PART A. Outline your knowledge and understanding of Paul’s successes and struggles during his first missionary journey. During his first missionary journey, Paul had a lot of successes and struggles when trying to preach about God to both the Jews and the Gentiles. Paul and Barnabas started their missionary journey from Syrian Antioch, where the Holy Spirit called to them, saying, “I want Barnabas and Saul (Paul) set apart for the work I have called them for.” They soon set off toward Salamis in Cyprus, where they were successful as people listened as they proclaimed the word of God in the synagogue, with John acting as their assistant.
From Salamis, they travelled the island’s length until they reached Paphos, where Paul and Barnabas were also successful as the Pro-counsel Sergius Paulus became a believer. Howard Marshall says that “a pattern of establishing contact with the synagogues but the main interest of the story is centred on Paul’s audience with the Roman governor and his configuration with a magician who opposed the preaching of the Gospel.” From Paphos they travelled to Perga in Pamphylia were. At this stage all Luke tells us is that John left Paul and Barnabas to go back to Jerusalem.
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When Paul and Barnabas arrived in Pisidian Antioch, they went to the synagogue where the president asked them to address the Jews. This is Paul’s first speech in Acts, and in it, he uses kerygma and quoting the Old Testament Isaiah 55:3 and many Jews, and devout converts become believers. However, during the next Sabbath, when the whole town had gathered to hear the word of God, some Jews got jealous and used blasphemies and contradicted everything that Paul said. He then spoke boldly to the Jews, saying “we had to preach the word of God to you first, but since you have rejected it since you do not think yourselves worthy of eternal life, we must turn to the pagans.”
This is the first town where we see Paul and Barnabas struggling to be accepted, so as they were told to do in the commission, “they shook the dust from their feet and left.” Dumais states that the “opposition forced him to leave an infant church before he could consolidate his work. The story is related at length to give a typical and significant example of Paul’s experiences.” When Paul and Barnabas left Pisidian Antioch, they went to Iconium, the centre of commerce. Once arriving, they headed straight to the synagogue and spoke so effectively that many Jews and Greeks became believers; however, some Jews refused to believe and poisoned the minds of the pagans also.
Paul and Barnabas stayed for some time in Pisidian Antioch which many were not happy with. This caused the city’s people to split into two groups- those who followed Paul and Barnabas and those who refused to believe. This is the second struggle we come across in the first missionary journey that Paul and Barnabas faced. Then news soon got to them that they were stoned, which caused them to leave the town and move on. William Barclay says that “It had to be noted that Paul and Barnabas were more and more taking their lives in their hands. What was proposed in Iconium was nothing other than a lynching.”
When Paul and Barnabas moved onto a small town called Lystra in Lycaonia, they preached the good news. Paul healed a disabled person, which is the only miracle during the missionary journey, by saying “Get to your feet and stand up.” After this event the crowd who had witnessed the healing began to call Paul and Barnabas after the Greek gods Hermes and Zeus, this caused them to tear their clothes in disgust as they said “We are only human beings like you.” After this Jews arrived from Pisidian Antioch and Iconium and turned the people against Paul, they stoned him and dragged him outside of the town thinking he was dead. This is another struggle for Paul as yet again, he was unable to consolidate his work in his infant churches, and he had also put his life at risk for what he believed is in.
Barclay explains that “Lystra was a Roman Colony, but it was an outpost. Never the less when the people said what they had done, they were afraid. This is why they dragged what they thought was Paul’s dead body out of the town. They were afraid of the strong hand of Roman justice, and they were trying to get rid of Paul’s body to escape the consequences of their riot.” From Lystra, Barnabas and Paul moved on to another Lycaonia called Derbe, where they proclaimed the good news and made many disciples. On the return journey to Syrian Antioch, Paul and Barnabas pass through Lystra, Iconium and Pisidian Antioch to “put fresh heart into disciples, encouraging them to preserve their faith” as “we all have to experience hardships before we can enter the kingdom of God.”
From Pisidian Antioch, they moved to Perga, where they preached the word of the Lord and swiftly moved to Attalia, where they set sail for Syrian Antioch. Once they reached Syrian Antioch, they assembled the church and gave an account of all that God had done for them and how they had opened the door of faith to the pagans through their preaching. Barclay says that “the Christian church was now poised to take the greatest of all steps. They had decided, quite deliberately, to take the Gospel to all the world.” Therefore to conclude, I believe that the first missionary journey was an overall success although there were many struggles that Paul had to face in different towns, however in the second missionary journey, we see how these towns, in particular, have grown to be more accepting to Paul’s beliefs and Christianity.
Part B. Comment on the view that Paul’s reason for travelling was to make converts to Christianity. Some people may argue that Paul’s main reason for his missionary journeys was so that those who already believed in the word of God could grow to have more faith in God; however, others believe that Paul’s missionary journey aimed to convert both Jews and Gentiles to Christianity. Therefore some are chosen to believe that the first missionary was meant for Jewish converts and Jewish converts alone, as while in Pisidian Antioch, Paul says to the Jews who are jealous because Paul and Barnabas began to preach to the pagans Paul said, “we had to preach the word of God to you first, but since you have rejected it since you do not think yourselves worthy of eternal life we must turn to the pagans.”
However, on the other hand, others agree with William Barclay when he said, “The Christian church was now poised to take the greatest of all steps. They had decided, quite deliberately, to take the gospel out to all the world.” This allows people to believe that they too can join into Christianity as long as they repent, believe and be baptized in the two-stage incitation with water and the Holy Spirit. Another important part in the missionary journeys that clarifies that Paul’s conversions were for anyone is in the second missionary journey when Paul converted 3 different people – Lydia, the Gaoler and the Soothsayer, who were all completely different but treated exactly the same.
This allows equal opportunities for those who believe that conversion was equal. An additional key point in the clarification that Paul’s journeys and conversions were for all was that in each place that Paul visited, Luke is able to tell us that Jews, Greeks and Pagans all became believers. In my own opinion, I believe that equality is shown as an important feature during acts, also it can be seen as a turning point in peoples life’s as they are able to join as one in one church sharing the same interest which is God.