Lecture 10: Paul's Second Missionary Journey - Part 2
Lesson 10: Paul’s Second Missionary Journey – Part 2
Hi. I’m Carl Laney and we’re looking at part 2 of our lecture today on the Introduction of the New Testament and we’re focusing on Paul’s second missionary journey.
Let’s join together in prayer. Father we thank you for the life and the ministry of the Apostle Paul. We’re grateful for your call on his life and for his faithful witness telling men and women, boys and girls about how Jesus fulfills the prophecies given to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. And how he came as our Messiah, died on the cross and rose again and we’re grateful for that Gospel message that we have received. Bless our time now as we study Paul on his second journey. In Jesus name, Amen.
I. MINISTRY AT ATHENS, 17:16-34
A. The Council of the Areopagus was entrusted to oversee matters pertaining to religion, culture and education in Athens.
Well, we’re in Athens and Paul is ministering to the Aeropagus and there at the Aeropagus, Paul has the opportunity to give an evangelistic approach that’s a bit different from the normal approach that he would give at the synagogue. You know at the synagogue he would quote scripture, he’d read the scripture and show how Jesus the Messiah has fulfilled the prophecies given to Israel. But as we look at this message notice how different this message to these men at the Aeropagus. He begins by making reference to their religious interest. As Paul was walking the road into the city of Athens, he had noted so many altars dedicated to various gods and he had also noticed an altar dedicated to an unknown god. Now, how did that altar to an unknown god happen to be there in Athens? Well it’s an interesting story. Around 600BC a terrible plaque came to the city of Athens. There were so many gods worshipped by the Athenians, about 30,000 at that time, it was said in those days it was easier to find a god in the city of Athens than a man. So, it was believed that one of the gods had been offended and that’s why the plaque had come on the city of Athens. Sacrifices were offered to this god and to that god, but the plaque continued, and the people wondered what god is it that has been offended. Epimenides, one of the leading men of the city suggested that the Athenians had possibly offended an unknown god. So, he ordered that a number of sheep be released in the city of Athens, and he said that wherever these sheep lay down the Athenians were to build an altar and sacrifice that sheep to the unknown god. Altars were built, sacrifices were made and eventually, the plaque was lifted.
B. The Address to the Athenians, 17:22-31
Later on, Paul came to the city of Athens and some of those altars were still in place. Altars to the unknown god. So, Paul tells the Athenians that he is going to explain to them who this unknown god is. You’ve been worshipping the unknown god. I’d like to tell you something about him. And so Paul begins to tell the citizens or the men at the Aeropagus about the unknown god. We see this in 17:23, “I was passing through your way and examining the objects of worship and I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. What therefore you worship in ignorance this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and all things in it since he is the Lord of Heaven and earth does not dwell in temples made with hands.” You can just imagine Paul pointing up to the Acropolis where the Parthenon was situated. Paul’s says the God who made the world doesn’t dwell in the little temple like that. Acts 17:24, “Nor is he served by human hands.” You can just image the priests and the priestess serving the temple where Athena was worshipped. Acts 17:25 “He doesn’t need human hands to serve him, he needs nothing since he himself gives to all people life and breath and all things.” 17:26 “And he is made from one man every nation of mankind to live on the face of the earth having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation.” 17:27 “That they should seek God and perhaps they might grope for him and find him though he is not far from any one of us.” So, Paul tells the Athenians that the God who made the heavens and the earth is the true God. He’s the God that they have been worshipping as the unknown God. He’s the God of providence who made the nations and Paul says he is very close to each one of us. And then he makes an appeal to some of the Greek poets themselves.
C. Paul quotes the Greek poets Epimenides the Cretan and Aratus of Cilicia
He quotes Epimenides, the Cretian, and Aretus, from Silica. He quotes their statements from Epimenides, “O holy one you are not dead: you live and abide. For in you we live and move and have our being.” Paul said you know there’s a prophet who said something that’s appropriate to this discussion and he quotes from Epimenidesm “In you, that is in God, we live and move and have our being.” And then from Aretus, “It is with Zeus that every one of us in every way has to do for we are his offspring.” Paul quotes the latter part of that statement, “we are his offspring,” and he applies this to God himself, we are the offspring of God.
