Thematic Bible: Missionary journeys

Thematic Bible

After making some stay in Antioch, he set out on a tour through the Phrygian district of Galatia, strengthening the faith of all the disciples as he went. Meanwhile there had come to Ephesus an Alexandrian Jew, named Apollos, an eloquent man, who was well-versed in the Scriptures. He had been well-instructed in the Cause of the Lord, and with burning zeal he spoke of, and taught carefully, the facts about Jesus, though he knew of no baptism but John's. read more.
This man began to speak out fearlessly in the Synagogue; and when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him home and explained the Cause of God to him more carefully still. When he wanted to cross to Greece, the Brethren furthered his plans, and wrote to the disciples there to welcome him. On his arrival he proved of great assistance to those who had, through the loving-kindness of God, become believers in Christ, For he vigorously confuted the Jews, publicly proving by the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ. While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the inland districts of Roman Asia, and went to Ephesus. There he found some disciples, of whom he asked: "Did you, when you became believers in Christ, receive the Holy Spirit?" "No," they answered, "we did not even hear that there was a Holy Spirit." "What then was your baptism?" Paul asked. "John's baptism was a baptism upon repentance," rejoined Paul, "and John told the people (speaking of the 'One Coming; after him) that they should believe in him--that is in Jesus." On hearing this, they were baptized into the faith of the Lord Jesus, And, after Paul had placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit descended upon them, and they began to speak with 'tongues' and to preach. There were about twelve of them in all. Paul went to the Synagogue there, and for three months spoke out fearlessly, giving addresses and trying to convince his hearers, about the kingdom of God. Some of them, however, hardened their hears and refused to believe, denouncing the Cause before the people. So Paul left them and withdrew his disciples, and gave daily addresses in the lecture-hall of Tyrannus. This went on for two years, so that all who lived in Roman Asia, Jews and Greeks alike, heard the Lord's Message. God did miracles of no ordinary kind by Paul's hands; So that people would carry home to the sick handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his body, and their diseases would leave them and the wicked spirits go out of them. An attempt was made by some itinerant Jews, who were exorcists, to use the Name of the Lord Jesus over those who had wicked spirits in them. "I adjure you," they would say, "by the Jesus, whom Paul preaches." The seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish Chief Priest, were doing this; But the wicked spirit answered them: "Jesus I acknowledge, and Paul I know, but you--who are you?" Then the man, in whom this wicked spirit was, sprang upon them, mastered both of them, and so completely overpowered them, that they fled out of the house, stripped of their clothes, and wounded. This incident came to the knowledge of all the Jews and Greeks living at Ephesus; they were all awe-struck, and the Name of the Lord Jesus was held in the highest honor. Many, too, of those who had become believers in Christ came with a full confession of their practices; While a number of people, who had practiced magic, collected their books and burnt them publicly; and on reckoning up the price of these, they found it amounted to five thousand pounds. So irresistibly did the Lord's Message spread and prevail. Sometime after these events Paul resolved to go through Macedonia and Greece, and then make his way to Jerusalem. "And after I have been there," he said, "I must visit Rome also." So he sent to Macedonia two of his helpers, Timothy and Erastus, while he himself stayed for some time longer in Roman Asia. Just about that time a great disturbance arose about the Cause. A silversmith named Demetrius, who made silver models of the shrine of Artemis, and so gave a great deal of work to the artisans, Got these men together, as well as the workmen engaged in similar occupations, and said: "Men, you know that our prosperity depends upon this work, And you see and hear that not only at Ephesus, but in almost the whole of Roman Asia, this Paul has convinced and won over great numbers of people, by his assertion that those Gods which are made by hands are not Gods at all. So that not only is this business of ours likely to fall into discredit, but there is the further danger that the Temple of the great Goddess Artemis will be thought nothing of, and that she herself will be deprived of her splendor--though all Roman Asia and the whole world worship her." When they heard this, the men were greatly enraged, and began shouting--"Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!" The commotion spread through the whole city, and the people rushed together into the amphitheater, dragging with them Gaius and Aristarchus, two Macedonians who were Paul's traveling companions. Paul wished to go into the amphitheater and face the people, but the disciples would not let him, While some of the chief religious officials of the province, who were friendly to him, sent repeated entreaties to him not to trust himself inside. Meanwhile some were shouting one thing and some another, for the Assembly was all in confusion, most of those present not even knowing why they had met. But some of the crowd prompted Alexander, whom the