The Acts Of The Apostles falls neatly into two parts. Chapters 1-12 deal with the start of the early church in Jerusalem as it radiates outward. The apostle Peter is the prominent figure in these early chapters. Chapters 13-28 deal almost exclusively with the spread of the gospel to the Gentiles through the missionary journeys of the apostle Paul.
These chapters of Acts are the flesh and blood background of the 13 epistles (letters) of the New Testament which Paul wrote by inspiration of God. He wrote these letters to believers in places such as Galatia, Philippi, Thessalonica, Corinth, Ephesus and Rome.
It is easier to follow these adventurous journeys if we have some sort of map in our head. The journeys of Paul did not occur in some mythical land of Oz “once upon a time.” They took place in a very real Roman Empire. Paul journeyed to some very real cities which we can point to on a map. The inspired writer of Acts, St. Luke, names real places and real people you can look up in a history book.
Below is a map of Paul’s first and second journeys. The coastline of Syria and Palestine (the “Holy Land”) is on the right. The island of Cyprus is somewhat off the coast. The provinces of Asia Minor which Paul visits on the first journey are further up on the map. The churches of Asia Minor which Paul founded are also referred to in the Bible as the Galatian congregations.
The journeys are launched from Syrian Antioch, what we might call home base. Our first stop will be the island of Cyprus and its two major cities of Salamis and Paphos. In the weeks to come, we will join Paul and his companions on a journey that has been going on for some 2,000 years – to be witnesses to Christ – to the very ends of the earth!