THE ACTS OF APOSTLES
Lesson 6: Chapters 13-14
The Church's Mission to the Gentiles
Saints Barnabas and Paul's First Missionary Journey

Almighty Father,
We thank You for men like St. Paul, and we are reminded that his great accomplishments are in part due to the friendship of St. Barnabas and the generosity of the Antioch faith community that sponsored Paul's three missionary journeys. We know that You give us similar opportunities to encourage the spread of the Gospel when we support the Church's missionary efforts. We thank You, Father, for those opportunities, and we know that our almsgiving to support the spread of the Gospel will be recorded in Your Books of Deeds and will be read out at the Last Judgment. Please send You Spirit to guide us as we read about Paul's adventures and his sufferings in carrying the Gospel to the Gentiles. We pray in the name of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen

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But consider the authority of the Holy Ghost. "While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, 'Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul.'" What being, unless of the same authority, would have dared to say this? And this happened so that they should not remain together among themselves. The Spirit saw that they had greater power and could be sufficient for many.
St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on Acts of the Apostles 27

Review of St. Paul's Conversion and New Life as a Christian (Acts 8-12)
Witnessed St. Stephen's martyrdom Acts 8:1
Mission to arrest and extradite Christians for the Sanhedrin Acts 8:3
Conversion experience on the road to Damascus Acts 9:1-19
Preaches the Gospel in Damascus but forced to escape Acts 9:20-25
Spends 3 years in Arabia Galatians 1:17-18
Returns to Damascus Galatians 1:17
Travels to Jerusalem to meet with the Apostle Peter and also James the Just (Bishop of Jerusalem) Acts 9:26-30; Galatians 1:17-19
Jews plan to kill him; escapes to Caesarea and then travels to Tarsus Acts 9:30; Galatians 1:21
Commissioned by Barnabas to join him in Antioch, Syria Acts 11:26
Takes a famine relief contribution to Jerusalem with Barnabas Acts 11:3
Returns to his Christian community in Antioch, Syria (49 AD) Acts 12:25

Chapter 13: The Church in Antioch Sponsors Missions to the Gentiles

St. Peter was arrested by King Agrippa I with the intention of being tried by the Sanhedrin and condemned to death "a death sentence Herod Agrippa was ready to carry out. But Peter was miraculously released from prison by an angel. Peter decided that it was time for him to leave Jerusalem. He gave authority over the Jerusalem community to St. James the Just, kinsman of Jesus and honored by the Church as the first Christian bishop of Jerusalem. According to Church tradition, Peter then traveled to the Roman province of Syria to make his home with the church in Antioch for seven years as he continued to visit newly formed Christian communities in the provinces of Asia Minor and Greece before going to Rome.

With the death of St. Peter's persecutor, Herod Agrippa I, at the end of Acts chapter 12, we have secular documents that can allow us to set the date of that event at 44 AD. Barnabas and Saul were in Jerusalem at that time delivering aid from their faith community at Antioch to the Jerusalem church. When they left to return to Antioch, they took young John Mark, Barnabas' kinsman and the son of Mary of Jerusalem, with them. John had the Jewish name Yohannan and also the Roman name Marcus. His mother was Jewish but his father was Roman. As our story of St. Peter's mission to the Gentile's ends, St. Paul's mission begins. See the chart on the life of St. Paul in the appendix to this lesson.

Acts 13:1-3 ~ The Antioch Community Commissions Barnabas and Saul
1 Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Symeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manean who was a close friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. 2 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them." 3 Then, completing their fasting and prayer, they laid hands on them and sent them off.

Notice how, in the naming of the prophets and teachers at Antioch, that Barnabas' name and Saul's name brackets the other leaders of the Antioch community.
Question: What is significant about the mention of Cyrenians at Antioch? Who was a Cyrenian who figured prominently in the Passion of the Christ? See Lk 23:26 (Mt 27:32; Mk 15:21); Acts 11:19-21.
Answer: The church at Antioch was founded by disciples from Cyprus and Cyrene, and a Cyrenian is named as a prominent member of the community. Simon of Cyrene carried the cross of Christ to Golgotha.

The city of Cyrene, located in Northern Africa, was the chief city of the Roman province of Cyrenaica (modern Libya). Symeon/Simon in 13:1 is the same name as the Cyrenian who carried the cross of Christ. The word "niger" means "black" in Latin. We do not know if this refers to his skin color and African origin, nor do we know if this is the same Simon/Symeon of Cyrene who carried the cross. We do know from Mark 15:21 that Simon of Cyrene is named as the father of Alexander and Rufus, which suggests they were known as members of the Church. Manean, also a leader of the church at Antioch, is named as a childhood friend of Herod Antipas. The Greek word used to describe their relationship is syntrophos and literally means "nurtured with" (Johnson, page 221). With the exception of Barnabas and Saul, none of these early teachers and prophets of the Church are named elsewhere in the New Testament.

Question: This is Luke's second reference to someone with a special relationship to Herod Antipas' household; who was the other person? See Lk 8:3.
Answer: The other person was Jesus' disciple Joanna, the wife of Herod Antipas' steward.

Acts 13:2 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them." That the Holy Spirit commands these men be "set apart" is used in the sense of "to consecrate/make holy."
Question: What special mission does the Holy Spirit give these men and the Christian community at Antioch, Syria and what is their response? See Acts 9:15.
Answer: He calls them to send Barnabas and Saul "for the work to which I have called them" which will be to carry the message of the Gospel of salvation to the Gentile nations. The leaders of the church immediately laid their hands upon Barnabas and Saul to consecrated them for the mission.

This is the logical next step after St. Peter has proclaimed the full inclusion of the Gentiles into the Church (Acts 10:44-11:18). This is the first of Saul/Paul's epic three missionary journeys recorded in Acts, all sponsored by the Christian church in Antioch in the Roman province of Syria under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. St. Luke emphasizes the divine character of the commission twice in 13:2 and 13:4. Notice that Barnabas' name still precedes Saul. Watch for the change in name order which will indicate that Paul has taken the leadership role in the mission.

