Paul’s First and Second Missionary Journeys


Paul and Barnabas set out from Antioch to Seleucia, where they set sail for the island of Cyprus.


Once Paul and Barnabas arrive on Cyprus, they begin to proclaim the Word of God in the Jewish synagogue.  John Mark was with them as a helper.


Traveling through the whole island, they arrive at Paphos where they are opposed by a Jewish sorcerer called Elymas.  The Lord causes Elymas to be blind, and Paul and Barnabas sail to Perga.


In Perga, John Mark leaves Paul and Barnabas and goes to Jerusalem.  Paul and Barnabas then head for Pisidian Antioch.


In Pisidian Antioch, Paul stands up and delivers a sermon in the synagogue, prompting the people to invite him and Barnabas back the following week.  However, the next week they are opposed by jealous Jewish leaders, who eventually convince the people to expel Paul and Barnabas.  They declare they will turn their mission efforts to the Gentiles (non-Jews).


Arriving at Iconium, Paul and Barnabas once again speak in the synagogue.  With the city divided on their teachings, Paul and Barnabas find out about a plot to stone them and leave the city for Lystra and Derbe.


In Lystra, Paul heals a man who was lame from birth.  When the crowds see what Paul does, they hail him and Barnabas as Greek gods and try to sacrifice to them.  However, after Jews in the city incite the people against Paul and Barnabas, they stone Paul and drag him outside of the city, assuming he is dead.  The next day, he and Barnabas depart for Derbe.


Paul and Barnabas preach the Word of God successfully in Derbe, and then head back to the cities they had already visited to strengthen the brothers and sisters in each city before they return to Syrian Antioch.  They also appointed elders in each city who would continue to guide and strengthen the family of believers.


Paul and Barnabas return to Lystra to encourage the believers there on their way to Iconium.


Paul and Barnabas return to Iconium to encourage the believers there on their way to Pysidian Antioch.


Paul and Barnabas return to Pysidian Antioch to encourage the believers there on their way to Perga.


Paul and Barnabas preach the Word in Perga, then set sail from Attalia back to Syrian Antioch.


Paul and Barnabas completed the First Missionary Journey in the late 40s AD.  It does not appear that they spent much time in the cities they visited, so the entire journey could have been done in about a year and a half.  Between the First and Second Missionary Journeys, Paul writes his letter to the Galatians (most likely the churches he visited on the First Journey) and also travels to Jerusalem for the Jerusalem Council around 49 AD (see Acts 15).  Some time later, Paul and Barnabas decide to conduct a Second Missionary Journey, but they disagree as to whether they should bring John Mark with them again because he left them early on the First Journey.  They split, with Barnabas taking John Mark and traveling to Cyprus, while Paul takes Silas and travels through Syria and Cilicia on their way to Derbe, thus beginning the Second Journey.


Paul travels from Derbe to Lystra, where he meets a young man named Timothy.  Everyone in the surrounding towns spoke well of him, so Paul has him circumcised and brings him along on the journey.  As he travels through Galatia, he delivers the decisions made at the Jerusalem Council and strengthens each church in the region on his way to Asia.


Paul and his companions were kept from preaching the gospel in the province of Asia by the Holy Spirit, so they head north toward Bithynia.


Luke tells us in Acts that “the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them” to enter Bithynia, so Paul and his companions head west to Troas.


While in Troas, Jesus’ plan for them on this journey is revealed to Paul in a vision.  In the vision, Paul sees a man from Macedonia begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.”  Due to the abrupt change from third person to first person pronouns, it is also believed that this is where Luke, the physician and author of the Gospel of Luke and Acts, joins Paul and his other companions.  In response to Paul’s vision, they all set out for Samothrace and Neapolis on their way to Philippi in Macedonia.


At Philippi, Paul and his companions meet a woman named Lydia who was a worshiper of God.  After baptizing her and the members of her household, they accept an invitation to stay at her house while they were in Philippi.

Later, Paul and those with him were followed by a girl who had a spirit that allowed her to predict the future.  For many days she would follow them and say, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.”  Paul eventually got annoyed and commanded the spirit to come out of the girl in the name Jesus Christ.  The men who used the girl’s telling the future to make money were upset and had Paul and Silas thrown in prison.

While they were in prison, an earthquake shook the foundations of the prison and the prison doors and chains were all opened.  With the jailer about to kill himself in fear of punishment from his superiors, he asks Paul and Silas what he must do to be saved.  They tell him, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.”  The jailer invited them over to his house, and that night he and his whole household believed and were baptized.

The next day, Paul and Silas were released from prison and left the city with the rest of their companions.


Paul and his companions travel to Thessalonica, where Paul spends three Sabbaths in the synagogue proclaiming Jesus as the Messiah.  A number of Jews and Greeks believed, but some Jews became jealous and started a riot in the city.  Looking for Paul at the house of a man named Jason, they dragged Jason and some other believers before the city officials.  The officials made Jason and the others post bond, while Paul and his companions were sent away by the believers during the night.


When they arrive at Berea, according to their custom they enter the synagogue and begin preaching about Jesus.  The Berean Jews are much more open to their message than the Thessalonicans were, so they examine the Scriptures every day to verify what Paul was saying about Christ.

The Jews in Thessalonica find out that Paul is in Berea and send people to agitate the crowds in the city.  The believers in Berea then send Paul to the coast and eventually Athens, but Silas and Timothy stay behind.


While Paul waits for Silas and Timothy to join him in Athens, he reasons with the Jews in the synagogue as well as the Greeks in the marketplace that Jesus is the promised Messiah.  Some philosophers bring him to a meeting of the Areopagus, a council of city elders and leaders, and have him explain this “new teaching” of Jesus as the Messiah.  This is where Paul delivers his famous sermon using an Athenian altar inscription to an “UNKNOWN GOD.”  Paul explains to them that the one, true God does not live in temples and that he has raised Jesus from the dead to prove that he is the Savior of the world.  After some believe, Paul then travels to Corinth.


When Paul arrives in Corinth he meets a Jew named Aquila and his wife, Priscilla.  Since they are tentmakers as he is, he stays and works with them, preaching Jesus as the promised Messiah each Sabbath in the synagogue.  When Timothy and Silas arrive, Paul then dedicates his whole time to gospel ministry.  With the Jews denying his message, he concentrates reaching out to the Gentiles (non-Jews).  After Jesus appears in a vision to Paul and tells him to keep preaching in Corinth, he stays there for a year and a half.  During this time, Paul writes the letters we know as 1 and 2 Thessalonians to the church he began earlier on this journey in Thessalonica.  Also at this time, Gallio, the proconsul of Achaia, dismisses the non-believing Jews’ attempts to stop Paul, a very important decision for the spread of the gospel in Achaia.  Paul eventually leaves Corinth with Aquila and Priscilla for Ephesus on his way back home to Syrian Antioch.


Paul stays briefly in Ephesus, preaching to the Jews in the synagogue and declining their request to stay.  He tells them he will return if it is the Lord’s will (and from what we see during the Third Missionary Journey, it certainly was).  Leaving Aquila and Priscilla in Ephesus, he sets sail for Caesarea.


Landing in Caesarea, Paul visits the believers in Jerusalem before heading back up north to Syrian Antioch.


Paul arrives back in Antioch having spent roughly 2.5 to 3 years on his Second Missionary Journey, being blessed to have preached the gospel in Europe.  Perhaps up to one year later he begins his Third Missionary Journey.