By Josiah Blake Tidwell
From Antioch to The Destruction of Jerusalem.
Acts 13-28 and all the rest of the New Testament except the epistles of John and Revelation.
The Changed Situation. We have now come to a turning point in the whole situation. The center of work has shifted from Jerusalem to Antioch, the capital of the Greek province of Syria, the residence of the Roman governor of the province. We change from the study of the struggles of Christianity in the Jewish world to those it made among heathen people. We no longer study many and various persons and their labors but center our study upon the life and labors of Paul.
The Divine Call. Certain prophets of the church at Antioch were engaged in solemn prayer and worship when the Holy Spirit instructed them to send Paul and Barnabas to do the work to which they were called. Here, then, the Holy Spirit takes charge of the movement. He inaugurates, directs and promotes this work. When the call came it is probable that Paul had but little idea of the magnitude of the work which he was to do. He was not aware that his work and teaching would change the religion and philosophy of the whole world.
The Time and Extent of Paul's Journeys. The most of his work was accomplished during three great missionary journeys. The time occupied for these great journeys with the distance traveled has been estimated as follows: the first journey 1400 miles and three years; the second journey 3200 miles and three years; the third journey 3500 miles and four years; or a total of 8100 miles representing ten years of labor. To this must be added his journey to Rome which required a whole winter and was about 2300 miles and many side trips of which we have no record. It is also commonly thought that he was released at the end of two years at Rome and again entered upon mission work that probably lasted four years and carried him again into Macedonia, Asia Minor, Crete and Spain.
The First Missionary Journey. (Acts, chs. 13-14). The company consisted of Saul and Barnabas and John Mark. They went by way of the isle of Cyprus and at Paphos the capital of the island the governor was converted and Saul was afterward called Paul. They reached Pamphylia and Pisidia in Asia. John Mark left them in Pamphylia and returned home. In the cities of Pisidia Paul was persecuted and opposed. At Antioch he made a complete break with the Jews and at Lystra they stoned him until they thought he was dead. From Derbe the missionaries retraced their steps except that they did not go through Cyprus on the return to Antioch. Their stay at Antioch was marked by an important church council at Jerusalem, Acts 15:1-35. At this council it was decided that Gentile Christians were not bound by the requirement of the Jewish law. This decision was instrumental in determining that Christianity was not simply a new branch of Judaism but was a new religion.
Second Missionary Journey. (Acts. 15:36-18:22). Paul proposed that he and Barnabas visit the brethren in every city "where he had already preached," but he declined to yield to the wish of Barnabas to take Mark with them and in consequence separated from Barnabas. He took Silas and went overland through Syria and Cilicia to the scene of his former labors. At Lystra he was joined by Timothy. He was restrained by the Holy Spirit from further work in Asia and called into Europe by the "Macedonian call" while at Troas. While in Europe he labored at several places, the most conspicuous service being rendered at Philippi, Thessalonica and Corinth. Strong churches grew up at each of these places to which he later wrote letters. He returned to Antioch by way of Ephesus where he spent a little time, and Caesarea, from whence he probably visited Jerusalem.
While on this Journey during his long stay at Corinth Paul wrote First and Second Thessalonians and probably the book of Galatians also. If the time to be devoted to this course will allow, these epistles should be read at this point. The author's "The Bible Book by Book" will furnish an outline guide for such reading.
Third Missionary Journey. (Acts. 18:33-21:17). How long Paul remained at Antioch at the close of the second journey is not known. But when he had finished his visit he set out again to revisit some of the places formerly touched and to cultivate some new fields. The outline and work of this journey may be put down as follows: (1) He passes through Galatia and Phrygia strengthening the disciples. (2) His work of nearly three years at Ephesus. (3) The trip through Macedonia and Greece. (4) The return trip through Macedonia to Jerusalem. Luke seems to desire to narrate only what is new and most important. He, therefore, goes fully into the work at Ephesus. (1) There was the incident of the work of Apollos and the baptism of some of John's disciples. (2) Three months work among the Jews. (3) Two years of teaching in the school of Tyrannus. (4) A "season" after he sent Timotheus and Etastus into Macedonia. The success of this work is seen especially in two incidents. (1) The burning of the books of the Jewish exorcists which were valued at over $31,000. (2) The checking of the sale of images of the idol, Diana, which resulted in a great tumult.
After this tumult at Ephesus Paul departed into Macedonia and seems to have visited the principal cities and finally arrived at Corinth where a plot to kill him was formed. Upon discovering this plot he set out on his return trip to Jerusalem, going back through Macedonia. This trip is notable for several things. (1) The seven days stay at Troas which was significant because of an all night service and the accident to Eutychus. (2) The conference at Miletus with the Elders of Ephesus in which he reviewed his work among them and indicated to them that they would see him no more. (3) A week's stay at Tyre where he was persuaded not to go to Jerusalem. (4) Many days spent at Caesarea during which Agabus, who had formerly told them of the coming drouth, predicted that the Jews of Jerusalem would bind Paul and deliver him to the Gentiles. (5) The arrival at Jerusalem where he was kindly received by James and the elders.
This journey also was marked by the writing of some of Paul's most notable epistles. (1) The First Letter to the Corinthians. He wrote this letter while at Ephesus just before leaving for Macedonia. (2) The Second Letter to the Corinthians. After Paul came into Macedonia he met Titus with tidings from the Corinthians whereupon he wrote them this second letter, probably from Philippi. (3) The Letter to the Romans. From Macedonia Paul went into Achaia where he stayed three months and while staying with Gaius in Corinth (Rom. 16:23; 1 Cor. 1:14) he wrote this great epistle. The occasion, purpose, outline and other information concerning these epistles may be found in "The Bible Book by Book".
