paul and surely would have done in physical harm. And that's when he is arrested by that Roman commander who asked him about his citizenship. And all of that then leads to the next event in Paul's life. Right which is the Sesar Rhian imprisonment, necessery and imprisonment.


Paul was in prison in the governor's home on the edge of the Mediterranean Sea for two years. He started off under the governor Felix and during the time he appeared to him and remember that Paul because of his Roman citizenship, he's not really in prison. He's more under house arrest. He has some freedom to carry on his ministry to receive people and to send emissaries to various places. Well, Felix, two year term comes to an end and Festus is the new governor. And so Paul's case kind of comes up again. And during that time, Paul is shifted off to the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem. This is what Paul doesn't want to be be handled by them because they had authority over this religious matter which, if he were found guilty would result in his death. And that's when Paul pulled out his Pharisee card, and he thereby split the Sanhedrin who were divided between Pharisees and Sadducees. And Paul went back under Festus control And during that time, then Paul also appealed to Caesar, which as a Roman citizen, he had a right to do. And Caesar during this time was Nero, Paul's cesarean two year house arrest cesarean imprisonment. So after Paul's cesarean house arrest imprisonment, and because he appealed to Caesar, which he could do as a Roman citizen, he began then this journey to Rome. And it was not an easy journey, as you know, because the captain didn't listen to his advice. And as a result got caught up in a storm, and we have the boat crash, and Paul lands on the shore of Malta. But his life and the life of everyone on the ship is saved. And then Paul has to pick another ship because there are lots of ships plying the Mediterranean Sea. And these are other ships who are laying low during the three months of the winter season. And so Paul is able to pick up another ship, which takes him the last part of his journey, and Paul finally arrives in Rome. But then he has to wait yet another two years, because the next category for us to think about is his Roman imprisonment. And again, we need to remember as a Roman citizen and acts specifically says that he wasn't in prison, he was more in house arrest, Acts 28, verse 30, right. It says, For two whole years, Paul stayed in his own rented house, and welcomed all who came to see him, he proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness. And without hindrance. This is important for x because this is where x kind of reaches a climax. X is not a biography of Paul, I have to say that again, because sometimes we don't get that right. X is not a biography of Paul Paul doesn't even make his appearance until well into several chapters. X is rather a story about the spread of the gospel, how Jesus says at the beginning, you will be my witnesses to Jerusalem and to Samaria, and to Judea, and to the ends of the earth. And by the end of x, that's exactly what happens. The gospel is in the capital of the Roman Empire. And Paul is boldly and without hindrance, proclaiming the good news of the gospel, Paul's two year at least Roman imprisonment. Now, we've got some other categories to add. But notice, I had to put a question mark after this, because, frankly, we can't be 100% Sure about this next category, namely Paul's fourth missionary journey. Yet there are some strong suggestions both in the Bible and outside the Bible that what happened, that Paul had his case before the Emperor, and that Paul was as what often happened to people who were Roman citizens, and who got into some trouble, he was banished somewhere. This is very common to take a leading person or somebody, especially in a privileged position with Roman citizenship, and you would punish them by sending them to some remote place and say, go there and stay out of trouble. And it seems likely that that's probably what happened to Paul, namely, that he was first released. And then he didn't do what he was supposed to do, at least from the Roman point of view. He did what he was supposed to do from the Divine point of view. Remember, First Corinthians nine, Paul says, Woe to me unless I preach. And so Paul is released. But he again engages in the preaching of the Gospel, which then again, gets him into trouble, which leads them to be arrested, and then it would have been found out again that he had been charged before and didn't do what he had been told and then would get a stronger penalty. But what are some clues? What are some strong suggestions that Paul was released and that he didn't engage in yet a another missionary journey? Well, we


