St. PAUL'S MISSIONARY JOURNEYS (Acts, 13:1--21:16)

The Acts of the Apostles records three missionary journeys of St Paul and his companions. The fourth missionary journey was done by St. Paul alone, as a prisoner in chains, from Jerusalem to Rome, and eventually to his death.

All those who have read the New Testament are familiar with these journeys, but those who have participated in group missionary journeys, will be able to compare their experiences with those of St Paul, and gain more insight.

1st Journey
Map

2nd Journey
Map
3rd Journey
Map
4th Journey
Map
The Letters of St Paul

St. Paul's First Missionary Journey
(around the year 46-48 A.D.) (Acts 13 -14)

It is interesting to note that this journey sets off not from Jerusalem, the mother Church where all the apostles were gathered, but from Antioch, a newly established Church.
The Church of Antioch (Syria) had been founded by believers (lay people), who were escaping from the persecution in Jerusalem.

"The believers who had fled from Jerusalem during the persecution after Stephen's death traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch of Syria. They preached the Good News, but only to Jews. However, some of the believers who went to Antioch from Cyprus and Cyrene began preaching to Gentiles about the Lord Jesus. The power of the Lord was upon them, and large numbers of these Gentiles believed and turned to the Lord." (Acts,11: 19-21)
As we can see, it was in Antioch that the Evangelization to the Gentiles (non Jewish people) began on a large scale and it was done by lay people.

Paul and Barnabas had been actively working in this Church for a year, when, one day, while, together with the leaders of the Church, "were worshipping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, 'Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.' So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off." (Acts,13:2-3)

It is the whole Church that sends off the two missionaries. And the Holy Spirit ratifies this mission. The Holy Spirit is the main operator of all missionary activities.
"The two of them, sent on their way by the Holy Spirit, sailed to Cyprus." (Acts,13:4)
A young boy, by the name of John (or John Mark), joined this missionary journey.
"John was with them as their helper." (Acts,13:5) This boy, as we will see later, will be the cause of much trouble.

FIRST STOP. The island of Cyprus.

The Evangelization strategy used by the two apostles was: first address the local Jewish community. Overseas Jewish communities were scattered all over the Roman Empire. And afterwards Evangelize the Gentiles.

The method of Evangelizing was to use the Old Testament as the starting point to lead the Jewish audience to accept Jesus as the fulfillment of the prophecies.
"We tell you the good news: What God promised our fathers he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising up Jesus." (Acts,13:32-33)

With this missionary spirit, "they preached from town to town across the entire island"(Acts,13:6)

A very good example, given here, of Evangelizing the Gentiles is a well educated, high ranking Roman official, the proconsul Sergius Paulus.

"He was a man of considerable insight and understanding. He invited Barnabas and Saul to visit him, for he wanted to hear the word of God."(Acts,13:7)

He accepted the word of God and believed in the Lord. Many other Gentiles were converted as well.

The missionary journey started off very well. But, before we go to the second stop,
it is worth mentioning here, the sudden decision of the young boy John Mark to leave the missionary journey and return to Jerusalem. Why he left? No reason is given. Acts 13:13, simply states: "John left them to return to Jerusalem."

Paul must have taken it very seriously, because, when later, the two apostles decided to begin their second missionary journey, this is what happened.

"After some time Paul said to Barnabas, 'Let's return to each city where we previously preached the word of the Lord, to see how the new believers are getting along.'

Barnabas agreed and wanted to take along John Mark. But Paul disagreed strongly, since John Mark had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not shared in their work. Their disagreement over this was so sharp that they separated. Barnabas took John Mark with him and sailed for Cyprus. Paul chose Silas, and the believers sent them off, entrusting them to the Lord's grace. So they traveled throughout Syria and Cilicia to strengthen the churches there." (Acts,15: 36-40)

An important lesson we can draw from this event, is that human factors always play a key role in missionary journeys. We must trust God, who knows how to use them for his plan.

SECOND STOP. Antioch of Pisidia.

This Antioch should not be confused with the Antioch of Syria from where the two apostles began their first missionary journey.

Here Barnabas and Paul, as their custom, first announce the Gospel to the Jewish
Community, and then to the Gentiles. They receive a very good response. But soon the Jewish leaders incite the people against them, who have to leave,

"They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region. So they shook the dust from their feet in protest against them and went to Iconium. And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit." (Acts,13: 50-52)

THIRD STOP. Iconium

"In Iconium, Paul and Barnabas went together to the synagogue and preached with such power that a great number of both Jews and Gentiles believed. The apostles stayed there a long time, preaching boldly about the grace of the Lord. The Lord proved their message was true by giving them power to do miraculous signs and wonders. But the people of the city were divided in their opinion about them. Some sided with the Jews, and some with the apostles.

A mob of Gentiles and Jews, along with their leaders, decided to attack and stone them. When the apostles learned of it, they fled for their lives. They went to the region of Lycaonia, to the cities of Lystra and Derbe and the surrounding area, and they preached the Good News there." (Acts,14: 1,3-7)

FOURTH STOP. Lystra

In Lystra something extraordinary happened. The crowds were so astonished at the apostles' power to perform miracles, that they started adoring them as gods.
The missionaries, who had just been kicked out of cities as evil men, are now adored as gods!

"A man with crippled feet from birth, was listening as Paul preached, and Paul noticed him and realized he had faith to be healed. So Paul called to him in a loud voice, 'Stand up!' And the man jumped to his feet and started walking.
When the listening crowd saw what Paul had done, they shouted in their local dialect, 'These men are gods in human bodies!'" (Acts,14: 8-11)

The crowds started offering sacrifices to them. The apostles strongly refused this, and took this opportunity to announce the Gospel.