Jews had pushed to the front, and he waved his hand to show that he wanted to speak in their defense to the people. However, when they recognized him as a Jew, one cry broke from them all, and they continued shouting for two hours--"Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!" When the Recorder had succeeded in quieting the crowd, he said: "Men of Ephesus, who is there, I ask you, who needs to be told that this city of Ephesus is the Warden of the Temple of the great Artemis, and of the statue which fell down from Zeus? As these are undeniable facts, you ought to keep calm and do nothing rash; For you have brought these men here, though they are neither robbers of Temples nor blasphemers of our Goddess. If, however, Demetrius and the artisans who are acting with him have a charge to make against any one, there are Court Days and there are Magistrates; let both parties take legal proceedings. But if you want anything more, it will have to be settled in the regular Assembly. For I tell you that we are in danger of being proceeded against for to-day's riot, there being nothing to account for it; and in that case we shall be at a loss to give any reason for this disorderly gathering." With these words he dismissed the Assembly. When the uproar had ceased, Paul sent for the disciples, and, with encouraging words, bade them goodbye, and started on his journey to Macedonia. After going through those districts and speaking many encouraging words to the disciples, he went into Greece, where he stayed three months. He was about to sail to Syria, when he learned that a plot had been laid against him by the Jews; so he decided to return by way of Macedonia. He was accompanied by Sopater the son of Pyrrhus, of Beroea, Aristarchus and Secundus from Thessalonica, Gaius of Derbe, and Timothy, as well as by Tychicus and Trophimus of Roman Asia. These men went to Troas and waited for us there; While we ourselves sailed from Philippi after the Passover, and joined them five days later at Troas, where we stayed for a week. On the first day of the week, when we had met for the Breaking of Bread, Paul, who was intending to leave the next day, began to address those who were present, and prolonged his address till midnight. There were a good many lamps in the upstairs room, where we had met; And a young man named Eutychus, sitting at the window, was gradually overcome with great drowsiness, as Paul continued his address. At last, quite overpowered by his drowsiness, he fell from the third story to the ground, and was picked up for dead. But Paul went down, threw himself upon him, and put his arms round him. "Do not be alarmed," he said, "he is still alive." Then he went upstairs; and, after breaking and partaking of the Bread, he talked with them at great length till daybreak, and then left. Meanwhile they had taken the lad away alive, and were greatly comforted. We started first, went on board ship, and sailed for Assos, intending to take Paul on board there. This was by his own arrangement, as he intended to go by land himself. So, when he met us at Assos, we took him on board and went on to Mitylene. The day after we had sailed from there, we arrived off Chios, touched at Samos the following day, and the next day reached Miletus; For Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus, so as to avoid spending much time in Roman Asia. He was making haste to reach Jerusalem, if possible, by the Festival at the close of the Harvest. From Miletus, however, he sent to Ephesus and invited the Officers of the Church to meet him; And, when they came, he spoke to them as follows: "You know well the life that I always led among you from the very first day that I set foot in Roman Asia, Serving the Lord, as I did, in all humility, amid the tears and trials which fell to my lot through the plots of the Jews. I never shrank from telling you anything that could be helpful to you, or from teaching you both in public and in private. I earnestly pointed both Jews and Greeks to the repentance that leads to God, and to faith in Jesus, our Lord. And now, under spiritual constraint, I am here on my way to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there, Except that in town after town the Holy Spirit plainly declares to me that imprisonment and troubles await me. But I count my life of no value to myself, if only I may complete the course marked out for me, and the task that was allotted me by the Lord Jesus--which was to declare the Good News of the Love of God. And now, I tell you, I know that none of you will ever see my face again--you among whom I have gone about proclaiming the Kingdom. Therefore I declare to you this day, that my conscience is clear in regard to the fate of any of you, For I have not shrunk from announcing the whole purpose of God regarding you. Be watchful over yourselves, and over the whole flock, of which the Holy Spirit has placed you in charge, to shepherd the Church of God, which he won for himself at the cost of his life. I know that, after my departure, merciless wolves will get in among you, who will not spare the flock; And from among yourselves, too, men will arise, who will teach perversions of truth, so as to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore, be on your guard, remembering how for three years, night and day, I never ceased, even with tears, to warn each one of you. And now I commend you to the Lord and to the Message of his Love--a Message which has the power to build up your characters, and to give you your place among all those who have become Christ's People. I have never coveted any one's