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Paul's First Ministry Journey
(Acts 13:1-14:28)

The next phase in the church's expansion into Turkey began in Acts 13:1. Here the prophets and teachers in the church at Antioch set apart Barnabas and Saul for a ministry work to which the Holy Spirit had called them. From Antioch's port on the Mediterranean called Seleucia Pieria, the two sailed with John Mark to Barnabas' home on Cyprus. At Paphos several important events took place: Saul began to use his Roman name Paul, Paul assumed leadership of the apostolic party, and the Roman proconsul Sergius Paulus became a believer. The proconsul owned numerous estates in the region of Pisidian Antioch; and perhaps because of his recommendation, the apostles sailed northward to the coast of Asia Minor landing at Perga, where John Mark left them. Paul and Barnabas proceeded inland, crossing the rugged Taurus Mountains before they arrived at Pisidian Antioch (Acts 13:13-14). Here on the first Sabbath they preached in the synagogue. Verses 13:16-47 recall Paul's first recorded sermon in Acts as well as the first recorded sermon in Turkey. Paul's ministry in Pisidian Antioch is shortened by opposition from the Jews and leading men and women of the city. Such opposition became a familiar pattern throughout Paul's ministry travels. The pair traveled to Iconium where many also believed. Again persecution drove them down the road to Lystra, where Paul was left for dead. Following a miraclous recovery, he and Barnabas continued to Derbe where many also believed. The two retraced their steps to strengthen the disciples and appoint leaders in the churches. These four churches in the southern portion of the Roman province of Galatia-Pisidian Antioch, Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe-became the core of Paul's churches in Anatolia. The apostles returned to Perga, and this time caught a ship at Attalia for their return to Antioch. The church there was greatly encouraged that God had opened the door of belief to the Gentiles (14:27). This first journey can be dated approximately to the years 47-48.


Paul's Second Ministry Journey
(Acts 15:36-18:22)

Paul was determined to revist the Galatian churches, but when Barnabas suggested that they take John Mark again, the two apostles parted company. Silas joined Paul, and they strengthened the churches in Syria and Cilicia on their way to Derbe and Lystra. Here Paul had a providential meeting with a young believer named Timothy. Recommended by the church there and in Iconium, Timothy was circumcised and then joined the apostles (16:1-3). After the three visited the church in Pisidian Antioch, the Holy Spirit forbade them to visit Ephesus in the province of Asia. Their subsequent route through central Turkey has occasioned much debate by scholars. They certainly turned northward following the Roman road, and then arrived at the important junction at Dorylaeum. Here they turned northwest toward the important cities of Nicea and Nicomedia in the province of Bithynia. But again the Holy Spirit forbade them from entering Bithynia. So they passed by Mysia and arrived at the important port city of Alexandria Troas (16:6-8), near the city of Troy made famous in Homer's Iliad. Here Paul received a vision of a Macedonian man; at last the Holy Spirit provided clear direction. Acts 16:10-17 begins the first of three "we" sections in the book (cf. 20:5-21:18; 27:1-28:16). These suggest that Luke was himself a companion and eyewitness to portions of the journeys he described. After a successful time of ministry in the provinces of Macedonia and Achaia, Paul departed Corinth by ship. He stopped briefly in Ephesus on his return to Jerusalem and Antioch, vowing to return if it was God's will (18:19-21). In his absence he left Priscilla and Aquila. This journey occurred about 50-52 with 1 ½ years based in Corinth.


Paul's Third Ministry Journey
(Acts 18:23-21:16)

God's will was that Paul visit Ephesus, so after a time he and Timothy started their journey to this metropolis of Asia. After visiting the churches in Galatia and Phrygia, they arrived at Ephesus via the upper road through the Cayster River valley. Ephesus was the fourth largest city in the Empire, boasting a population of perhaps 300,000 people. He rented the lecture hall of Tyrannus to preach and teach the gospel. In Romans 16:5 Paul sent greetings to Epenetus, his first convert in the province of Asia. The fruit of his 2 ½ year residency in Ephesus was that the entire province of Asia heard the word of the Lord (19:10). One of the seven wonders of the ancient world-the temple of Artemis-was located in Ephesus, and thousands of pilgrims and sightseers journeyed to Ephesus annually to worship the goddess at her temple. Paul's success, however, brought a reduction in traffic; hence the lucrative sale of Artemis images by the silversmiths was declined. The threat to their commercial interests provoked these merchants to take action, thus causing the riot described in Acts 19:23-41. Paul barely escaped from the city and headed up the coast, passing through Troas on the way to Macedonia. He also had problems in the Corinthian church (cf. 2 Cor. 2:12ff.) and was attempting to locate his emissary Titus, whom he had sent ahead. After a period of successful ministry in Macedonia and Achaia, Paul returned to Troas accompanied by at least eight of his associates (Acts 20:4 plus Luke). At Troas Paul raised the young Eutychus from the dead when he fell from the upper story of a Roman apartment house called a domus. The next day Paul walked over twenty miles to Assos where he met the others on board ship. Luke carefully plots the sea journey south through the Aegean Sea until the ship stopped at Miletus, a port city that boasted two harbors. There Paul summoned the Ephesian elders and delivered on the beach one of his most impassioned messages (20: 18-35). On his journey to Jerusalem Paul stopped at one more site in Turkey, the harbor at Patara (21:2). Patara became famous later as the birthplace of Nicholas, the patron saint of Christmas. Paul's third journey lasted from 53-56.


Paul's Journey to Rome (Acts 27:1-7)

Agabus and others had prophesied to Paul along the way that trouble awaited him in Jerusalem (Acts 21:4-14). His arrest in Jerusalem was provoked when some Jews from the province of Asia accused Paul of bringing his coworker, the Ephesian gentile Trophimus, into the temple area (21:27-29). Stones in Greek warned Gentiles that entrance beyond the Court of the Gentiles was prohibited. Today one such stone is on display at the Istanbul Archaeological Museum; it reads: "No intruder is allowed in the courtyard and within the wall surrounding the temple. Those who enter will invite death for themselves." Paul languished in Roman custody for two years at Caesarea until he appealed to Caesar (24:1-26:32). The Roman governor Festus then decided to send Paul to Rome for trial. In a touch of divine irony Paul is placed under guard on a ship from Adramyttium, bound for ports along the coast of Asia. His companions for this voyage that dates to the year 59 were Luke and Aristarchus. The northwest prevailing winds that blew across the Mediterranean forced ships sailing westward to hug the Anatolian coast of Cilicia and Pamphylia. At Myra in Lycia the Roman centurion transferred his prisoners to an Alexandrian ship returning to Rome (27:4-7). Such vessels were the most comfortable to sail on but would be heavily laden with grain to make bread for the Roman populace. The ship plodded slowly along Turkey's Carian coast until at Cnidus Paul glimpsed Anatolia for the last time on this trip. What followed was a harrowing shipwreck that cast Paul and his companions barely alive on the shores of Malta. The book of Acts closes with Paul arriving safely in Rome where was placed under house arrest.