"Friends, why are you doing this? We are merely human beings like yourselves! We have come to bring you the Good News that you should turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them." (Acts, 14: 15)

Immediately after this incident, persecution comes again.
"Now some Jews arrived from Antioch and Iconium and turned the crowds into a murderous mob. They stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, apparently dead. But as the believers stood around him, he got up and went back into the city. The next day he left with Barnabas for Derbe. (Acts, 14: 19-20)

FIFTH STOP. Derbe


"After preaching the Good News in Derbe and making many disciples, Paul and Barnabas returned again to visit the communities they had left in each city, where they strengthened the believers. They encouraged them to continue in the faith, reminding them that they must enter into the Kingdom of God through many tribulations. Paul and Barnabas also appointed elders in every church and prayed for them with fasting, turning them over to the care of the Lord, in whom they had come to trust."(Acts, 14:21-23)

BARNABAS AND PAUL RETURN TO THEIR SENDING CHURCH OF ANTIOCH.
Finally, they returned by ship to Antioch of Syria, where their journey had begun and where they had been committed to the grace of God for the work they had now completed. Upon arriving in Antioch, they called the church together and reported about their trip, telling all that God had done and how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles, too. And they stayed there with the believers in Antioch for a long time." (Acts, 14: 26-28)

Keeping constant contact with the sending community and reporting to this community is an essential part of Evangelization.

Evangelization, even when it is done by one single believer alone, is always a Church activity. The whole Church is missionary. The whole Church community encourages, fosters, supports, remains actively involved in all Evangelization activities.


St Paul's Second Missionary Journey
(around the year 49-52 A.D.) (Acts, 15: 36-40,16,17,18:1-22)

SENDING OFF

The second missionary journey of St Paul and his missionary team, starts again from Antioch.

"After some time Paul said to Barnabas, 'Let's return to each city where we previously preached the word of the Lord, to see how the new believers are getting along'." (Acts,15:36)

Barnabas agreed, but the two apostles had a terrible argument over the presence of John Mark (see first journey)

"Barnabas agreed and wanted to take along John Mark. But Paul disagreed strongly, since John Mark had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not shared in their work. Their disagreement over this was so sharp that they separated. Barnabas took John Mark with him and sailed for Cyprus." (Acts,15:37-39)

"Paul chose Silas, and the believers sent them off, entrusting them to the Lord's grace. So they traveled throughout Syria and Cilicia to strengthen the churches there."(Acts,15:40-41)

The first part of Paul's second missionary journey was spent in revisiting the Churches founded during the first journey. Paul's Evangelization plan was to establish a strong local Christian Community in each place he went, and then later revisit these communities or keep in contact with them through letters.
Paul and his missionary team revisited Derbe and Lystra.

"In Lystra they met Timothy, a young disciple whose mother was a Jewish believer, but whose father was a Greek. Timothy was well thought of by the believers in Lystra and Iconium, so Paul wanted him to join them on their journey."(Acts,16:1-3)

All those who have joined a missionary team will read this passage through their own experience. It is quite common for some local believers, after having seen the missionary team and their witness, to join them in the Evangelization work.
Timothy is one such example. And he presents Paul with a new problem. Timothy had not been circumcised at birth as all Jewish children are (on the eighth day after birth). Timothy knew very well that he could be baptized without having to be circumcised. This doctrine had strongly been preached by Paul whenever he went. But now, it was not a matter of doctrine. It was a matter of respect for human feelings and cultural customs. The Jewish community would feel much more at ease to have Timothy circumcised. Paul agreed.

"In deference to the Jews of the area, Paul arranged for Timothy to be circumcised before they left, for everyone knew that his father was a Greek" (Acts,16:3)
This attitude of compromise on non essential elements of the faith, make the Evangelization work more fruitful.

."So the churches were strengthened in their faith and grew daily in numbers."(Acts,16:5)

At this point, the second missionary journey, turns very dramatic. All the members of the team experience a very special, almost irresistible leading presence of the Holy Spirit. It seems that the Holy Spirit is leading them to a very specific goal.
"Next Paul and Silas traveled through the area of Phrygia and Galatia, because the Holy Spirit had told them not to go into the province of Asia at that time. Then coming to the borders of Mysia, they headed for the province of Bithynia, but again the Spirit of Jesus did not let them go. So instead, they went on through Mysia to the city of Troas."(Acts,16:6-8)

Here at Troas the most important decision is made: the beginning of the Evangelization of Europe. Macedonia, Greece, Athens, were important cultural
European centres.

"That night Paul had a vision. He saw a man from Macedonia in northern Greece, pleading with him, 'Come over here and help us.' So we decided to leave for Macedonia at once, for we could only conclude that God was calling us to preach the Good News there." (Acts,16:9-10)

This is how Luke, the author of the Acts of the Apostles, relates this event. Note how Luke is using here the "we" instead of "they": "we decided", "we could only conclude", "God was calling us". Luke was a member of the team, and he reports passionately the events that took place during the journey. Throughout the Acts, there are a number of these "we sections". In this way, Luke emphasizes the fact that the whole team felt the clear indication of the Holy Spirit, and the whole team decided to begin the Evangelization of Europe. Perhaps they were not fully aware of the important impact that their decision would have on the history of Europe.

THE FIRST EUROPEAN STOP. PHILIPPI


"We boarded a boat at Troas and sailed straight across to the island of Samothrace, and the next day we landed at Neapolis. From there we reached Philippi, a major city of the district of Macedonia and a Roman colony; we stayed there several days."(Acts,16:11-12)

At Philippi there was an Overseas Jewish community. But they had no synagogue for their Saturday meetings. They used an open air space near a river.
"On the Sabbath we went a little way outside the city to a riverbank, where we supposed that some people met for prayer, and we sat down to speak with some women who had come together." (Acts,16:13)

Women are more open to accept faith, and usually are more devoted to it. Many women played an important role in the work of Evangelization. This is how Luke describes the conversion of one of them, Lydia.

"One of them was Lydia from Thyatira, a merchant of expensive purple cloth. She was a worshiper of God. As she listened to us, the Lord opened her heart, and she accepted what Paul was saying. She was baptized along with other members of her household, and she asked us to be her guests. 'If you agree that I am faithful to the Lord,' she said, 'come and stay at my home.' And she urged us until we did."
(Acts,16:14-15)

In the early years of Christianity, the house of believers became the Church of Christians. They had no temples or special buildings for their assemblies. "They met in homes for the Lord's Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity" (Acts,2:46)

The test of persecution is always close. The leaders of the city, started accusing the missionaries:

"'The whole city is in an uproar because of these Jews!' they shouted. 'They are teaching the people to do things that are against Roman customs'."(Acts,16:20-21)
"A mob quickly formed against Paul and Silas, and the city officials ordered them stripped and beaten with wooden rods. They were severely beaten, and then they were thrown into prison." (Acts,16:22-23)

They are miraculously saved by the Lord, and they have the chance of Evangelizing the jailer of the prison and his household

"Then Paul and Silas shared the word of the Lord with the jailer and all who lived in his household. That same hour the jailer washed their wounds, and he and everyone in his household were immediately baptized. Then he brought them into his house and set a meal before them. He and his entire household rejoiced because they all believed in God." (Acts, 16:32-34)

The next morning, after being released from prison, Paul and Silas returned to the home of Lydia, where they met with the believers and encouraged them once more before leaving town."(Acts,16:40)

SECOND EUROPEAN STOP. Thessalonica.

