St. Paul is one of the most famous missionaries of early Christianity. Tarsus, his birthplace, is located in modern day Mersin, Turkiye and the major part of his journeys took place here. The majority of the early Christian communities that he established are also in Turkiye. There is no doubt that it is highly owed to him that Christianity spread from Jerusalem and here into the depths of Europe. Although the journeys that he realised would take months even with the modern vehicles that we have today and he encountered many different obstacles on the road, he never took a step back and unweariably spread the teachings of Jesus Christ. On his journeys, he had to face the constant pressure of Rome, which eventually led to his death. Even though he spread his teaching in many different places such as Syria, Cyprus, Greece etc., Turkiye is the place where he realised most of his journeys.
He first appears in the Bible, in the Acts of the Apostles, as a person who is opposed to Christianity and as a man who persecutes the early Christians. However, on his way to Damascus to find the Christians in the city, he experienced a vision of Jesus Chris and went blind. He reached Damascus and a Christian man opened his eyes. Thereafter, it was revealed to him that he was chosen to spread the word of God to other nations. Upon this miracle, he became one of the first missionaries of Christianity and he took several journeys filled with hardships through the Mediterranean. He also established the first Christian communities in the cities he went to. He is not considered as one of the 12 Apostles; nonetheless he is named the Apostle of Asia Minor.
What we know about St. Paul and his journeys through Anatolia is derived from the certain chapters of the Acts of the Apostles of the New Testament. His First Journey took place between 46 – 48 A.D and he was accompanied by St. Barnabas. He took off from Antakya (Antioch) and came to the town of Samandağ (Seleucia Pieria) and from there he went to Cyprus on a ship. After some time in Cyprus, he boarded a ship to Antalya harbour. He first visited Aksu (Perge) and later he carried on to Yalvaç (Pisidian Antioch) in Isparta, Konya (Iconium), Hatunsaray (Lystra) and Derbe (Aşıran village) in Karaman. He gave sermons in every place he went to and converted a huge number of people to Christianity. Afterwards, he took the route to Aksu (Perge) to returned to Antioch (Antakya) and completed his first Biblical Journey.
His Second Journey is known to have taken place between 49 and 52 A.D. This journey was not commanded by the Holy Spirit, but it was decided by a meeting in Jerusalem; however the route of the journey was still determined by the Holy Spirit. It is acknowledged that there was a falling out between St. Paul and St. Barnabas in this journey and St. Paul was not accompanied by him, but by St. Silas. Again he took off from Antakya (Antioch) and he made a stop in every place he had visited in the First Journey to see how fared the people he had converted to Christianity. Therefore, for the second time he stopped at Karaman (Derbe, Lystra) and Konya (Iconium). It is probable that he visited Tarsus, his birthplace, on this journey.
On his route to Çanakkale (Troas) he visited Ankara, the modern capital of Turkiye, and its surroundings within the region of Galatia and Phrygia. Thereafter, as in a dream he saw a Macedonian man who was begging for him to come, from Troas he sailed to Greece in order to preach in the Greek and Macedonian cities and then he returned to Asia Minor upon his arrival in Ephesus. Although he boarded on a ship and went back to Jerusalem and Antioch, he then went into Galatia and Phrygia to see the people he had converted to Christianity.
On His Third Journey (53 – 57 A.D.) he passed through Anatolia to arrive in Ephesus where he stayed for 2 years and 3 months. Then he had to escape owing to the threat he suffered from the Ephesian artisans who were claiming that by preaching the word of his God he was committing blasphemy against their own mother goddess Artemis (Diana). Thereafter he carried on to Çanakkale (Troas), from where he went to Macedonia and then he came back to Çanakkale and on foot he went to Behramkale (Assos) where he performed several miracles. From this city he boarded a ship to Miletus, where he met the elders of Ephesus and said his goodbyes to them as he knew that his end was near by then. He told them not to lose their faith and not to give up on spreading the teachings of Jesus Christ. Then he took a ship to Kos, from where he carried on to Rhodes. From this place he returned to Asia Minor as he arrived in Patara, where he changed ship to Fenike (Phoenicia), where he also took another ship to Syria, followed by a journey to Jerusalem where he was arrested.
His Fourth and the Last Journey began in 58 A.D. and consists of his arrest and it is counted as the one he eventually arrived in Rome, where he was executed in 64 A.D. The ship where he was taken took the route in the southern coastline and stopped at Demre (Myra). From here he was taken into a boat which also stopped at Datça (Knidos). Finally, he was taken into Rome, where he stayed for two years until he was tried and executed by sword.
- – How many times did St. Paul visit Ephesus?
St. Paul visited Ephesus twice on his Second and Third Journeys.
- – Where was St. Paul born?
He was born in Tarsus, Mersin in the south of Türkiye.
– Where was St. Paul captured by Rome?
He was captured in Jerusalem at the end of his Third Journey in 58 AD.