Friday, November 12, 2010
The Lord's churches were growing in number, blessings, and persecutions from without. One of the great persecutors of the early church was Saul of Tarsus. This same Saul who hated all those that called upon the name of the Lord was to be used mightily of the Almighty God. While on his way to Damascus to further persecute Christians, the Lord met him along the way (Acts 9). On that road, Saul was converted and put his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Soon after, his name was changed to Paul, his passion was changed to Christ, his purpose was changed to righteous, and his work would change the world.
The church at Antioch had become the great missionary center of the day, and it was from this church that Paul and his companions were sent out on three great missionary journeys.
The First Journey resulted in the establishment of churches in Salamis and Paphos, Antioch in Pisidia, Iconium, Lystra, Derbe, and Perga (Acts 13-14).
The Second Journey resulted in the opening up of Europe to the Gospel with churches being founded in Philippi, Thessalonica, Berea, Athens, and Corinth (Acts 15-18).
The Third Journey involved the revisiting and strengthening of these churches and others (Acts 18:23-21:26).
It is important to note that Paul was sent under the authority of the church at Antioch (Acts 13). Each church established, was established therefore under the authority of the church at Antioch. These churches would send out men to evangelize other regions and more churches would be established.
Paul would be the Lord's instrument in taking the Gospel to the Gentiles (2 Tim. 1:11). Following these journeys, Paul would be taken to Rome and eventually beheaded and die a martyr's death in AD 68.
Much could be written about the ministry of Paul, but one can read of all this in Acts-Philemon in the New Testament. He was used of God to be the human author of most of the New Testament. He would be used to give to us much doctrine, teaching, and instruction for our faith and practice.
The Apostle Paul played an important role in seeing the Lord's churches multiplied. Again it is important to review that the Lord Jesus started the church, gave to it His authority, and the church at Jerusalem would start other churches. One such church was the church at Antioch which sent out the apostle Paul who started numerous churches. Each of these churches were independent and autonomous from any authority apart from the Lord and His Word.
The Apostle Paul played an integral part in the evangelism and establishment of other churches. These churches would grow and send out other evangelists of which we will continue our study.