In Acts 9 we are told that after Paul’s baptism, he immediately started preaching Jesus in the Jewish synagogues that is He is the Son of God (Acts 9:20). He confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus proving to them that Jesus is the Christ (Acts 9:22). During this time, the Bible doesn’t tell us whether he led anyone to the Lord. Rather, he incited the Jews to kill him by watching day and night for the right moment (Acts 9:23).
When the plot to kill Paul became known to him, he arranged for his disciples to lower him over the wall of Damascus at night in a large basket (Acts 9:25). He escaped to Jerusalem where he entered the synagogues and he started preaching boldly in the name of the Lord. He debated with some Greek-speaking Jews, but they tried to murder him (Acts 9:28-29).
Finally, when the believers in Jerusalem heard about this, they took him down to Caesarea and sent him away to Tarsus, his hometown (Acts 9:30). The Bible tells us that when Paul left, the Church then had peace throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria and it became stronger as the believers lived in the fear of the Lord. And with the encouragement of the Holy Spirit, it also grew in numbers. (Acts 9:31)
The Church at Antioch had been established well over a year before Claudius Caesar’s conquest of Britain. This is verified from reading Acts 11:19-30 and by comparing relative dates. Paul then used Antioch as the base from which he set out on his missionary journeys. As a matter of fact, it was the Holy Spirit who sent him out from there (Acts 13:1-4). After Paul was converted he went away and retired into Arabia for three years. (Galatians 1:15-18)
After that historians tell us Paul spent the next 14 to 16 years in his home town Tarsus. Paul did not immediately start as a missionary. It was only when Barnabas invited him to help the Church at Antioch that they recognized his call to be a missionary and then he was able to begin his work.
The Bible makes it very clear that Barnabas went on to Tarsus to hunt for Saul. And when he had found him, he brought him back to Antioch. For a whole year they assembled together with and were guests of the church and instructed a large number of people; and in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians. (Acts 11:25-26) What was Paul doing in Tarsus before Barnabas found him? Probably he was waiting for Christ to be sent as we are told in Acts 13: 1-2.
During his second missionary journey, when Paul and his party would have turned southwards, “they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia; when he was intending to turn eastwards, again “the Spirit suffered them not (see Acts 16:6-8) from that moment on Paul found people open to the gospel message in the West including the first convert to Christianity in Philippi, and therefore, Europe, a woman named Lydia who was a merchant specializing in costly purple cloth. (Acts 16: 11-15)
We don’t know why the Holy Spirit told Paul that he and his companions should not go to Asia, but what we know is that the West was the geographical will of the Holy Spirit for them. If the apostle Paul had not brought the Gospel to Europe, foundational principles such as freedom and human dignity would not be part of the Western British and American heritage.
Christianity did not begin with Augustine.Though he is referred to as “the Apostle of the English” but Augustine did not arrive in Britain until the year AD 596, and Christianity had already been in Britain for over 500 years, which means that it must have been a Christianity which was nearer to the pure New Testament form of Christianity than the one which had been brought in AD 596.
In order to further understand this we need to ask ourselves some questions: When did Christianity arrive in Great Britain? How exactly did it come? And in what form did it come? Christianity could have come directly from Pentecost, or very soon after. Christianity in Britain dates at least as far back as the period of the Roman occupation of the British Islands which can be dated quite definitely. Let’s try to go back in history and get some facts:
The Romans occupied Britain under the Emperor Claudius who is mentioned several times in the Book of Acts (see Acts 11:28, 18:2), this shows us that British history was happening simultaneously with the events of the New Testament. It was in the year AD 43 that the Roman legions landed in Kent and, after several battles, achieved a decisive victory, with the long train of captives, and received from the Roman Senate the title of Emperor Britannicus.
From AD 43, therefore, Britannia became one of the forty-five provinces of the great Roman Empire, and remained so for four hundred years, until AD 407. Historians tell us the Roman occupation of Britain gave time for the Christian faith to be planted and it was within that period of time that there arose a British Christian Church which sent its bishops to early councils. It was only fifty –five years before the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ in Bethlehem that Julius Caesar first landed in Britain, returning the following year.
This paved the way for the conquest of Britain under Claudius Caesar in AD 43 and opened the way for the arrival of the Gospel. Christianity is based on fact, and some of the facts suggest that it could have arrived during the ten-year interval between Pentecost and Claudius Caesar’s conquest, before Britain became a Roman Province, and perhaps not very long after the Day of Pentecost. Those facts certainly suggest that Christianity came to Britain in apostolic times.
All the main events relating to its beginnings can be placed against this specific time-scale. In Galatians 4:4 Paul writes that “When the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son which means that when the right time came, when everything was ready and the way had been fully prepared and certain figures such as Pontius Pilate and Caiaphas were already on stage—then God sent His Son. And he did this just fifty-four years after Julius Caesar’s second landing in Britain.” Author David Gardner reminds us that:
Britain has 0.16% of the earth‘s land area, yet in history she was directly responsible for almost 1/3 of the planet at various times. It was God’s plan to make Britain to be one of the greatest nations for the purpose of taking the Gospel to the nations of the world.
Unfortunately this great Christian heritage and part of history has been largely forgotten. Was the communist Karl Marx right in stating that a people without a heritage are easily persuaded? Something to think about!