Paul’s First Missionary Journey Copy

A. The Growth Moves to Asia Minor (12:25 – 16:5) 

Paul’s First Missionary Journey

The church in Antioch instigates the next movement outward. In 13:1, they commission Barnabas and Paul to a missionary journey into Cyprus and Asia Minor on the “First Missionary Journey.” On this journey Paul and Barnabas establish a pattern for his visits to each city.

  • Paul and Barnabas preach to the Jews in the synagogue (13:14, 14:1).
  • Many Jews & Gentiles hear & believe (13:43, 14:1b).
  • Jews grow jealous. Incite Gentile leaders (13:50, 14:2).
  • Paul and Barnabas face persecution (13:50, 14:5).
  • They leave for next city (13:51, 14:6).
  • The disciples are filled with joy & HS (13:52).

The Message of Paul

The first recorded message of Paul took place in Pisidian Antioch during his first missionary journey. This message has elements of both Peter’s message on Pentecost and Stephen’s message. Like Stephen, Paul recounts the history of Israel. Like Peter, Paul declares that the Jews crucified Jesus (13:28), that God raised Him (13:30), and that the apostles are witnesses to this fact (13:31). Paul also borrows from the Peters’ Pentecost message in his quotation of David from Psalm 16 (13:35). Paul also declares that through Christ sins can be forgiven (13:38). 

Paul, however, adds a unique element at the end of his message. Paul states that Christ brings a freedom that cannot be found in the Law of Moses (13:39). This is an intriguing addition to the message given Pisidian Antioch’s location in Galatia and Paul’s emphasis in his epistle to the Galatians on freedom in Christ.

The similarity between Paul’s message and that of Peter is not a coincidence. As the book of Acts shifts from the ministry of Peter to Paul, Luke begins to purposefully draw a comparison between the ministry of Peter and Paul.

Luke is establishing Paul’s authority as an apostle by showing that his message and his ministry is the same as Peter and the rest of the apostles.

The Jerusalem Council

As Paul and Barnabas continue their travels throughout Asia Minor, more and more Gentiles join with the Christians. The response of the Gentiles, however, brings new questions as to the role of Jewish law in Christianity. The early church is struggling for its identity; namely, is Christianity a sect of Judaism or is it something entirely new. 

As seen in the sermon in Pisidian Antioch, Paul had already declared that Christ brings freedom which the Law can not bring. From Paul’s epistles, we know that he had been teaching freedom from the Law. But many in the church in Jerusalem believed that upon conversion Gentiles needed to be circumcised and begin following the practice of the Jewish law.

The debate was settled in the only recorded church council in scripture. James summed up the argument by showing from the Old Testament that the witness to the Gentiles had been part of the plan all along (15:16-18), and that the earthly kingdom would not take place until the “uttermost parts” knew the gospel. The Gentile believers did not have to be circumcised, nor did they need to keep the Law (15:28). All they were to do was to avoid idolatrous practices and sexual sin (15:29).

Progress Report #5

The fifth progress report (16:5) concludes the section on the witness in Asia Minor.