St. Paul's First Missionary Journey
Approximate dates: 45 " 49 AD
Companions: Barnabas and John Mark
Mission field: Cyprus and Asia Minor (Turkey)
Approximate miles traveled: 1,400 miles
Sent by the church of Antioch, Syria
Mission to the island of Cyprus by way of Seleucia (sea port of Antioch in the province of Syria); travels across the island from Salamis to Paphos Acts 13:4-12
Antioch of Pisidia on the border between the provinces of Pisidia and Phrygia (south-central Asia Minor) Acts 13:13-51
Iconium in the province of Lycaonia/South Galatia (central Asia Minor) Acts 14:1-5
Lystra in the province of Lycaonia/South Galatia (central Asia Minor) Acts 14:6-19
Derbe in the province of Lycaonia/South Galatia (central Asia Minor) Acts 14:20
Back through Lystra, Iconium and Antioch Pisidia Acts 14:21-26
Perga in the province of Pamphylia (southern coast of Asia Minor) Acts 14:24-25
Attalia, a port city of Pamphylia (southern coast of Asia Minor) Acts 14:25
Return to home church at Antioch, Syria Acts 14:27-28
Michal E. Hunt Copyright © 2013

Acts 13:4-12 ~ Barnabas and Saul's First Missionary Journey
4 So they, sent forth by the Holy Spirit, went down to Seleucia and from there sailed to Cyprus. 5 When they arrived in Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the Jewish synagogues. They had John also as their assistant. 6 When they had traveled through the whole island as far as Paphos, they met a magician named Bar-Jesus who was a Jewish false prophet. 7 He was with the proconsul Sergius Paulus, a man of intelligence, who had summoned Barnabas and Saul and wanted to hear the word of God. 8 But Elymas the magician (for that is what his name means) opposed them in an attempt to turn the proconsul away from the faith. 9 But Saul, also known as Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him 10 and said, "You son of the devil, you enemy of all that is right, full of every sort of deceit and fraud. Will you not stop twisting the straight paths of the Lord? 11 Even now the hand of the Lord is upon you. You will be blind, and unable to see the sun for a time." Immediately a dark mist fell upon him, and he went about seeking people to lead him by the hand. 12 When the proconsul saw what had happened, he came to believe, for he was astonished by the teaching about the Lord.

Seleucia is Antioch's port city on the Mediterranean. They sailed to the island of Cyprus and arrived in Salamis, the island's largest city and a port on the Mediterranean. Josephus attests to a large Jewish population on the island (Antiquities of the Jews, 13.284-87). As becomes their custom, they first proclaim the Gospel in Jewish synagogues, traveling from Salamis, on the east side of the island, and continuing to Paphos, a city on the west coast. Barnabas' kinsman John Mark is the third member of their mission team as their assistant and not as a preacher.

Acts 13:6 When they had traveled through the whole island as far as Paphos, they met a magician named Bar-Jesus who was a Jewish false prophet.
The name, Bar-Jesus means "son of Jesus" or in Aramaic "son of Yehosua." Such a name was used by Jews as a surname to distinguish a man from another who might have his same personal name. In verse 8 we will learn that this man is called Elymas.
Question: What Apostle had a similar encounter with a magician? See Acts 8:9-13 and 18-24.
Answer: Philip converted a magician named Simon who was later rebuked by Peter.

In the Greek text of Acts 13:6 the man is called a magos/"magician"; it is the same title used in Acts 8:9 for Simon Magus.
Question: What did Jesus tell His disciples about false prophets? See Mt 7:15; 24:11, 24-25
Answer: Jesus warned His disciples that they would have to face false prophets who could work wonders.

Acts 13:7 He was with the proconsul Sergius Paulus, a man of intelligence, who had summoned Barnabas and Saul and wanted to hear the word of God.
The magician appears to be a sort of court advisor to the proconsul. The Senatorial provinces of the Roman Empire such as Cyprus were governed by a Roman administrator called a proconsul, while the imperial provinces were administered by military prefects like Pontius Pilate. There is evidence supporting Roman officials named Sergius Paulus serving in Cyprus.(1) There is no official hostility toward Christianity from the Roman authorities at this time, and the proconsul, who Luke stresses is an intelligent man, is open to hearing the Gospel message.

Acts 13:8 But Elymas the magician (for that is what his name means) opposed them in an attempt to turn the proconsul away from the faith.
Like all false prophets, Elymas bar Jesus attempts to subvert the Gospel message. It is possible that the Greek name Elymas is a version of the Arabic word Alim, which means wise man (Johnson, page 223). It has also been suggested that this man is the same man Josephus mentions as a Cyprian Jewish magician named Atomos (Antiquities of the Jews, 20:142).

Acts 13:9 But Saul, also known as Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him 10 and said, "You son of the devil, you enemy of all that is right, full of every sort of deceit and fraud. Will you not stop twisting the straight paths of the Lord?
St. Luke takes this opportunity of introduce the name Saul will be using throughout his Gentile missions "Paulus, or Paul. Paul was a Jew but he was also a Roman citizen and the son of a Roman citizen (Acts 16:3; 7-38; 22:25-29; 23:17). Born in the free city of Tarsus, the capital city of the Roman province of Cilicia, Paul world have had three names like all Roman citizens: praenomen, nomen, and cognomen. The praenomen was the given personal name, the nomen or nomen gentile or simply gentilicium was the name of the gens or clan. The cognomen was the name of the family line within the nomen/gens. An example is the name of Gaius Julius Caesar: Gaius is the praenomen (personal name), Julii is the gens (the clan), and Caesar the cognomen (family name within the clan).

In Paul's case the Latin name Paulus (in Greek Paulos), identified him as a member of the Paulli family. He was also known by the name "Saul" (Greek = Saulos) a transliteration of the Semitic name Shaul. Saul/Shaul was likely his supernomen, a personal nickname used chiefly with Jews. The question is how did his father obtain Roman citizenship? Citizenship was given for some service his father made to the Empire or it is possible his father was a freed slave (all freed Roman slaves were given full citizenship). A freed slave, or "freedman," customarily took part of his former owner's name while retaining his personal name. (2)That Paul shares the cognomen of Sergius Paulus (only this man's nomen/gens and cognomen are given) is probably only a coincidence.

Paul challenged the false prophet calling him a "son of the devil" which is in contrast to the name "son of Jesus" that the man bears.
Question: What is ironic about Paul blinding the magician?
Answer: Paul, who was once blinded by Jesus, demonstrates his greater power through Christ by blinding his adversary who practices the "dark arts" just as his adversary had attempted to blind the Roman from the truth of the Gospel.

Acts 13:12 When the proconsul saw what had happened, he came to believe, for he was astonished by the teaching about the Lord.
In this episode, St. Luke has shown that St. Paul is now taking up the mission of an apostle to which Jesus called him in his conversion experience. He is preaching, working miracles and converting souls like both Jesus and Peter.

Paul preached the Gospel to Sergius Paulus in Greek and he was Paul's first Gentile convert. God prepared the world for the spread of the Gospel centuries in advance when an insignificant prince from the territory of Macedonia in northern Greece inherited his father's throne and exploded out of his homeland to conquer much of the known world in the 4th century BC. Alexander the Great conquered lands from Greece to Egypt to the Indus River in India, spreading Greek culture and the Greek language, which became the international language for a thousand years afterward. Since the official language in the lands that Alexander conquered (in which his generals who succeeded him and set up their own Greek culture governments) spoke Greek, Paul and Barnabas were able to preach the Gospel in a tongue that was universally understood in the territories they visited.

