Apostle Paul’s second missionary journey is recorded in Acts 15:36-18:22. It took place from 49 AD to 52 AD.
The second missionary journey began with an unfortunate disagreement between Paul and Barnabas, which resulted in their separation, Barnabas going to the island of Cyprus, and Paul to the mainland. (Acts 15:36-40)
The apostle chose as his companion Silas, or Silvanus, and was afterward joined by Timothy, and Luke, the author of the third Gospel and the Acts. We may subdivide this journey into three sections, as follows:
I. The Stations in Asia, seven in number.II. The Stations in Europe, eight in number.III. The Stations of the Return, four in number.
Date: 49 AD to 52 ADCompanion: Silas, Timothy and LukePlaces that Paul visited (in chronological order):
The Stations in Asia: Jerusalem (Acts 15:22) -> Antioch (Acts 15:35) -> Syria (Acts 15:41) -> Cilicia (Acts 15:41) -> Derbe (Acts 16:1) -> Lystra (Acts 16:1-4) -> Phrygia, probably Iconium and Antioch in Pisidia (Acts 16:6) -> Galatia (Acts 16:6) -> Troas (Acts 16:6-8)
The Stations in Europe: Neapolis (Acts 16:11) -> Philippi (Acts 16:16-40) -> Amphipolis (Acts 17:1) -> Apollonia (Acts 17:1) -> Thessalonica (Acts 17:1-9) -> Berea (Acts 17:10-13) ->Athens (Acts 17:15-34) -> Corinth (Acts 18:1-18) -> Cenchrea (Acts 18:18)
I. The Asiatic Stations
These are mostly the names of provinces in Asia Minor already described in connection with a previous map.
1. Starting from Antioch, Paul first traveled through Syria, visiting the churches. (Acts 15:41)
This tour was probably through northern Syria only, in the region around Antioch; and the general direction was toward Asia Minor, which he probably entered through the Syrian Gates, now the Beilan Pass in Mount Amanus. No cities are named in this region as visited by the apostle; but the principal places were Issus and Alexandria, both of which lay along the route of his journey.
2. The next province visited was Cilicia (Acts 15:41), the land of Paul’s birth.
As everywhere he made the chief cities his stations of labor, we may suppose that he passed through Mopsuestia and Adana, on his way to Tarsus, the metropolis of the province. From Tarsus he journeyed westward toward Mount Taurus, the northern boundary of the province, and crossed the range through the Cilician Gates, from which he emerged upon the great Lycaonian plain.
3. We read of a station at Derbe, where he had planted a church on the first journey, and which was now strengthened by his second visit. (Acts 16:1)
4. Next, at Lystra, where in other days he had been first worshiped and then stoned. Here he found a church, the result of his early labors, and was joined by his life-long companion, Timothy. (Acts 16:1-4)
5. We read of Paul and Silas as having next “gone throughout Phrygia.” (Acts 16:6). Probably this refers to a tour among the churches at Iconium and Antioch in Pisidia, the fields of former labors. There is no indication in the Acts or Epistles that he preached in any new places in this district.
6. From Antioch he turned northward and entered for the first time the province of Galatia. (Acts 16:6)
But W. M. Ramsay has shown that Lycaonia itself was only a district in the political province of Galatia, and that the Galatian journey (and also the Galatian epistle) may refer to the region of Derbe, Lystra, and Iconium, not to the entire province. In that case the dotted red line on the map may indicate Paul’s journey, and the line through Pessinus, Ancyra, and Tavium should be omitted.
These conclusions are not, as yet, generally accepted.
7. Paul’s desire was to preach the word throughout the Roman proconsular province of Asia, which comprised Phrygia, and the maritime districts of Mysia, Lydia and Caria. But divine influences closed up his path, both in this direction and northward toward Bithynia; so he journeyed westward across Phrygia and Mysia, and at last reached at Troas. (Acts 16:6-8.)
