Missionary to the Gentiles
The year was 34 A.D, and the hot sun beat down upon a small band of travelers, making their way to
Saul’s country had been in a state of political unrest for many years. The
Saul reached down to pat the packet of letters on his sash. Soon he would be in
The light faded and Saul’s companions rushed towards him in amazement. To Saul’s dismay he found he was blind. Saul’s friends helped him enter the city a few hours later; leading him by the hand like a little child. Inside the city, Saul would not eat or drink for three days. He lay praying fervently to his Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Lord sent a Christian named Ananias to Saul. The man laid his hands upon Saul and prayed for him. Saul’s eyes immediately became clear and he arose asking to be baptized in Jesus name. The persecutor had become what he had once hated.
Saul, who after his baptism was called Paul, preached about what had happened to him on the road to
One of the places Paul went to preach was the synagogue in
The synagogue was so crowded the following Sabbath day that not everyone could fit inside. When the Jews arrived and saw that almost the entire city of
Paul did not despair; he picked himself up and went on his way. The two men set out for Lystra where the inhabitants worshiped many Greek gods. There Paul happened to see a crippled man sitting in the dust. Paul crouched down beside him pityingly. “Stand straight on your two feet” he told the lame man. The Holy Spirit healed the man’s deformed legs and he stood up.
The marketplace where the man had been sitting became quiet. In those times it was unlikely a lame man would ever be healed. Suddenly the people of Lystra started bowing and praying to Paul and Barnabus as if they were gods. Some of them shouted, “These men are the gods Zeus and Hermes come down to us from heaven, while the priests of Zeus hurried to hang rosy garlands and sacrifice bulls to their unexpected gods.
When Paul saw them he tore his clothing and ran about crying to the people “Stop this madness, can’t you see that we’re only mortal men like you?” We have come to teach you about the one true God, not to establish ourselves as gods. After much exhortation, Paul and Barnabus stopped the ardent worshipers from sacrificing to them.
A few days later some of the troublemaking Jews from
They spread lies about the missionaries persuading the people to turn against them. Paul was violently seized and dragged by an angry mob into the marketplace. Here where he had been worshiped as a god only a few days before, Paul was pelted with rocks until he fell over, apparently dead. Then the mob left his body for the carrion birds to feed upon. Silently, the Christians of Lystra were gathering around Paul’s body, when suddenly he stood up alive, and unharmed.
Around 50 A.D when Paul and a minister called Silas where visiting the church in Lystra, Paul met a young Christian man named Timothy. Paul observed Timothy carefully and was impressed with what he saw. He asked the young man to come with him for the rest of his journey and Timothy eagerly agreed. It was the beginning of dear friendship between the two men. In later times Paul referred to the younger man as his son. Timothy was in fact the son of a Jewish woman, although his father was Greek.
Since Timothy’s father was Greek he had not been circumcised as a child. Paul asked Timothy if he would allow himself to be circumcised, to keep the peace. In Paul’s mind circumcision was a matter of choice, not a requirement. But he was going to be traveling in places where the Jews would be angry and offended if Timothy was uncircumcised. Paul carefully thought about it and decided that it was not worth causing hard feelings over something that could be avoided. Timothy agreed to be circumcised and Paul proved himself a humble, peaceable man, truly concerned with the interests of others.
One night Paul lay sleepless upon his bed as the silver moon shone through the cracks in the mud wall revealing the slumbering forms of his companions. In a vision the Holy Spirit just had revealed to Paul that he was to go to
After safely reaching the city, Paul decided to go for a short walk. His steps took him through the city gates and down to a nearby river. The sounds of laughter and splashing caught Paul’s ear as he stood by the water. Following the noise Paul came around a bend and saw a group of women washing their household’s clothes. Paul made his way over to them and sat down, hoping to have a chance to talk to some of them. Soon Paul was conversing with the women, speaking about the subject that was dearest to his heart.
One of the women named
After this Paul often went back to the river to pray and preach. Once after an excursion of this sort he saw a group of people coming towards him. In there midst was a disheveled slave girl, who was possessed by an evil spirit. Because of the demon in her the girl was able to predict the future, bringing a great deal of money to her owners. As the group passed Paul the slave spied him through the throng of people pressing around her. “Look,” the girl screamed at Paul, “This man is a servant of the one true God; he will tell you how to be saved!”
The slave girl followed them everywhere; Paul and his friends were continually shadowed by the demonic shriek. One day as Paul and Silas were walking together they heard her coming. By now Paul was considerably troubled at the constant outcry. So instead of ignoring the girl and going on, Paul turned around and commanded the evil spirit to come out, in Jesus’ name, and immediately the demon left her. When the slave’s owners saw what Paul had done, they turned on him and Silas, dragging them to the city officials. The authorities decided to beat and imprison the two men after the slave owners told them that Paul and his friend were disrupting the peace.
