THE ACTS 22
THE FIRST MISSIONARY JOURNEY OF PAUL
In chapter 13, Saul of Tarsus, now Paul the Apostle, takes center stage in the Gospel story. Let us remember that this man was a Jew, and a member of the most elite group of the Jewish faith. He was a Pharisee. It is significant that God has selected one from the very heart of Judaism to proclaim the fulfillment of His promise to Abraham and the true identity of Jesus Christ as the Messiah, which the Jewish prophets had foretold.
In this chapter, Saul changes his name to Paul. Each Jewish boy had two names. One was Jewish and the other a name to be used in the Gentile world. That Paul now chose to use his Gentile name is an indication of how completely he was ready to leave the past behind and be a total and complete messenger of God to the Gentile world.
There would be no turning back.
This Paul is to become the most powerful influence in the world for moral and ethical righteousness, except for Jesus Christ Himself. He is to be the one to describe and define the whole will of God for the salvation of mankind, and his writing sets the standard for all the followers of Jesus Christ.
In Paphos, the capital of Cyprus, they came in contact with the governor of the island, Sergius Paulus. People were very superstitious in those days, and even an intelligent man like the governor had a sorcerer as a confidant. However, he was also a convert to the Jewish faith and a believer in God. He was interested in the message Paul was preaching. Elymus, the sorcerer, realized that if Sergius was converted to Christianity, he would be out. So he began to use arguments and wiles to persuade Sergius that Paul’s message was false. Paul never shied from confrontation, and he stood face to face with Elymus and called him a worker for the devil. He then made him to be blind for a time, and when Sergius saw this miracle, he was convinced and believed in the Lord.
Again we see that miracles were performed by the Apostles for the purpose of confirming the Word…never for any other reason.
Finally, they left Paphos and sailed to Pamphilia. Here John Mark left them and went back to Jerusalem. No reason is given for this desertion, and later this is to cause Barnabus and Paul to separate when Paul refuses to let John accompany them on another journey.
However, this John Mark is later to be reconciled to Paul, and Paul
even said he was of great value to him. This same John Mark is one of the writers of the four Gospels and is an important name in Biblical history.
In this first missionary journey, we should be impressed with the interest God shows in having the message of Jesus Christ taken to the whole world. It also shows His wisdom in selecting the men whom He sent to do the job. It was necessary in these early days for Him to be involved in directing the work. He had inspired the writers, especially Paul, to write down His will and to leave a clear picture of the advent, death, burial and resurrection of His Son. This gives the final proof of the authenticity of the Book. Then, He left it to His faithful followers to continue to spread the message through the ages. He no longer directs the actions, nor gives further information to men. It is now for men to go to the Book and, noting His commission to go tell it to the world, to become His witnesses to all men. The motivation is now left to our faith, and the effectiveness of our preaching to our dedication to the truth.