Which Churches Did The Apostle Paul Establish?

Which Churches Did The Apostle Paul Establish?

The Apostle Paul’s Missionary Journeys and the Churches He Established


The Apostle Paul, known as Saul of Tarsus, is one of the most influential figures in early Christianity. His missionary journeys across the Roman Empire significantly contributed to the spread of Christianity.

Paul’s extensive travels, tireless preaching, and prolific writing helped establish numerous Christian communities, shaping the early Church and its theology. This article delves into Paul’s life, from his conversion to his apostleship, his missionary journeys, and the churches he established.

Paul’s Biography: From Conversion to Apostleship

Early Life

Paul was born around 5 AD in Tarsus, a city in the Roman province of Cilicia (modern-day Turkey). He was a Jew from the tribe of Benjamin, a Roman citizen by birth, and a Pharisee by training. Paul’s upbringing in Tarsus, a significant center of Hellenistic culture, gave him a unique blend of Jewish and Greco-Roman education, making him well-suited for his later mission to the Gentiles.


Paul’s conversion to Christianity, a pivotal moment in his life, is one of the most dramatic stories in the New Testament.

In the beginning, he was a zealous persecutor of Christians. On his way to Damascus to arrest Christians, he experienced a life-changing vision of the risen Jesus. This event, detailed in Acts 9, led to his immediate conversion.

Paul was led into Damascus after the vision rendered him blind, and three days later, Ananias, a follower of Jesus, was able to restore his sight. Following his baptism, Paul began to preach that Jesus is the Son of God, a message that astounded those who knew of his former zeal against Christians.

Early Ministry

After his conversion, Paul spent several years in relative obscurity, likely in Arabia and Damascus, before returning to Jerusalem. He faced initial skepticism from the apostles due to his past persecution of Christians, but Barnabas vouched for him.

Paul then traveled to his hometown of Tarsus and later joined Barnabas in Antioch, where they taught and strengthened the Christian community.

Paul’s Missionary Journeys

Paul’s missionary work is traditionally divided into three major journeys, each marking significant developments in the spread of Christianity.

First Missionary Journey (Acts 13–14, AD 46-48)

Paul’s first journey, undertaken with Barnabas and John Mark, began in Antioch. They traveled to Cyprus, where they preached in Salamis and Paphos, converting the proconsul Sergius Paulus.

From there, they moved to the region of Pisidian Antioch, Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe in Asia Minor. In Lystra, Paul healed a man lame from birth, leading the locals to mistake him and Barnabas for gods.

However, opposition soon arose, and Paul was stoned and left for dead in Lystra but miraculously survived. This journey was pivotal in establishing the pattern of Paul Paul’s ministry: preaching in synagogues, converting Gentiles, and facing persecution.

Second Missionary Journey (Acts 15:36–18:22, AD 49–52)

His partnership with Silas marked Paul’s second journey. They revisited the churches established during the first journey and expanded their mission into Europe. In Philippi, they encountered Lydia, a seller of purple goods, who became a key convert and supporter.

An earthquake miraculously freed Paul and Silas from prison after they had exorcised a slave girl’s girl’s spirit. They also traveled to Thessalonica, Berea, Athens, and Corinth.

Paul delivered his famous Areopagus sermon in Athens, engaging with Greek philosophers. He stayed for 18 months in Corinth, establishing a solid church with the help of Aquila and Priscilla.

Third Missionary Journey (Acts 18:23–21:16, AD 53-57)

Paul’s third journey focused on strengthening the churches in Asia Minor and Greece. He spent considerable time in Ephesus, where his preaching led to many conversions and the burning of many sorcery books.

The growth of Christianity jeopardized the silversmith’s trade in idols, and they vehemently resisted Paul. He also visited Macedonia and Greece, encouraging the believers and collecting funds for the impoverished Christians in Jerusalem. This journey reinforced Paul’s role as a pastoral figure who was deeply concerned with the welfare and doctrinal purity of the churches.

Final Journey and Imprisonments

Paul’s return to Jerusalem culminated in his arrest. Accused of defiling the Temple, he was saved from a mob by Roman soldiers and eventually taken to Caesarea.

After spending two years in prison, he asked Caesar for permission to go to Rome. Despite experiencing a shipwreck and facing additional delays, Paul eventually made it to Rome, where he spent at least two years under house arrest. During this time, he continued to preach and write letters, which further contributed to the New Testament.

Churches Established by Paul

Paul established numerous churches during his missionary journeys. Some of the most notable include:

Philippi: The first Church in Europe, founded during Paul’s second journey, known for its strong support of Paul and its prominent converts, Lydia and the Philippian jailer.

Thessalonica: Founded during the second journey, this Church faced severe persecution but remained steadfast in the faith, as reflected in Paul Paul’s letters to them.

Corinth: A major urban center with a diverse population, the Corinthian Church faced numerous internal issues, which Paul addressed in his letters, providing valuable doctrinal and practical guidance. His letters to the Corinthians, First and Second Corinthians, are among the most significant and influential in the New Testament. They offer insights into the challenges faced by early Christian communities and guide them on issues such as marriage, worship, and spiritual gifts.

Ephesus: One of the most significant churches, Ephesus, was established during Paul’s third journey. It was a major center of early Christianity and the recipient of one of Paul’s most profound letters.

Paul established the churches in Galatia while on his first journey. His letter to the Galatians addresses critical issues of faith and law, emphasizing justification by faith.

Rome: Although Paul did not establish the Church in Rome, his letter to the Romans profoundly influenced its development. Even under house arrest, his time in Rome significantly strengthened this critical Church.


The Apostle Paul’sPaul’s missionary journeys were instrumental in spreading Christianity throughout the Roman Empire. His establishment of churches in strategic locations, coupled with his extensive and profound correspondence, significantly shaped Christian theology and community life.

From his dramatic conversion to his relentless missionary efforts, Paul’s life exemplifies the transformative power of faith and the far-reaching impact of dedicated ministry. His legacy endures in the vibrant Christian communities he founded and the enduring relevance of his writings, which continue to inspire intellectual curiosity and theological debate.

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