gold or silver or clothing. You, yourselves, know that these hands of mine provided not only for my own wants, but for my companions also. I left nothing undone to show you that, laboring as I labored, you ought to help the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said himself-- 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'" When Paul had finished speaking, he knelt down and prayed with them all. All were in tears; and throwing their arms round Paul's neck, they kissed him again and again, Grieving most of all over what he had said--that they would never see his face again. Then they escorted him to the ship. When we had torn ourselves away and had set sail, we ran before the wind to Cos; the next day we came to Rhodes, and from there to Patara, Where we found a ship crossing to Phoenicia, and went on board and set sail. After sighting Cyprus and leaving it on the left, we sailed to Syria, and put into Tyre, where the ship was to discharge her cargo. There we found the disciples and stayed a week with them. Speaking under the influence of the Spirit, they warned Paul not to set foot in Jerusalem. However, when we had come to the end of our visit, we went on our way, all the disciples with their wives and children escorting us out of the city. We knelt down on the beach, and prayed, And then said good-bye to one another; after which we went on board, and they returned home. After we had made the run from Tyre, we landed at Ptolemais, and exchanged greetings with the Brethren there, and spent a day with them. The next day we left, and reached Caesarea, where we went to the house of Philip, the Missionary, who was one of 'the Seven,' and stayed with him. He had four unmarried daughters, who had the gift of prophecy. During our visit, which lasted several days, a Prophet, named Agabus, came down from Judea. He came to see us, and, taking Paul's girdle, and binding his own feet and hands with it, said: "This is what the Holy Spirit says--'The man to whom this girdle belongs will be bound like this at Jerusalem by the Jews, and they will give him up to the Gentiles'." When we heard that, we and the people of the place began to entreat Paul not to go up to Jerusalem. It was then that Paul made the reply: "Why are you weeping and breaking my heart like this? For my part, I am ready not only to be bound, but even to suffer death at Jerusalem for the Name of the Lord Jesus." So, as he would not be persuaded, we said no more to him, only adding--"The Lord's will be done." At the end of our visit, we made our preparations, and started on our way up to Jerusalem.

Some time after this, Paul said to Barnabas: "Let us go back and visit the Brethren in every town in which we have told the Lord's Message, and see how they are prospering." Barnabas wished to take with them John, whose other name was Mark; But Paul felt that they ought not to take with them the man who had deserted them in Pamphylia, and had not gone on with them to their work. read more.
This caused such unpleasant feeling between them that they parted, Barnabas taking Mark and sailing for Cyprus, While Paul chose Silas for his companion and, after he had been committed by the Brethren to the gracious care of the Lord, Started on his journey and went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the Churches in the faith. Among other places Paul went to Derbe and Lystra. At the latter place they found a disciple, named Timothy, whose mother was a Jewess who had become a believer in Christ, while his father was a Greek, And who was well spoken of by the Brethren in Lystra and Iconium. Wishing to take this man with him on his journey, Paul caused him to be circumcised on account of the Jews in that neighborhood, for they all knew that his father had been a Greek. As they traveled from town to town, they gave the Brethren the decisions which had been reached by the Apostles and Officers of the Church at Jerusalem, for them to observe. So the Churches grew stronger in the Faith, and increased in numbers from day to day. They next went through the Phrygian district of Galatia, but were restrained by the Holy Spirit from delivering the Message in Roman Asia. When they reached the borders of Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not permit them. Passing through Mysia, they went down to Troas; And there one night Paul saw a vision. A Macedonian was standing and appealing to him--'Come over to Macedonia and help us.' So, immediately after Paul had seen the vision, we looked for an opportunity to cross over to Macedonia, concluding that God had summoned us to tell the Good News to the people there. Accordingly we set sail from Troas, and ran before the wind to Samothrace, reaching Neapolis the next day. From there we made our way to Philippi, which is the principal city of that part of Macedonia, and also a Roman Settlement. In that city we spent several days. On the Sabbath we went outside the gate to the river-side, where we supposed there would be a Place of Prayer; and we sat down and talked to the women who were gathered there. Among them was a woman, named Lydia, belonging to Thyatira, a dealer in purple cloth, who was accustomed to join in the worship of God. The Lord touched this woman's heart, so that she gave attention to the Message delivered by Paul, And, when she and her household had been baptized, she urged us to become her guests. "Since you have shown your conviction," she said, "that I really am a believer in the Lord, come and stay in my house." And she insisted on our doing so. One day, as we were on our way to the Place of Prayer, we were