"Now Paul and Silas traveled through the towns of Amphipolis and Apollonia and came to Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue. As was Paul's custom, he went to the synagogue service, and for three Sabbaths in a row he interpreted the Scriptures to the people."(Acts,17:1-2)
Many believed. One of them must have been Jason, who welcomed the missionary team into his house.

Soon the same pattern of events repeats itself. The leaders of the city form a mob and start accusing the missionaries :

"They attacked the home of Jason, searching for Paul and Silas so they could drag them out to the crowd. Not finding them there, they dragged out Jason and some of the other believers instead and took them before the city council. 'Paul and Silas have turned the rest of the world upside down, and now they are here disturbing our city,' they shouted. 'And Jason has let them into his home. They are all guilty of treason against Caesar, for they profess allegiance to another king, Jesus'."
(Acts,17:5-7)

Reading this passage, it is easy to remember the words of Jesus, who promised that those who welcome his disciples will receive the reward of the disciple. Jason has welcomed Jesus' disciples into his home and now he shares the disciples lot!

THIRD EUROPEAN STOP. Berea

"That very night the believers sent Paul and Silas to Berea. When they arrived there, they went to the synagogue. And the people of Berea were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to Paul's message. They searched the Scriptures day after day to check up on Paul and Silas, to see if they were really teaching the truth. As a result, many Jews believed, as did some of the prominent Greek women and many men."(Acts,17:10-12)

Soon some people stir up trouble again against Paul and Silas. At this point the local believers are very concerned about the safety of the missionary team.
"The believers acted at once, sending Paul on to the coast, while Silas and Timothy remained behind. Those escorting Paul went with him to Athens." (Acts,17:14-15)

FOURTH EUROPEAN STOP. Athens

We have already analyzed in detail both the content and the presentation of Paul's Evangelization in Athens.
(see RUNDOWN AND ANALYSIS OF THE FIRST EVANGELIZATION RALLY IN JERUSALEM (Acts,2), AND THE FIRST RALLY IN ATHENS (Acts,17)
We can add here one more remark. Paul has a clear Evangelization plan. He aims at forming strong Christian communities in each major city of the Roman Empire.
Athens was the cultural centre of Europe. Rome was the centre of power. Paul aims at both cities.

As we have seen, if we judge the Evangelization in Athens only by the number of converts, it was a failure. But if we see it in a broader view, as the beginning of dialogue with Greek culture, then Paul's experience at Athens was very important.
But Paul did not stay any longer in Athens. Luke states very simply:
"Then Paul left Athens and went to Corinth."(Acts,18:1)
Paul sees in Corinth good prospects for Evangelization. He decides to remain there longer.

"Paul stayed there for the next year and a half, teaching the word of God."
(Acts,18:11)

In Corinth the model of the "house-church" spread rapidly. The first house offered as a Church, was the house of Aquila and Priscilla.
"There Paul became acquainted with a Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, who had recently arrived from Italy with his wife, Priscilla. They had been expelled from Italy as a result of Claudius Caesar's order to deport all Jews from Rome. Paul lived and worked with them, for they were tentmakers just as he was." (Acts,18:2-3)

Aquila and Priscilla's house is not only the "Church", it is also Paul's working place. Why does Paul want to earn his own living?

Paul knows that full time Evangelizers have the right to be supported by the community of believers, but this is how he puts it:

"We were never lazy when we were with you. We never accepted food from anyone without paying for it. We worked hard day and night so that we would not be a burden to any of you. It wasn't that we didn't have the right to ask you to feed us, but we wanted to give you an example to follow."(2 Thessalonians, 3:7-9)

Another "house-church" was that of "Titius Justus a Gentile who worshiped God and lived next door to the synagogue."(Acts,18:7)
Paul preached often at the synagogue. Many believed.

"Crispus, the leader of the synagogue, and all his household believed in the Lord. Many others in Corinth also became believers and were baptized."(Acts,18:8)
As usual, the reaction of the leaders was prompt.

"When Gallio became governor of Achaia, some Jews rose in concerted action against Paul and brought him before the governor for judgment. They accused Paul of 'persuading people to worship God in ways that are contrary to the law'."
(Acts,18:12-13)
The Roman governor though, refused to judge what he considered to be a mere religious dispute.
In Corinth, Paul had a special vision of the Lord, who gave great strength to all the members of the missionary team.

"One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision and told him, 'Don't be afraid! Speak out! Don't be silent! For I am with you, and no one will harm you because many people here in this city belong to me.'"(Acts,18:9-10)

When Paul says good by to the brothers and sisters in Corinth, he leaves behind a strong and well organized community.
He will keep in contact with them through letters and communication with some of its leaders, who constantly will keep him informed about the situation of the Church.

"Paul sailed for the coast of Syria, taking Priscilla and Aquila with him. When they arrived at the port of Ephesus, Paul left the others behind. But while he was there, he went to the synagogue to debate with the Jews. They asked him to stay longer, but he declined. So he left, saying, 'I will come back later, God willing'. Then he set sail from Ephesus. The next stop was at the port of Caesarea. From there he went up and visited the church at Jerusalem and then went back to Antioch."
(Acts, 18:18-22)

After the usual reporting to the sending Church, Paul and his team are ready for the third missionary journey


St Paul's Third Missionary Journey
(Around the year 53-58 A.D.) (Acts, 19-26)

Before we begin the description of the third missionary journey, it is worth mentioning two events that took place just when the journey was about to start.