D. The Response to the Message, 17:32-34
Then Paul continues on in verses 17:30-31, “Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, you worshipped this God in ignorance. God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, 31because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.” There he points to the fact that God has set a day for judgment and we must repent in anticipation of that coming day. The judge is the one who has been raised from the dead. Well, Paul’s mention of the resurrection caused some in the crowd to mock and to sneer. The Greeks didn’t believe in the concept of the resurrection, a bodily resurrection. They believed that the body was evil and that you didn’t want that body to be physically resurrected. They believed in an eternal spirit but not in a resurrected body. So, they mocked. The message was rejected by most but several citizens at Athens believed, including Dionysus mentioned in verse 34 who is later mentioned by Eusebius as having become the first Bishop of Athens. Then there was a woman named Damaris who also believed.
II. THE MINISTRY AT CORINTH, 18:1-17
It appears as though Paul was denied to right to preach in the city of Athens. So, he left and went on to Corinth. Some have suggested that Paul made a big mistake at Athens. That Paul preached philosophy and about this unknown God instead of taking them to the scriptures. But I think that Paul was simply being contemporary. He said, “You are religious people, you worship an unknown God let me explain to you who that God is.” Paul was doing pre-evangelism which would eventually point them to Jesus, the resurrected Messiah but that’s when they broke off the discussion and didn’t want to hear any more. I think Paul was doing something that we might be sensitive to the culture and he was responding in that way to the Athenians.
Paul left Athens and he went about 60 miles west to the city of Corinth which is strategically located on the Isthmus that links the Peloponnese with the mainland of Greece. The city could be easily defended from its 1800-foot Acrocorinth just behind the city. The city was an important trade center with two ports. You can see the Port of Lechaeum on the Corinthian Gulf and the Port of Cenchreae on the Saronic Gulf. The city of Corinth was also the worship center for Aphrodite the Goddess of love. Strabo, the Greek historian, records that there were a 1,000 temple prostitutes in the temple on the Acrocorinth. Conzelmann, in his commentary on 1 Cor. says that Strabo was speaking of the cities golden period and that this wouldn’t have been true in the time of the 1st Century. Nevertheless, I think that there is enough evidence to say that Corinth did have a reputation of idolatry and immorality.
A. The Labor with Aquila and Priscilla, 18:1-3
Paul spent a year and a half at Corinth during his second missionary journey. In Corinth, Paul had to do his trade of tent-making. He continued that trade with Aquila and Priscilla two Jewish people, believers that he found there. He continued that tent-making trade until Silas and Timothy joined him from Macedonia as we see in 18:5, “But when Silas and Timothy came down from Macedonia, Paul began devoting himself completely to the word, solemnly testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ.
B. The Ministry in the Synagogue, 18:4
There’s Paul’s message, Jesus is the Promised One, he’s the Messiah of Old Testament prophecy. This Jewish couple, Aquila and Priscilla had recently evicted from Rome under the edict of Claudius. They had come to Corinth and Paul continued his usual procedure of going to the synagogue and every Sabbath (verse 4) he was seeking to persuade the Jews there to believe in the Messiah. The Jews and the God-fearing Greeks.
C. The Reunion of the Missionary Team, 18:5
1. Encouraging report.
The missionary team, Silas and Timothy eventually joined Paul there at Corinth and when Silas and Timothy joined Paul they brought some encouraging news from their ministry in Thessalonica where Paul had to flee. Paul sat down, and he wrote this letter, two letters actually to the Thessalonians.
2. Paul wrote two letters from Corinth
He wrote a 1 Thess. letter and the 2 Thess. letter during his time, during the year and a half he spent at Corinth. So, let’s consider for a moment that first letter that Paul wrote from Corinth back to the church at Thessalonica, the Thessalonian Epistles.
a. Theme of I Thess. – The need for holy living in light of Christ’s coming.
Just to set the context here the red line on the slide represents Paul’s travels. You recall he had gone from Philippi through Amphipolis and Apollonia to Thessalonica and had ministered in Thessalonica, because of the trouble there he had to leave and go to Berea. Then he left Berea and went to Athens and then on from Athens to Corinth. Silas and Timothy had stayed in Berea and their travels are represented by the black line. They had come on down to Athens and then continued west to Corinth. Now they join Paul and they brought a report. They were reunited with Paul and brought this report from Thessalonica and things were going well up in Thessalonica. So, Paul sat down at this point and he wrote the letter to the Thessalonians. Timothy had returned with a good report and Paul writes this letter, 1 Thess. to commend the progress of the church at Thessalonica and to encourage them to go on in the faith. He emphasizes in his letter to need for holy living in light of Christ’s coming. He emphasizes in Chapter 4 that Jesus is coming again, and he is going to raise the dead and rapture the saints and together they will be united with Jesus forever. So in light of the second coming of Jesus, and his gathering of the believers, resurrecting the dead in Christ and taking the living saints to be with him, in light of that we need to live holy in light of his anticipated coming. So, Paul preaches that message to the Thessalonians in his letter to the Thessalonians.
b. Theme of II Thess. – Corrections concerning the Day of the Lord.
