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What Should We Know about Paul's Second Missionary Journey?

What Should We Know about Paul's Second Missionary Journey?

Think of the book of Acts in the bible as a travel log that is full of adventures. Paul’s second missionary journey had him traveling around the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea. His route started in Jerusalem, then he traveled north through Syria, then west through Turkey, then even further west to Greece. Finally, he traveled back home along the shoreline of Greece and Turkey.

When Was Paul's Second Missionary Journey?

The Apostle Paul’s first missionary journey took place in approximately 47-48 AD. Then about a year later, he began his second missionary journey in approximately 49-52 AD. You can read about this second missionary journey in Acts 15:36-18:22. 

During this time, he revisited some of the churches where he had previously preached. It’s good to check on new believers to make sure they are still learning from sound teaching. However, he was also always on the lookout for new people to preach to. Various churches were strengthened in their faith during this missionary journey, and the Church grew larger daily. During this time, the Apostle Paul wrote 1st and 2nd Thessalonians while he was visiting Corinth.

Things We Should Know about Paul's Second Missionary Journey

At the beginning of this second missionary journey, Paul and Barnabas separated. Barnabas took John Mark and sailed to Cyprus. Paul took Silas on his journey around the eastern Mediterranean Sea. Then in Syria and Cilicia, Paul met and began discipling Timothy. In Lystra and Iconium, they instructed believers to follow what the apostles in Jerusalem were doing.

Paul and Silas originally wanted to go up into Asia, but neither felt like they had a clear call from God. Then, Paul had a vision of someone in Greece that wanted help, so they headed in that direction. They stopped in Samothrace, Neapolis, and Philippi. They met Lydia from Thyatira and baptized her entire household.

They met a slave girl that was possessed by a demon. The girl wouldn’t leave them alone and kept calling out to them. Finally, they commanded the demon to come out of her in Jesus’s name. It did! This, however, angered her master, who began speaking out against the Apostle Paul and his team. This master got them thrown into the inner dungeon of a prison with their feet in stocks. But Paul and Silas didn’t lose their courage. They kept singing hymns to their God, even from prison! And around midnight, an earthquake shook the prison. The cell doors flew open! Their chains fell off! The jailer woke and thought that all his prisoners had escaped, so he started to kill himself in shame until he heard Paul shout for him to stop. The jailer was amazed that he hadn’t lost his prisoners after all. He realized that there must be a mighty God behind this incredible incident and asked Paul and Silas what he should do to be saved. They told him to believe in the Lord Jesus, so he and his household did just that and asked to be baptized. Paul and Silas were officially released the next morning.

They continued their travels through Amphipolis, Apollonia, and Thessalonica. Paul visited a Jewish synagogue in Thessalonica, where he used Scripture to reason with the people. He explained prophesy and spoke plainly that the Messiah they’re seeking must suffer and rise from the dead. He tried to make them see that the Messiah is Jesus. Both Jewish and Greek people heard Paul, and some were persuaded. However, it wasn’t all easy-going fun times. A group of jealous Jewish people that didn’t understand the message Paul was preaching tried to hunt down Paul and Silas. They couldn’t find them, but they did find out that Paul had been in the home of Jason, so they went there and turned Jason and his friends into the authorities for treason against Caesar. But other people in that city stood up for them, and Jason was soon released.

Next, Paul and Silas went to Berea, where they found many open-minded people who listened eagerly to them. These people loved the Word of God and searched diligently to make sure that Paul was telling them the truth. This diligence made for some very loyal believers, and consequently, many more Jewish and Greek people believed the good news. The more people that believe it, the more people there are to keep on spreading the gospel.

But some Jews there didn’t like Paul’s message, so they escorted him all the way to Athens so they wouldn’t have to hear it anymore. Then they returned to Berea and told Silas and Timothy to join Paul.

Globe on top of the Bible

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In Athens, the Apostle Paul was very troubled by all the idols he saw. There were also many opportunities to debate. The Epicurean and Stoic philosophers there loved to debate everything. Paul told them about Jesus and his resurrection, but most didn’t understand.

Paul tried to explain it more clearly to them in a way they might understand. The people of Athens had many shrines and altars in their land. Paul pointed out that one of them simply said, To an Unknown God, and then said that this was the God that he was preaching about. The God who made the world and everything in it. He gives life and breath to every living thing. He satisfies every need. His main purpose was for all people to seek after Him as the source of life. And this same God is also a God of justice who demands that His people repent of their sins. For no man is without sin.

When they heard this, some laughed in contempt, others said they wanted to hear more later, and still others joined Paul and became believers. Hearts must be softened before they are ready to hear the good news of the gospel. It takes patience and time.

Then Paul traveled to Corinth, where he met Aquila and his wife Priscilla and re-joined up with Silas and Timothy. Paul continued to preach the Word, and when he encountered opposition, he figuratively shook their dust away and went on to preach to other people. Paul saw many more people become believers and be baptized.

One night, Paul had another vision from the Lord. The Lord said, “Don’t be afraid! Speak out! Don’t be silent! For I am with you, and no one will attack and harm you, for many people in this city belong to Me.” So Paul stayed in Corinth another year and a half, teaching and preaching. Finally, Paul set off to go back home to the port of Caesarea and Jerusalem, and he took Priscilla and Aquila with him.

What Does This Missionary Journey Teach Us?

1. Even when your circumstances seem grim, like when Paul and Silas were thrown into prison for no reason, keep hoping and trusting in your God. Your faith may enable you to see a miracle. Paul and Silas saw a miracle of an earthquake breaking them out of prison, but they also saw an even greater miracle—the prison guard’s heart changing in front of them.

2. Learn to speak the gospel plainly and simply but don’t forget the part about the crucifixion and resurrection because that is where the power is.

3. Be like the Berean believers. Search the scriptures to make sure that everything you’re being told is God’s truth. Don’t simply believe that everything spoken from a pulpit is true.

4. Remember that when you speak about the gospel and God’s ways, many people will scoff and even laugh at you. Don’t let their ignorance get to you. Wipe their dust from your shoes and keep praying to and speaking about the God you know so well. Because not everyone will be critical; some will believe.

5. Imagine Jesus saying this to you, just as He spoke to Paul, “Don’t be afraid! Speak out! Don’t be silent! For I am with you, and no one will attack and harm you, for many people in this city belong to Me.” Let that infuse you with courage because God continues to say that to His people every day.

6. Read 1st and 2nd Thessalonians in the Bible as an encouragement message from Paul directly to you.

Conclusion to Paul’s Second Missionary Journey

Paul’s second missionary journey included seeing old friends, discipling people, preaching to a lot of new people, hearing disgruntled people balk their message, and even witnessing miracles. And God was in the midst of every single encounter. It’s not that different from our Christian walk today. Jesus is still in the middle of all our encounters with people. He will help you spread His message.

Paul made it his life-long pursuit to follow Jesus’s great commission, even through much turmoil and opposition. He kept going forward, knowing that he was following the Way, the Truth, and the Life. You can too.

Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20 NLT

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/krisanapong detraphiphat 


headshot of author Jenni HeerenJennifer Heeren loves to write and wants to live in such a way that people are encouraged by her writing and her attitude. She loves to write devotional articles and stories that bring people hope and encouragement. Her cup is always at least half-full, even when circumstances aren’t ideal. She regularly contributes to Crosswalk. Her debut novel is available on Amazon. She lives near Atlanta, Georgia with her husband. Visit her at her website and/or on Facebook.



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