1. The arrival of Apollos in Ephesus.


Apollos was an Overseas Jew from Alexandria in Egypt. He must have heard of Jesus in Alexandria from some believers, and being a devout Jew, well acquainted with the Scriptures, he quickly identified Jesus with the Messiah. His knowledge of Jesus' teaching though, was very limited, but his zeal for Evangelization urged him to leave his community and begin his missionary journey. It is to be noted here that Luke is using "the Way of the Lord", to describe the teachings of Jesus. "The Way of the Lord" was the first name to indicate Christianity in the early Church. Luke says:

"Meanwhile, a Jew named Apollos, an eloquent speaker who knew the Scriptures well, had just arrived in Ephesus from Alexandria in Egypt. He had been taught the way of the Lord and talked to others with great enthusiasm and accuracy about Jesus. However, he knew only about John's baptism. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him preaching boldly in the synagogue, they took him aside and explained the way of God more accurately."(Acts,18:24-26)

It is amazing to see how lay missionaries can help each other. Aquila and Priscilla are willing to share with Apollos all they had learned from St. Paul, and Apollos is happy to learn more.

Apollos is determined to carry on his Evangelization work, and all the believers encourage and help him.

"Apollos had been thinking about going to Achaia, and the brothers and sisters in Ephesus encouraged him in this. They wrote to the believers in Achaia, asking them to welcome him. When he arrived there, he proved to be of great benefit to those who, by God's grace, had believed. He refuted all the Jews with powerful arguments in public debate. Using the Scriptures, he explained to them, 'The Messiah you are looking for is Jesus'."(Acts,18:27-28)

2. A group of Christians in Ephesus, who had only received John's baptism.
Maybe this group of believers was formed by Apollos, or some other missionary, who didn't impart a full instruction.

"While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul traveled through the interior provinces. Finally, he came to Ephesus, where he found several believers. 'Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?' he asked them.
'No,' they replied, 'we don't know what you mean. We haven't even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.'
'Then what baptism did you experience?' he asked.
And they replied, 'The baptism of John.'
Paul said, 'John's baptism was to demonstrate a desire to turn from sin and turn to God. John himself told the people to believe in Jesus, the one John said would come later.'

As soon as they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then when Paul laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in other tongues and prophesied. There were about twelve men in all."(Acts,19:1-7)
These two incidents reported with so many details by Luke, offer us a better picture of the Evangelization work in the early years of the Church. There was a tremendous amount of enthusiasm, all believers joined in the work of proclaiming the Gospel. Evidently there was no set catechism for all to follow. All felt the need of having the writings of the Apostles. The Gospels, the letters of St. Paul and of other Apostles, were treasured by all communities and read to all in their assemblies.
The New Testament was formed in this feverish Evangelization atmosphere.

FIRST STOP. Ephesus

For the first few months, Paul and his team concentrate on the synagogue, but with very little result. Luke says that " some rejected Paul's message and publicly spoke against the Way, so Paul left the synagogue and took the believers with him. Then he began preaching daily at the lecture hall of Tyrannus."(Acts,19:9)
Ephesus was a multi-racial, multi-religious, very prosperous Roman colony. Schools or lecture halls, like the one mentioned here, must have been abundant. Paul invents a new way of doing Evangelization. A school of Evangelization. For more than two years he and his team teach daily the "Way", in this school.
"This went on for the next two years, so that people throughout the province of Asia--both Jews and Greeks--heard the Lord's message."(Acts,19:10)

The power of healing and casting devils, that the Lord had granted Paul, helped the Evangelization work. Luke writes:
"A solemn fear descended on the city, and the name of the Lord Jesus was greatly honored. Many who became believers confessed their sinful practices. A number of them who had been practicing magic brought their incantation books and burned them at a public bonfire. When they calculated the value of the books, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas (several million dollars). So the message about the Lord spread widely and had a powerful effect."(Acts,19:17-20)

We have seen how the Evangelization plan of Paul included two important centres: Athens (Greek culture) and Rome (the capital of the Empire)
This is how Luke writes:
"Afterward Paul felt impelled by the Holy Spirit to go over to Macedonia and Achaia before returning to Jerusalem. 'And after that,' he said, 'I must go on to Rome!'"(Acts,19:21)
"But about that time, serious trouble developed in Ephesus concerning the Way. It began with Demetrius, a silversmith who had a large business manufacturing silver shrines of the Greek goddess Artemis. He kept many craftsmen busy. He called the craftsmen together, along with others employed in related trades, and addressed them as follows:

'Gentlemen, you know that our wealth comes from this business. As you have seen and heard, this man Paul has persuaded many people that handmade gods aren't gods at all. And this is happening not only here in Ephesus but throughout the entire province!,"(Acts,19:23-26)

The silversmith Demetrius' words hit the right cord. He added that Paul's message not only damaged their business, it also "robbed the magnificent goddess Artemis of her prestige"(Acts,19:27)

"At this their anger boiled, and they began shouting, 'Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!' A crowd began to gather, and soon the city was filled with confusion. Everyone rushed to the amphitheater, dragging along Gaius and Aristarchus, who were Paul's traveling companions from Macedonia. Paul wanted to go in, but the believers wouldn't let him. Some of the officials of the province, friends of Paul, also sent a message to him, begging him not to risk his life by entering the amphitheater."(Acts,19:28-31)

"Inside, the people were all shouting, some one thing and some another. Everything was in confusion. In fact, most of them didn't even know why they were there."
(Acts,19:32)

After hours of shouting and confusion, the mayor of the city, who feared that the Roman soldiers would take action against the riot, convinced the crowds to disperse.

SECOND STOP. Troas


"When it was all over, Paul sent for the believers and encouraged them. Then he said good-bye and left for Macedonia."(Acts,20:1)
"As soon as the Passover season ended, we boarded a ship at Philippi in Macedonia and five days later arrived in Troas, where we stayed a week."(Acts,20:6)

Troas is the very important place where Paul and his missionary team had begun the journey to Europe. Now from Philippi in Macedonia, they sail back to Troas.
"On the first day of the week, we gathered to observe the Lord's Supper."(Acts,20:7)
The first day of the week is Sunday. This is one of the first record of the Christian custom of celebrating Sunday with the Eucharist. This custom spread very quickly among the Greek-Christians, who were not accustomed to the Saturday celebration Saturday (the Sabbath day) remained always "the holy day of rest", but Sunday, the day of Jesus' resurrection, was being celebrated as well, by Christians.
Luke relates a few interesting details of this Sunday celebration:

