Missionary Journeys of Apostle Paul

Apostle Paul is an amazing person who influenced Christianity more than anyone else, after Jesus Christ. He taught the gospel of Jesus Christ to the 1 Century world. Approximately half of the book of Acts deals with Paul's life and works. But he was not one of the 12 apostles.

The New Testament outlines at least fifty cities visited during his major missionary journeys. From the mid-30s to the mid-50s AD he founded several Christian communities in Asia Minor and Europe.



Presenting a full biography of the Apostle Paul is not the intention of this study. Here we are trying to arrange chronically Paul’s missionary journeys and important events occurred during it.

Paul’s life was so eventful that we cannot discuss his whole life in a single video.

Still it will be helpful to understand a brief life sketch of the apostle before his conversion.


The main source of information about Paul's life is the material found in his epistles and in the Book of Acts. However, the epistles contain little information about Paul's pre-conversion past. The book of Acts does not contain all events in his life, such as his probable but undocumented execution in Rome. 

There are some sources outside the New Testament that mention Paul and his life. They include:


·         Clement of Rome's epistle to the Corinthians, written in late 1st or early 2nd century.

·         Ignatius of Antioch's letters To the Romans and to the Ephesians, written during the early 2nd century

·         Polycarp's letter to the Philippians, written in early 2nd century.


Early life

Paul was likely born between 5 BC and 5 AD. His birth name of was actually Saul. He was born in a Jewish family in the city of Tarsus, one of the largest trade centers on the Mediterranean coast. Tarsus was a Roman "free city" and thus Paul became a Roman citizen by birthTarsus now situates on the southeastern coast of modern Turkey.

Some of his family members resided in Jerusalem. Paul's sister's son is mentioned in Acts 23:16. But his name or other details are not recorded. In Romans 16:7 Paul says, “Greet Andronicus and Junia, my countrymen and my fellow prisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.” (NKJV). In KJV they are called, “my kinsmen” or relatives.

Some scholars has the opinion that Paul was a member of the family of Herod the Great.


Acts 23:6 quotes Paul referring to his family as "a Pharisee, born of Pharisees".

In Philippians 3:5, Paul says about himself as "of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee". As a young man he went to Jerusalem to receive his education at the school of Gamaliel, one of the noted rabbis during the time.

Paul could speak Hebrew. But Koine Greek or Biblical Greek was his first language. In his letters, Paul used Stoic philosophy and Stoic terms and metaphors to explain the Gospel to his new gentile converts.

Nothing more is known of his biography until he takes an active part in the martyrdom of Stephen. Stephen was a Jew who migrated to some Greek province and later came back to Jerusalem. He was converted to Christianity and hence was martyred. [Acts 7:58; 22:20

Paul was thirty years old when Stephen was stoned to death.


Paul’s conversion


Paul's conversion can be dated to 31-36 AD. The story of his conversion is narrated only in Acts, not in any of the Pauline epistles. He was a zealous Pharisee and so he decided to stop the spread of Christianity at all cost. So after the death of Stephen, he led the first wave of persecution against the early churchHis first target was the Jews who migrated to some province of Greek and later returned to Jerusalem, who then converted to Christianity.

Paul says about the persecution he had unleashed on Christians in Galatians 1: 13, 14: “For you have heard of my former conduct in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it. And I advanced in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries in my own nation, being more exceedingly zealous for the traditions of my fathers.” (NKJV)


Paul decided to spread the persecution from Jerusalem to Damascus to save the synagogues there from Christian influence. He received written permission from the Temple's High Priest to rid the city's synagogues of any who believe in "the way." His intention is to arrest those who believe that Jesus is the Messiah and bring them to Jerusalem for punishment.

On the way, at the gate of Damascus, the ascended Jesus appeared to him. Jesus spoke to him from the midst of a blinding light. “Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?" (Acts 9:4 - NKJV) Paul became blind and his traveling companions help him to the city. He spent the next three days at the house of Judas in Damascus without sight, food or water. After three days a Christian called Ananias of Damascus prayed for him and his sight was restored. These events lead to his repentance and receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit.


