Apostle Paul's First
Missionary Journey Large Map

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The apostle Paul and Barnabas are considered prophets (teachers) in the early New Testament church like several others. The brethren of Antioch, in Syria, lay hands on both men and ordain them as apostles in the late Spring of 44 A.D.

While they (the church in Syrian Antioch) were serving the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said to them, 'Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul, to do the work to which I have called them.' (Acts 13:2)

From Antioch Paul, Barnabas and John (surnamed Mark) begin Paul's first missionary journey (Acts 13:4 - 52, 14:1 - 25). It is the first such extensive evangelistic tour taken by Paul. The evangelism team travels to Seleucia then sails to Salamis, the principle city and seaport of the island of Cyprus.

Why An Island?

Why did Paul choose, as the first place he would evangelize on his initial missionary journey, to travel to the island of Cyprus? While the Bible is silent regarding the exact reasons why Cyprus was choosen, we can understand why it was visited first based on the following facts.

Apostle Paul's First Missionary Journey Large Map

1) The island, the third largest in the Mediterranean, was fairly close to the mainland. At its closes point Cyprus is only about 63 miles (101 kilometers) from mainland Syria.

2) Cyprus' proximity to the mainland made it a good migration destination for Jews, who had probably begun to settle there even before the time of Alexander the Great. When Paul visited he was able to preach the gospel in not just one but several synagogues (Acts 13:5).

3) The island was the home of fellow traveling companion and apostle Barnabas (Acts 4:36). It may have also been a former residence of John Mark, who was a cousin of Barnabas (Colossians 4:10).

Paul and company cross the island by foot and arrive at Paphos. While in Paphos the island's Roman governor requests Barnabas and Paul meet with him so that he can personally hear the word of God. Accompanying the governor to the meeting is a sorcerer and false prophet known as Elymas the magician.

Elymas resists the gospel and tries to prevent the governor from accepting the truth of God (Acts 13:6 - 8). Paul perceives Elymas' intentions, intently looks at him, then strikes the magician of the black arts blind.

"You son of the Devil! You are the enemy of everything that is good . . . The Lord’s hand will come down on you now; you will be blind and will not see the light of day for a time."

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