Acts 13:13-15 ~ The Mission in Antioch in Pisidia
13 From Paphos, Paul and his companions set sail and arrived in Perga in Pamphylia. But John left them and returned to Jerusalem. 14 They continued on from Perga and reached Antioch in Pisidia. On the Sabbath they entered into the synagogue and took their seats. 15 After the reading of the law and the prophets, the synagogue officials sent word to them, "My brothers, if one of you has a word of exhortation for the people, please speak."

Notice that Paul is now listed as the leader of the missionary expedition. Paul, Barnabas and John Mark set sail from Paphos and arrive in Perga. To reach Perga, Paul and his companions would have covered the 200 miles from Cyprus to Perga by boarding a commercial vessel. Passenger ships for the general public did not exist in the first century AD. Shipping was almost exclusively for commercial or military purposes. Therefore, travelers made arrangements with merchants to board cargo ships.

The city of Perga is located seven miles inland up the Kestos River on the southern coast of what is today modern Turkey. Cargo that was transported over large distances over the open sea was generally loaded on large vessels with deep drafts. These ships, like the one Paul must have sailed on, docked at coastal ports that could accommodate such ships. A large cargo ship could not have gone up the Kestros River to Perga. The closest seaports to Perga were Magydos and Attalia, mentioned in Acts 14:26. Whether Paul's missionary team on their journey from Cyprus landed at Magydos or Attalia or at one of the other major Anatolian seaports closer to Cyprus (Side, Korakesion or Anamurium) is unclear. If they landed at one of these seaports, they either walked the coastal road to Side, where the road then led inland directly to Perga, or they took a smaller ship from one of these ports to the mouth of the Kestros River where they either took a small boat up river or simply walked the seven miles to Perga.

Perga was the principal pagan religious center for the province of Pamphylia and was the location of the one of the pagan temples of the goddess Artemis (the most famous temple was in Ephesus in Asia Minor). Artemis was the Greek name for the goddess the Romans called Diana. Artemis/Diana was one of the most widely worshiped pagan deities in the ancient world and was the patroness of hunters, forests, fertility and women in childbirth. From Perga they traveled to Antioch in Pisidia in the Roman province of Galatia in south-central Asia Minor. For some unknown reason, young John Mark parts company with the group and returns to Jerusalem. St. Paul views John Mark's departure as a defection and it will become a bone of contention between Paul and Barnabas that will eventually cause Barnabas to separate from Paul (Acts 15:37-39). Years later Paul and John Mark will be reconciled, and John Mark will stay with Paul during his house arrest in Rome (Col 4:10; Philem 24). John Mark will become Peter's secretary in Rome and Peter will refer to him affectionately as "my son" (1 Pt 5:13).

Acts 13:14-15 They continued on from Perga and reached Antioch in Pisidia. On the Sabbath they entered into the synagogue and took their seats. 15 After the reading of the law and the prophets, the synagogue officials sent word to them, "My brothers, if one of you has a word of exhortation for the people, please speak."
The route north from Perga to Pisidian Antioch was difficult and dangerous no matter which of the alternate routes they might have taken. There were some excellent Roman roads at this time that were designed for commercial and military wagons and carts and connected with only major centers. It is likely that Paul and his companions probably stuck to these paved roads since they were policed by Roman soldiers. The networks of less durable gravel and earth roads that connected smaller towns often traversed rough terrain and were frequented by robbers.

Antioch Pisidia is located on the border between the provinces of Pisidia and Phrygia and at the strategic crossroads of the Mediterranean, Aegean and Central Anatolian regions. Paul and Barnabas attend the Sabbath services at the local Jewish Synagogue where an invitation is extended to give a homily on the Sabbath readings "an invitation that Paul accepts. Philo of Alexandria (d. 50 AD) noted that after the readings one of special experience rises and sets forth what is the best and sure to be profitable and will make the whole of life grow to something better (Special Laws, 2.62). To approach the Jews first will be Paul's regular practice (14:1; 16:13; 17:10, 17; 18:4, 19; 19:8; 28:17, 23).

Question: Why will it be Paul's practice to go to the Jews first? See Mt 10:5-7; 15:21-28; Mk 7:26-27; Jn 4:22; Acts 3:26; Rom 1:16; 2:9-10.
Answer: In doing so he is acknowledging that the Jews have the first claim on the promised Messiah on the principle that Scripture promised the Messiah to the Jews and Jesus' mission was to the Jews first.

It is only after the Jews reject his Gospel message that Paul will turn to the Gentiles (Acts 13:46; 18:6; 28:28), fulfilling Jesus' message to Ananias that Paul is called to proclaim the Gospel of salvation in His name to Gentiles and Israelites (Acts 9:15).

Question: Paul's invitation to stand and share a message from the Scripture readings with the Jewish community is the first public address of his mission. What event is St. Luke is deliberately replaying that he recorded in Luke 4:16-30?
Answer: He wants the reader to see a parallel to Jesus' invitation to speak at His old Synagogue at Nazareth which is the first public address of His mission.

St. Paul's Homily to the Synagogue in Antioch in Pisidia

Acts 13:16-25 ~ Paul's Survey of Israel's History from the Exodus to John the Baptist
16 So Paul got up, motioned with his hand, and said, "Fellow Israelites and you others who are God-fearing, listen. 17 The God of this people Israel chose our ancestors and exalted the people during their sojourn in the land of Egypt. With uplifted arm he led them out of it 18 and for about forty years he put up with them in the desert. 19 When he had destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan, he gave them their land as an inheritance 20 at the end of about four hundred and fifty years. After these things he provided judges up to Samuel the prophet. 21 Then they asked for a king. God gave them Saul, son of Kish, a man from the tribe of Benjamin for forty years. 22 Then he removed him and raised up David as their king; of him he testified, I have found David, son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will carry out my every wish.' 23 From this man's descendants God, according to his promise, has brought [literally = raised up] to Israel a savior, Jesus. 24 John heralded his coming by proclaiming a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel; 25 and as John was completing his course, he would say, What do you suppose that I am? I am not he. Behold, one is coming after me; I am not worthy to unfasten the sandals of his feet.'
[..] =
literal translation IBGE, vol. IV, page 362.