"Paul was preaching; and since he was leaving the next day, he talked until midnight. The upstairs room where we met was lighted with many flickering lamps. As Paul spoke on and on, a young man named Eutychus, sitting on the windowsill, became very drowsy. Finally, he sank into a deep sleep and fell three stories to his death below. Paul went down, bent over him, and took him into his arms. 'Don't worry,' he said, 'he's alive!' Then they all went back upstairs and ate the Lord's Supper together. And Paul continued talking to them until dawn; then he left. Meanwhile, the young man was taken home unhurt, and everyone was greatly relieved."(Acts,20:7-12)

THIRD STOP. Miletus

"Paul had decided against stopping at Ephesus this time because he didn't want to spend further time in the province of Asia. He was hurrying to get to Jerusalem, if possible, for the Festival of Pentecost. But when we landed at Miletus, he sent a message to the elders of the church at Ephesus, asking them to come down to meet him."(Acts,20:16-17)

Paul had spent almost three years at Ephesus. The Church there was well established. The Miletus meeting was a farewell and the last recommendations to the leaders of that Church. It is a meeting of friends, of brothers, of people of responsibility.
"Now I am going to Jerusalem, drawn there irresistibly by the Holy Spirit, not knowing what awaits me, except that the Holy Spirit has told me in city after city that jail and suffering lie ahead. But my life is worth nothing unless I use it for doing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus--the work of telling others the Good News about God's wonderful kindness and love.

And now I know that none of you to whom I have preached the Kingdom will ever see me again."(Acts, 20:22-25)
"And now beware! Be sure that you feed and shepherd God's flock--his church, purchased with his blood--over whom the Holy Spirit has appointed you as elders.
(Acts,20:28)

"When he had finished speaking, he knelt and prayed with them. They wept aloud as they embraced him in farewell, sad most of all because he had said that they would never see him again. Then they accompanied him down to the ship."(Acts,20:36-38)

PAUL'S JOUNEY TO JERUSALEM


After saying farewell to the Ephesian elders, Paul and his missionary team after a few days of sailing, "landed at the harbor of Tyre, in Syria, where the ship was to unload. We went ashore, found the local believers, and stayed with them a week."(Acts,21:3-4) These disciples prophesied through the Holy Spirit that Paul should not go on to Jerusalem. When we returned to the ship at the end of the week, the entire congregation, including wives and children, came down to the shore with us. There we knelt, prayed, and said our farewells. Then we went aboard, and they returned home."(Acts,21:5-6)

"The next stop after leaving Tyre was Ptolemais, where we greeted the brothers and sisters but stayed only one day. Then we went on to Caesarea and stayed at the home of Philip the Evangelist, one of the seven men who had been chosen to distribute food."(Acts,21:7-8)

As in the previous stop, many believers of Caesarea prophesized that Paul should not go to Jerusalem . Luke adds:
"When we heard this, we who were traveling with him, as well as the local believers, begged Paul not to go on to Jerusalem.

But he said, 'Why all this weeping? You are breaking my heart! For I am ready not only to be jailed at Jerusalem but also to die for the sake of the Lord Jesus.' When it was clear that we couldn't persuade him, we gave up and said, 'The will of the Lord be done'."(Acts, 21:12-14)
"Shortly afterward we packed our things and left for Jerusalem. Some believers from Caesarea accompanied us, and they took us to the home of Mnason, a man originally from Cyprus and one of the early disciples. All the brothers and sisters in Jerusalem welcomed us cordially."(Acts,21:15-17)

PAUL'S REPORT TO THE CHURCH OF JERUSALEM.

The third missionary journey begun at Antioch, ends at Jerusalem, which was not the sending Church. But Paul gives a detailed account of his journey.
"The next day Paul went in with us to meet with James, and all the elders of the Jerusalem church were present. After greetings were exchanged, Paul gave a detailed account of the things God had accomplished among the Gentiles through his ministry."(Acts,21:18-19)

Paul knows very well that the believers in Jerusalem were mainly Jewish people, very attached to the law of Moses. He must not have been surprised when he heard these words:
"They said to Paul, 'You know, dear brother, how many thousands of Jews have also believed, and they all take the law of Moses very seriously. Our Jewish Christians here at Jerusalem have been told that you are teaching all the Jews living in the Gentile world to turn their backs on the laws of Moses. They say that you teach people not to circumcise their children or follow other Jewish customs. Now what can be done? For they will certainly hear that you have come. Here's our suggestion.
(Acts,21:20-23)

They invite Paul to go to the Temple together with some local believers, and take part in a Jewish purification ceremony, "then everyone will know that the rumors are all false and that you yourself observe the Jewish laws."(Acts,21:24)
"Paul agreed to their request, and the next day he went through the purification ritual with the men and went to the Temple." (Acts,21:26)

But this very conciliatory gesture of Paul, became the long awaited occasion by some Jews to incite the crowds against Paul. Many people had seen Paul in Jerusalem together with a Gentile by the name of Trophimus from Ephesus. Some Jews from the province of Asia, who were in Jerusalem at that time, started shouting that Paul had taken that Gentile into the Temple, which is against the Law. Paul had not done it, but
"the whole population of the city was rocked by these accusations, and a great riot followed. Paul was dragged out of the Temple, and immediately the gates were closed behind him. As they were trying to kill him, word reached the commander of the Roman regiment that all Jerusalem was in an uproar."(Acts,21:30-31)

It was the year 58 A.D. Less than thirty years has passed since Jesus had been accused and condemned in Jerusalem. Luke's description of the location and the circumstances is very similar to that of Jesus' trial.

The same "crowds followed behind shouting, 'Kill him, kill him!'(Acts,21:36)
At this point, the Roman authorities intervene for fear of a riot. There is a short dialogue between Paul and the Roman commander, who as usual does not understand what's all about, and is surprised to hear Paul speak Greek.
"'Do you know Greek?' the commander asked, surprised."(Acts,21:37)
Greek was the common language in the Roman Empire. It was the language of cultured people.

The Roman commander later asked Paul:" 'Tell me, are you a Roman citizen?'
'Yes, I certainly am,' Paul replied."(Acts,22:27)
Afterwards, the attitude of the commander changes, because under Roman Law, every Roman citizen had the right to be properly judged before any punishment could be inflicted.

