Read Acts 13 and 14 to follow Paul’s first missionary journey using a map that is probably in the back of your Bible. As I said before it was the church, not a board, that sent Paul and Barnabas out on this journey. They reported to the church when the journey was complete. It was the church in Antioch, Seleucia that laid hands on them and sent them forth. Verses 1-4 show us that there were a variety of people in this church and their common thread was faith in Jesus Christ. This holds all churches together. We must never exclude any who’s called to follow the Lord. Paul and Barnabas were set apart. The Holy Spirit led them in their journey; they went to key population centers taking the gospel to the lost world. They went to cities with synagogues. Paul was a missionary to the Gentiles but he presented it to the Jews as well. He wanted to spread the good news to everyone. When he started his presentation he went way back in Old Testament scriptures to get a foothold with the Jews. He went from there to the cross, to the tomb and to the empty tomb. The Jews got offended when he started teaching about Jesus. We’re there today as well. Our God created all, breathing life into man. People still worship other gods. But many follow what you say about God until you mention Jesus. But Jesus is still the only way to the Father.
Chapter 13: They traveled to Salamis, a seaport city on the island of Cyprus. John Mark joined them; he was the nephew of Barnabas. From there they traveled across the island to Paphos. Paul’s first miracle is recorded here. Elymas the sorcerer tried to defer them from witnessing to the deputy whose name was Sergius Paulus. He desired to hear what they said and Elymas got in the way. Because of his actions verse 11 tells us that Paul said behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thee, and thou shalt be blind, not seeing the sun for a season. And immediately there fell on him a mist and a darkness; and he went about seeking some to lead him by the hand. The deputy saw what was done and being astonished at the doctrine of the Lord. (v12) From here they went to Perga and John Mark left them and returned to Jerusalem We can speculate why he left but the Bible doesn’t tell us. In chapter 15 we see that on another trip Barnabas wanted to take John Mark with them and Paul refused. This contention among them resulted in Paul and Silas being a team and Barnabas and John Mark being another. This actually helped spread the gospel. Despite this contention over John Mark, Paul grew to respect him. In Colossians he told the people to receive him; in Second Timothy while Paul was awaiting execution he requested that John Mark be brought to him because he was profitable to him. From there they traveled to Antioch in Pisidia. This is where one of Paul’s longest sermons is recorded. The Gentiles were glad to hear it but the Jews were mad. There was again an open door to preach until Jesus was mentioned. Because of not receiving Jesus, they persecuted them and expelled them from their coast. Paul and Barnabas shook off the dust of their feet against them.
Chapter 14: They traveled from Antioch Pisidia to Iconium. Here “signs and wonders” were done by these men in the sight of the people. Today people seek a sign in order to believe. Back in Paul’s day even some of those who saw the signs and wonders still didn’t believe. It takes faith, not signs and wonders, to believe in Jesus Christ. The people intended to stone them and they fled to Lystra. These people were deep into mythology and superstition believing in Zeus and Hermes. They thought these gods sent Paul and Barnabas to them. Paul healed a lame man and believing in their gods called them Jupiter and Mercurius and prepared sacrifices that were to be made to them. Paul told them to stop saying Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein. The Jews came from other areas and caused some to rise against them. They stoned Paul leaving him for dead. Get this picture. They stood around looking at the body of Paul and all of a sudden he stood up and went back into the city. Now I don’t know that I would have gone back to the same place where the people stoned me, but this is what Paul did. Then the team went onto Derbe. They again preached the gospel teaching many of them about Jesus. From there they began the return trip home retracing their steps and returning to the very places they were stoned and ran out of town. They exhorted the disciples and ordained elders in the churches. Upon returning to Antioch they gave a report to the church that had sent them out praising God for how the Gentiles received the Word.
God uses those who want to be used. Paul was called and he went.