Acts 9:20 says that after this incident, “Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God.” (NKJV). That means Paul’s fist witnessing Christ was in a Jewish synagogue. 


Through Ananias, God revealed Paul's threefold commission for his ministry. (Acts 9:15). They are:


1.   Preach the gospel to the Gentiles

2.   Preach the gospel to kings and rulers

3.   Preach the gospel to the children of Israel.


God also revealed that we would have to bear trials, troubles and tribulations as he was a chosen vessel to fulfill God’s will (Acts 9:16).


His threefold commission was fulfilled by his journeys to Asia Minor, Macedonia and Greece, which laid the foundation of the New Testament church among the Gentiles. During this time Paul also preached Christ to the Jews living in these Gentile regions. At the end of his third missionary journey, he witnessed to the Jews at Jerusalem, to Governors Felix and Festus, and to King Agrippa. He also witnessed before Caesar at Rome and thus fulfilled every part of the commission that Christ had given him.


Early ministry

Paul says in Galatians 1:17 that, after his conversion, he went first to Arabia, before meeting the disciples in Jerusalem and then came back to Damascus.

Paul's trip to Arabia is not mentioned anywhere else in the Bible. Some scholars believed that he actually traveled to Mount Sinai for meditations in the desert.

After three years of his conversion he went to Jerusalem. There he met James and stayed with Peter for 15 days. (Galatians 1:18, 19

That is why, Paul claims that he received the Gospel not from man, but by "the revelation of Jesus Christ". [Galatians 1:11–16]. Thus he was independent from the Jerusalem community, but agreed with it on the nature and content of the gospel. [Galatians 1:22–24].


Paul’s Missionary Journeys


Paul's missionary work centered on the lands near the Aegean Sea. Cities in this region he visited include Miletus, Ephesus, Neapolis, Philippi, Berea, Thessalonica, Athens and Corinth.

The New Testament records Paul taking three missionary journeys that spread the message of Christ to Asia Minor and Europe, covering Cyprus, Syria, Asia Minor, Macedonia, and Greece. Each missionary journey took many years.

The book of Acts narrates the first three of Paul’s missionary journeys and his first set of trials and ends with his first imprisonment in Rome. Some scholars are of the opinion that Paul made a fourth missionary journey to Spain. They say that he was released free from the first imprisonment in Rome. Then he embarked on another missionary trip. In 2 Timothy 4:16, Paul, writing from prison, refers to his “first” trial, and verse 17 indicates that it ended favorably.


First missionary journey


As I said before, our intention is to present a chronological brief narration of Paul’s missionary journeys. His first missionary journey is narrated in Acts 13 to 14. It occurred during AD 47 and 48.


Paul returned from Jerusalem to his home town, Tarsus. (Acts 9:26–30). The persecution against the early believers in Jerusalem became intense. So some of them fled to Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Syrian Antioch. (Acts 11:19–30). But they took the gospel with them to the places they went. Thus the church grew rapidly in all these places. So the leaders in Jerusalem sent Barnabas to Antioch in Syria to verify what was happening. Barnabas confirmed that the gospel was spreading and that the church in Syrian Antioch was indeed a work of God (Acts 11:23).

Barnabas then went to Tarsus to meet Paul, whom he had earlier mentored in Jerusalem. Paul returned to Antioch with Barnabas to provide leadership for the church at Antioch. They stayed there for a year. And the believers in Christ were called Christians first in Antioch. (11:26)


While the church in Antioch was worshiping and fasting, the Holy Spirit called Paul and Barnabas to a special work in spreading the gospel (Acts 13:2). After more fasting and prayer, the church laid their hands on Paul and Barnabas and sent them off with John Mark (13:3). Thus began the first missionary journey (13:4). The missionary journey was led initially by Barnabas. They went from Antioch to Cyprus then into southern Asia Minor (Anatolia), and finally returned to Antioch. At first, their method of evangelism was to preach in the town synagogues.


