June 3, 2018
I Will Build My Church: The First Missionary Journey
After the Gospel was preached to Gentiles for the first time, things began to fall into place for the launch of world-wide evangelization. The city of Antioch was home to a multi-ethnic church that would serve as “home base” for the movement that would eventually change the world. The church in Antioch commissioned Paul and Barnabas for the first missionary journey that would spread the Gospel into the depths of the Roman Empire.
Paul, who at the start of the first missionary journey was still known as Saul, had been a believer for about 8 or 9 years. As preparation for this, he spent three years in Arabia hearing from God, processing the good news of the Gospel and all that it meant for his life. He has grown significantly in his faith, and was assisting Barnabas at Antioch for an entire year leading up to their journey.
The first missionary journey was a long trek – about 1,235 miles – mostly through Galatia. This image, which can be found at thebiblejourney.org, shows where Paul and Barnabas traveled as they preached the Gospel.
Not only did Paul and Barnabas accomplish a great deal on their first missionary journey, but there is much that we can learn from them. First, we should be open to a unique call. God still calls out individuals for his service. He is still urging some of us to take the Gospel to unreached people groups and people without Gospel access. Second, for those of us whom God is calling to stay where we are, we should go beyond the norm in the way we support those whom God is sending. Finally, those of us who stay must be just as committed to reaching our own spheres of influence with the Gospel as the missionaries we commission to go overseas.