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The Beginning of Paul's Ministry

Returned to Damascus (Gal. 1:17)

Paul Preaches in the synagogues--Acts 9:20-22

Paul baffled  the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Christ.

Paul  began to preach the gospel  "boldly in the name of Jesus" (Acts 9:27),

Paul in Damascus

Acts 9:25;  2 Cor. 11:33

Jews plotted to kill him

Kanissat Bab Kisan is a gate in southeastern part of the Old City is where, tradition says, Saul was lowered in a basket to escape the Nabatean governor.

Acts 9:20-31




Paul was smuggled out through the back side.  Thus began the underground movement of the Way.  They remained as an underground organization for two centuries.


The reference 2 Corinthians to Aretas, the Nabatean king, fixes the date of Saul’s conversion between 34 and 37 AD.  Inside the relatively small and simple church there are a couple of relief sculptures illustrating the two great moments in the life of Paul.


Then Paul went to Jerusalem to meet the Apostles.(Acts 9:26).

Act 9:26  And when he had come to Jerusalem he attempted to join the disciples


Barnabas persuaded the Jerusalem community to accept Paul as a disciple.  He preached boldly in Jerusalem. Act 9:27-29

Barnabas was a Jew from the Island of Cyprus: Apostle Joseph, the Levite   was the brother of Mary the mother of John Mark (Col 4:10) in whose house early Christian Congregation worshipped together underground for fear of the Jews. (Acts 12:12).  Mary by the description of the house hold having slave servants was a lady of some means.  The courage shown by Mary indicates her standing in the Congregation. It was into this house Jesus appeared before the disciples soon after his resurrection.  Severus, the Bishop of Al-Ushmunain , in the 10th century suggests that Mary was a close cousin of Peter’s wife.  This will explain why Mary’s house was important and why Peter went straight to this house soon after his release from prison by the angel.


Clement of Alexandria (Titus Flavius Clemens) and Eusebius of Caesarea says that Barnabas was one of the seventy Disciples (Luke 10:1-12) but Acts (4: 36-37) seems to indicate the opinion that he was converted to Christianity shortly after Pentecost (about A.D. 29 or 30) and immediately sold his property and devoted the proceeds to the Church (Acts 4:36-37).. At any rate they were as a family closely related to the Ministry of Jesus even during the life time of Jesus. Some traditions hold that Barnabas was the brother of Aristobulus of Britannia, one of the Seventy Disciples.


His Hebrew name was Joseph (or Joses). Joseph means "may God increase"; Joses, "He that pardons"; and Barnabas, "son of encouragement." This name appears to be from the Aramaic  bar na, meaning 'son of the prophet'. However, the Greek text of the Acts 4:36 explains the name as "son of consolation" or "son of encouragement". A similar link between ”prophecy” and ”encouragement” is found in St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 14:3) 


One account of his appearance is that he was a tall, physically powerful man with kind and gentle manners.  He is known as the “Golden tongued preacher”.


Easton, in his Bible Dictionary, purposes that Barnabas and Saul/Paul  had been fellow students in the school of Rabbi Gamaliel and might have been friends.This will explain why Barnabas decided to get the help of Paul and could trust his conversion while others were still afraid of him. According to Luke, Barnabas was a Levite whose family came from the island of Cyprus (Acts 4:36)  where some of the Jews of the Diaspora had settled.     


ACTS 9:26 and 27: "And when Saul (Paul) was come to Jerusalem he assayed to join himself to the disciples, but they were all afraid of him and believed not that he was a disciple.”But Barnabas took him and, brought him to the Apostles.

ACTS 11:22-30: "Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the Church which was in Jerusalem; and they sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch.

"Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord.
 "For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord.

"Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for to seek Saul: "And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch

The Antiochian tradition says that while he was in Jerusalem he was appointed Archbishop of Salamis,  and he returned to Cyprus, accompanied by his cousin John Mark, and Paul.  With the conversion of the Roman Ruler Sergius Paulus, Cyprus became the first country in the world with a Christian ruler.  But this did not last long.