Paul, Barnabas, and John Mark walked to Seleucia on the coast, then sailed southwest to Salamis, the principle city and seaport of the island of Cyprus. Cyprus was the home town of Barnabas. (Acts 4:36) They preached in synagogues and traveled through the whole island. But they could not see much fruit. They then cross the island by foot and arrived at Paphos in the southwest. There the island’s Roman governor, Sergius Paulus, summoned the missionaries to listen to the gospel. A sorcerer and a Jewish false prophet known as Bar-Jesus or Elymas accompanied the governor. Elymas resisted the gospel and tried to prevent the governor from accepting the gospel. Then Apostle Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit told him, “And now, indeed, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you shall be blind, not seeing the sun for a time." And immediately a dark mist fell on him, and he went around seeking someone to lead him by the hand. (Acts 13:11 – NKJV). The governor, astonished at what happened, believed the gospel.


Paul, Barnabas, and John-Mark sailed from Paphos to Perga in the region of Pamphylia in south-central Asia Minor. There, John Mark left the other two missionaries and returned to Jerusalem (Acts 13:13). We do not know the exact reason for Mark leaving the team. Paul and Barnabas did not spent much time in Perga. From Perga they traveled to Antioch in Pisidia. There are two Antioch mentioned in the Bible. One is in Syria and another in Pisidia. Pisidia was a region of ancient Asia Minor. It is a part of Turkey now. Here, the apostles went to Antioch in Pisidia.

As their usual practice, they preached in the synagogue on the Sabbath. In his sermon, Paul, gave a synopsis of the Israelites’ exile in Egypt, the judges, Kings Saul and David, and John the Baptist. Following that He introduces Jesus as a descendant of David brought to Israel by God.

He narrated Jesus' death and resurrection. He taught them that Jesus has fulfilled the prophecies. Paul asserted from the Old Testament scripture that Jesus is the promised Christ for the forgiveness for their sins. They came to the town with this message of salvation.


Many Jews and Gentiles believed in the gospel. So they asked Paul and Barnabas to return the next Sabbath. After the dismissal of the synagogue, many Jews and proselytes followed them in order to hear more about the gospel. The next Sabbath, almost the entire city showed up. However, some Jews, afraid of a mass conversion, begin to speak against the gospel. Then Paul and Barnabas declared, since the Jews have rejected Jesus, they shall take the gospel to the Gentiles. The missionaries recognized God’s call of witnessing to the Gentiles. [Acts 13:13–48].

That does not mean that they did not speak the gospel to the Jews anymore. They continued to speak in the Jewish synagogues even after this incident.


And the word of the Lord spread fast and wide. “But the Jews stirred up the devout and prominent women and the chief men of the city, raised up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region. (Acts 13:50 - NKJV)


From Antioch in Pisidia, they travelled to Iconium. They stayed quite a while in the city of Iconium, preaching boldly in local synagogue and performing miracles. His preaching convinced many Jews and Greeks to become believers. The gospel spread through the whole region. But the Jews in Pisidian Antioch came there and stirred up persecution of the missionaries. They conspired to kill the apostles by stoning to death. So the evangelists fled to Lystra and Derbe in Lycia (Acts 14:1–7).


While Paul was preaching at the gates of Lystra, he noticed a crippled man listening intently. Paul healed him and he miraculously leaps up and walked. (Acts 14:6 - 10). Seeing this miracle, the gentile the crowd declared that they must be gods. They called Barnabas as Zeus and Paul as Hermes. Hermes was the messenger and chief spokesman of their gods. The priests of the temple of Zeus joined the crowds and attempted to offer sacrifices to Paul and Barnabas. But they prevented the sacrifices stating that they were just men. (Acts 14:14 - 18).