The congregation in Antioch Pisidia is Jewish but also includes Gentile converts (verse 42) and Gentile God-fearers. This is the 6th kerygmatic address in Acts. Notice the differences in style between Peter's five addresses (Acts 2:14-39; 3:12-26; 4:8-12; 5:29-32; 10:34-43) and Paul's in 13:16-41. Paul begins his homily by calling on his fellow "Israelites;" note that the word "Israel" is repeated three times in Paul's homily (13:17, 23 and 24). He begins with a survey of Israel's history from Israel's divine election in the Exodus experience to the mission of Israel's last Old Testament prophet, St. John the Baptist. Notice how Paul, like Stephen's address to the Sanhedrin (Acts 7), pays close attention to historical details in the Torah and the historical books. However, Paul's theme is focused on proving that Jesus is the promised Messiah who God raised from the dead to bring salvation to His people. He skips over the history of the Patriarchs and does not focus on Stephen's double thematic points of Israel's rejection of God's prophets and that God is present in Gentile lands and is not limited to one land or building (although Paul will mention Jesus' rejection by the religious leaders that was prophesied by the prophets in 13:27).

Question: How does he introduce his proclamation of the Jesus the Messiah? What are the connections to King David? What is the significance of Paul's use of the phrase "raised up" in verse 22? See 1 Sam 13:14 and 2 Sam 7:12; 23:5.
Answer: He proclaims Jesus is the promised Davidic heir. He uses the words "raised up" referring to David being chosen by God to be Israel's king as an allusion to Jesus' resurrection when God "raised up" Jesus from the dead to be Israel's Davidic king. Jesus is the Savior of Israel "the one promised to secure David's throne forever in the unconditional, eternal covenant God made with David.

In his homily Paul will quote or allude to seven Old Testament passages from the Greek Septuagint translation (LXX) just as Peter referred to Scripture in his first homily. His first quote is in 13:22 I have found David, son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will carry out my every wish', which is a combination of three Old Testament passages:(3)

  1. I have found [chosen] David (Ps 88:21 LXX/Ps 89:20 Hebrew)
  2. The LORD seeks a man after his own heart (1 Sam 13:14)
  3. ... he will carry out my every wish (Is 44:28)

    As he continues in his homily, Paul will also refer to these other Scripture passages from the LXX:
  4. You are my son; this day I have begotten you (Ps 2:7 in Acts 13:33)
  5. I shall give you the benefits assured to David (Is 55:3 in Acts 13:34)
  6. You will not suffer your holy one to see corruption (Ps 16:10 in Acts 13:35)
  7. Look on, you scoffers, be amazed and disappear. For I am doing a work in your days, a work that you will never believe even if someone tells you. (Hab 1:5 in Acts 13:41)

A week later he will speak to the same group and will quote from Isaiah 49:6, I have made you a light to the Gentiles, that you may be an instrument of salvation to the ends of the earth.

Acts 13:22-23 Then he removed him and raised up David as their king; of him he testified, I have found David, son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will carry out my every wish.' From this man's descendants God, according to his promise, has brought [raised up] to Israel a savior, Jesus (emphasis added). It is a serious error that the NAB has failed to literally translate the verb "to raise up" in verse 23. The verb is egerio, "to waken, to raise up from sleep or death, raise (again up), rear up, rise (again up)."

The first phrase of verse 23: From this man's descendants God, according to his promise, is to remind Paul's audience of God's covenant promise to David in 2 Samuel 7:12 ~ I will raise up your heir after you, sprung from your loins, and I will make his kingdom firm (and also in 23:1). Connecting this promise to David to Paul's reference to God who "raised up David" in verse 22 and the same verb in the next part of the verse: From this man's descendants God, according to his promise, has brought [raised up] to Israel a savior, Jesus "Paul is declaring that Jesus is the heir of David "the "raised up" resurrected Savior of Israel. Paul purposely uses the same verb to refer to Jesus' resurrection five times in 13:23, 30, 33, 34 and 37 in the Greek text.

Acts 13:24-25 24 John heralded his coming by proclaiming a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel 25 and as John was completing his course, he would say, What do you suppose that I am? I am not he. Behold, one is coming after me; I am not worthy to unfasten the sandals of his feet.'
St. John was the prophet who announced Jesus' coming and prepared Israel to receive Him through a baptism of repentance. Notice the focus is still on Israel as the intended recipient of the Messiah. The quote ascribed to St. John appears to be a combination of St. John's testimony found in Luke 3:16-17 and in John 1:19 and 27.

Acts 13:26-41 ~ Paul's Homily Continued
26 My brothers, children of the family of Abraham, and those others among you who are God-fearing, to us this word of salvation has been send. 27 The inhabitants of Jerusalem and their leaders failed to recognize him, and by condemning him they fulfilled the oracles of the prophets that are read Sabbath after Sabbath. 28 For even though they found no grounds for a death sentence, they asked Pilate to have him put to death, 29 and when they had accomplished all that was written about him, they took him down from the tree and placed him in a tomb. 30 But God raised him from the dead, 31 and for many days he appeared to those who had come up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem. These are now his witnesses before the people. 32 We ourselves are proclaiming this good news to you that what God promised our ancestors 33 he has brought to fulfillment for us, their children, by raising up Jesus, as it is written in the second psalm, You are my son; this day I have begotten you.' 34 And that he raised him from the dead never to return to corruption he declared in this way, I shall give you the benefits assured to David.' 35 That is why he also says in another psalm, You will not suffer your holy one to see corruption.' 36 Now David, after he had served the will of God in his lifetime, fell asleep, was gathered to his ancestors, and did see corruption. 37 But the one whom God raised up did not see corruption. 38 You must know, my brothers, that through him forgiveness of sins is being proclaimed to you, and in regard to everything from which you could not be justified under the law of Moses, 39 in him every believer is justified. 40 Be careful, then, that what was said in the prophets not come about: 41 Look on, you scoffers, be amazed and disappear. For I am doing a work in your days, a work that you will never believe even if someone tells you.'"

This is the heart of Paul's kerygmatic message in verses 26-33: the Messiah was sent to Israel but Israel, in ignorance, failed to recognize her Messiah and unjustly condemned Him by hanging Him on a tree as prophesied by the prophets (Lk 24:25, 44). (3) But God raised Him from the dead and in Him every believer is justified (made right with God).

Acts 13:32-33 We ourselves are proclaiming this good news to you that what God promised our ancestors 33 he has brought to fulfillment for us, their children, by raising up Jesus, as it is written in the second psalm, You are my son; this day I have begotten you' (emphasis added).
This is the third time Paul has referred to the theme of the fulfillment of prophecy (see 13:27, 29 and 33). Then Paul then quotes from Messianic Psalms 2:7 LXX. Peter has also referred to this psalm in Acts 4:25-28 when he quoted Psalms 2:1-2. Paul gives three quotations from Scripture in verses 32-36 all of which refer to aspects of Jesus' Resurrection (see underlined passages). Together, these quotations support and interpret one another and reveal the full meaning of the main texts concerning the promises made to David of the future messianic king who, since he is born of God, will never experience the corruption of the grave. St. Peter made the same argument in his first homily in Acts 2:24-31.