met by a girl possessed by a divining spirit, who made large profits for her masters by fortune-telling. This girl followed Paul and the rest of us, calling: "These men are servants of the most high God, and they are bringing you news of a way to Salvation." She had been doing this for several days, when Paul, much vexed, turned and said to the spirit within her: "In the Name of Jesus Christ I command you to leave her." That very moment the spirit left her. When her masters saw that there was no hope of further profit from her, they seized Paul and Silas, dragged them into the public square to the authorities, And took them before the Magistrates. "These men are causing a great disturbance in our town," they complained; "They are Jews, and they are teaching customs which it is not right for us, as Romans, to sanction or adopt." On this the mob rose as one man against them, and the Magistrates stripped them of their clothing and ordered them to be beaten with rods. After beating them severely, the Magistrates put them in prison, with orders to the Governor of the Jail to keep them in safe custody. On receiving so strict an order, the Governor put them into the inner cell, and secured their feet in the stocks. About midnight, while Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and while the prisoners were listening to them, Suddenly there was an earthquake of such violence that the Jail was shaken to its foundations; all the doors flew open, and all the prisoners' chains were loosened. Roused from his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, the Governor drew his sword intending to kill himself, in the belief that the prisoners had escaped. But Paul called our loudly: "Do not harm yourself; we are all here." Calling for a light, the Governor rushed in, and flung himself trembling at the feet of Paul and Silas. Then he led them out, and said: "What must I do to be saved?" "Believe in Jesus, our Lord," they replied, "and you shall be saved, you and your household too." Then they spoke to him of God's Message, and to all his household as well. And that very hour of the night he took them and washed their wounds, and he himself and every one belonging to him were baptized without delay. Afterwards he took them up to his house and set before them something to eat, rejoicing that he, with all his household, had come to believe in God. In the morning the Magistrates sent the police with an order for the men to be discharged. The Governor of the Jail told Paul of his instructions. "The Magistrates have sent an order for your discharge," he said, "so you had better leave the place at once and go quietly away." But Paul's answer to them was: "They have flogged us in public without trial, though we are Roman citizens, and they have put us in prison, and now they are for sending us out secretly! No, indeed! Let them come and take us out themselves." The police reported his words to the Magistrates, who, on hearing that Paul and Silas were Roman citizens, were alarmed, And went to the prison, and did their best to conciliate them. Then they took them out, and begged them to leave the city. When Paul and Silas left the prison, they went to Lydia's house, and, after they had seen the Brethren, and encouraged them, they left the place. After passing through Amphipolis and Apollonia, Paul and Silas came to Thessalonica. Here the Jews had a Synagogue; And, following his usual custom, Paul joined them, and for three Sabbaths addressed them, drawing his arguments from the Scriptures. He laid before them and explained that the Christ must undergo suffering and rise from the dead; and "It is this man," he declared, "who is the Christ--this Jesus about whom I am telling you." Some of the people were convinced, and threw in their lot with Paul and Silas, as did also a large body of Greeks who were accustomed to join in the Jewish services, and a great number of women belonging to the leading families. But the Jews, becoming jealous, engaged some worthless fellows from the streets, and, getting a mob together, kept the city in an uproar. They attacked Jason's house, with the intention of bringing Paul and Silas before the Popular Assembly; And, not finding them there, they proceeded to drag Jason and some of the Brethren before the City Magistrates, shouting out: "These men, who have turned the world upside down, have now come here, And have been harbored by Jason! They say that some one else is king--a man called Jesus!" On hearing this, the people and the City Magistrates were much concerned; And, before letting them go, they took bail from Jason and the others. That very night the Brethren sent Paul and Silas off to Beroea; and on reaching that place, they went to the Jewish Synagogue. These Jews of Beroea were better disposed than those in Thessalonica, for they welcomed the Message with great readiness, and daily examined the Scriptures to see if what was said was true. As a consequence, many of them became believers in Christ, besides a considerable number of Greek women of position, and of men also. But, when the Jews of Thessalonica found out that God's Message had been delivered by Paul at Beroea, they came there too, exciting and disturbing the minds of the people. Immediately upon that, the Brethren sent Paul off on his way to the sea coast, but both Silas and Timothy stayed behind in Beroea. The friends who escorted Paul took him as far as Athens, and, after receiving a message for Silas and Timothy to join him as quickly as possible, they started on their return. While Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his heart