On the other side, the unbelieving Jews from Pisidian Antioch and Iconium arrived at Lystra and stirred up the crowd against the gospel. The mob stoned Paul until they thought that he is dead. Then they dragged Paul's body out of the city. Whether Paul was dead or only fell unconscious, is not sure. But as his disciples gathered around him Paul stood up, completely well, and went back into the city (Acts 14:8–20).

The next day, Paul and Barnabas went east to Derbe, which was situated across the mountain range from Tarsus, and made many disciples. (Acts 14:19 - 20). 
It was in the region of Lystra and Derbe that young Timothy heard the gospel from Paul and was saved.

From Derbe, Paul and Barnabas travelled back through the same places in Asia Minor, visiting Lystra, Iconium, and Pisidian Antioch. They strengthened the churches and appointed elders (Acts 14:21–23). Then they returned to the seaport city of Perga and then to Attalia, a few miles west, and preached the gospel there. (Acts 14:24–26).

From Attalia they catch a ship to sail back to Syrian Antioch where their missionary journey started (Acts 14:21 - 26). “On arriving there, they gathered the church together and reported all that God had done through them and how he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles” (14:27). Thus ended his first missionary journey.

Antioch served as a major Christian home base for Paul's early missionary activities, and he remained there for "a long time with the disciples" at the conclusion of his first journey. [Acts 14:28]. The exact duration of Paul's stay in Antioch is unknown. It is estimated as nine months to eight years.


Council of Jerusalem

Paul’s ministry to Gentiles brought controversy over who could be saved and how to be saved. So, between his first and second missionary journeys, a conference was held in Jerusalem discussing the matter. The meeting might have taken place in the year 49 AD. The meeting is described in Acts 15:2 and is mentioned by Paul in Galatians 2:1.

The key question raised was whether Gentile converts needed to be circumcised. Paul states in Galatians that at this meeting Peter, James, and John accepted Paul's mission to the Gentiles. The final consensus was that the Gentiles could receive Jesus without submitting to Jewish traditions. 

Paul might have written the epistle to Galatians, to churches in the southern Galatia, after the Jerusalem council and before his second missionary journey.

Incident at Antioch

Despite the agreement achieved at the Council of Jerusalem, Paul recounts another incident in which he publicly confronted Peter at Antioch, over Peter's reluctance to share a meal with Gentile Christians because they did not strictly adhere to Jewish customs.


Paul recounts in Galatians 2: 11-14: " I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed” (2:11). Paul continues: “But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all, "If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews?” (2:14 - NKJV)


The Epistle does not exactly say if this happened after the Council of Jerusalem or before it. But the incident is mentioned in Paul's letter after describing the Jerusalem meeting. Paul was dismayed seeing the rest of the Jewish Christians in Antioch sided with Peter, including Paul's associate Barnabas.

The final outcome of the incident remains uncertain. The Catholic Encyclopedia suggests that Paul won the argument, because "Paul's account of the incident leaves no doubt that Peter saw the justice of the rebuke".

However Paul himself never mentions a victory. So some scholars argue that the blowup with Peter was a total failure.


Second missionary journey

The second missionary journey of Apostle Paul is narrated in Acts 15: 36 -18: 22.

After a short stay at Antioch, Paul proposed to Barnabas a second missionary journey together. Paul’s plan was to return to the cities and churches they’d visited in Asia Minor on their first missionary journey (Acts 15:36). But a disagreement arouse in between them about taking John Mark with them on their trips. Unable to resolve the dispute, Paul and Barnabas decided to separate. Thus Barnabas took John Mark with him, while Silas joined Paul. Silas was one of the leaders of the Jerusalem church who had accompanied Paul to Antioch (15:40). God turned this dispute into a positive move to the formation of two missionary teams. The first team, Barnabas and John Mark went to Cyprus and the second team, Paul and Silas went to Asia Minor.


Paul and Silas initially visited Tarsus, Paul's birthplace. And from there they started the second missionary journey. They traveled west to the regions of Galatia and Phrygia to Derbe and Lystra and moved towards the west.