Paul, who always grasped any occasion to do Evangelization, asked the Roman commander to allow him to speak to the crowds.
"The commander agreed, so Paul stood on the stairs and motioned to the people to be quiet. Soon a deep silence enveloped the crowd, and he addressed them in their own language, Aramaic."(Acts,21:40)
Paul explains to the crowds that he was educated in the Jewish law in Jerusalem,
and became a very staunch defender of the Law of Moses.
"I persecuted the followers of the Way, hounding some to death, binding and delivering both men and women to prison."(Acts,22:4)

Then Paul shares with the crowds his experience on the way to Damascus. How
the Risen Lord appeared to him, and showed him the new way to follow.
The crowds were listening to Paul, until he mentioned that Jesus had sent him to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles. At this point the crowds started shouting again.
The Roman commander took Paul to prison, and "the next day he freed Paul from his chains and ordered the leading priests into session with the Jewish high council. He had Paul brought in before them to try to find out what the trouble was all about."
(Acts,22:30)

Paul defends himself before the Sanhedrin (the high council) in a very clever way.
"Paul realized that some members of the high council were Sadducees and some were Pharisees, so he shouted, 'Brothers, I am a Pharisee, as were all my ancestors! And I am on trial because my hope is in the resurrection of the dead!'
This divided the council--the Pharisees against the Sadducees-- for the Sadducees say there is no resurrection or angels or spirits, but the Pharisees believe in all of these. So a great clamor arose. Some of the teachers of religious law who were Pharisees jumped up to argue that Paul was all right. 'We see nothing wrong with him,' they shouted. 'Perhaps a spirit or an angel spoke to him.' The shouting grew louder and louder, and the men were tugging at Paul from both sides, pulling him this way and that. Finally, the commander, fearing they would tear him apart, ordered his soldiers to take him away from them and bring him back to the fortress.
That night the Lord appeared to Paul and said, 'Be encouraged, Paul. Just as you have told the people about me here in Jerusalem, you must preach the Good News in Rome'."(Acts,23:6-11)

Paul slowly understands that his imprisonment is the way to get to Rome.
The following events will prove he was right!
The Roman commander feels that the presence of Paul in Jerusalem can be a cause
of new riots and assassination attempts. He then orders Paul to be sent, under escort, to Caesaria, where the governor Felix (whose wife Drusilla was Jewish) would make a final judgement.

In Caesaria, Felix listens to the accusers of Paul and to Paul' defense. Luke notes:
"Felix, who was quite familiar with the Way, adjourned the hearing and said, 'I will decide the case later'. He ordered an officer to keep Paul in custody but to give him some freedom and allow his friends to visit him and take care of his needs."(Acts,24:22-23)

The governor Felix, as many other Roman officials, used bribery to enrich themselves. "Felix hoped that Paul would bribe him, so he sent for him quite often and talked with him. Two years went by in this way, and because Felix wanted to gain favor with the Jewish leaders, he left Paul in prison. Then Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus.
(Acts,24:26-27)

A new trial is organized, and Paul has to defend himself in front of Festus.
At the end of this trial, Paul resorts to his right, as a Roman citizen, to be judged directly by the Emperor in Rome.

"Paul said, 'I appeal to Caesar!' Festus conferred with his advisers and then replied, 'Very well! You have appealed to Caesar, and to Caesar you shall go!'"
(Acts,25:11-12)
Finally Paul has the chance of going to Rome, in chains!
Before Festus can arrange how to send Paul to Rome, King Agrippa (a puppet king made by the Romans) comes to Caesaria to pay his respects to the new governor Festus. (Acts,25:13)

King Agrippa is interested to meet Paul and understand why he has been accused by the Jews. Festus gladly brings Paul before King Agrippa. Festus adds:
"In my opinion this man has done nothing worthy of death. However, he appealed his case to the emperor, and I decided to send him. But what shall I write the emperor? For there is no real charge against him. So I have brought him before all of you, and especially you, King Agrippa, so that after we examine him, I might have something to write. For it doesn't seem reasonable to send a prisoner to the emperor without specifying the charges against him!"(Acts,25:25-27)

Paul starts his defense before king Agrippa in the form of a proclamation of the Gospel. He gets so excited that "suddenly, Festus shouted, 'Paul, you are insane. Too much study has made you crazy!'
But Paul replied, 'I am not insane, Most Excellent Festus. I am speaking the sober truth. And King Agrippa knows about these things. I speak frankly, for I am sure these events are all familiar to him, for they were not done in a corner! King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know you do-'
Agrippa interrupted him. 'Do you think you can make me a Christian so quickly?'
Paul replied, 'Whether quickly or not, I pray to God that both you and everyone here in this audience might become the same as I am, except for these chains.'"
(Acts,26:24-29)
"When they left, they all agreed, 'This man hasn't done anything worthy of death or imprisonment.' And Agrippa said to Festus, 'He could be set free if he hadn't appealed to Caesar!'" (Acts,26:31-32)

St. Paul's third missionary journey starts at Antioch and ends in the prison of Caesaria, where Paul after two years of imprisonment will finally begin his fourth missionary journey (in chains) from Caesaria to Rome.

St Paul's Fourth Missionary Journey
(from the prison of Caesaria to the prison of Rome)
(around the year 60 A.D.) (Acts,27,28)

After two years of relatively free imprisonment at Caesaria, Paul starts his voyage to Rome. Luke seems to write the logbook of the ship, with many details and special maritime expressions.

"When the time came, we set sail for Italy. Paul and several other prisoners were placed in the custody of an army officer named Julius, a captain of the Imperial Regiment. And Aristarchus, a Macedonian from Thessalonica, was also with us. We left on a boat whose home port was Adramyttium; it was scheduled to make several stops at ports along the coast of the province of Asia."(Acts,27:1-2)
The voyage is very difficult from the very beginning. Once the ship reaches the port of Myra, in the province of Lycia, the Roman officer decides to put the prisoners
on another ship. "At Myra the officer found an Egyptian ship from Alexandria that was bound for Italy, and he put us on board."(Acts,27:6)
After many days of rough sailing and great difficulty, the ship finally arrives at Fair Havens, near the city of Lasea.

"We had lost a lot of time. The weather was becoming dangerous for long voyages by then because it was so late in the fall, and Paul spoke to the ship's officers about it."
(Acts,27:9)

The presence of Paul on the ship is very outstanding. His wisdom, his common sense, his ability to communicate, and especially his Evangelization passion, all mix together
and make Paul a true leader in difficult times.

