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October 6, 2010


Escalating Resonances in Paul’s First Missionary Journey

by quaesitor

My adaptation of a map from the ESV Study Bible

We’ve done a short series on Acts 13-14 recently, and I had the job of wrapping things up, with just the last 8 verses or so. I have to say that I slightly panicked at what I initially, but erroneously, assumed was a rather slight and inconsequential passage.

It’s actually quite key to understanding what was about to happen at the Council of Jerusalem in Acts 15. It comes at the end of the famous First Missionary Journey that Paul and Barnabas undertake on commission from the Church in Antioch. And so I tried to put the whole journey (from Acts 13:1-14:28) into the perspective of both what comes before (in particular, Paul’s conversion in Acts 9) and the Jerusalem Council discussions of how to handle all the Gentiles getting converted. This is obviously part and parcel of Luke’s overarching agenda with the Book of Acts in seeing the gospel rippling out from the Jerusalem epicentre.

When you do this you find how central the 2 elements of Jesus’ commission to Paul in Acts 9, and the 2 summary points made in their Acts 4 debrief are to the whole story:

  • PREACHING TO GENTILES (& Jews) Acts 9:15 – Paul is ‘chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles … and Israel’
  • SUFFERING & OPPOSITION Acts 9:16 – Paul will be shown ‘how much he must suffer for my name’

Then check out the end of the section:

  • SUFFERING & OPPOSITION Acts 14:22 – We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God
  • PREACHING TO THE GENTILES (& Jews) Acts 14:27 – God opened the door of faith to the Gentiles

Once you see this, Luke’s selectivity in recording Paul & Barnabas’ experiences on their journey make perfect sense. Here’s a summary overview, picking out these two elements:

The next point to strike me on doing this was the escalating intensity of people’s reactions, as the journey proceeds:

  • positively – the numbers of responses grow, and the proportion of Jews/Gentiles believing shifts towards the latter
  • negatively – the seriousness and horror of the persecution deepens

You can listen to the whole talk here.

7 Comments Post a comment
  1. Oct 6 2010

    The ‘opening of the door’ to ministry among the gentiles may lie with the meeting with the Roman governor of Cyprus, Sergius Paulus. His family are attested at Pisidian Antioch – and where does Paul (note change of name!) head after Cyprus? Perhaps this explains the encouraging reception in the Roman colony.

    • Oct 7 2010

      hi david – thanks for the comment. it certainly sounds a promising lead!

  2. Oswaldo
    Mar 24 2012

    Hi!! This post is really good! Do you it for the other missionaries journeys?

    Thank you and congratulations!

    • Mar 26 2012

      Hi Oswaldo – thanks for the encouragement – i’m afraid i’ve not done it yet for the other missionary journeys. But as and when time and opportunity arise, i may well!

  3. Oswaldo
    Apr 15 2012

    Hi quaesitor! Thanks for responding.
    I used the images of your study to evangelize people here in Brazil.
    God bless you for this work.

  4. Mar 28 2014

    Mark, wanted to let you know that I used your map in a sermon to college students. Hope that’s ok. Thanks!


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