Icon of St. Barnabas, Salamis, Cyprus

The tradition is that in 57 A.D., the Jewish community in Salamis objected to his preaching in the synagogue, and had Barnabas dragged out, tortured and stoned to death. The Jews then had his remains wrapped in a sheet and hid them in some marshland, prior to being disposed at sea. The Apostle John Mark, who was a witness of this barbarous action, together with some converted slaves rescued the body of Saint Barnabas and buried it in an old tomb under a carob (some say cherry) tree to the west of Salamis. On the chest of Saint Barnabas his cousin placed a Gospel book of Matthew written by Barnabas. Hotly pursued by the Jews, who had discovered their plan, they escaped to Nicosia, where they managed to elude their pursuers and escaped to Egypt.  

In 115 AD under the leadership of Artemion, the Jews slaughtered over 240,000 fellow-citizens in Cyprus.   As a result Jews were expelled from Cyprus. This had given impetus to growth of Christianity among the gentiles.  


Gave of Barnabas


Barnabas is traditionally considered the founder of the Cypriot church.  The ancient Cypriot Orthodox Church  is one of the sixteen independent ('autocephalous') Eastern Orthodox churches. The bishop of the capital, Salamis (Constantia), was constituted metropolitan by Emperor Zeno, with the title of archbishop. This independent position by ancient custom was recognized, against the claims of the Patriarch of Antioch, at the Council of Ephesus (431 CE), and by an edict of the Byzantine emperor Zeno.  Some say he founded the see of Milan. Tertullian says that Barnabas, not Paul, who wrote the epistle to the Hebrews


  Barnabas born in Cyprus(Acts 4:36)  

JOSES  A Levite, surnamed Barnabas by the apostles (Acts 4:36)

 Congregation of, elders of Lystra ordained  Paul and Barnabas (Acts 14:23)

Mark was the nephew of Barnabas (Colossians 4:10)

Mary the mother of Mark was the  sister of Barnabas (Acts 12:12; Colossians 4:10)

Ordination of  Paul and Barnabas (Acts 13:3) 



Paul preached in Jerusalem for three weeks and had to go away

Galatians 1:18-20   Then after three years I did go up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and stayed with him fifteen days; but I did not see any other apostle except James the Lord’s brother. 

Sts. Peter and Paul from the gravestone of the boy Asellus ---Christus Rex

The Embrace of Sts. Peter and Paul in the Vatopedi Monastery, Mt. Athos

Peter and Paul shared their common experience


The Embrace of Sts. Peter and Paul in the Vatopedi Monastery, Mt. Athos

By this time James, brother of Jesus was a figure in the church and probably was .the first bishop of Jerusalem.

Acts. 9:30 Paul now returned to his home in Tarsus (Gal. 1:21), where, for probably lived about three years, and we lose sight of him.

Meanwhile he poured himself into the scriptures.

The ministry has now spread from Jerusalem to Judea and Samaria to then the rest of the world in stages.

The Early Missionary Journeys

 Apostle Peter reaching out
Acts 9:31-10:48

The whole Church throughout Judea [1], Galilee [2] and Samaria [3] now enjoyed a period of peace. Peter, in the course of travelling (from Jerusalem [4]) about among them all, came to God's people living at Lydda [5]. Then there was woman in Joppa [6] There was a man in Caesarea [7] by the name of Cornelius


ccel maps

Paul's first journey as a Christian missionary began when members of the congregation at Antioch selected Paul and Barnabas to take the gospel to new places. Setting out from Antioch, they sailed to Cyprus, and then ventured to regions that lie in what today is Turkey. Now those who had been dispersed by the persecution which arose over Stephen travelled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and (Syrian) Antioch, giving the message as they went to Jews only.


However, among their number were natives of Cyprus and Cyrene, and these men, on their arrival at (Syrian) Antioch, proclaimed their message to the (Gentile) Greeks as well, telling them the good news of the Lord Jesus.