"'Sirs,' Paul said, 'I believe there is trouble ahead if we go on--shipwreck, loss of cargo, injuries, and danger to our lives.' But the officer in charge of the prisoners listened more to the ship's captain and the owner than to Paul."(Acts,27:10-11)
They decided to leave Fair Havens and look for a safer port where to spend the winter.
"The next day, as gale-force winds continued to batter the ship, the crew began throwing the cargo overboard. The following day they even threw out the ship's equipment and anything else they could lay their hands on. The terrible storm raged unabated for many days, blotting out the sun and the stars, until at last all hope was gone." (Acts,27:18-20)

Everyone realized that Paul's words were wise and should have been followed.
The leadership of Paul becomes more evident. Here we see how Paul, the Evangelizer, knows how to make the good news of Jesus relevant to human situations.
"No one had eaten for a long time. Finally, Paul called the crew together and said, 'Men, you should have listened to me in the first place and not left Fair Havens. You would have avoided all this injury and loss. But take courage! None of you will lose your lives, even though the ship will go down. For last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood beside me, and he said, `Don't be afraid, Paul, for you will surely stand trial before Caesar! What's more, God in his goodness has granted safety to everyone sailing with you.' So take courage! For I believe God. It will be just as he said. But we will be shipwrecked on an island." (Acts,27:21-26)

THE SHIPRECK AND LANDING ON THE ISLAND OF MALTA

"About midnight on the fourteenth night of the storm, as we were being driven across the sea, the sailors sensed land was near."(Acts,27:27)

Paul, the moral leader of the ship, urges everyone to remain aboard the ship.
"As the darkness gave way to the early morning light, Paul begged everyone to eat. 'You haven't touched food for two weeks,' he said. 'Please eat something now for your own good. For not a hair of your heads will perish.' Then he took some bread, gave thanks to God before them all, and broke off a piece and ate it. Then everyone was encouraged, and all 276 of us began eating--for that is the number we had aboard. After eating, the crew lightened the ship further by throwing the cargo of wheat overboard."(Acts,27:33-38)

When morning dawned, they saw a bay with a beach. After some more difficulties,
The ship started to break apart, and everybody tried to reach for the shore.

"The soldiers wanted to kill the prisoners to make sure they didn't swim ashore and escape. But the commanding officer wanted to spare Paul, so he didn't let them carry out their plan. Then he ordered all who could swim to jump overboard first and make for land, and he told the others to try for it on planks and debris from the broken ship. So everyone escaped safely ashore!"(Acts,27:42-44)

PAUL ON THE ISLAND OF MALTA

"Once we were safe on shore, we learned that we were on the island of Malta. The people of the island were very kind to us. It was cold and rainy, so they built a fire on the shore to welcome us and warm us."(Acts,28:12)

Luke seems to forget that Paul is a prisoner and he writes as though the warm welcome is for the missionary team as in previous missionary journeys.
Paul's miraculous deeds make Paul's leadership more apparent.

"As Paul gathered an armful of sticks and was laying them on the fire, a poisonous snake, driven out by the heat, fastened itself onto his hand. The people of the island saw it hanging there and said to each other, 'A murderer, no doubt! Though he escaped the sea, justice will not permit him to live.' But Paul shook off the snake into the fire and was unharmed. The people waited for him to swell up or suddenly drop dead. But when they had waited a long time and saw no harm come to him, they changed their minds and decided he was a god."(Acts,28:3-6)

"Near the shore where we landed was an estate belonging to Publius, the chief official of the island. He welcomed us courteously and fed us for three days. As it happened, Publius's father was ill with fever and dysentery. Paul went in and prayed for him, and laying his hands on him, he healed him. Then all the other sick people on the island came and were cured. As a result we were showered with honors, and when the time came to sail, people put on board all sorts of things we would need for the trip."
(Acts,28:7-10)

PAUL ARRIVES AT ROME

"It was three months after the shipwreck that we set sail on another ship that had wintered at the island--an Alexandrian ship with the twin gods as its figurehead. Our first stop was Syracuse, where we stayed three days. From there we sailed across to Rhegium. A day later a south wind began blowing, so the following day we sailed up the coast to Puteoli. There we found some believers, who invited us to stay with them seven days. And so we came to Rome.

The brothers and sisters in Rome had heard we were coming, and they came to meet us at the Forum on the Appian Way. Others joined us at The Three Taverns. When Paul saw them, he thanked God and took courage.

When we arrived in Rome, Paul was permitted to have his own private lodging, though he was guarded by a soldier."(Acts,28:11-16)

At last Paul is in Rome, the dream of his life. It is amazing to notice (as Luke does), that long before the apostles-founders of the Church of Rome, Peter and Paul, even put foot on Roman land, already Christian communities were scattered all over Italy. These communities had been evangelized by other Christians, who had come to Rome for commercial or political reasons. The Evangelization spirit of all baptized people was the main reason for the spreading of Christianity all over the Roman Empire.

PAUL EVANGELIZES AT ROME UNDER GUARD

Once in Rome, although a prisoner, he uses the limited amount of freedom still allowed to him by the Roman authorities, to continue the work of Evangelization
"Three days after Paul's arrival, he called together the local Jewish leaders. He said to them, 'Brothers, I was arrested in Jerusalem and handed over to the Roman government, even though I had done nothing against our people or the customs of our ancestors. The Romans tried me and wanted to release me, for they found no cause for the death sentence. But when the Jewish leaders protested the decision, I felt it necessary to appeal to Caesar, even though I had no desire to press charges against my own people. I asked you to come here today so we could get acquainted and so I could tell you that I am bound with this chain because I believe that the hope of Israel--the Messiah--has already come'." (Acts,28:17-20)

"They replied, 'We have heard nothing against you. We have had no letters from Judea or reports from anyone who has arrived here. But we want to hear what you believe, for the only thing we know about these Christians is that they are denounced everywhere.'
So a time was set, and on that day a large number of people came to Paul's house. He told them about the Kingdom of God and taught them about Jesus from the Scriptures--from the five books of Moses and the books of the prophets. He began lecturing in the morning and went on into the evening. Some believed and some didn't." (Acts,28:21-24).