Then Paul preached a second letter and we know this as 2 Thess. He continued ministering there in Corinth for a year and a half and probably a few months after he wrote the first letter, he wrote a second letter around AD51. The immediate occasion of this letter was a report that Paul received that concerned him. Paul had ministered in Thessalonica, he had taught them about the coming of the Lord but apparently there was some false teachers now who had come to Thessalonica claiming that they were living in the time we would know as The Day of the Lord or the Tribulation. This seemed to make sense to the Thessalonian believers because they were experiencing persecution as Paul had been persecuted there and so they thought that the Day of the Lord, the Tribulation had come upon them. So, Paul writes this letter to commend them for their growth in the faith and their perseverance in the face of persecution and to encourage them to be steadfast in the face of the trials. But the primary purpose of this letter was to correct their misunderstanding, their misconception that the Day of the Lord had come. So, corrections concerning the Day of the Lord is Paul’s main focus in 2 Thess.
I want to point out a passage in 2 Thess. that I believe as an encouragement as Paul writes this letter he is dealing with those who felt that the Day of the Lord had come, and so Paul wants to make a correction concerning that. In 2 Thess. 2:2-3 Paul writes to correct this misconception that The Day of the Lord had come. 2 Thess. 2:1 he says these words, “Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him,” notice that Paul is setting the context for his instruction. He had written about the coming of the Lord in 1 Thess. 4, he had talked about our gathering together to him and now he says we’re back on the same subject. But he says I don’t want you to be quickly shaken from your composure or disrobed by either a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us to the effect that the Day of the Lord has come. Someone had convinced these believers that they were in the Tribulation, that the Day of the Lord had come. But Paul says no, two things have to happen before the Day of the Lord or the Tribulation takes place. He mentions two things; first the apostasia, translated apostasy or literally transliterated it’s not really translated for you, it’s just transliterated from Greek to English. Then the revelation of the Lawless One. The Lawless One is a reference to the Anti-Christ. Now Paul is saying two things have to happen before we are in the Tribulation, (1) The Anti-Christ has to be revealed and (2) the apostasia has to take place. Now the word apostasia can be literally translated departure. That’s what it means, and it has to be then determined from the context what does it mean in the context. I think it’s pretty clear from the context of verse 1 that Paul is talking about the departure of the saints, “Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him.” Paul has discussed this in 2 Thess. 4. Paul is referring to the gathering of the saints, the departure of the saints from the earth. Paul is saying here that two things have to happen before you are in the Tribulation, the departure of the saints, we call it the Rapture and the revelation of the Anti-Christ. Paul says those two things haven’t happened, you’re not in the Day of the Lord. I think this is one of the most excellent New Testament references to teach that the Rapture of the Church, the removal from the earth precedes the Day of the Lord, the Tribulation. Paul says in 1 Thess. 5:9, “For God has not destined us for wrath,” and the word wrath is used frequently in the Book of Revelation to describe this Day of the Lord, the Tribulation Period. “For God has not destined us for wrath,” but for deliverance and the deliverance, he described in Chapter 4 of 1 Thess. as the coming of the Lord to take us from the earth to be with him forever.
D. The Response to the Word, 18:6-11
These are two letters that Paul wrote during his second missionary journey while he was at Corinth. Now the one who is ruling the city at this time was Gallio, he was the proconsul of Achaea in Paul’s day when Paul was at Corinth and he was a well-loved roman ruler. Later he was involved in a conspiracy to overthrow the evil Emperor Nero and he was forced to commit suicide. He was ruling at this time when Paul was there at Corinth. Eventually, there was enough opposition against Paul’s ministry in Corinth that he was brought before the bema and he was accused before the bema, this place of judgment, this speaker’s rostrum at Corinth. He was accused of propagating an unauthorized religion. He was accused of presenting this message that wasn’t accepted by the Romans.
E. The Accusation before Gallio, 18:12-17
Well, Gallio listened to what was going on in this dispute and decided that it was merely a religious squabble among the Jews. A squabble between those who believed that Jesus was the Messiah and those that didn’t. It’s a squabble among the Jews and since Judaism was a recognized religion he was unwilling to act on the case. Under Roman Law, Judaism was authorized and so he viewed Christianity at this time as merely a sect of Judaism, so he dismissed the case from the bema, verse 16 says, “He drove them away from the bema, from the judgment seat.” However, Sosthenes who apparently succeeded Crispus as ruler of the synagogue was attacked and beaten right here before the judgment seat of Gallio. Sosthenes apparently became a Christian and is mentioned 1 Cor. 1:1.
