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“Afterward I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia.”


Afterward I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia

After his brief fifteen-day visit to Jerusalem, Paul went to the “regions of Syria and Cilicia.” He left Jerusalem because of persecution (Acts 9:29-30). Sometimes discretion is the better part of valor. It always costs something to follow the Lord.

Tarsus, Paul’s hometown, was in Cilicia. He stayed in Tarsus for at least six years until Barnabas asked him to come to Antioch in Syria (Acts 11:20–26). He may have needed experience in the local church in Tarsus before launching into world evangelism.

Paul had now been a Christian for at least nine years. God waited nine years before He began to significantly use him in Antioch. Paul needed to go through God’s training time. He did not become a missionary until after an extended time in Syria, Cilicia, and Antioch. He started his missionary enterprises in Antioch. Some people are in a hurry to minister, so they take shortcuts to move into ministry. God has a timetable for our ministry. We must wait on His time.

Antioch of Syria was the city where Barnabas and Paul launched the first missionary expedition (Acts 13:1–3). Since Paul was far from Jerusalem in Syria and Cilicia, he did not have sustained contact with the apostles in Jerusalem there. After God began to work through Paul and Barnabas later in Antioch, the Jerusalem church sent leaders there to examine what God was doing among the Gentiles. 


God has His own timing for our ministry.


Do you chafe at the bit, wondering why God does not use you more? Are you waiting for God’s timing? God is in the process of preparing you to serve Him. This takes time. He wants to reveal what you’re made of, so you must undergo certain tests to determine whether your character can stand up.