As a result Antioch became the center of Christianity.  ACTS 11:19-26


Syrian Antioch – present day Antakya in southern Turkey.  This Antioch was known as "Queen of the East", capital of the province of Syria, and the third largest city in the Roman Empire after Rome and Alexandria. With a population of over half a million people, it was located on the River Orontes, and a junction of trade routes between East and West.  (It should not to be confused with Pisidian Antioch, a Phrygian town in the Roman province of Galatia)

Antioch was founded in 301 BC by Seleucus I, a general in the army of Alexander the Great and one of his successors. Seleucus named the city after his father Antiochus. When Syria was conquered by Rome in 64 BC, Antioch became the eastern capital of the Empire. After the martyrdom of Stephen in Jerusalem in about 35 AD many Christians left the city and some fled to Antioch for refuge. Acts 11:19-26.  Due to the importance of Antioch as a major center in the ancient Roman Empire, most of  the missionary efforts  outside Judea  by the apostles were launched from that city.  It was here that the People of Way came to be known as “Christians”. According to church Tradition Saint Peter was the founder and the first bishop of the church of Antioch, carrying out his first mission among the gentiles there. He stayed three years and returned twice more before he went to Rome and martyrdom.

Ignatius of Antioch


Ignatius became Bishop of Antioch around AD 69. He was arrested by soldiers loyal to Emperor Trajan during a time when Christians were being actively persecuted. After his arrest, he was sent to Rome to be executed by means of wild beasts. As the legend is told, Ignatius's faith remained steadfast, as he continued to loudly call upon Jesus' name as he was being torn to pieces.


Its third Bishop Ignatius was a disciple of Apostle John.  It was Ignatius who introduced the symbol of making the sign of cross with three fingers to symbolize the full gospel preached by the church. It is still used in all Eastern Churches.


The neo-convert Saul was welcomed into the apostolic community (Acts 9:27).  Four years later Barnabas enlisted the aid of Saul for the task of directing the Christian community at Antioch (Acts 11:19-26).  Barnabas brought Saul into Antiochian ministry.  See Act. 11:25 –

Commissioning of Shaul in Antioch


City walls of Antioch

"And some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene, which, when they were come to Antioch, spake unto the Grecians, preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord.

Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem: and they sent forth Barnabas that he should go as far as Antioch. Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord. For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord.

Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for to seek Saul: And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch." (Acts 11:20-26 KJV)

It appears that this gathering at Antioch was an organized move whereby all the leaders with the mission to reach out beyond the Jewish realm came together.  The only person missing is Peter.  Instead Barnabas seems to take charge.  The first thing Barnabas did was to bring in Paul.  Now there was a gathering.  Was it a Council?

Act 13:1  Now there were at Antioch, in the church that was there, prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Symeon that was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen the foster-brother of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul


These were the main members of the Council

Barnabas seems to be the leader of the Activities

Simeon that was called Niger ...

"Niger" means "black".  In Greek the word for black is “melas" and   the Hebrew is "shachor"). In Acts 11:19-21 we find that the church in Antioch,  was founded by men from Cyprus and Cyrene. So this Simeon  may have been the same Simon who bore the cross of Jesus and was the father of Alexander and Rufus (Mark 15:21). 

After Simon’s death, his wife and son Rufus were living in Rome.  Mark mentions Rufus and Alexander, because he and the Roman church knew them.  Paul speaks of Rufus and his mother in Romans 16:13. “Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine.”  Apparently Simon Cyrenes mother took care of Paul while he was in Rome and Antioch indicating that we are talking about Simon Cyrene here.

Cyrene: is the Greek city in Libya - modern Shahhat. Cyrene was founded in c.630 BCE as a colony of the Greek island town Thera, which had become too crowded. The first colonists settled at an island called Platea in front of the Libyan coast (modern Bomba). Later, they occupied a coastal strip called Aziris, and finally, after concluding a treaty with the native Libyans, they founded the town Cyrene.  Both Simon and Lucius hailed from this city.  Jewish Christians originally from Cyrene who (along with believers from Cyprus) were involved in the preached the Gospel to non-Jews.