Acts 13:34-36 And that he raised him from the dead never to return to corruption he declared in this way, I shall give you the benefits assured to David. 35 That is why he also says in another psalm, You will not suffer your holy one to see corruption. 36 Now David, after he had served the will of God in his lifetime, fell asleep, was gathered to his ancestors, and did see corruption.
Then Paul quotes from Isaiah 55:3 LXX when he says I shall give you the benefits assured to David and Psalms 16:10 LXX You will not suffer your holy one to see corruption. Psalms 16:10 is the same quote Peter used at Pentecost in Acts 2:31; both Peter and Paul use Psalms 16:10 as a proof text for the prophecy of Jesus' Resurrection from the dead (also see Heb 1:5 and 5:5).
Question: What is the point both Peter and Paul made using Psalm 16:10? See Acts 13:36-37.
Answer: The point both Peter and Paul make is that this psalm could not have been directed to David who died, whose body corrupted in the grave, and who was not raised from the dead. David prophesied Jesus' Resurrection since the Psalms cannot be referring to David.

Acts 13:38-39 You must know, my brothers, that through him forgiveness of sins is being proclaimed to you, and in regard to everything from which you could not be justified under the law of Moses, 39 in him every believer is justified.
The sinner's justification through Christ Jesus (being made right with God) will be a major theme of Paul's letter to the Romans (see Romans chapter 3, for example and CCC 1987 and 2018-2020). In Romans Paul says that They are justified freely by his grace through the redemption in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as an expiation, through faith, by his blood, to prove his righteousness because of the forgiveness of sins previously committed, through the forbearance of God "to prove his righteousness in the present time, that he might be righteous and justify the one who has faith in Jesus (Rom 3:24-26). Teaching on Romans 3:24-26, the Council of Trent explained that when the Apostle says that man is justified by faith ... these words must be taken in the sense that ... faith is the beginning of salvation,' the basis and root of all justification, without which it is impossible to please God' (Trent: De iustificatione, chap. 8, quoting St. Fulgentius, De fide ad Petrum and Heb 11:6).

Question: How was the Old Covenant Law limited in justification for sinners? For what could members of the Sinai Covenant not be forgiven under the Law of Moses and why? What is different in Jesus' atoning sacrifice? See Num 15:27-31.
Answer: The old Law could identify what was sin and condemn the sinner for transgressing the Law, but it was powerless to help the people resist sin. There was only forgiveness under the old sacrificial system for inadvertent sins and there was no means of forgiveness for intentional sin under the Law of Moses because no animal could be perfect enough to remove the stain of mortal sins. Jesus is the unblemished lamb of sacrifice and through Him all sins can be forgiven "both venial and mortal.

Paul says that "in him every believer is justified." Jesus' sacrifice can be applied to all sins of all who believe "even to those who have died before having the opportunity to claim His sacrifice. This is why Jesus descended to the abode of the dead. It was not just to show He had fully died in His humanity but also so He could preach the Gospel of salvation to those held captive in the grave and offer them His gift of forgiveness and salvation (CCC 633; 1 Pt 3:18-22; 4:6).

Acts 13:40-41 Be careful, then, that what was said in the prophets not come about: 41 Look on, you scoffers, be amazed and disappear. For I am doing a work in your days, a work that you will never believe even if someone tells you.'"
Paul warns his audience not to make the prophecy of the rejection of God's Messiah true for them as he quotes from the prophet Habakkuk 1:5.

Acts 13:42-47 ~ The Response of the Congregation
42 As they were leaving, they invited them to speak on these subjects the following Sabbath. 43 After the congregation had dispersed, many Jews and worshipers who were converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who spoke to them and urged them to remain faithful to the grace of God. 44 On the following Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the world of the Lord. 45 When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and with violent abuse contradicted what Paul said. 46 Both Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly and said, "It was necessary that the word of God be spoken to you first, but since you reject it and condemn yourselves as unworthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles. 48 For so the Lord has commanded us, I have made you a light to the Gentiles, that you may be an instrument of salvation to the ends of the earth.'"

At first the members of the Jewish synagogue were receptive, but the next week their attitude changed. Notice Paul's name is listed first in verses 43 and 46. The last time Barnabas was named before Paul was in 13:7. Paul is now the acknowledged leader of the mission.
Question: What caused the change in their reception of Paul and Barnabas's message?
Answer: When they saw that Paul and Barnabas were prepared to give the same hope of salvation to the Gentiles, the Jews became jealous and hostile.

Acts 13:47 For so the Lord has commanded us, I have made you a light to the Gentiles, that you may be an instrument of salvation to the ends of the earth.'"
Verse 47 contains a quote from Isaiah 49:6, I have made you a light to the Gentiles, that you may be an instrument of salvation to the ends of the earth. The same passage is quoted by Luke's Gospel in 2:32 where it refers to Jesus.
Question: In response to the Jew's hostility, why do Paul and Barnabas quote from Isaiah 49:6?
Answer: They quote the passage to support their decision to take the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles. The Isaiah verse is from a Messianic passage that refers to Jesus, as Luke 2:32 confirms, but Paul and Barnabas, as Christ's chosen emissaries, apply it to themselves because Jesus is a "light for the Gentiles" through the preaching of His apostles.

Question: To whom does the word "Lord" apply in the first part of verse 48?
Answer: In applying this passage to themselves they are also conscious that they have the authority from Jesus to preach in His name; therefore, the reference the "Lord" in the first part of verse 47 refers not to God the Father but to God the Son - the divine Messiah.

Acts 13:48-52 ~ Proclaiming the Gospel to the Gentiles and Persecution
48 The Gentiles were delighted when they heard this and glorified the word of the Lord. All who were destined for eternal life came to believe, 49 and the word of the Lord continued to spread through the whole region. 50 The Jews, however, incited the women of prominence who were worshipers and the leading men of the city, stirred up a persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their territory. 51 So they shook the dust from their feet in protest against them and went to Iconium. The disciples were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.

All who were destined for eternal life came to believe ... It is God's will that all of us be "destined for eternal life" as St. Peter will write ... he is patient with you, not wishing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance (2 Pt 3:9). But in exercising the gift of free will, there will be those who will not fulfill their destiny to reside with God in eternal beatitude. In either case, God, being omnificent, knows who will be choose life and those who will not.

The sin of jealousy (verse 45) turned to rage. It is a repeat of what Peter and John faced in Acts 5:17 and 33. Certain Jews incited opposition against Paul and Barnabas and expelled them from the territory. Unlike the unrighteousness that fills their opponents, Paul, Barnabas and the believers in the city are "filled with joy and the Holy Spirit."

Question: Why did the apostles shake the dust from their feet? See Mt 10:14; Lk 9:5 and 10:11.
Answer: This is a gesture of contempt for those who have rejected Jesus' Gospel of salvation; it is a gesture commanded by Jesus himself to his emissaries. Those who reject the Kingdom and the gift of salvation are themselves rejected.

