We are all on a journey. Each of our journeys have reasons behind them. The Apostle Paul had a reason behind his well-known Missionary Journeys. Christianity, the only religion in the world which places so much significance on places, largely has Paul to thank in its spread. The Apostle Paul has been one of the reasons for us embarking on our Sojourning in 2015. Following on from Part 2, and while not exhaustive, this Tale, Part 3 of 3, highlights the places in Israel, Cyprus, Malta and Italy where the Apostle Paul first Trailblazed with the Christian message and which we were privileged to visit.
Paul’s Missionary Journeys and journey to Rome
Paul’s reason behind his journeys was to spread the Christian message, also known as the gospel : “Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power. To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things” – Ephesians 3:7-9 (click on the pics to view larger images; brown words are clickable links).
Luke, Paul’s travelling companion, writes: “When we heard this, we and the people there urged him not to go up to Jerusalem. Then Paul answered, “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be imprisoned but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” And since he would not be persuaded, we ceased and said, “Let the will of the Lord be done”” – Acts 21:12-14
“When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews. And they had John to assist them” – Acts 13:5
“When they had gone through the whole island as far as Paphos, they came upon a certain [man]” – Acts 13:6-7 (brackets added)
“Now Paul and his companions set sail from Paphos and came to Perga in Pamphylia” – Acts 13:13
“Now when it was day, they did not recognize the land, but they noticed a bay with a beach, on which they planned if possible to run the ship ashore. So they cast off the anchors and left them in the sea, at the same time loosening the ropes that tied the rudders. Then hoisting the foresail to the wind they made for the beach. But striking a reef, they ran the vessel aground. The bow stuck and remained immovable, and the stern was being broken up by the surf” – Acts 27:39-41
St Paul’s Bay depicting the traditional place of the shipwreck: “After we were brought safely through, we then learned that the island was called Malta. The native people showed us unusual kindness, for they kindled a fire and welcomed us all, because it had begun to rain and was cold” – Acts 28:1-2
“Putting in at Syracuse [Sicily], we stayed there for three days. And from there we made a circuit and arrived at Rhegium. And after one day a south wind sprang up, and on the second day we came to Puteoli. There we found brothers and were invited to stay with them for seven days. And so we came to Rome” – Acts 28-12-14 (brackets added)
Via Appia Antica
The road by which Paul would have made his last steps into Rome: “And the brothers there, when they heard about us, came as far as the Forum of Appius and Three Taverns to meet us” – Acts 28:15
“And when we came into Rome, Paul was allowed to stay by himself, with the soldier who guarded him” – Acts 28:16
Long before he arrived in Rome, Paul wrote a letter to the church in Rome, known as the book of Romans which tells of the good news of the gospel.
Traditionally, it is held that Paul died as a martyr under the rulership of the Emperor Nero in Rome.
Statue showing the Apostle Paul at the church St Paul’s outside the Walls (it is not traditionally known that Paul would have been armed with a sword!)
The Apostle Paul was a Trailblazer, a Trailblazer for and of the Christian message. The Christian message is the gospel. Simply, the gospel is this:
Paul wrote: “Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches” – 2 Corinthians 11:24-28