Apostle Paul's Birth to
First Missionary Journey Timeline

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c. 2 A.D.
Paul is born in Tarsus

Paul's birth occurs in the city of Tarsus to an Israelite family of the tribe of Benjamin (Philippians 3:5). He is circumcised on the eighth day, in compliance with the law of God (Leviticus 12:3, Philippians 3:5).

c. 12 to 15 A.D.
Religious training in Jerusalem

Paul's family sends him to Jerusalem to be taught in a Pharisaic Rabbinical school. The school is headed up by the well-known Rabbi Gamaliel (see Acts 5:34) who personally teaches the future apostle (Acts 22:3).

Martyrdom of Stephen

Stephen is stoned to death for his testimony about Jesus (Acts 6 - 7). He is one of the first deacons appointed by the early church (Acts 6:1 - 6). A zealous Saul (Paul) consents to and witnesses Stephen's death (Acts 7:58 - 8:1).

Who are the Pharisees?

The word Pharisee means "to separate" or "separated." Pharisaism was a major school of thought or sect of the Jews. Popular at the time of Jesus (John 7:48) they were known for their rigid adherence to the letter of the law (Acts 26:5, Matthew 23:3, Luke 11:39, etc.).

33 A.D.
The conversion of Saul

Paul requests and receives, from the High Priest, permission to go to to search for those who believe in Jesus. He is given the authority to arrest anyone who attends a Synagogue and professes belief in "the Way." Those arrested are to be taken back to Jerusalem for trial and punishment (Acts 9:1 - 2).

As Paul approaches the city, a burst of light suddenly appears and causes him to fall to the ground (Acts 9:3 - 4). He then hears the voice of Jesus asking why he is persecuting the church (Acts 9:4). Blinded, he is led to Damascus where his repentance leads to being healed, baptized, and becoming a Christian (Acts 9:4 - 18).

33 to 36
Taught by Jesus

After fleeing Damascus due to persecution (Acts 9:20 - 25), Paul spends three years in Arabia where he is personally taught by Jesus (Galatians 1:11 - 12, 15 - 18).

What is the Sanhedrin?

The Sanhedrin, or more properly the Great Sanhedrin, was the supreme council of the Jews composed of seventy elders plus the high priest.

The Great Sanhedrin, who met daily in Jerusalem's temple, had jurisdiction over religious matters. They were the ones who arrested, tried, and condemned Jesus to death.

First Visit to Jerusalem after conversion

After three years in Arabia Paul journeys back to Damascus (Galatians 1:17). He then travels to Jerusalem and stays almost two weeks (Acts 9:26, Galatians 1:18 - 19).

Paul's preaching angers some Jews to the point where they plot to take his life (Acts 9:29). He is soon sent by church brethren to Caesarea and back home to Tarsus (Acts 9:30).

36 to 40
Staying Home in Tarsus

Apostle Paul stays in his hometown of Tarsus for four years.

40 to 41
Growth in the Antioch church

Men from Cyprus and Cyrene travel to Antioch in Syria and begin to speak to Gentiles concerning Jesus. God blesses their efforts and a great number of people become converted (Acts 11:20 - 21).

Barnabas travels to Tarsus to seek Paul's help with teaching the newly converted Syrian Antioch Gentiles. They journey from Tarsus back to Antioch and stay in the city for an entire year (Acts 11:25 - 26).

Was the apostle Paul married?

The Bible does not definitively state Paul's marital status. However, the social norm of the time required Pharisees and members of the Sanhedrin to be married.

As he was a Pharisee and likely a member of the Sanhedrin, he was almost certainly married at one point. If this were the case, he would have been a widower at the time of his ministry.

A famine will soon occur

God, in Antioch, reveals that a three-year famine will soon occur (Acts 11:27 - 28).

Famine relief to Jerusalem

Paul and Barnabas escort food and relief supplies to Jerusalem, after which they return to Antioch (Acts 12:25).

44 to 46
Apostle Paul's First Missionary Journey

Paul and Barnabas are ordained by the church as apostles (Acts 13:1 - 3).

From Syrian Antioch Paul, Barnabas and John Mark begin the first missionary journey (Acts 13:4 - 52, 14:1 - 25). They travel to Salamis on the island of Cyprus. After preaching the gospel they walk to Paphos on the other side of the island.

In Paphos the evangelistic team meets with the island's governor and his friend Elymas who is a sorcerer. Paul, after Elymas tries to prevent the governor from receiving and accepting the gospel message, renders the sorcerer blind through a miracle (Acts 13:6 - 12).

Paul, Barnabas, and Mark sail to Perga. After docking, Mark leaves and returns to Jerusalem (Acts 13:13). This act will lead, in the near future, to a heated discussion between the two evangelists and their ultimate separation (Acts 15:36 - 41). They leave Perga and go to Pisidian Antioch.

44 to 46

Paul and Barnabas, in Antioch, attend a synagogue where the apostle powerfully preaches the gospel (Acts 13:16 - 41). Although many in the city initially believe what is taught, they are soon turned against the gospel by Jews who do not believe Jesus is the Messiah (Acts 13:42). The evangelists are thrown out of the area and travel to Iconium.

As his custom was, Paul preaches in a local synagogue. Once again, sadly, unbelieving Jews stir up many in the city to oppose the truth. After learning of a plot to have them stoned to death, the two preachers flee to Lystra (Acts 14:1 - 6).

Paul, in Lystra, heals a crippled man. Those who see the miracle are so amazed that they try to worship the evangelists like gods (Acts 14:6 - 13)! Soon, however, Jews from other areas come to the city in order to cause trouble for the two apostles. The crowds are stirred up against Paul and have him stoned.

After the stoning Paul's dead body is dragged out of Lystra. He miraculously regains consciousness and re-enters the city. The next day he and Barnabas travel to Derbe (Acts 14:19 - 20).

Paul and Barnabas preach the gospel in Derbe then retrace their steps back through Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch. They ultimately arrive back at Syrian Antioch (Acts 14:21 - 26).

See Part 2 of Timeline!

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