In the area of Derbe and Lystra, Paul met Timothy again, whom Paul had mentored on his first trip. Timothy joined Paul and Silas as a ministry partner. Timothy’s father was Greek and his mother was Jewish. Orthodox Judaism held the view that Jewishness comes from the mother’s line. So the Jews in Asia Minor considered Timothy a Jew, but he did not respect his Jewish law of circumcision. So Paul took initiative to circumcise Timothy. In Acts 16: 3, we read: “Paul wanted to have him go on with him. And he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in that region, for they all knew that his father was Greek.” (NKJV)


Timothy eventually become Paul's most trusted friend. The three men continue to travel west to Antioch in Pisidia. They wanted go westward to spread the gospel in the southwest portion of Asia Minor. But the Holy Spirit forbade them to speak in the province of Asia. (Acts 16:6). Then they travelled northwest to the province of Mysia. The group then seeks to go in a north-easterly direction toward the province of Bithynia but again the Holy Spirit kept them out of Bithynia and led them directly to Troas, on the coast of the Aegean Sea. (Acts 16:7).


At Troas, in the night, Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia, standing and begging him to come to Macedonia to help them. Macedonia was a city in the northern Greece. After seeing the vision, Paul and his team left for Macedonia to preach the gospel to them. [Acts 16:6–10] 

Apparently, Luke joined the team at this point because he reports that in Acts 16: 10: “immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them”. The use of first-person pronouns indicates that Luke was at that point a fellow traveler.

The team sailed from Troas of Asia Minor, to the small island of Samothrace, then to the city of Neapolis on the Greek coast. From there they quickly made their way to Philippi (Acts 16:11–12). Philippi was one of the most important cities of Eastern Macedonia and also a Roman colony at that time. Thus Paul reached the European land, in the winter of 49 AD or in 50 AD.

On the Sabbath, they went to the riverside where they supposed the Jews would gather for prayer. It was customary for Jews to gather for prayer on Sabbath on the banks of rivers, where there is no synagogue. There they found a group of women who had come to pray. One of the women there was a merchant named Lydia. She believed in the gospel and she along with her household were converted and baptized. (Acts 16:13–15). Lydia thus became the first convert to Christianity on European soil.

Sometime later, while the missionaries were going to a place of prayer, they greeted by a slave girl possessed with a spirit of divination. The girl said: “These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation” (Acts 16:16–17). This continued for some days. Paul was annoyed by this and he commanded the demon to leave her (16: 18). But her masters were unhappy about the loss of income her soothsaying provided. [Acts 16:16–24]. So they turned the people in the city against the missionaries and they brought Paul and Silas to the magistrate.

Paul and Silas were Roman citizens and had the right for a trial. But not knowing their citizenship, they were stripped, beaten, flogged, and thrown into prison and their feet were placed in stocks (16:19-24). But they rejoiced to suffer for Christ and they sang and worshipped the Lord in jail. Around midnight, an earthquake shook the prison. The prison doors were open and the chains of all prisoners loosened. (Acts 16:26). When the jailor found the doors open, he assumed that all prisoners might have ran away. So he drew his sword to kill himself (16:27). But Paul assured him that all the prisoners were still there. The jailor immediately asked them how to be saved (16:30). Paul and Silas answered, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (16:31). The jailor took Paul and Silas to his home, where he fed them and bandaged their wounds. He and his household believed and were baptized that same night (16:32-34). The next morning the magistrate ordered to free Paul and Silas. The missionaries left Philippi after visiting Lydia and the Christians there (16:40).

From Philippi, Paul, Silas, and Timothy passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia before reaching Thessalonica. It seems that Luke remained in Philippi. 
Paul spent three Sabbaths in the synagogue, preaching to the Jewish men (Acts 17:1–2). Some believed in the gospel and became Christians. But the Jewish men who had rejected Christ incited a mob and accused Paul and Silas of promoting another king besides Caesar and of turning “the world upside down” (17:6). Unable to locate Paul and Silas, the mob dragged the missionaries’ host, Jason, to the city authorities. That night, Paul and Silas slipped away to Berea (17:10).