have clues from the letters of Paul himself, especially the pastoral letters, the pastor letters are First and Second Timothy and Titus. And there are some events that Paul refers to in them that don't really fit anywhere else in Paul's life. And the only way they could have happened is if they could have happened later in Paul's life when he was apparently released and engaged in some further ministry. So for example, when Paul writes to Titus, the reason I left you in Crete was that you might put an order what was left unfinished, appoint elders in every town as I directed to you? Well, when was Paul originally in Crete, and then carried on this ministry? It's possible it happened somewhere earlier in Paul's life, and the Bible just doesn't record it. But maybe a better alternative is it happened after Paul's first arrest his banishment, and then he resumed his evangelistic activity. We have certainly the desire of Paul to go to other places beyond that, which has found an X. In the end of Romans Paul says, I plan on doing so namely visiting new Christians in Rome When I go to Spain, I hope to see you right in Rome while passing through and to have you assist me on my journey there, namely to Spain. So after I have finished this task, this task is bringing at the end of the third missionary journey that that collection that that relief a to Judea right after I finished doing that he writes to the Romans to make sure that you and they have received this fruit, I will go to Spain, and visit you on the way. So Paul's desire was to go further west to places like Spain. And it looks like he had an opportunity to carry that out after his first arrest and then later release. Clement of Rome says exactly that, in his letter. This is not a biblical letter, but one written shortly after the New Testament. He writes, after Paul had been seven times in chains, and had been driven into exile and had been stone and it preached in the East and in the West, he won the genuine glory for his faith, having taught righteousness to the whole world, and having reached the farthest limits of the West. So Clement has clearly an idea that Paul did get to other regions further west and the proclamation of the gospel. The mirror Taurean canon is a collection of biblical books. And there it has a brief reference, which is also suggestive. It talks about the departure of Paul from Rome, when he journey to Spain. And you see, this was not only a bishop accessory, but he records a lot of early church history. And he says this is exactly what happened to Paul, he says, after pleading his case, that is Paul's case before the Roman emperor, Paul is said to have been sent again upon the ministry of preaching, and after a second visit to the city of Rome, that he finished his life with martyrdom. So we do have a question mark after fourth missionary journey. But there are a number of strong clues both in the Bible and outside the Bible, that this is indeed what happened.


Well, the last event is a sad one, but an important one too, and that is Paul's death. And the early tradition always dates, Paul's martyrdom of both Paul and Peter to the rain and the persecutions of the Emperor Nero. However, there was a difference in the way that they died. Peter was not a Roman citizen, and Paul was. And so because he was a Roman citizen, the testimony is quite clear, and it's consistent with his Roman citizenship, mainly the Paul was beheaded. He was beheaded on the osteon way, a major Roman highway, just outside the city gates, you never killed somebody inside the city or rarely. So right? You always did it outside the city, because that's where the graveyards, that's where the body would be deposited. And in fact, there's a church still today, it's called St. Paul outside the walls church, because this is the place in Paul's day that was just outside the city walls of Rome, the place where Paul was martyred, and where his body was buried. And so it's quite clear that Paul was not killed, like Peter was, you know, crucified or upside down, nor was Paul killed. You know, in the games, like many Christians were but he was killed, you might not think of it as a very nice way but compared to crucifixion, or to being thrown to the beast, beheading is at least a much more humane way to die. This is the inside of the St. Paul outside the church walls church, where the grave of Paul is supposedly located, actually, some excavation has shown here a number I mean, there's this is an area where graves are located. And a number of these graves date to the first century, the time of the Apostle Paul. And so, Paul, here's a an image from the 1500s. Paul, most likely as a Roman citizen, was killed by beheading. And Paul commands, the Colossians. Remember, he wrote Colossians, when he was in Rome, under house arrest, he says to them, remember my chains. In other words, remember that I am suffering on behalf of the gospel. And in a similar way, we should think about Paul in his life, and especially his death, we could hear him say almost to us remember my decapitation. It's not a happy thing to hear. But it's a important challenge whether we to not only hear the gospel, but are willing to proclaim the gospel, even in places where we might get pushback even where our life might be threatened. Well, dear friend, we come to the end of our study of Paul the missionary, I hope that Paul is no longer just a name for you. Or if you had maybe a stereotype view of Paul in a certain way that maybe wasn't flattering or helpful. that, that has been corrected by this study. Paul was an important figure in the New Testament church. God use this important figure in in great ways to proclaim the good news and to spread the growth of the church. And so may or our understanding of Paul, the man Paul the missionary, help us to be better readers and interpreters of his letters, so that we can better understand again what God was saying, not only to the people then in there, but what God is also saying to us here and now

Last modified: Thursday, December 9, 2021, 1:17 PM