was stirred at seeing the whole city full of idols. So he argued in the Synagogue with the Jews and with those who joined in their worship, as well as daily in the public Square with those who happened to be there. Among others, some Epicurean and Stoic Philosophers joined issue with him. Some would ask "What is this prater wanting to make out?", while others would say "He seems to be a Preacher of foreign Deities." (This was because he was telling the Good News about Jesus and the Resurrection). So they laid hold of him and took him to the Court of Areopagus. "May we hear," they asked, "what new teaching this is which you are giving? For you are bringing some strange things to our notice, and we should like to know what they mean." (All Athenians and the foreigners staying in the city found no time for anything else but telling, or listening to, the last new thing.) So Paul took his stand in the middle of the Court, and said- -"Men of Athens, on every hand I see signs of your being very devout. For as I was going about, looking at your sacred shrines, I came upon an altar with this inscription--'To an Unknown God.' What, therefore, you worship in ignorance, that I am now proclaiming to you. The God who made the world and all things that are in it-- he, Lord as he is of Heaven and Earth, does not dwell in temples made by hands, Nor yet do human hands minister to his wants, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives, to all, life, and breath, and all things. He made all races of the earth's surface--fixing a time for their rise and fall, and the limits of their settlements-- That they might search for God, if by any means they might feel their way to him and find him. And yet he is not really far from any one of us; For in him we live and move and are. To use the words of some of your own poets--'His offspring, too, are we.' Therefore, as the offspring of God, we must not think that the Deity has any resemblance to anything made of gold, or silver, or stone--a work of human art and imagination. True, God looked with indulgence on the days of men's ignorance, but now he is announcing to every one everywhere the need for repentance, Because he has fixed a day on which he intends to 'judge the world with justice,' by a man whom he has appointed--and of this he has given all men a pledge by raising this man from the dead." On hearing of a resurrection of the dead, some began jeering, but others said that they would hear what he had to say about that another time. And so Paul left the Court. There were, however, some men who joined him, and became believers in Christ. Among them were Dionysius, a member of the Court of Areopagus, a woman named Damaris, and several others. On leaving Athens, Paul next went to Corinth. There he met a Jew of the name of Aquila, a native of Pontus, who, with his wife Priscilla, had lately come from Italy, in consequence of the order which had been issued by the Emperor Claudius for all Jews to leave Rome. Paul paid them a visit, And, since their trade was the same as his, he stayed and worked with them--their trade was tent-making. Every Sabbath Paul gave addresses in the Synagogue, trying to convince both Jews and Greeks. But, when Silas and Timothy had come down from Macedonia, Paul devoted himself entirely to delivering the Message, earnestly maintaining before the Jews that Jesus was the Christ. However, as they set themselves against him and became abusive, Paul shook his clothes in protest and said to them: "Your blood be on your own heads. My conscience is clear. From this time forward I shall go to the Gentiles." So he left, and went to the house of a certain Titius Justus, who had been accustomed to join in the worship of God, and whose house was next door to the Synagogue. Crispus, the President of the Synagogue, came to believe in the Lord, and so did all his household; and many of the Corinthians, as they listened to Paul, became believers in Christ and were baptized. One night the Lord said to Paul, in a vision: "Have no fear, but continue to speak, and refuse to be silenced; For I am with you, and no one shall do you harm, for I have many People in this city." So he settled there for a year and a half, and taught God's Message among the people. While Gallio was governor of Greece, the Jews made a combined attack on Paul, and brought him before the Governor's Bench, Charging him with persuading people to worship God in a way forbidden by the Law. Just as Paul was on the point of speaking, Gallio said to the Jews: "Jews, if this were a case of misdemeanor or some serious crime, there would be some reason for my listening patiently to you; But, since it is a dispute about words, and names, and your own Law, you must see to it yourselves. I do not choose to be a judge in such matters." Saying this, he drove them back from the Bench. Then they all set upon Sosthenes, the President of the Synagogue, and beat him in front of the Bench, but Gallio did not trouble himself about any of these things. Paul remained there some time after this, and then took leave of the Brethren, and sailed to Syria with Priscilla and Aquila, but not before his head had been shaved at Cenchreae, because he was under a vow. They put into Ephesus, and there Paul, leaving his companions, went into the Synagogue and addressed the Jews. When they asked him to prolong his stay, he declined, saying however, As he took his leave, "I will come back again to you, please God," and then set sail from Ephesus. On reaching Caesarea, he went up to Jerusalem and exchanged greetings with the Church, and then went down to Antioch.