Later that night, Paul and Silas were praying on the floor of a dank cell. The moans of other prisoners reached their ears through the cold wall. Suddenly Paul decided to sing a hymn. Soon Silas joined in. Together they lifted the mournful atmosphere of the prison, their voices echoing through the corridors while singing of the love and reverence they bore towards Christ. Soon the moaning stopped as thief and debtor, slave and murderer stopped to listen.
Just then the prison floor began to shake and rumble and the walls moved. For a few moments a mighty earthquake rocked the prison to its foundation. Then as suddenly as it had started the earthquake ceased. Paul’s chains fell from his hands and he turned to see that Silas was also free. The cell door stood wide open, Paul got up and peered out into the eerie gloom. Silas came over and stood beside him and presently they saw that all the prison doors were open. A slight motion caught Paul’s eye and he saw the jailer draw a sword. To Paul’s horror the jailer turned the blade towards his own heart, preparing to fall upon it; for he believed that the prisoners had escaped which meant his life was forfeit.
“Stop, do not do it, we are all here” shouted Paul. The jailer looked up with relief as he called for a lantern and hurried to the apostle’s cell. Kneeling humbly the man took Paul and Silas hands in his own and asked “sirs, what can I do to be saved”. Kindly the men answered “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will have eternal life”. Then the jailer took them to his own house, where he washed their wounds.
Later that day the magistrates sent messengers to the jailer, ordering him to release Paul and Silas. When the jailer told him, Paul became thoughtful and informed the messengers that he and Silas were roman citizens. This was true, for although Paul was a Jew, he had been born in the Roman city of
Hastily the messengers went to tell their masters, who became frightened because it was against Roman laws to punish an untried Roman citizen. Hurrying to the jailer’s house the magistrates apologized for the misunderstanding and very politely asked Paul and Silas to leave the city. So the two men went to their hostess house, where Timothy met them with relief, and made ready to leave Lystra.
Paul’s next intention was to go to
Some philosophers invited Paul to come to a meeting that afternoon and tell them about his beliefs; Athenians were very curious about anything new or different from their own ideas. When Paul arrived men began to question him and soon the whole room wanted to hear him speak. Paul cleared his voice and looked around at his audience. Some were old bearded philosophers; many were confident middle-aged men, and a few were young boys being trained in the Greek school of thought. “Men of
At about this time Claudius the Emperor passed a law forbidding Jews to live in
Several years later Paul was staying in
One day seven Jewish brothers gathered around a demon possessed man who lay upon his couch, eyes vacantly shifting to each of their faces. The Jews commanded the evil spirit to leave, using their customary words. The possessed man fixed his eyes upon the men with his teeth barred and the demon said, “I know Jesus and Paul, but who are you?” Then leaping up in a bound he beat each of the men and stripped them of their clothes until they escaped naked.
Soon all of
Paul had spent nearly two years in
Before Paul could leave
to put an end to Paul’s preaching. Demetrius was a silversmith, who made a great deal of money selling silver shrines to honor the Greek goddess Artemis. Lately there had been a dramatic decrease in Demetrius business; due to the enormous amount of Gentiles who no longer worshiped the idols of mans imagination. Demetrius called together some of his fellow tradesmen who also made objects of worship for the Greek gods. The man Paul is ruining our businesses while we stand by watching, Demetrius said angrily. Already our profits are getting low and when that happens we know that the gods are not being worshiped as they deserve, we must stop Paul before he converts every respectable Greek to his scandalous religion. We must act before the alter fires in the temple of our goddess grow cold!
When the crowd of tradesmen realized what Demetrius was saying they became furious. The word spread like wildfire and soon the entire city was shouting, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians”! For two hours the city was in an uproar, and some of Paul’s friends were dragged to the theater. When Paul heard the commotion he wanted to go to the theater and speak to the people, but his other friends would not let him fearing he would be crushed.