At Jerusalem. Although Paul was received kindly by the brethren and although he took a certain precaution that he might not offend the many thousands of Jews that were in Jerusalem at the feast, some Asiatic Jews saw him and raised a great tumult. (1) They began to beat him and he would no doubt have been killed had he not been rescued by Roman soldiers. (2) As a prisoner he was being borne to the Tower of Antonia, but on the stairway asked and obtained permission to speak to the angry Jews. (3) When they would no longer hear him he was removed to the castle and ordered scourged. He saves himself from this by claiming his Roman citizenship. (4) He was brought before the Jewish Sanhedrin which he threw into confusion by expressing his belief in the resurrection and afterwards was put in prison. (5) On account of the plot to kill him which was discovered by Paul's nephew he was sent away under heavy guard to Caesarea.
Paul at, Caesarea. When Paul reached Caesarea he was under Roman jurisdiction. He was allowed some privileges. The most important incidents of this two years' imprisonment may be put down somewhat as follows. (1) His trial before Felix during which he was prosecuted by Tertullus and he himself made a speech of defense. (2) His second hearing before Felix, no doubt in private, with his wife Drusilla after which he held him in the hope that he would bribe Felix. (3) His trial before Festus during which he claimed his right as a Roman citizen and appealed to Caesar. (4) He had a hearing before Festus and King Agrippa II during which Paul spoke.
Paul's Six Last Addresses. In connection with the story of Paul in Jerusalem and Caesarea we have preserved for us six of his last addresses. In the light of his imprisonment and eminent danger they show his great faith and courage and are given here for study. (1) His Speech before the Jewish Mob, Acts 21:1-29. (2) His speech before the Jewish council. Acts 22: 30-23:10. (3) His speech before Felix. Acts 24:10-22. (4) His speech before Felix and his wife Drusilla, Acts 24:24-27. (5) His speech before Festus, Acts 25:7-11. (6) His speech before Festus and King Aggrippa II, Acts 26:1-32.
Paul's Journey to Rome. Paul now takes up his long journey to Rome. The voyage consumes most of the winter and three ships are used to convey him. (1) From Caesarea to Myra, a city of Lycia. Their ship touched at Sidon where Paul was allowed to visit his friends. (2) From Myra to the Island of Malta. On this voyage they touched at Fair Havens, tried to reach Phenice and had fourteen days of storm. (3) They were cast the island of Malta, where they spent three months. (4) The journey completed to Rome, going by way of Syracuse, Rhegium, Puteoli, Apii Forum and Three Taverns.
Paul at Rome. The Roman Christians came out to meet him at Apii Forum, forty-three miles from Rome. Several things should be noticed. (1) Paul after three days explained his situation to the Jews and planned another day when he would further address them. (2) Next he turned to the Gentiles and taught them. (3) He hired (rented) a house and for two years had liberty of speech and taught whoever would come to him. The story of Acts closes here, but it is commonly believed that Paul was released and visited Spain and Asia and later was rearrested and brought to Rome again where he was put to death.
The Epistles of this Period. The epistles written during this period may be divided into two groups: (1) Those written by Paul; (2) Those written by others. Those written by Paul are the following: (1) Philippians, Ephesians, Colossians and Philemon. All of these were written from Rome during Paul's first imprisonment at Rome and would come in the years 62 and 63 A.D. (2) First Timothy and Titus. These were probably written in Macedonia about A.D. 66. This is on the supposition that Paul was released from the imprisonment at Rome and made other preaching tours. (3) Second Timothy. This was written from the Roman prison just before his death about A.D. 67 or 68. This would have been a second imprisonment and we know nothing of this except by tradition. (4) Hebrews. There are many eminent scholars who think some other than Paul wrote this book, but it is put down here because it was so long and so unanimously considered his and because the point against his authorship does not seem fully established. It was written some time before A.D. 70, as the temple and its worship were still in force.
There are four other letters of the period. (1) The Epistle of James. This epistle was probably written about A.D. 50 but some think it was written as late as A.D. 62 and it is put in for consideration here because of the uncertainty. (2) The First Epistle of Peter, which was written about A.D. 66. (3) The Second Epistle of Peter, written about A.D. 67 and certainly before the fall of Jerusalem. (4) The Epistle of Jude, written about A.D. 66. "The Bible Book by Book" will furnish the student with a statement concerning the occasion, purpose, outline of contents and other introductory discussions.
Lessons of the Period. (1) One man with proper consecration can be a blessing to all the world. (2) The same teaching sometimes wins one and repels another. (3) The fact that one is divinely led does not guarantee that one may not be wrongly treated by men. (4) Persecution can not destroy one's happiness if one is conscious of doing the will of God. (5) Strategic centers are the most fruitful fields of mission work. (6) False religious beliefs are less tolerant than the true. (7) God may save a whole company for the sake of one man. (8) No matter what calamity comes to us we may in the midst of it be a source of blessing to others.
For Study and Discussion. (1) The countries visited by Paul. Draw maps and indicate his journeys. (2) The history and importance of the principal cities visited by him (make a list of them and consult the Bible dictionaries). (3) Paul's companions in the work (make a list of them and consult the Bible dictionaries). (4) The Apostle Paul himself: (a) His birth and childhood; (b) his education; (c) his conversion. (5) The persecutions of Paul. (6) The miraculous or superhuman element seen in this section. (7) The value of the Roman citizenship to Paul. (8) Paul's letters: (a) Name them and tell where in these journeys each comes in; (b) learn something of the occasion, purpose and outline of each. (9) The other epistles of this period. (10) The time and extent of Paul's journeys. (11) The church council at Jerusalem. (12) The Roman officers met in this narrative-what sort of men, etc. (13) Paul's speeches as given here.