This was the site of ancient Troy, the scene of Homer’s Iliad, and has been the place of great discoveries in modern times. There was a city near the ancient site in Paul’s time; and it is probable that in it he founded a church, for there he was joined by Luke, the historian of the Acts and author of the third Gospel, and in a later journey met “the disciples” of the place. (Acts 20:7.)
Here the vision of the “man of Macedonia” summoned Paul from Asia to Europe (Acts 16:9-10), and opened a new chapter in the history of Christianity.
II. The European Stations
All the places named as visited by the apostle in this journey were included in the two provinces of Macedonia and Greece, of which the Roman name was Achaia.
Macedonia was the province north of Greece, and famous in history from its conquering kings, Philip, and his greater son, Alexander. It consists of two great plains, watered respectively by the Axius, near Thessalonica, and the Strymon, near Apollonia. Between these two rivers projects a peninsula, having three points, like a hand of three fingers, across the palm of which, in Paul’s time, ran the great Roman road known as the Ignatian Way. It was divided by the Romans into four districts, of which the capitals were Amphipolis, Thessalonica (the residence of the provincial proconsul), Pella (the birthplace of Alexander the Great), and Pelagonia. Of these, Amphipolis had become less important than the rival city of Philippi, in the same district.
Achaia was the Roman name of the little land of Greece, whose fame has filled all history. In the later period of its independence, its ruling state had been Achaia, which gave its name to the entire province when annexed to the Roman empire. In the apostolic age, Corinth was its metropolis and political capital, though Athens still retained its fame as a centre of art and literature.
The apostle Paul and his companions sailed across the Ægean Sea from Troas, in a northwesterly direction, passing the storied isles of Tenedos and Imbros; anchored for the first night off Samothracia, “the Thracian Samos,” a rocky island near the coast of Thrace; and the next day passed northward of Thasos, and anchored in the harbor of Neapolis, on the border of Thrace. Acts 16:11
They did not remain at the seaport, but pressed inland to the larger city, which was to be memorable as the first foothold of the gospel in Europe. In the European part of the second missionary journey we notice eight places visited by the apostle.
1. Philippi (Acts 16:12-40).
This was an ancient town, enlarged and renamed by Philip, the father of Alexander the Great. Near it was fought the great battle between Augustus and Antony on one side, and Brutus and Cassius on the other, in which the hope of a Roman republic perished, and the empire was ushered in. It had been made a colony; that is, a branch of Rome itself, and enjoyed certain privileges of self-government, so that its magistrates bore Roman titles, as noticed by Luke.
Here Lydia, the first convert in Europe, was baptized, and a church was planted; Paul and Silas were scourged and imprisoned, and set free by divine power; the jailer was brought to Christ; and the officials of the city were made to tremble at having inflicted violence upon citizens of Rome.
2. Amphipolis was 33 miles southwest of Philippi, and 3 miles from the Ægean Sea. It was a town of ancient fame; but, in Paul’s time, decayed in population; and, having no synagogue or Jewish population, was not yet made a field of his labors. After a delay of only a day, he journeyed on still further westward. (Acts 17:1)
3. Apollonia was 30 miles from Amphipolis, and an important city; but for some reason Paul did not choose to labor in its vicinity, and remained there but a day. (Acts 17:1)
4. Thessalonica (Acts 17:1-9) was the capital of the entire province, and 40 miles from the preceding station. It was named after a sister of Alexander the Great, and had many historic associations. An arch is still standing, and was doubtless seen by the apostle, which commemorated the victory at Philippi.
There was a large Jewish population, and a synagogue, in which Paul preached for three sabbaths. He succeeded in founding a church, mostly of Gentiles, to which he soon after wrote his two earliest epistles, First and Second Thessalonians. But the Jews excited a riot, and the apostles were compelled to leave the city by night. Thessalonica, now called Saloniki, is still the second city of European Turkey, and contains 80,000 inhabitants.