Chapter 14 ~ Continuation of the First Mission

Acts 14:1-7 ~ Paul and Barnabas at Iconium
1 In Iconium they entered the Jewish synagogue together and spoke in such a way that a great number of both Jews and Greeks came to believe, 2 although disbelieving Jews stirred up and poisoned the minds of the Gentiles against the brothers. 3 So they stayed for a considerable period, speaking out boldly for the Lord, who confirmed the word about his grace by granting signs and wonders to occur through their hands. 4 The people of the city were divided: some were with the Jews; others, with the apostles. 5 When there was an attempt by both the Gentiles and the Jews, together with their leaders, to attack and stone them, 6 they realized it and fled to the Lycaonian cities of Lystra and Derbe and to the surrounding countryside, where they continued to proclaim the good news.

Iconium is in the province of Lycaonia that is east of Pisidia in central Asia Minor (Pliny, Natural History, 5.95); although it is sometimes designated as in Phrygian territory (see Pliny, Natural History, 5.145). It was a city of great antiquity that was strategically located near the western end of a vast plain with mountains a few miles to the west. Two important trade routes passed through the city, one was the trade route known as the Via Sebaste (Royal Road) that ran to Ephesus and Rome. Once again the missionaries experience a division in the population between those who gladly accept their Gospel message and those who become hostile.
Question: What did Jesus tell His disciples about this kind of division and opposition? See Mt 12:30 and Lk 12:51-52.
Answer: The division between the people in Antioch Pisidia and Iconium reminds us of Jesus' teaching in Luke 12:51-52 when He said: Do you think that I have come to establish peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. From now on a household of five will be divided, three against two and two against three ... and also in Matthew 12:30 when He said: He who is not with me is against me.

Paul and Barnabas are apostles with a small "a." The term "apostles" is more broadly used at this point in the spread of the Gospel. They are emissaries "those "sent" (meaning of the word "apostle") but they are not considered Apostles with a capital "A" which designates the originally chosen emissaries of Jesus Christ. Paul will, however, continually defend his claim to the title "apostle" in his letters; his argument being that he was also personally chosen by Jesus in his conversion experience. Like Peter, Paul and Barnabas work "signs and wonders" (Acts 2:22, 43, 4:30; 8:13).

Acts 14:8-13 ~ Paul and Barnabas at Lystra
8 At Lystra there was a crippled man, lame from birth, who had never walked. 9 He listened to Paul speaking, who looked intently at him, saw that he had the faith to be healed, 10 and called out in a loud voice, "Stand up straight on your feet." He jumped up and began to walk about. 11 When the crowds saw what Paul had done, they cried out in Lycaonian, "The gods have come down to us in human form." 12 They called Barnabas "Zeus and Paul "Hermes," because he was the chief speaker. 13 And the priest of Zeus, whose temple was at the entrance to the city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates, for he together with the people intended to offer sacrifice.

Lystra is a Roman colony and the hometown of St. Timothy (Acts 16:1-2; 2 Tim 3:11) who will become a missionary companion of St. Paul. Timothy was the son of a Jewish woman (Eunice) and a Greek father (Acts 16:1-3; 2 Tim 1:5). Timothy will join Paul's second missionary journey (Acts 16:2-3), and Paul will become very fond of him, calling Timothy "my beloved and faithful child in the Lord" (1Cor 4:17). That the people are speaking the Lycaonian dialect to each other instead of Greek indicates that Paul and Barnabas are in a remote part of the province. Paul was preaching in Greek to these Gentiles, and some of the misunderstanding that occurred could have been because the people were not fluent in the Greek language.

Question: Paul's healing of the man who was lame recalls what previous miracle of Peter? See Acts 3:1-10. The Greek word choloi (lame) is used in both 3:2 and 14:8.
Answer: Paul's healing of the man "lame from birth" recalls Peter's healing of the man who was also "lame from birth," and like Paul who "looked intently at him" (verse 9), Peter also "looked intently at him" (3:4) Like Peter, Paul also realized that the man "had the faith to be healed."

As in other cases of healing the miracle is a result of faith. Paul responded to the man's faith as Jesus did to the faith of the friends of the paralytic in Capernaum (Lk 5:17-26). Like the man who leaped to his feet in Acts 3:8, this man also leaped to his feet. Both miracles recall Isaiah's prophecy of the Messianic age in Isaiah 35:6 when "the lame leap like a stag ..." and Jesus' miracle in Luke 5:17-26.

Acts 14:11-13 When the crowds saw what Paul had done, they cried out in Lycaonian, "The gods have come down to us in human form." 12 They called Barnabas "Zeus and Paul "Hermes," because he was the chief speaker. 13 And the priest of Zeus, whose temple was at the entrance to the city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates, for he together with the people intended to offer sacrifice.
Question: What does this episode remind you of from Acts 12:21-23?
Answer: It is reminiscent of the crowd calling Herod Agrippa I a god.

The Gentile pagans attribute the miracle not to the God of the Jews but to Paul and Barnabas. They call Barnabas (obviously the elder of the two) Zeus, the chief deity in the Greek pantheon, and they call Paul Hermes, the son of Zeus who is associated with the role of messenger of the gods and the god who governs speech. The people get the priest of Zeus, whose temple is near the city gate, to offer sacrifices and to bring garlands for the "gods" to wear.

Acts 14:14-20 ~ Controversy at Lystra
14 The apostles Barnabas and Paul tore their garments when they heard this and rushed out into the crowd, shouting, 15 "Men, why are you doing this? We are of the same nature as you, human beings. We proclaim to you good news that you should turn from theses idols to the living God, who made heaven and earth and sea and all that is in them.' 16 In past generations he allowed all Gentiles to go their own ways; 17 yet, in bestowing his goodness, he did not leave himself without witness, for he gave you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, and filled you with nourishment and gladness for your hearts." 18 Even with these words, they scarcely restrained the crowds from offering sacrifice to them. 19 However, some Jews from Antioch and Iconium arrived and won over the crowds. They stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead. 20 But when the disciples gathered around him, he got up and entered the city. On the following day he left with Barnabas for Derbe.

Question: How is the reaction of Paul and Barnabas when the people declared them gods different from that event when Herod Antipas I was called a "god"?
Answer: Paul and Barnabas are horrified and vigorously deny any connection with divinity other than to Jesus Christ the "living God."

