Saturday, July 21, 2012

Essay on Paul’s Missionary Journeys

Essay on Paul's Missionary Journeys

Paul is one of the most significant contributors to the New Testament and one of the most eager supporters and promoters of Christianity in the ancient world. It is necessary to underline that it is due to his activities many Christian churches were founded in Asia as well as in Eastern part of Roman Empire at large. Basically, he traveled throughout different regions of empire delivering ‘the message of God’ to local population. Paradoxically, at the beginning of his life he was quite skeptical about Christianity and did not accept this religious movement to the extent that he could be named its ‘furious opponent’ (Davies 82). In this respect, it is worthy of mention that he was present and approved of the killing of Stephen, and presided over the mission to persecute the Christian church. However, his views had changed dramatically when in 33 AD on his way to Damascus he saw a vision in which Jesus spoke directly to him. After this ‘incident’ he became a convinced adept of Christianity and, what is more, he started to actively promote Christianity in Roman Empire spreading its ideas in different provinces, establishing churches, and baptizing people.
Speaking about the life of Paul and his contribution to the development and promotion of Christianity and Christian church, it is necessary to underline that he may be viewed as one of the founders of Christian church since during his missionary journeys he spread Christian ideas and beliefs. At the same time, it is worthy of mention that he was a really convinced Christian who was not afraid of numerous obstacles he regularly faced in his life. In this respect, it is worthy of mention the fact that during his missionary work he often faced serious threats to his freedom, life and health. Christianity was not a popular religious movement in many regions of the Roman Empire. This is why often people opposed to the missionaries, including those of Paul. Moreover, often they rioted and even attempted to attack him to the extent that he often had to save his life because of his missionary activity.

Nevertheless, Paul had never stopped and carried the idea of the spread of Christianity throughout the ancient world till the end of his life. Remarkably, the end of his life was probably as tragic as his entire life but, in order to understand the tragedy of his life and death it is necessary to carefully analyze his missionary journeys which played an extremely important role not only in the life of Paul himself, but in the history of Christianity at large.

It should be said that after his first missionary journey Paul decided to continue his missionary activities and basically, the goal of his second journey was to visit all the towns where he preached and see the life of the adepts of Christian religion in those areas. However, the second missionary journey started with quite an unfortunate circumstance since Barnabas, his companion in his first journey, suggested to take John Mark in their second missionary journey but Paul did not want to. As a result, the contradictions between Paul and Barnabas grew stronger and “they had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company” (Acts 15:37-40). As a result, Barnabus and John Mark sailed for Cyprus while Paul and Silas went to Derbe and Lystra in 49 AD. After that they continued their journey throughout Asia visiting the Phrygia, northern Galatia. In Galatia, Timothy joined Paul in his journey. After that Paul planned to journey through Bithynia and “they tried to enter Bithynia but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them to” (Acts 16:7-8). As a result, they eventually decided to travel to Troas, where Paul saw a vision in which he saw a man of Macedonia which begged him to change their plans and travel to Macedonia (Dunn 106). Paul interpreted this vision as the message of God and decided to cross the Dardanelles and go to Macedonia. In fact, it was a very important decision since symbolically it is possible to compare the journey of Paul to Macedonia and further to Greece as the expansion of Christianity in Europe. On arriving in Macedonia, they established churches in Philippi, where he managed to convert in Christianity and baptize a rich woman Lydia. There Paul and his companions were arrested and beaten. After that they moved to Thessalonica and Berea where they also established Christian churches (Dunn 135). And again the tension was so significant that Paul was forced to move further to Athens where he gave his famous speech in Areopagus in which he promoted God and Christianity making them closer to Greek people. After that he moved to Corinth where he settled for three years promoting Christianity and communicating with adepts of Christian church in different regions. It is worthy of mention that he was under a permanent pressure and he constantly face a threat of being arrested because of his beliefs. He was even seized and beaten by the official of the synagogue in front of the tribunal he faced. However, the Roman authorities paid little attention to such oppression of Paul and his supporters and after hearings in 52 AD Paul set off for his third missionary journey.

During the third missionary journey he traveled through Asia Minor, and Macedonia, to Antioch and back (Davies 125). He also visited Ephesus where hardly escaped death as the local people attempted to kill him as his religion undermined their business oriented on sales of idols which were unacceptable for Christians. Eventually, he returned to Jerusalem where he was arrested for his beliefs and later sent to Rome. However, on his way to Rome he faced another great challenge, he shipwrecked and stayed in Malta for some period of time where he kept preaching. In fact, he never stopped preaching even in Rome, being under a house arrest for two years, he continued to be a convinced adept of Christianity. But, finally, he could not escape the tragic death as he was executed in Rome by the order of the Emperor Nero. Thus, in conclusion, it should be said that the life of Paul was full of dangers and problems but he never gave up and remained a convinced Christian till the tragic end of his life. In fact, he consecrated his life to preaching and promoting Christianity, spreading this teaching throughout the territory of the Roman Empire and establishing Christian churches.

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