Author: Ron Graham
Outline of Paul’s Third Missionary Journey
—Revisiting churches, then to Jerusalem
This is our third study on the journeys of Paul, and we look at Paul's third missionary journey (Acts 18:23 to 21:17).
Stages of the third journey
- Between his second and third journeys, Paul spent some time working with the church in Syrian Antioch (Acts 18:22-23). From there, Paul set off on the third journey.
- First he visited the churches again in Galatia and Phrygia (Acts 18:23).
- Paul next returned to Ephesus where his work caused an uproar (Acts 19:1-41).
- Paul then revisited Macedonia and Greece, afterward going to Troas and then to Miletus (Acts 20:1-38).
- From Miletus Paul sailed to Caesarea and then went to Jerusalem (Acts 21:1-17).
1. In his second journey, Paul had visited Ephesus briefly (Acts 18:19-21). He begins his third journey overland, revisiting churches where he had previously been (Acts 18:23). Paul continued on a route that eventually brought him to Ephesus (Acts 19:1).
2. While Paul was doing all this travelling, there was something already going on at Ephesus, concerning a preacher called Apollos. It also involved Priscilla and Aquila whom Paul had made friends with on his second journey (Acts 18:1-3). Luke inserts an account of this episode before describing Paul's work in Ephesus (Acts 18:24-28).
3. One thing Paul did in Ephesus was to correct the lack of understanding about baptism among some disciples, just as Priscilla and Aquila had done earlier with Apollos (Acts 19:1-7).
4. Paul tried to establish a regular ministry preaching in the synagogue, but this lasted only three months and Paul moved his venue to a school and preached there successfully for two years (Acts 19:8-10).
5. Paul did marvelous miracles in Ephesus. People renounced their inferior magic. But this sparked a near riot in the city (Acts 19:11-41).
6. Paul revisited Macedonia and Greece (Achaia) as he had planned (see Acts 19:21). He then went to Troas where Eutychus fell out the window while Paul was preaching (Acts 20:1-12).
7. Next Paul went to Assos, and on to Miletus, a coastal town near Ephesus. There Paul made his touching farewell speech to the elders from Ephesus (Acts 20:13-38).
8. Paul sailed from Miletus around by Rhodes and past Cyprus, then down to Tyre for a week's respite with the kindly disciples there. After that he made his way to Caesarea to stay with Philip the evangelist. As in Tyre, here also in Caesarea there were prophecies that bode ill for Paul in Jerusalem. But he was resolute (Acts 21:1-14).
9. Finally, Jerusalem (Acts 21:15-17).
In this third journey, we notice that Paul, in most stages, had many companions travelling with him, including Luke himself at times. People travelled ahead to make arrangements for Paul. People gave him lodging. They prayed, even wept with him. Paul was facing serious problems ahead. He needed the care of his fellow disciples.