At last a flustered city clerk was able to calm the crowd somewhat. Reasoning with the people the clerk shouted loudly, “Citizens, since the entire world knows that Artemis of the Ephesians is a goddess then why press this matter?, if Demetrius and the other craftsmen wish to bring complaints against Paul then they should do it peacefully in court.” Then he dismissed the subdued inhabitants of
Around 58 A.D Paul was staying in
Towards the back of the room a young man named Eutychus had taken possession of a comfortable window seat. Paul was talking about important things that took a long time to discuss, and several times Eutychus caught himself falling asleep. Paul looked up at his listeners, and saw a man fall backwards out of a window seat into the night. Women screamed and men rushed downstairs with lanterns. Outside they found Eutychus dead. Wait, Paul cried, making his way to the young man. Assuring the weeping women that Eutychus was not dead; Paul threw himself over the man’s body and held it in his arms. Eutychus, who had been dead a few moments before, opened his eyes and yawned. Feeling hungry he got up and went back to the upstairs to find some food. Paul resumed his talking, never stopping to rest from delivering his precious message until the sun peered through the windows. Then he left
As Paul continued to
Paul made his final stop at the city
Upon hearing this Paul’s companions cried out and begged Paul not to go to
The Christians in
Paul agreed to the plan. While he was at the temple a few Jews recognized him. “This man is defiling our holy temple by allowing gentiles to enter it, and he preaches against us and our laws” they shouted. The people grabbed Paul and rushed him outside through the gates of the temple. Before Paul could get up the mob began to trample him under foot. As Paul was rolling about, beginning to feel weak, he saw some Roman soldiers pushing their way through the crowd, coming towards him. Reaching Paul the soldiers placed him under arrest for disturbing the peace and tried to march him away. The angry mob pushed so hard on the soldiers that armed
as they were, the soldiers feared they would not be able to get their prisoner out of the crowd alive. Only after Paul was carried upon the soldiers backs could they escape the crowd.
Before Paul went into the Roman barracks he called out to the commander, “Please, may I speak to the people?” Startled that Paul spoke Greek the commander gave his consent, motioning his soldiers to release their charge. Paul climbed the barrack steps and told the Jews how he had seen Christ on the road to
On the following day the commander put Paul on trial before the chief priests yet nothing could be found to charge him with. When things got out of hand and riotous the commander removed Paul and sent him back to the barracks. That night as Paul was sleeping the Lord comforted him in a dream assuring him that he would live to carry the gospel all the way to the capitol of the world,
A group of Jews were waiting to speak to the commander the next morning. They wanted Paul come and answer questions again that day. Unknown to the Romans however, forty Jewish men had sworn a solemn oath to neither eat nor drink until Paul was dead. These men intended to ambush Paul on his way to the assembly and kill him. Fortunately for Paul, his nephew who lived near happened to overhear what was planned. The boy had hurried to warn his uncle about the danger he was in, arriving before the Jewish men. The commander thought quickly, it would not be safe for Paul to remain near
Governor Felix of
A few days had passed and Felix decided it would be interesting to hear Paul speak about his beliefs in private. So he summoned Paul, and accompanied by his wife Felix prepared to listen to the apostle. At first Felix was amused, but when Paul began to talk about the judgment of God, he felt his face turn white. Great fear came over Felix and motioning Paul to stop he said “Go away now Paul, I will send for you again when it’s convenient for me.” Felix did not set Paul free though, because he hoped that Paul would offer him a bribe for his release. Since Paul never did he remained a prisoner in
At last Governor Felix was recalled to
The year was 59 A.D when King Agrippa of
Governor Festus stood up when he saw Paul and announced, “Here is the man Paul have told you about, the Jews hate him yet I find he has done nothing wrong.”; Unfortunately he has appealed to the emperor, making it impossible for me to free him. I ask you who are here today to help me find something to say about Paul in the letter I must send to
Agrippa turned to Paul saying “You may tell us about yourself”. Paul respectfully bowed to King Agrippa. Carefully remembering each detail Paul told the story of his life, and as he talked vivid memories came back to him, the road to
Paul asked a simple question of Agrippa, “Do you believe in the prophets? I know you do. The King let a moment of silence follow Paul’s questioning statement. Finally he answered Paul with a question of his own “Do you believe that within such a short time you will convince me to become a Christian? Paul had a reply already on his lips “I pray that not only you but everyone in this room will become what I am, except for my chains”. When Agrippa heard Paul say this he went out with Festus the others.
All the audience agreed that the apostle was innocent, and Agrippa was especially sorry that Paul had appealed to Caesar and could not be set at liberty.
In 60 A.D Paul boarded a ship headed for Lystra where he had nearly been stoned to death fourteen years before. For a while the trip went smoothly, good sailing and fair winds sped the ship on its way. Then Paul was transferred to different ship headed for
The captain who commanded the second ship was unwise and foolish. Instead of remaining in port when the winter storms were near the ship, he sailed into a terrible hurricane. Even though Paul was shipwrecked and stranded on a strange island God took care of him and his life was spared.
It was three months until the centurion in charge of the prisoners could find a new ship to take them to
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