5. Berea (Acts 17:10-13) was a small city, chosen by the apostle on account of its retired situation. It lay on the eastern side of Mount Olympus. Its people were generous in hearing the truth, and candid in examination of its claims; so that many of them believed, and “the Bereans” have furnished a name for earnest students of the Bible in all lands. The place is now called Verria, and has a population of about 6,000.
6. Athens (Acts 17:15-34) was one of the most famous cities of the world. It was situated 5 miles northeast of the Saronic Gulf, between the two little streams Cephissus and Ilissus, and connected by long walls with its two seaports, the Piræus and the Phaleric Gulf, where probably Paul landed. Around it stand mountains noted in history, and within its walls rise four important hills: the Acropolis, surmounted by the Parthenon, the most perfect specimen of Greek architecture; the Areopagus, northwest of the Acropolis, where Paul delivered his memorable discourse; the Pnyx, still further west; and, on the south, the Museum. In Paul’s time Athens was no longer the political capital, but was still the literary centre, not only of Greece, but of the civilized world. Paul’s discourse before its philosophers was not attended with immediate results, as no church appears to have been founded; but, four centuries afterward, the Parthenon became a Christian church, and the Athenians were among the most bitter foes of image worship. After many changes of fortune—at times being without inhabitants—Athens is now the growing capital of the kingdom of modern Greece, and the seat of a university.
7. Corinth (Acts 18:1-18), the next station of the apostle, was 40 miles west of Athens, on the isthmus between Hellas and Peloponnesus, which is here 10 miles wide. In Paul’s time it was the commercial and political metropolis of Greece, being the residence of the Roman proconsul. It was, however, a most wicked city, and a by-word for corruption and licentiousness. Paul preached in Corinth for a year and a half, working meanwhile at his trade as a tent-maker, and during his stay wrote the two Epistles to the Thessalonians. After leaving, he wrote to the Corinthian Christians two of his longest Epistles, First and Second Corinthians. The site of the city is now desolate, except for a small and wretched village, named Gortho.
8. Cenchrea (Acts 18:18), more accurately Cenchreæ, is named merely as the place from which Paul set forth on his return journey, and where he performed the Levitical service of cutting off his hair in token of a vow. We know, however, that he had, directly or indirectly, planted a church here, as its deaconess, Phebe, is named. (Rom. 16:1, 2.) This was the eastern harbor of Corinth, on the Saronic Gulf, 9 miles from the city. It is now called Kekhries.
III. The Return Stations
In his journey from Corinth to Antioch, are given as four in number, though the journey was more than a thousand miles in length.
1. Sailing eastward across the Ægean Sea, and passing many celebrated islands, after a voyage of 250 miles, he reached Ephesus. (Acts 18:19-21.) He had been hindered from preaching in this region before, and now remained but a few weeks, though urged by the Jews to remain longer. He left behind him his friends Aquila and Priscilla, by whose labors the brilliant young Apollos of Alexandria was led into the church, and the way was prepared for Paul’s labor on his second visit, in connection with which Ephesus will be noticed again.
2. A voyage around the southwestern border of Asia Minor, thence past the isle of Rhodes in a southeasterly direction, leaving Cyprus on the northeast, brought the apostle to Caesarea (Acts 18:22.) This was the Roman capital of Palestine, and a harbor. Here Paul debarked from the vessel on which he had sailed 600 miles, and entered once more the Holy Land.
3. Jerusalem. (Acts 18:22) The apostle climbed the mountains, and for the fourth time since his conversion entered the Holy City. He stayed only to salute the church, and perhaps leave the gifts of the Gentile Christians to the poorer saints of Judea, and then left once more.
4. He traveled, overland most probably, to Antioch, his home, if any place might be so named; for here were his nearest friends, here he had begun his missionary journey, and here he doubtless received a glad welcome from the church. He brought with him, on his return, not only Silas, who had set out as his companion, but Timothy, and perhaps also Aristarchus, Gaius and Erastus, whose names we find associated with Paul’s soon after.