More Jews in Berea accepted Paul’s message; Luke says they had “more noble character” and searched the Scriptures daily to ascertain the truth of Paul’s preaching (Acts 17:11). That means they were verifying what Paul preached about Jesus with the Old Testament scripture to make sure that jesus is the expected Jewish Messiah. At Berea, many Greeks also were converted.

Unfortunately, the unbelieving Jews from Thessalonica soon tracked Paul to Berea and stirred up the crowd (17:13). So Paul left to Athens by sea while Silas and Timothy remained behind, with instructions to join Paul as soon as they could (17:14, 15).


In Athens Paul preached to the Jews and God-fearing Greeks in the synagogue. He was invited to speak at the Areopagus to the philosophers gathered there. Paul preached to an inquisitive audience on Mars Hill. He proclaimed the only true God whom they could know and worship without man-made idols. Paul explained that the true God is not made of gold, silver, or stone and did not originate from the imagination of man (Acts 17:29). The philosophers listened until Paul spoke of the resurrection of Christ. They did not believe in the resurrection of a dead person and so some began to scoff (17:32). A few people believed, but there is no record of Paul being able to establish a church there.


Interval in Corinth

Around 50–52 AD, from Athens, Paul went to Corinth and spent 18 months there. Silas and Timothy joined Paul in Corinth. They stayed in that city preaching, gaining converts, and reasoning with those who rejected the gospel (18:11). “Many of the Corinthians who heard Paul believed and were baptized,” including Crispus, the leader of the synagogue (18:8).  


There Paul met fellow tent makers Priscilla and Aquila. They were Jews who’d been exiled when Emperor Claudius commanded that all Jews should leave Rome (Acts 18:1–3). They became faithful believers and helped Paul in his future missionary journeys. [Acts 18:2]. They followed Paul and his companions to Ephesus, and stayed there to start one of the strongest and faithful churches at that time. [Acts 18:18–21]


In 52 AD, Paul departed from Corinth. He stopped at the nearby village of Cenchreae to have his hair cut off, because of a vow he had earlier taken. [Acts 18:18] It is possible this was to be a final haircut prior to fulfilling his vow to become a Nazirite for a defined period of time.

With Priscilla and Aquila, the missionaries then sailed to Ephesus in Asia Minor [Acts 18:19–21]. Paul stayed in Ephesus for a little while, reasoning in the synagogue.

From there he went to Caesarea to greet the Church there. Priscilla and Aquila stayed in Ephesus. Paul traveled north to Antioch in Syria, where he stayed for some time, perhaps about a year, before leaving again on a third missionary journey.


Some New Testament texts suggest that he also visited Jerusalem during this period for one of the Jewish feasts, possibly Pentecost. [Acts 18:21]. Paul sailed from Ephesus to Caesarea in Israel, traveled to Jerusalem, greeted the church there, and then returned to Antioch (18:22).

Thus the second missionary journey had come to an end. 

Third Missionary Journey

The third missionary journey of Paul is narrated in Acts 18:23-20:38Paul spent some time in Syrian Antioch and went northwest, over land again. He travelled through Galatia and Phrygia in Asia Minor, visiting the churches in Derbe, Lystra, Iconium, and Pisidian Antioch.

Paul arrived at Ephesus and spent three months teaching in the synagogue in Ephesus, reasoning from the Jewish Scriptures. But some in his audience not only rejected his message but they became abusive toward “the Way” (Acts 19:8–9). Paul took those who believed and moved from the synagogue to a school owned by a man named Tyrannus. There Paul preached daily to Jews and Greeks for two years (19: 9 -10).


