Stephen, whose Grecian name means "crown," becomes the first martyr for Jesus (Acts 6-7). Stephen was one of the first "deacons" or leaders in the early New Testament church.
1 In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Grecian Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food.
2 So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, 'It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. 3 Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them 4 and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.'
5 This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism. 6 They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them. (Acts 6:1-6, NIV)
Saul (Paul) is an official witnesses of Stephen's death, after which he leads persecution against believers of Christ (Acts 8:1-4).
Map location #1 - 33 A.D.
Saul receives written permission from the High Priest to search in Damascus' synagogues for those who believe Jesus is the Messiah. His mission is to arrest Christians then bring them to Jerusalem for trial (Acts 9:1-2). Accompanied by several others he travels to Damascus. As he approaches the city a bright light appears (Acts 9:3-4). Jesus' booming voice then says: "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?" (Acts 9:4, NIV)
Saul is struck blind and led into Damascus by his traveling companions. Three days later Jesus inspires a disciple named Ananias to visit and heal him of his blindness. After he is healed Saul is baptized and receives God's Holy Spirit. (Acts 9:4-18). He stays in Damascus and powerfully preaches the gospel. After learning of the plot against his life he flees the city at night by having Christians lower him down a gate wall using a basket! Once out of the city he travels to Arabia.
Map location #2 - Spring 33 A.D. to Spring 36 A.D.
In Arabia, apostle Paul is personally taught by Jesus Christ for the span of 3 years.
11 Now I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel preached by me is not based on a human point of view. 12 For I did not receive it from a human source and I was not taught it, but it came by a revelation from Jesus Christ. 17 I did not go up to Jerusalem to those who had become apostles before me; instead I went to Arabia and came back to Damascus. 18 Then after three years I did go up to Jerusalem to get to know Cephas, and I stayed with him 15 days. (Galatians 1:11-12, 17-18, HCSB)
Map location #3 - Spring 36 A.D.
Paul goes back to Damascus in the Spring of the year (Galatians 1:17).
Map locations #4, #5, #6 - Spring to Summer 36 A.D.
Paul travels to Jerusalem and stays fifteen days. Although he tries to get to know other converted people in Jerusalem, the brethren are suspicious of him and stay away (Acts 9:26). Barnabas, a disciple known for encouraging others, takes Paul to the apostles and personally vouches for his converted character (Acts 9:27).
Paul's preaching to Greek-speaking Jews infuriates some of them to the point where they seek to kill him (Acts 9:29). When the brethren learn about the threat they escort him to Caesarea and then send him back to his hometown of Tarsus (Acts 9:30).
Summer 36 A.D. to Summer 40 A.D.
Paul lives in Tarsus for 4 years.
Map location #7 - Summer 40 A.D. to Summer 41 A.D.
Brethren scattered because of Paul's persecution (before his conversion) preach the Word of God to Jews as far away as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch (Acts 11:19).
Some believers from Cyrene and Cyprus go to Syrian Antioch and begin talking to Grecians (non-Jews) about Jesus Christ. Their efforts are blessed and many become converted (Acts 11:20-21). Word of the gospel's success reaches Jerusalem. The church sends Barnabas to aid in ministering to the new converts. When he arrives in Antioch he encourages the brethren to continue to grow as believers (Acts 11:22-24).
Barnabas goes to Tarsus to get Paul's help with the new Antioch believers. They ultimately stay in the city for a year. It is in Antioch that believers in Jesus as the Messiah are called Christians (Acts 11:25-26).
The prophet Agabus travels from Jerusalem to Antioch, where he predicts a famine will soon occur that will last 3 years (Acts 11:27-28). In response to the prophecy the disciples plant and prepare food and relief to send to the believers in Jerusalem (Acts 11:29).
Map locations #8, #9 - Spring 44 A.D.
Food and relief are sent to Jerusalem by the hands of apostle Paul and Barnabas (Acts 11:30). After delivering relief they, along with John Mark, return to Antioch (Acts 12:25).