Here Paul met and baptized Lydia of Thyatira, who became the first Christian convert in Europe (Acts 16:13–15). Local opposition landed Paul and Silas in prison; they were freed by an opportune earthquake, then formally released the next morning by the city’s magistrates (Acts 16:22–34). The church in Philippi would become one of Paul’s favorites, and supported him generously along his way (cf. Phil 1:3–11; 4:15–16).
PAUL’S THIRD MISSIONARY JOURNEY, AD 53–57
Image source: © Carta, Jerusalem
From there the trio traveled the Via Egnatia to Thessalonica, capital of Macedonia, and quickly established another church. Again opposition drove Paul on, this time due to the charge that he was teaching things contrary to the decrees of Caesar (Acts 17:1-9). Paul eventually made his way to Athens, where he stayed just long enough to take in the city’s famed sights; he considered them hollow compared to the glories of the kingdom of Jesus. In spite of preaching a spirited sermon on Mars Hill, Paul failed to make significant inroads among Athens’ erudite population (Acts 17:16-34) and so headed over to the bawdy port city of Corinth instead. Here he found a bustling boomtown badly in need of redemption, and was fascinated. He stayed for eighteen months (Acts 18:1, 11).
Paul had more visible success in Corinth than perhaps anywhere (with the possible exception of Ephesus, which he would visit later). One of his converts was Crispus, a leader of the synagogue, but most believers came from the lower classes of society, folks who were not very wise, mighty or noble, or who had been out-and-out scoundrels (1 Cor 1:26; 6:9–11). The church in Corinth grew mightily, but had special needs (bad habits were hard to break) and Paul eventually wrote as many as four letters to them urging unity and clean living (Acts 18:1–17; cf. 1 Cor 5:9; 2 Cor 7:8). Eventually heading home, Paul’s ship put into the port of Ephesus where he stayed just long enough to be missed. He then sailed largely open-sea to Caesarea and reported to the church leaders up in Jerusalem, returning to Antioch sometime in late AD 52, his second missionary journey completed (Acts 18:18–22).