Paul’s Journeys to No Place Left

If there was ever anyone who truly understood God’s mission, who God intended to reach, and the reason that he was alive, it was the apostle Paul. Paul was undoubtedly one of the best, if not the best, church planter ever to live, not to mention having written much of the New Testament through his letters to the churches that he started.

In this lesson, we are going to move quickly through the book of Acts, starting in Acts 2, moving quickly through Acts chapters 7, 8, and 11, and then moving through Acts 13-20 as the main portion of the video.

Start by watching this video and then we will have some questions that we will discuss afterward:

Question: We are obviously not all called to be apostle Paul, so how can we apply what we have learned from Paul’s disciple-making and church-planting work?

Discuss this question together as a group and then click on this box and read the answer below.

Even if we are not traveling from one place to the next, Jesus still calls us to share our testimony and make disciples who make disciples just as Paul did. We are called to do this wherever we are, whether we are moving from place to place or if we are living and staying in one place. Wherever we are, we can still make disciples of all nations!

Question: What was the process that Paul used as he made disciples and started new churches?

Discuss this question together as a group and then click on this box and read the answer below.

Paul normally followed a four-step process to start churches, including:

  1. Enter into a new city
  2. Share the Gospel
  3. Make disciples who would follow Jesus and share with others
  4. Bring together the new disciples and establish the new church

In addition, starting in his second trip, we also saw Paul raising up leaders who would also go to do similar work to what Paul was doing.

Question: What was likely the most fruitful part of Paul’s ministry work? What was the difference between this work and the other work that he had done?

Discuss this question together as a group and then click on this box and read the answer below.

On Paul’s third missionary journey, while in Ephesus, he teaches his disciples for two years in the Hall of Tyrannus. In Acts 19, it says that the result of this is:

…all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord.

Acts 19:10

In addition, we see at least nine churches that were started in the province of Asia as a result of his work.

But we never see that Paul travels around the province of Asia. Instead, we see that he teaches others to do what he has done. So, the biggest difference that we see in this part of Paul’s ministry is that he is training, empowering, and releasing the disciples to do what he has done previously. This becomes what we believe is the most fruitful part of Paul’s ministry and teaches us important lessons about what we also must do as we work with disciples as well, namely make disciples directly ourselves, but also teach others to also be disciple-makers!

Question: What does Paul’s final statement to the Romans about his ministry work teach us about how God wants us to participate in his plan?

Discuss this question together as a group and then click on this box and read the answer below.

In Romans 15, Paul says this:

I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done— by the power of signs and wonders, through the power of the Spirit of God. So from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum, I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ. It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone else’s foundation. Rather, as it is written:

“Those who were not told about him will see, and those who have not heard will understand.”

This is why I have often been hindered from coming to you.

But now that there is no more place for me to work in these regions, and since I have been longing for many years to visit you, I plan to do so when I go to Spain. I hope to see you while passing through and to have you assist me on my journey there, after I have enjoyed your company for a while.

Romans 15:18-24

Paul says that there is no place that remains for him to work. He has been traveling throughout modern-day Turkey, Greece, and Eastern Europe, preaching the Gospel, making disciples, and leaving churches behind who will continue his work after he is gone.

Paul’s work aligns with God’s plan because God originally intended that his image would spread across the face of the earth, and then Jesus commanded his disciples to make disciples of him everywhere they went. The message of salvation in Jesus Christ is for everyone and Paul worked for everyone to hear it and understand, until there was no place that was left for him to work. This is what we call the No Place Left vision.