First Missionary Journey of Apostle Paul (45-47)

Described in Acts 13:4-14:28, Paul’s first missionary journey began around the spring of 45 and ended around the spring or summer of 47.

Paul and Barnabas were sent out from the church of Antioch (modern Antakya) by the Holy Spirit, and they walked south to the Mediterranean port city of Seleucia (Acts 13:4). From Seleucia, they sailed to Cyprus’ port of Salamis, located on the eastern tip of the island and its largest city. When Paul and Barnabas— with Mark as their helper—arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed God’s word in the synagogues of the city for several weeks (Acts 13:5). They left Salamis and traveled along Cyprus’ southern coast until they came to Paphos, on the western tip of the island. Paphos was the capital of Cyprus and the seat of the Ro- man provincial procurator. In Paphos, Paul blinded a Jewish sorcerer and false prophet named Bar-Jesus, who was a court magician of the Roman governor Sergius Paulus. When Paulus saw what had happened, he believed in Jesus, for he was amazed at the teaching about the Lord (Acts 13:6-12).

Paul and his companions sailed across the Aegean Sea from Paphos to Perga, the capital of Pamphylia, where Mark deserted them and returned to Jerusalem (Acts 13:13). Paul and Barnabas likely took the western route to Pisidian Antioch along the Via Sebaste road. Paul and Barnabas ministered in the
synagogue, and then preached throughout the entire region (Acts 13:13-49).

Because of the increasing persecution in Pisidian Antioch (modern Yalvaç), Paul and Barnabas shook the dirt from their feet in protest and walked east to the city of Iconium (modern Konya), which was located on the northwest edge of the Roman province of Galatia. As was their normal practice, Paul and Barnabas spoke God’s word in the synagogue so effectively that a great number of Jews and non-Jews believed. So Paul and Barnabas spent an extended period of time there (Acts 13:50-14:5).

But once again, some Jews refused to believe and stirred up the non-Jews against Paul. The people of Iconium were sharply divided; some chose the side of the Jews, others believed and joined the apostles. After discovering a plot to kill them, Paul and Barnabas left Iconium and traveled to the eastern region of Lycaonia, in the Roman province of Galatia. They first traveled southwest from Iconium to Lystra (modern Hatunsaray), where they continued to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ. Then some Jews came to Lystra from Pisidian Antioch and Iconium, turning the people against Paul and Barnabas. They threw rocks at Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead. After the disciples of Lystra had gathered around Paul, possibly in prayer, he got up and went back into the city. The next day, Paul and Barnabas left Lystra and traveled east to Derbe (modern Ekinözü). They proclaimed the gospel of Jesus Christ there and a large number of people became disciples (Acts 14:6-21).

Reversing their direction, Paul and Barnabas returned to the new churches they had started in Lystra, Iconium, and Pisidian Antioch, in the province of Galatia. They encouraged and strengthened the new believers in the faith, and ordained elders (overseers, bishops) in each of the churches. After challenging them with the message that Christians must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God, they committed them to the Lord with prayer and fasting (Acts 14:21-23).

Leaving Pisidian Antioch, Paul and Barnabas walked south on the descending central route through the Taurus Mountains, returning to Perga, where they proclaimed the word of God. Leaving Perga, they walked along the coastal road to the Mediterranean port city of Attalia (modern Antalya). From there, Paul and Barnabas took a ship to the Mediterranean port city of Seleucia. After departing the ship, they traveled to Antioch, arriving around the spring or summer of 47. Although we can’t be precise, the time between Paul’s first and second missionary journeys was about eighteen months, from the fall of 48 to the spring of 49 (Acts 14:24-28).