Despite the opposition in Ephesus, the Holy Spirit worked mightily through Paul. Luke says that “extraordinary miracles” were being performed (Acts 19:11) as people were being healed and evil spirits were being expelled (19:12). But the idol-makers, on the other hand, were not pleased with their loss of business on account of this new gospel. So a silversmith named Demetrius, who made shrines of Artemis and resented the decrease in business since Paul’s arrival, gathered other workmen and started a riot (19: 23–34). Eventually, the town clerk arrived and dispersed the crowd, telling them that, if they had something against Paul, they should bring him to court (19: 35–41).

Trials always followed Paul. The persecution and opposition ultimately strengthened true Christians and spread the gospel. After his stay in Ephesus, Paul continued his third missionary journey. Paul sent Timothy and Erastus ahead to Macedonia (Acts 19:21–22).

During his stay in Ephesus, Paul wrote four letters to the church in Corinth
Three of his letters to Corinth are included in the New Testament. In what we call now as 1 Corinthians, there is a reference to a former letter (1 Corinthians 5:9). It is often referred to as “The Lost Epistle”.

2 Corinthians is made up of two different letters. Chapters 1–9 is the fourth letter, written after 2 Corinthians 10–13The Jerusalem Bible suggests that the letter to the church in Philippi was also written from Ephesus.


Paul had planned to board a ship in Corinth and set sail for Jerusalem via Syria, but he discovered that some Jews were plotting to waylay him on the voyage, so he returned to Macedonia by land. (20:3) Paul left the town quietly and went across the Aegean Sea to Macedonia where he traveled to Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea to encourage the churches there; then he went to Greece (Achaia) and spent three months there, probably at Corinth, during 56 – 57 AD (Acts 20:1–3).

Commentators generally agree that Paul dictated his Epistle to the Romans during this period. 

In Romans 15:19 Paul wrote that he visited Illyricum, but he may have meant what would now be called Illyria Graeca, which was at that time a division of the Roman province of Macedonia.


Paul retraced his steps from Corinth to Berea, Thessalonica, and Philippi, where he caught up with Luke again and observed Passover. From Philippi, Paul and Luke set sail for Troas, arriving there five days later and meeting Paul’s traveling companions who had gone ahead of them: Timothy, Sopater, Aristarchus, Secundus, Gaius, Tychicus, and Trophimus. These men represented various churches and were probably helping bring a monetary gift to the Jerusalem church (1 Corinthians 16:1). They all stayed in Troas for one week (Acts 20:1–6).


At Troas, on Sunday when the believers met, Paul preached long into the night (Acts 20:7–8). A young man named Eutychus sat on a windowsill of the third-story room. About midnight, he fell asleep and fell out the window to the ground below (20:9). Eutychus was declared dead, but Paul raised him, served communion, and resumed speaking until daylight (20:10-12).

Instead of sailing directly to Jerusalem, Paul continued his third missionary journey by taking a coastal route. Paul walked to Assos, while the rest of the party sailed to that port and picked Paul up there. Then they all traveled to Mitylene, Trogyllium, and Miletus, along the southwest coast of Asia Minor (Acts 20:13–15).

Paul asked the Ephesian elders to meet him in Miletus, and they did. Paul prayed with them, encouraged them, warned them against false teachers, and predicted the hardships he would face in Jerusalem (20:17–35). After tearful good-byes, the Ephesian elders saw Paul to the ship (20:36–38).


From Miletus, Paul and his companions sailed to Patara, then to Tyre in Syria, where they stayed a week (Acts 21:1–6). The disciples there begged Paul, for his own safety, not to go to Jerusalem. But he sailed on, stopping briefly in Ptolemais before landing in Caesarea and staying with Philip the evangelist (21:7–14). While in Caesarea, the prophet Agabus declared that Paul would be imprisoned if he went to Jerusalem, but Paul was resolute in completing his mission.

After several days, a group escorted Paul to Jerusalem and to the home of Mnason, who hosted Paul and his companions (21:15–16). Thus Paul’s third missionary journey came to an end.

At the end of Paul’s third missionary journey, he knew he would soon be imprisoned and probably killed.