Paul is speaking to a Gentile audience when he says We proclaim to you good news that you should turn from theses idols to the living God, who made heaven and earth and sea and all that is in them.' 16 In past generations he allowed all Gentiles to go their own ways; 17 yet, in bestowing his goodness, he did not leave himself without witness, for he gave you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, and filled you with nourishment and gladness for your hearts."
The phrase "who made heaven and earth and sea and all that is in them" is an echo of what Peter said in Acts 4:24 and also recalls Old Testament passages (Ex 20:11; Neh 9:6; Is 37:16; LXX Ps 145:6). Paul tells the Gentiles that although God "allowed all Gentiles go their own ways" in serving false gods in the past, He still gave them testimony of Himself through the wonders of the natural world, and nature is the witness to them of God's goodness in blessing them and the earth. But now they should turn away from false idols, which are dead objects, and embrace the Gospel (good news) of the living God.

Acts 14:19-20 However, some Jews from Antioch and Iconium arrived and won over the crowds. They stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead. 20 But when the disciples gathered around him, he got up and entered the city. On the following day he left with Barnabas for Derbe.<
Question: That Paul was stoned and "dragged" outside the city should have reminded Paul of what event years earlier? What prophecy of Jesus concerning Paul's ministry has come true in this episode? See Acts 7:57-59; 8:1-3 and 9:15-16.
Answer: As Paul was being "dragged" outside the city he must have recalled the circumstances of St. Stephen's martyrdom and his part in it and that Paul had "dragged" Christians out of their homes to be tortured and in some cases stoned. Paul's suffering is a fulfillment of Jesus' prophecy.

Some Jews from Antioch Pisidia and Iconium, cities Paul and Barnabas visited earlier, intervened; not to assist them but to condemn them, probably convincing the crowd that they had been fooled. Paul was stoned and believed to be dead until he was rescued by some of the Jews and Gentiles who had become disciples. The next day they left for Derbe. Derbe is named with Lystra in 14:6 as one of the cities of Lycaonia. Lycaonia was a district east of Pisidia and north of the Tarsus Mountains.

Acts 14:21-28 ~ The End of the First Mission
21 After they had proclaimed the good news to that city and made a considerable number of disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch. 22 They strengthened the spirits of the disciples and exhorted them to persevere in the faith, saying, "It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the kingdom of God." 23 They appointed presbyters for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, commended them to the Lord in which they had put their faith. 24 Then they traveled through Pisidia and reached Pamphylia. 25 After proclaiming the word at Perga they went down to Attalia. 26 From there they sailed to Antioch, where they had been commended to the grace of God for the worked they had now accomplished. 27 And when they arrived, they called the church together and reported what God had done with them and how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles. 28 Then they spent no little time with the disciples.

Paul and Barnabas then bravely returned to the cities where they had already preached.
Question: What three actions did they take with the newly formed Christian communities?
Answer:

  1. They encouraged those newly converted to remain faithful.
  2. They appointed elders to lead the community.
  3. They fasted and prayed with each church.

Question: Paul and Barnabas told each new community "It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the kingdom of God." This warning contains what implied promise?
Answer: If they persevere in hardships and remain faithful they will enter the kingdom of God!

Paul and Barnabas now begin their homeward journey, traveling through the provinces of Pisidia and Pamphylia. Arriving back at Perga (13:13), they traveled to Attalia, the seaport on the coast of Pamphylia. From Attalia they set sail for home to Antioch where they had been commissioned the grace of God for the worked they had now accomplished.
Question: When they arrived at home and joined their faith community, what was the first thing they did?
Answer: They reported on the success of their mission to the Gentiles of Cyprus and Asia Minor, giving all the credit for their success to God.

Acts 14:28 Then they spent no little time with the disciples.
Paul and Barnabas fit back into the life of the community. This transition phrase provides the link to the next part of the narrative that concerns the great crisis that comes to the Antioch Christians and Paul's support for his community.

Just as Luke presented St. Peter's mission to preach the Gospel as a parallel to Jesus' mission, now he presents St. Paul's mission to preach the Gospel as a parallel to St. Peter's mission.

The Parallels of Peter and Paul in the Gospel of Luke and Acts
Peter Paul
Commissioned by Christ (Lk 5:8-11) Commissioned by Christ (Acts 9:1-19)
A name change signified a change in mission (Lk 5:8) A name change signified a change in mission (Acts 13:9)
First sermon in Jerusalem (Acts 2:22-36) First sermon in Antioch, Pisidia (Acts 13:26-41)
Announce the miracles are from God and not of themselves (Acts 3:12-16) Announce the miracles are from God and not of themselves (Acts 14:15)
Success followed by persecution (Acts 2:41; 4:1-4) Success followed by persecution (Acts 13:48-50)
First accompanied by John (Acts 3:1; 8:14) First accompanied by Barnabas (Acts 11:30; 12:25)
Healing a lame man (Acts 3:1-10) Healing a lame man (Acts 14:8-11)
Filled with the Spirit (Acts 4:8) Filled with the Spirit (Acts 13:9)
Many extraordinary healings (Acts 5:15) Many extraordinary healings (Acts 19:12)
Authority in the laying-on-of-hands to bring the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:17) Authority in the laying-on-of-hands to bring the Holy Spirit (Acts 19:6)
Conflict with a magician (Acts 8:18-24) Conflict with a magician (Acts 13:6-11)
Raised the dead (Acts 9:36-41) Raised the dead (Acts 20:9-12)
Hostility from the Jews, beaten and threatened with death (Acts 5:17, 40; 12:1-5) Hostility from the Jews, beaten and threatened with death (Acts 14:5, 19; 21:27-32, 22:19; 23:12)
Miraculously released from jail (Acts 5:19-20; 12:6-11) Miraculously released from jail (Acts 16:25-41)
Sent to preach to the Gentiles (Acts 10) Sent to preach to the Gentiles (Acts 13:47)
Michal E. Hunt Copyright © 2013

Question for reflection or group discussion:

Discuss the methods of Peter and Paul in proclaiming the Gospel. What are the different challenges they faced in presenting the Gospel to Jews, to Gentile God-fearers, and to pagan Gentiles who knew nothing about the God of the Jews? How would you proclaim the Gospel to someone who had never heard of the God of Christians?

This is the end of the first half of our study on Acts of Apostles. Our classroom study will resume with Part II of Acts of Apostles on Wednesday, September 4th.

Endnotes:

1. There are two Greek inscriptions discovered in Cyprus that may relate to the Roman Sergius Paulus named in Acts 13:7. One inscription records that a man named Paulus was proconsul around the year 50 AD, which is probably too late for Paul's visit unless the same man served an earlier term (not uncommon). The other inscription names a Quintus Sergius Paulus as proconsul during the reign of Caligula (37-41 AD), too early for Paul's visit. Paul's missionary work in Cyprus was probably in 45/46 AD. In addition, a Latin inscription was discovered in Rome that refers to a man named Lucius Sergius Paulus, who was appointed by the Senate to an administrative post during the reign of Claudius who reigned from 41-54 AD. We cannot positively identify any one of these men as Paul's convert, but the inscriptions prove that the Roman family Sergius Paulus was prominent during the period of Acts and at least two members of that family served in Cyprus. It is feasible that a member of that family could have been a proconsul of Cyprus at the time of Paul's first missionary journey.