III. RETURN TO ANTIOCH, 18:18-22
A. Paul's Vow, 18:18, Numbers 6:21
Paul left Corinth in fall of AD62 after 18 months of ministry there at Corinth. He left the city of Cenchreae which is the Port of Corinth on the Saronic Gulf that leads to the Aegean. There we read that Paul cut his hair, he cut his hair verse 18 and it mentioned for he was keeping a vow. What kind of a vow would be ended with a haircut? You can go to the Book of Numbers and you find that there is a Nazarite Vow in Numbers that concludes with a haircut. When you conclude a Nazarite Vow you conclude it with a haircut. Paul apparently had taken this vow during the duration of his ministry at Corinth and now his ministry was over, and Paul had a haircut, Num. Chapter 6 talks about the Nazarite Vow.
B. A Visit at Ephesus, 18:19-21
Paul left Corinth after a year and a half of ministry there. He crossed the Aegean Sea and he went to Ephesus. Now you recall that Paul wanted to minister in Ephesus earlier on that first journey. You know when he was traveling across Galatia he wanted to go south to Asia and Ephesus was the central city of Asia. But the Holy Spirit said no so he crossed the Aegean and went on Troas and then ministered in Philippi, Thessalonica, Berea, Athens and in Corinth. But Paul had a heart and a desire to get back Athens where he had a desire to minister.
C. Paul left Aquila and Priscilla at Ephesus.
So, he crossed the Aegean to Ephesus and left Aquila and Priscilla there to lay the groundwork for the future ministry that Paul anticipated on his third journey. Paul dropped Aquila and Priscilla off where they began a ministry and then Paul went on to Caesarea on the coast of the Land of Israel and then went up to greet the church in Jerusalem and then continued north back to Antioch where he had begun his missionary journey.
D. A Visit at Jerusalem, 18:22
Paul had been traveling for two and a half years, a year and half of that had been spent at Corinth. He had traveled some 2,000 miles during this second missionary journey and he had written two letters, the letters to the church at Thessalonica. On Paul’s first journey, you recall, that he wrote no letters, but he got back from his first journey and he wrote Galatians. On his second journey Paul’s two letters from Corinth, 1 and 2 Thessalonians. In our next lesson we will be looking at Paul’s third journey and during Paul’s third journey he writes three letters. So no letters on the first journey, two letters on the second journey and three letters on the third journey. On the third journey, Paul will write 1 and 2 Cor. and Romans.
What can we learn from this journey of Paul, his second missionary journey? What can we learn about discipleship as Paul picks up Timothy and takes Timothy with him? Really discipling Timothy, mentoring Timothy. Later on, Timothy is going to be authorized to lead the church at Corinth, but these years of discipleship and training certainly prepared him for that.
We also learn something about divine guidance as Paul has a strategic plan, he wants to go to Ephesus down in South Asia. He wants to go to Bithynia, he’s got a plan but he’s also sensitive to the Spirit’s leading and the Holy Spirit says no to go north. The Holy Spirit says no to go south. So he keeps on leading and trusting and God eventually leads him to Philippi.
We also learn something about Paul’s missionary strategy. He seems to go to central cities, Philippi, demanding this fertile plane in Macedonia along that via Egnatia. Thessalonica, the major city of this region and then Athens and then Corinth, these are major cities. Paul seems to have a strategy to get to these major cities.
We also learned something about Paul’s evangelistic strategy. To the Jews, he’s appealing to scripture. He’s taking them to the Torah, he’s taking them to the Prophets to show that Jesus fulfilled these prophecies. He’s showing them how their own Prophets anticipated the coming of Jesus. But he has a different evangelistic strategy when he’s talking to people who don’t have that background and to the men at the Aeropagus he’s talking about the unknown god and he’s talking about God who is the creator of all things, God who providentially controls the nations and provides for all people. And that this God is not too far from us if we would seek him. Paul is really preparing the way then to preach Jesus to these men but helping them to know that God exists.
We also see Paul training, training those who travel with him. Training Silas, training Timothy, training Luke, and Paul is involved in training even as he travels back through the areas that he ministered to on that first missionary journey. Paul is instructing the elders, training these church leaders so Paul really had a sense for follow-up.
We can learn a lot about Paul and his ministry on these journeys and our next lecture will be on Paul’s third missionary journey.