Last visit to Jerusalem and arrest

In 57 AD, upon completion of his third missionary journey, Paul arrived in Jerusalem for his last visit with a collection of money for the local community. Acts reports that he was warmly received. However Paul was warned by James and the elders that many Jews thought that he was against the Mosaic Law. It is said: "they have been told about you that you teach all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or walk according to our customs". So Paul underwent a purification ritual to give the Jews no grounds to bring accusations against him for not following their law. [Acts 21:17–26]


After seven days in Jerusalem, some "Jews from Asia" (most likely from Roman Asia) accused Paul of defiling the temple by bringing gentiles into it. He was seized and dragged out of the temple by an angry mob. He narrowly escaped being killed by surrendering to a group of Roman centurions, who arrested him, put him in chains and took him to the tribune. [Acts 21:27–36]

Then he was transported by night to Caesarea Maritima. He was held as a prisoner there for two years by Marcus Antonius Felix. After him, the new governor, Porcius Festus reopened his case in 59 AD. When Festus suggested that he be sent back to Jerusalem for further trial, Paul exercised his right as a Roman citizen to "appeal unto Caesar". 

Finally, Paul and his companions sailed for Rome where Paul was to stand trial for his alleged crimes. Acts recounts that on the way to Rome, Paul was shipwrecked on "Melita" (Malta), [Acts 27:39–44] where the islanders showed him "unusual kindness" Here he met Publius. [Acts 28:1-10]. From Malta, he travelled to Rome via Syracuse, Rhegium and Puteoli. [Acts 28:11–14]


He finally arrived in Rome around 60 AD, where he spent another two years under house arrest. Book of Acts ends with Paul preaching in Rome for two years from his rented home while awaiting trial. [Acts 28:30–31]


Fourth Missionary Journey

Some Bible scholars see a fourth missionary journey as well. The early Christian history does seem to attest to the idea. It might have occurred after the close of the book of Acts.

Journey from Rome to Spain

There is a tradition that Paul went to Spain, but there is no explicit record of this journey in the Bible. He did mention to the Romans that he wanted to take the gospel to Spain (Romans 15:24, 28). Pope Clement I of Rome’s writings in AD 95 say that Paul was "Herald (of the Gospel of Christ) in the West", and that "he had gone to the extremity of the west". This could mean Spain or possibly the United Kingdom. John Chrysostom indicated that Paul preached in Spain. Cyril of Jerusalem said that Paul, "fully preached the Gospel, and instructed even imperial Rome, and carried the earnestness of his preaching as far as Spain, undergoing conflicts innumerable, and performing Signs and wonders". The Muratorian Canon (AD 180) mentions "the departure of Paul from the city (of Rome) when he journeyed to Spain".

It is believed that Paul’s second arrest brought his fourth missionary journey to an end. He was sent to Mamertine Prison, which was much rougher than being kept in house arrest in his own lodgings. During his second Roman imprisonment, Paul knew the time of his departure from this world was near (2 Timothy 4:6). He was cared for by Luke (2 Timothy 4:11) and Onesiphorus (2 Timothy 1:16–17) but abandoned by many others.

Nero was on a rampage against Christians in Rome. And, if the tradition is true, Paul was beheaded at Nero’s order. The date of Paul's death is believed to have occurred after the Great Fire of Rome in July 64, but before the last year of Nero's reign, in 68 AD.



Apostle Paul’s amazing ministry lasts thirty-five years until his death at the age of sixty-six.

Generally agreed that he has written fourteen books (epistles) of the Bible, trained other evangelists and gospel preachers. He was imprisoned for a total of more than five years in prison.

The purpose of all of Paul’s missionary journeys was the same: proclaiming God’s grace in forgiving sin through Christ. God used Paul’s ministry to bring the gospel to the Gentiles and establish the church. Paul’s letters to the churches, recorded in the New Testament, still support church life and doctrine.

Although Paul’s missionary journeys caused him to sacrifice everything, they were worth the cost (Philippians 3:7-11).

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