Paul’s missionary journeys and imprisonments, from about AD 48-68
- Paul’s first three missionary trips are recorded in Acts. Paul and Barnabus began the first missionary trip (about AD 48-49) from Syrian Antioch. They sailed to Salamis and Paphos on the island of Cyprus, then went on to Perga, Pisidian Antioch, Iconium, Lycaonia, Lystra, and Derbe. They returned through Lystra, Iconium, Syrian Antioch, Perga, Attalia, Seleucia, and back to Syrian Antioch (Acts 13-14). First journey 1,400 miles (2,250 km). Second journey 2,800 miles (4,500 km). Third journey 2,700 miles (4,340 km). Fourth journey to Rome 2,250 (3,620 km). Approximately with a total of 9,150 miles (14,700 km).
- On the second trip (about AD 50-52) Paul and Silas left Syrian Antioch and traveled to Tarsus, Derbe, Lystra (recruited Timothy), Iconium, Pisidian Antioch, Mysia, Troas, Samothrace, Neapolis, Philippi, Amphipolis, Appollonia, Thessalonica, Berea, Athens, Corinth, Cenchrea, Ephesus, and Caesarea. They returned to Syrian Antioch (Acts 15.36-18.22).
- Paul’s third trip (about AD 53-57) also began from Syrian Antioch. He visited Tarsus, Derbe, Lystra, Iconium, Antioch, Ephesus, Troas, Philippi, Amphipolis, Thessalonica, Berea, Athens, Corinth, and Cenchrea. He retraced his steps back through Berea, Thessalonica, Apollonia, Amphipolis, Philippi, and Neapolis, to Troas, Assos, Mitylene, Chios, Samos, and Ephesus. Then after a stop in Miletus, he hurried on to Jerusalem by way of Cos, Rhodes, and Patara (Acts 18.23-21.16).
- Toward the end of his third missionary trip Paul was determined to go to Jerusalem even though he was aware of the Jews’ rampant religious pride and self righteousness which made them violently opposed to him and his message. He was arrested in Jerusalem. He lost his freedom (Acts 21.27-40). He gave his defense before the Jewish population (Acts 22.1-21) and before the Sanhedrin (Acts 22.30-23.10). Another conspiracy formed against Paul (Acts 23.12-22) so the authorities sent him to Caesarea where he was confined for two years (Acts 23.23 through Acts 26, about summer 57 to summer 59). He appealed to Caesar (Acts 25.11), so Roman authorities sent him to Rome where he was confined for two more years (Acts 28.30, about winter 60 to winter 62). While in Rome he was chained by the hand to a praetorian guardsman day and night (See JB Lightfoot’s St. Paul’s Epistle to the Philippians, 1-29).
- “According to Roman custom he was bound by the hand to the soldier who guarded him, and was never left alone by day or night. As soldiers would relieve guard in constant succession, the praetorians one by one were brought into communication with the ‘prisoner of Jesus Christ,’ and thus he was able to affirm that his bonds had borne witness to the Gospel ‘throughout the imperial regiments.'” (Lightfoot, page 8-9).
- Paul was under great pressure, but he continued to live within God’s plan for him, and so applied Bible doctrine in his life. In the middle of great pressure, testing, and suffering Paul was an effective servant of Christ, and he was stable, content, and happy (Ephesians 3.1; Philippians 1.12-16; 4.11-14; Philemon 1, 22).
- When Paul was released in AD 62 from the first Roman imprisonment he went east to Macedonia and possibly Asia Minor (1 Timothy 1.3; Philemon 22. About AD 62-64).
- He apparently then went west to Spain—see his desire to go to Spain in Romans 15:14-28, though Paul wrote this before his Caesarian and first Roman imprisonment. About AD 64-66. Also see 1 Clement 5 from which scholars believe that Paul traveled to Spain or even Britain. First Clement was likely written around 100 AD, and was written from the church at Rome to the church of Corinth.
- CHAP. V.—NO LESS EVILS HAVE ARISEN FROM THE SAME SOURCE IN THE MOST RECENT TIMES. THE MARTYRDOM OF PETER AND PAUL. But not to dwell upon ancient examples, let us come to the most recent spiritual heroes. Let us take the noble examples furnished in our own generation. Through envy and jealousy, the greatest and most righteous pillars [of the Church] have been persecuted and put to death. Let us set before our eyes the illustrious apostles. Peter, through unrighteous envy, endured not one or two, but numerous labours; and when he had at length suffered martyrdom, departed to the place of glory due to him. Owing to envy, Paul also obtained the reward of patient endurance, after being seven times thrown into captivity, compelled to flee, and stoned. After preaching both in the east and west, he gained the illustrious reputation due to his faith, having taught righteousness to the whole world, and come to the extreme limit of the west, and suffered martyrdom under the prefects. Thus was he removed from the world, and went into the holy place, having proved himself a striking example of patience. (“The First Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians”, The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume I: The Apostolic Fathers With Justin Martyr and Irenaeus, ed. Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson and A. Cleveland Coxe. Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company, 1885).
- After the trip to the West Paul revisited the eastern Mediterranean area (1 Timothy 3.14-15; 2 Timothy 4.13,19,20; Titus 1.5; 3.12. About AD 66-67).
- Paul was soon arrested again and taken to Rome where he was executed, about spring AD 68 (2 Timothy 1.15-18; 2.9; 4.12, 16-17; 4.9,13,21 with 1.2).