Lucius of Cyrene

“A kinsman or fellow tribesman of St. Paul, (Romans 16:21) by whom he is said by tradition to have been ordained bishop of the church of Cenchreae. He is thought by some to be the same with Lucius of Cyrene. Lucius of Cyrene is first mentioned in the New Testament in company with Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Manaen and Saul, who are described as prophets and teachers of the church at Antioch. (Acts 13:1)

Whether Lucius was one of the seventy disciples is quite a matter of conjecture; but it is highly probable that he formed one of the congregation to whom St. Peter preached on the day of Pentecost, (Acts 2:10) and there can hardly be a doubt that he was one of "the men of Cyrene" who, being "scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen," went to Antioch preaching the Lord Jesus. (Acts 11:19, 20)” Smith's Bible Dictionary

Now those who had been scattered by the persecution that arose because of Stephen went as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, preaching the word to no one but Jews. There were some Cypriots and Cyrenians, among them, however, who came to Antioch and began to speak to the Greeks as well, proclaiming the Lord Jesus. [Acts 11:19,20 ]

Act 13:1 names Lucius of Cyrene as one of several to whom the Holy Spirit spoke, instructing them to appoint Barnabas and Saul for missionary service to the gentile world.

Manaen, Foster-brother of Herod

The Greek word thus rendered is not found elsewhere in the New Testament; the meaning of this word “syntrophos” is somewhat ambiguous, scholars listing no less than three possible meanings:
(1) Manaen's mother had been Herod's wet-nurse;
(2) Manaen had been brought up as Herod's foster-brother;
(3) Manaen had been a playmate of Herod. 

In any event, a very close connection with the tetrarch Herod is indicated.

The name Manaen means "comforter"

Josephus mentions one Manaen who was an Essene, (Josephus, Ant. 15:10, sec. 5) whom Herod the Great favored highly.  It is possible that   Manaen was son of the Essene Manaen who was   adopted by Herod the Great, and made a companion to one of his sons.


The steward of Herod Antipas was Chuza and Joanna was his wife. We know that Joanna supported the mission of Jesus Christ with money (Lu 8:3).  Chuza has been connected as being the officer with the dying son at Capernaum, an official in Herod's administration.  Manaen probably came to know Jesus personally and eventually became a Christian soon after the Pentecost.


None of these people are residents of Antioch.  Thus we notice that several distinguished leaders of the church from various parts of the Christian Churches of the period were present in Antioch at that time.  It suggests that this is a gathering of leaders from the Churches around the world.  It was here Saul and Barnabas was commissioned officially by the laying on of hands for the mission among the Gentiles.

“And as they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. Then, when they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.”


This must have been an official commissioning and ordination by the Council of Elders who met in Antioch.  The only person missing is Peter, who actually initiated the ministry among the Gentiles.  But this is why Paul later made it a point to meet with Peter and exchanged notes.  


"And when they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them,
they sent them away." Acts 13:3

The laying on of hands is one of the most basic and fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith.  Hebrews 6:1, 2  It certainly came from the Hebrew tradition.  The group met here were essentially Jews and the laying on hands was the Old Testament method of ordaining.

 In the Old Testament did the laying on of hands was a part in offering sacrifices? Exodus 29:10; Leviticus 1:4; 3:2, 8, 13; 4:15.   These indicated separating the offering from ordinary use for the purpose of God’s work.  These included killing the sacrificial animal as substitution and propitiation for the sins of the person and the community. The sacrifice of Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice in that sense.  Again every Christian is a living sacrifice.  Thus special Commission was always considered as a Sacrifice and hence Old Testament and Christian Churches always used laying on hands in Ordination and Commissioning.

 It was a part of the Ordination Ceremony in OT Numbers 8:10; 27:16-23; Deuteronomy 34:9.

The priesthood was transferred from Jews to Christians.

Ordination of Jewish nation:

Exo 19:5-6  Now therefore, if you will obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my own possession among all peoples; for all the earth is mine, and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation

Ordination of Christians:

1Pe 2:9  But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's own people, that you may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.



Thus every Christian in commissioned by laying of hands even today as they come to join the Church either at Baptism or at the Confirmation or at the first Communion.


Here we notice that Barnabas and Paul were commissioned by the laying on of hands which implied a sacrifice of the personalities for the preaching of the word.



Thus begins the ministry of Paul, as the Apostle to the Gentiles and the work of the Architecture of the Church of Jesus Christ.