2. During the Roman Republic and Empire, the cognomen is inherited from father to son, serving to distinguish a family within a nomen or gens (clan). Often the cognomen was chosen based on some physical characteristic or personal trait. According the Pliny the Elder, the cognomen "Caesar" originated with an ancestor who was born by caesarean section (from the Latin verb "to cut", caedere). The Historia Augusta, however, suggests three alternative explanations: the first Caesar had an abundance of hair (Latin = caesaries); or he had bright grey eyes (Latin = oculis caesiis); or that he killed an elephant (caesai in Moorish) in battle. Augustus Caesar issued coins featuring images of elephants, suggesting that he favored this interpretation.

3. St. Clement quoted from these same passages in the same order in 1 Clement 18.1.

4. This is another reference to one being hung on a tree being accursed by God from Deuteronomy 21:22-23. See references to this passage made by Peter in 5:30 and 10:39 and the implications being explained more fully by Paul in Gal 3:13.

Appendix:

MAJOR EVENTS IN ST. PAUL'S LIFE

YEAR AD
(most dates are approximate)
Born at Tarsus (in modern Turkey) of Jewish parents who trace their ancestry to the tribe of Benjamin and who are Roman citizens, a status also given Saul/Paul (Rom 11:1; Phil 3:5). 10?
Arrival in Jerusalem to study with the scholar Gamaliel (Acts 22:3).
He is a Pharisees (Acts 23:6; 1 Co 15:9; Gal 1:13; Phil 3:6)
30?
Sent as an officer of the Sanhedrin to arrest Christians in Damascus
Encounter with Christ and conversion on the road to Damascus
34?
3 year sojourn in Arabia and mission to Damascus (Gal 1:17) 34-36?
Visit to Jerusalem to meet with the Apostles (Gal 1:18) 36/37?
Return to home in Tarsus (Acts 9:30) ?
Barnabas brings Saul to the church in Antioch, Syria (Acts 11:25) 41-43?
Mission to take supplies to the church in Jerusalem and return to Antioch (Acts 11:29-30; 12:25) 44
1st Missionary journey to Cyprus and Asia Minor (S. Galatia)
Changes his Hebrew name to the Latin name "Paulus"
(Acts 13-14)
45-49
-Jewish Christians from Jerusalem upset the church at Antioch
-Letter to the Galatians
-Sent as a delegate to the Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15)
49/50
49/50
2nd Missionary journey (Acts 15:36-18:21)
-speaks at Athens & Corinth in Greece. Meets the Roman Gallio+
-writes the letters 1 & 2 Thessalonians
50-52
50/51
51-52
3rd Missionary journey (Acts 18:23-21:14)
-mission to Phrygia & N. Galatia
-mission to Ephesus and stays three years (Acts 20:31)
-wrote first letter to the Corinthians from Ephesus
-mission to northern Greece (Macedonia & into Illyricum)
-wrote second letter to the Corinthians written from Macedonia
-mission to Corinth (Greece)
-wrote letter to the Roman Christians from Corinth
53-58
53
54-56*
54
54
56/57
57/58
Winter 58
Return to Jerusalem with offerings from the Gentile Christian churches;
attacked by the Jews and rescued by Romans (Acts 21:15-23:22).
Spring 58
Imprisoned by the Romans in Caesarea for two years (Acts 24:24-27)
-Preaches the Gospel to Roman governor Felix and his wife
-Preaches the Gospel to Roman governor Festus & King Agrippa II
Spring 58
58
60
As a Roman citizen he appeals to the tribunal in Rome.  Sent to Rome
-Ship wrecked off Malta (Acts 27); arrives in Rome the following spring (Acts 28:11-14)
60-61
Under Roman "house arrest" for two years and preaches to all visitors
-writes letters to Christian churches in Colossus, Ephesus, Philippi and to the Christian Philemon (Acts 28:30-31)
61-63
Released by the Romans and probably makes 2 missionary journeys: one to the East and another to the West (Romans 15:24, 28)
-wrote or gave as an address the letter to the Hebrews (?)
63-67
Arrested upon his return to Rome; martyrdom by beheading 67

*three years as the ancients counted
M. Hunt copyright 2002, revised 2007

+Paul's life can be related to four dates fixed by external historical sources:

  1. The death of King Herod Agrippa I in 44 AD
  2. The administration of the Roman governor Gallio at Corinth in 50/51 or 51/52 AD
  3. The administration of the Roman governor Felix in Judea in 58-60 AD
  4. The administration of the Roman governor Festus in Judea in 60-61 AD

Paul recorded that three years passed from the time of his conversion until his first journey to Jerusalem (Galatians 1:17-18) and that there was a 14 year span (Galatians 2:1) between his first and his second visit to Jerusalem to consult with the Apostles at the Council of Jerusalem (the ancients counted without the concept of 0 as a place value so the first number or day or year in any series would count as #1). If the Council of Jerusalem was in 49/50 AD then Paul's first visit to Jerusalem was in 36/37 AD.

*For the period of Paul's life not covered by Biblical sources, I referred to the writings of Clement, Bishop of Rome (martyred circa 96/100 AD). Clement who was baptized and later ordained by St. Peter, served as Peter's assistant and became a friend of Paul's when he was imprisoned in Rome in 61AD. He may be the Clement mentioned by Paul in Philippians 4:3. In his letter to the Church at Corinth, St. Clement recorded that Paul had suffered imprisonment seven times preaching both in the East and in the West, he gained the illustrious reputation due to his faith, having taught righteousness to the whole world, and come to the extreme limit of the West, and suffered martyrdom under the prefects. Clement's reference to "the West" may be a reference to the journey to Spain to spread the Gospel, a plan Paul outlines in his letter to the Romans (Rom 15:24, 28). St. Clement is the 4th Bishop of Rome after St. Peter, counting Peter as the 1st Bishop of Rome. See The Epistles of Clement, Chapter V; The Ante-Nicene Fathers, volume 9, pages 230-231.

Michal Hunt, Copyright © 2013 Agape Bible Study. Permissions All Rights Reserved.

Catechism references for Acts 13-14 (*indicated that Scripture is either quoted or paraphrased in the citation):

13:2 1070 13:33 445*, 2606*
13:3 699*, 2632* 13:34 653
13:24 523* 13:38-41 578*
13:27-28 597* 13:48 2640
13:29 601* 14:3 699*, 1507*
13:31 647 14:15 32*
13:32-33 638 14:17 32*, 1147*
13:32 653 14:22 556, 2847*