Book Excerpt- Peter and Paul in Acts

Mar 18, 2012

This excerpt is taken from Chapter Three, “The Leadership Roles of Peter and Paul in Acts.” It discusses Paul in terms of his pastoral ministry.

“The first aspect of Paul’s apostolic ministry that will be examined is that of his role as a pastor. Pastoral ministry was as much a part of Paul’s apostleship as was his evangelistic ministry. Paul and Barnabas’ first missionary trip ended on a pastoral note: “Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith.” Paul’s second missionary journey was initiated out of a pastoral concern: “Let us go back and visit the brothers in all the towns where we preached the word of the Lord and see how they are doing.” This trip began with Paul and Silas traveling, “through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.” Even though there were numerous evangelistic opportunities on this trip, it started off as a pastoral visit to the churches that he and Barnabas had founded. The third missionary journey also began with pastoral visits to the churches in Galatia and Phrygia where Paul was, “strengthening all the disciples.”

Paul places a high priority on the Church in his apostolic ministry. This is demonstrated in his practice in Acts and in his teaching that is represented in the letters that he wrote. Luke shows over and over again that Paul’s constant focus was on the building of the Church. This pastoral aspect of Paul’s apostolic ministry is seen throughout his missionary journeys.

The first example of Paul as a pastor in Acts is seen in Antioch. Luke explains, that in Antioch, “a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord.” This took place when many of the believers in Jerusalem had been scattered after Stephen’s martyrdom. Barnabas was sent from Jerusalem to evaluate and then oversee the work. As discussed previously, the Jerusalem church kept a close watch on new works outside of Jerusalem. Barnabas represented the apostles in evaluating what was going on at Antioch. When he arrived, Barnabas, “was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts.” At some point, Barnabas saw the need to bring Paul (still called Saul at that point) to Antioch to help him. Luke does not record the reasoning behind Barnabas’ decision to bring Paul to Antioch. Barnabas did know that Paul’s background uniquely suited him for this type of ministry in a predominantly Gentile environment. The result was that, “for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people.”

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