PAUL'S FIRST MISSIONARY JOURNEY
THE ISLAND OF CYPRUS
1. Under whose guidance did Paul and Barnabas begin their missionary travels?
Wm. Dallmann, in his book entitled Paul, mentions four ways in which God prepared the world of Paul’s day for his missionary journeys. First of all, the Jewish people through persecution and colonization had been spread throughout the Roman Empire. Although resented by many, they had been granted special privileges by the Roman government. Many Jews obtained positions of influence as financiers or advisors. Secondly, the conquests of Alexander the Great had made Greek the language of the known world. This enabled Paul to travel almost anywhere and still be unhindered by a language barrier. Thirdly, the so-called Pax Romana begun by Caesar Augustus allowed Paul to travel in relative safety from place to place on a series of well-made and maintained roads. Roman soldiers, posted throughout the empire, controlled pirates and bandits. Fourthly, the sad condition of the heathen religions, in which the gods of the heathen were more sinful than the people themselves, tended to lead people to look for something which satisfied their spiritual needs.
2. Why might Paul and Barnabas have chosen Cyprus as their first stop?
Acts 11:19-20; 13:5—
3. Which two prominent individuals did Paul and Barnabas meet in Paphos?
Bar-Jesus, called a sorcerer by Luke, was a curious blend of fortune-teller and a man of science. In Paul’s day magic and science were difficult to distinguish. No doubt Bar-Jesus, or Elymas as he is also called, was able to perform magical feats, which could not be easily explained. It was not uncommon for men of stature, such a Roman governor, to employ and rely upon such men for the purpose of making decisions. This made men, such as Bar-Jesus, extremely influential and dangerous.
Sergius Paulus was a member of a noble Roman family, who served with distinction over a period of several generations. We know of one Lucius Sergius Paulus who was a curator of the Tiber in the principate of Claudius, another of the same name (perhaps his son) who was an official in Galatia, in 168. Several inscriptions have been found in Cyprus bearing the name of this important man.
4. Read Acts 13:9. At this point in the narrative of Acts, Luke makes mention of Paul’s two names. Before this point Luke always refers to the apostle as "Saul." After this point he always refers to him as "Paul," except when recording Paul’s personal accounts of his conversion (cf. Acts 22:7,13; 26:14). Why do you suppose Luke did this?
By the time that Paul was born it had become customary in the eastern portion of the Roman Empire to have two names—one Greek and the other in one’s native language. Saul was the apostle’s Hebrew name, while Paul was his Greek name. These names would then be used as circumstances dictated. Among the Jews the apostle was known by his Hebrew name, Saul. In our text the apostle was for the first time appealing to the Graeco-Roman world and so addressed Sergius Paulus by identifying himself not as a Jew from Tarsus, but as a Roman citizen from Tarsus, and so a member of that Graeco-Roman world.
5. What events preceded the conversion of Sergius Paulus?
1. Discuss the importance of the miracle of blinding Bar-Jesus to Paul at this point in his first missionary journey? Of what importance is it to us today?
2. The preaching of the apostles, as recorded in the Book of Acts, was frequently accompanied and confirmed by miracles. Discuss the reasons for this. In view of the reasons for those miracles, discuss under what circumstances, if any, we might expect such miracles to occur today.
3. Luke describes Sergius Paulus as an "intelligent" man. Discuss the need of "intelligent" people for the gospel. Discuss, as well, how the conversion of Sergius Paulus might prove encouraging to our mission work today.