Have you ever looked at a map of Paul’s first missionary journey?
Most Bibles will have a map of Paul’s missionary trips in the back. When I was a kid I used to trace the route with my finger over and over again, and wondered why he took each route.
Then I grew up and learned a bit more about Roman history, and read the book of Acts a couple of times.
If you notice in most of Paul’s trips it goes like this:
- Paul goes in and preaches the news to the Jews.
- The Jews at first eagerly embrace Paul, but then they get jealous of the attention he’s getting.
- Paul gets kicked out of the synagogue.
- Paul goes to the Gentiles and preaches to them, he is successful and grows a large crowd.
- Someone, and this depends on the flavor of the city either Jews or those who lead the local religion, get upset with Paul taking their parishioners and the donations that go with it, and report Paul to the civil authorities.
- The civil authorities don’t want a riot and the “official attention” that brings, so they either throw Paul in jail, beat him, or just go straight to kicking Paul out.
- Paul moves to the very next major town out of reach of the previous magistrate.
This cycle repeats over and over again. I think there’s only one city Paul isn’t kicked out of, and I think God had a reason for that as well.
This is why God needed someone who is stubborn to the point of idiocy, because Paul is going to have a rough go of it. A very rough go of it, and a lesser man would recant, say he’d made it up, or something else. Paul keeps going. I have to admire that.
The Lego history of Paul’s missionary journey
The kids had already noticed Paul has some fun on his trip, and as I gathered materials they studied their map from Wonder Maps of Paul’s missionary journeys.
You know what they came up with?
This part of Paul’s journey looks like a dinosaur head. See Mom, there’s the horn, there’s the mouth. That part over there is his body. And once they pointed that out of course that’s all I could see.
Sigh, not so helpful that.
Paul and Barnabas were commissioned by the Antioch church to go out and preach to the Gentiles. They set sail and went to Cyprus.
There they met with the Roman proconsul Sergius Paulus (side note, up until a few years ago skeptics pointed to this name as proof the Bible was not real, and then they found a cornerstone from that time period with his name on it), and he basically said, “Not my circus, not my clowns” (You can look, it’s right there in the Greek, right there in my special Ticia translation), but then he believed what Paul said, and gave him leave to teach in Cyprus. They traveled around the different cities in Cyprus
But, that cycle I mentioned earlier happened, the Jews got angry and they were thrown out of the last town in Cyprus after a stoning.
They traveled off to Iconium, their stay there was so short I didn’t have time for a picture. So they sailed off to Lystra. Isn’t that great name?
They they came to town and Paul healed a lame man. The locals said, “This must be Zeus and Hermes.” When Paul realized what was going on he laughed so hard he fell over (again that’s in the Ticia Greek translation, much like my Bible professor’s translation said “zap” and “dude.”)
But just like before they got made at Paul, I mean he did laugh at them and make them look like fools, so they stoned Paul and Barnabas leaving them for dead.
Their fellow Christians, you know the people who’d converted in the last month or so came to get Paul and Barnabas off the trash pile and bury them when they discovered the two men were alive. So they snuck Paul and Barnabas out of town and sent them off to the next town.
From Derbe they felt God calling them back to their home in Antioch. They traveled home and gave their report to the believers there and in Jerusalem.
Paul’s first missionary journey activity
I wanted the kids to get just how serious traveling then was, and have a bit of fun so I had them plan their own travel supplies.
They happily set to drawing and writing their supplies. You can tell the differences in my kids when Princess immediately started writing as fast as her marker could write, and the boys immediately started drawing every single item. EVERY. SINGLE. ITEM. I mean they literally drew out each shoe. It was kind of funny.
Some of the items they packed were genius, like a pocket knife or food for the trip, but I was a bit amused at Superman’s deciding to pack his Legos. Or Batman’s question, “Am I packing as if I was a kid or an adult?” So, he packed lots of grown up things like a pocket knife, and a lighter. Princess meanwhile was worried about the weather, what kind of clothes should she pack.
Paul’s first missionary journey resources
(Amazon links are affiliate links, marked with asterisk)
- Paul’s Missionary Journeys Map* (closest I can find to the one I own, a friend gave mine to me)
- Paul’s first missionary journey
- The Silas Diary (First Century Diaries)* (I got these for Christmas one year when I was in college and read the entire series, yes I was the kid who asked for books for Christmas)
- Paul preaches in Antioch