The book of Acts records Paul’s three missionary expeditions. On the first, Paul and Barnabas evangelized the Island of Cyprus, then Perga in the region of Pamphylia, Antioch in Pisidia, and Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe in Galatia (Acts 13-14).
On the second missionary journey Paul, Silas, and others, left Syrian Antioch and “traveled through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches” (Acts 15:41). It is possible that he visited his hometown, Tarsus, located in the region of Cilicia (Acts 22:3). From there, traveling westward, they came “to Derbe and Lystra, where ... the churches were strengthened in the faith and grew daily in numbers” (Acts 16:1–5), then through the regions of Phrygia, Galatia and Mysia to the city of Troas (Acts 16:6-10).
Today, one might travel by car from Antioch in Syria, through Turkey, to Troas on the Aegean Sea. According to Google Maps, that’s an eight-hundred, seventy-one mile trip that would take sixteen hours. Paul didn’t have a car... he had a pair of sandals.
From Troas, Paul and his entourage crossed the Aegean Sea to Neapolis and Philippi where Paul won his first Christian converts on European soil (Acts 16). Paul evangelized the cities of Philippi, Thessalonica and Berea in Macedonia, or northern Greece (Acts 17:1-14). In southern Greece, called Achaia, Paul worked in the decadent city of Athens (Acts 17:16-24) and spent eighteen months in Corinth (Acts 18:1-17).
On his third missionary journey, Paul made another eight-hundred-plus mile journey across Asia to Ephesus. During three years (Acts 20:31) of remarkably fruitful ministry, “all the residents of Asia, both Jews and Greeks, heard the word of the Lord” (Acts 19:10). Think about that!
At the conclusion of his third missionary excursion, Paul wrote concerning his plans to visit Rome on his way to unevangelized Spain. “For I would not dare say anything except what Christ has accomplished through me by word and deed for the obedience of the Gentiles, by the power of miraculous signs and wonders, and by the power of God’s Spirit. As a result, I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum”(Romans 15:18–19), north of Greece.
Paul’s unrecorded fourth missionary journey could have taken him as far as Spain (Romans 15:24). We know that after his Roman imprisonment, he visited Ephesus (1 Timothy 3:14), Troas (2 Timothy 4:13), Corinth and Miletus (2 Timothy 4:10). He also spent a winter in northwestern Greece in the city of Nicopolis (Titus 3:12). Paul was undoubtedly the greatest and most fruitful missionary and church-planter in Christendom.
In light of his unequalled accomplishments, it’s all-the-more stunning that Paul would address young Titus: “Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ” (Titus 1:1). Paul acknowledged that he was an apostle by divine commissioning. But by his own choice and personal determination, he was a meager “bondservant” (Titus 1:1, NJKV), a bought-and-paid-for slave, a “doulos” (Greek), the lowest and the least.
In the upper room, on the night before his crucifixion, Jesus acted as the doulos, the servant who washed the feet of others. “I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done for you” (John 13:15).
James, the half-brother of Jesus and a primary leader in the early church, admonished us to “Humble yourselves before the Lord” (James 4:10). Paul did. We should too.
All Scripture quotations, except as otherwise noted, are from
Holman Bible Publishers’ Christian Standard Bible.