As it was Paul's custom, after having addressed the Jewish community, he concludes, "I want you to realize that this salvation from God is also available to the Gentiles, and they will accept it."(Acts,28:28)

"For the next two years, Paul lived in his own rented house. He welcomed all who visited him, proclaiming the Kingdom of God with all boldness and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ. And no one tried to stop him."(Acts,28:30-31)

Here ends the Acts of the Apostles. We do not know when or whether there was a trial. We know though that both Peter, who became the Bishop of Rome, and Paul, were killed during the fierce persecution of Emperor Nero. (between the year 64-67)
In the letter Paul wrote to the Philippians, Paul tells us how he looked at his imprisonment.

"And I want you to know, dear brothers and sisters, that everything that has happened to me here has helped to spread the Good News. For everyone here, including all the soldiers in the palace guard, knows that I am in chains because of Christ. And because of my imprisonment, many of the Christians here have gained confidence and become more bold in telling others about Christ."
(Philippians,1:12-14)


THE LETTERS OF ST PAUL
Communication between "Evangelizers" and "Churches"

St Paul's surviving writings (13 in all; some were lost), constitute a small corpus of nine letters addressed to particular churches, one private letter (to Philemon), and three letters to Timothy and Titus, known as the 'pastoral letters'. (We don't include here the letter to Hebrews, which is not Paul's).

Apart from Acts, the letters of St Paul to the churches he had founded or with which he was familiar are the other main source for our knowledge of his apostolic work and of course, for the Apostle himself. These letters also make up for the compressed text of Acts and thus help us to understand what is missing about his journeys. Written to his followers at virtually the same time as events with which they deal, some of them are the earliest works of the New Testament.

Acts and the letters seem to be independent of each other, even though the letters were in existence when Acts was written.

St Paul seems to have regarded himself as responsible, in addition to the churches he established, for 'all the churches' he knew (2 Cor 11:28) and corresponded with them. He may have also visited most of them once or more. This was a period during which, except for the military postal service, people had to rely on other people going in the direction of their letters to correspond with others. In the social and commercial world of the first century there seems to have been no shortage of such people. The famous "Roman roads" and the "Roman peace" helped to maintain this correspondence web.
St Paul wrote (dictated) his letters in Koine or common language, the Hellenistic Greek of his day. This was the international language needed by any man in public life or one traveling or writing.

However, St Paul's Greek was not as distinguished as that of St Luke, the author of Acts and in accordance with the practice of the time professional scribes were invited to help.

St Paul's words that there was 'a letter allegedly from us' (2 Thes 2:2) in circulation shows that even his letters were forged.

This is the reason that as he mentioned (2 Thes 3:17) he signed his letters by his 'own hand'. His drawing attention to the extra large script (Gal 6:11) to show the authenticity of his letter, was mistakenly interpreted as his having bad eyesight.

When Paul writes to the Christian community of a certain place, he calls them "the Church which is iníK and often it is all the missionary team, Paul and his companions, who sign it.

"This letter is from Paul, Silas, and Timothy.
It is written to the church in Thessalonica" (2 Thessalonians 1:1)

At the time, they were doing Evangelization work in Corinth and they wrote to the Church of Thessalonica, their previous stop.

To be noted that Paul expects the letter to be read to the whole community (may be during a liturgical celebration)

"I command you in the name of the Lord to read this letter to all the brothers and sisters." (1 Thessalonians 5: 27)

To make sure they understand his intention, Paul often addresses his letter in this way:
"This letter is from Paul, appointed by God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and from our dear brother Timothy.We are writing to God's church in Corinth and to all the Christians throughout Greece." (2 Corinthians 1:1)

Paul means that the letter should be read to all the Christians in the region.
Furthermore, Paul wants that, "after you have read this letter, pass it on to the church at Laodicea so they can read it, too. And you should read the letter I wrote to them." (Colossians 4:16)

Finally Paul's plan is clear: through his letters, he wants to create a real communication web between himself and the Churches, between Churches,and between his missionary team.

"The churches here in the province of Asia greet you heartily in the Lord, along with Aquila and Priscilla and all the others who gather in their home for church meetings." (1 Corinthians 16: 19)


Together with the letters, at the same time there is a continuous communication by word of mouth. People carry news (good news and bad news) from one Church to another.

While Paul and his missionary team are Evangelizing Ephesus, someone coming from Corinth informs Paul of the divisions that are taking place among the Christians there.
"Some members of Chloe's household have told me about your arguments, dear brothers and sisters." (1 Corinthians 1: 11)

We can feel how excited Paul must have been while dictating the letter:
"Some of you are saying, 'I am a follower of Paul.' Others are saying, 'I follow Apollos,' or 'I follow Peter'.

Was I, Paul, crucified for you? Were any of you baptized in the name of Paul?
I thank God that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, for now no one can say they were baptized in my name. (Oh yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas. I don't remember baptizing anyone else.) (1 Corinthians 1: 12-16)

This communication continues even when Paul is in prison (in Rome or other places)
"If the Lord Jesus is willing, I hope to send Timothy to you soon. Then when he comes back, he can cheer me up by telling me how you are getting along. I hope to send him to you just as soon as I find out what is going to happen to me here. And I have confidence from the Lord that I myself will come to see you soon."
(Philippians 2: 19,23-24)

The communication with his missionary team friends is at times very intimate and full of memories of their missionary journeys

"You know what I teach, Timothy, and how I live, and what my purpose in life is. You know how much persecution and suffering I have endured. You know all about how I was persecuted in Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra--but the Lord delivered me from all of it. Yes, and everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution." (2 Timothy 3: 10,11-12)

Feeling his death near, Paul, still in prison, writes to Timothy, whom Paul considers "his son" (Phil.2:22).

"As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God. The time of my death is near. Please come as soon as you can. Demas has deserted me because he loves the things of this life and has gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, and Titus has gone to Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me. Bring Mark with you when you come, for he will be helpful to me. I sent Tychicus to Ephesus. When you come, be sure to bring the coat I left with Carpus at Troas. Also bring my books, and especially my papers." (2 Timothy 4: 6,9-13)

The letters, the missionary journeys, the visitations by individual Christians, who for various reasons happen to pass by various communities, become a concrete help and a very visible expression of that communion of brothers and sisters that Jesus wants His Church to be.