Author Archives: Ken Cochrum

About Ken Cochrum

Ken Cochrum enjoys long-distance cycling with his wife, Ann, and currently serves as global Vice President of Campus Crusade for Christ's Student-led and Virtually-led Movements. Find him on Twitter and Facebook: kencochrum

Going the Distance

Guest Post: Ken Cochrum writes about practical leadership at

By just about any measure, the Apostle Paul’s commitment to go to whatever lengths were necessary to bring the gospel to those who had not heard was remarkable.

Roland Allen, Anglican missionary to North Africa and China, explains: “In little more than ten years St Paul established the Church in four provinces of the [Roman] Empire, Galatia, Macedonia, Achaia and Asia. Before AD 47 there were no churches in these provinces; in AD 57 St Paul could speak as if his work there was done.”[1]

Paul’s primary calling and burden was to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ to win as many Jews or Gentiles as possible (1 Cor. 9:19-22), and to press on to locations where Christ had not yet been named (Rom. 15:20-21). His ultimate goal was to plant churches by laying a foundation as a skilled master builder, thus leaving behind a healthy growing community of new believers in each location who were grounded in theology and the ethics of the law-free gospel (1 Cor. 3:6, 10; 9:10).

The vast distances and long periods of time required for Paul and his co-laborers to travel as the Spirit led them are impressive. Barry Beitzel beautifully captures the distance leadership challenge they surmounted:

The distances traveled by the apostle Paul are nothing short of staggering. In point of fact, the New Testament registers the equivalent of about 13,400 airline miles that the great apostle journeyed; and if one takes into account the circuitous roads he necessarily had to employ at times, the total distance traveled would exceed that figure by a sizable margin. Moreover it appears that the New Testament does not document all of Paul’s excursions. For example, there seems to have been an unchronicled visit to Corinth (2 Corinthians 12:14; 13:1); he refers to shipwrecks of which we have no record (2 Corinthians 11:25); and there was his desire to tour Spain (Romans 15:24, 28), though it is still debated whether or not he ever succeeded in that mission. Considering the means of transportation available in the Roman world, the average distance traveled in a day, the primitive paths, and rugged sometimes mountainous terrain over which he had to venture, the sheer expenditure of the apostle’s physical energy becomes unfathomable for us. Many of those miles carried Paul through unsafe and hostile environs largely controlled by bandits who eagerly awaited a prey (cf. 2 Corinthians 11:26). Accordingly, Paul’s commitment to the Lord entailed a spiritual vitality that was inextricably joined to a superlative level of physical stamina and fearless courage.[2]

The table below details the extent of Paul’s travels to many of the places he visited.

Table Source: Adapted from Eckhard J. Schnabel, Paul the Missionary: Realities, Strategies and Methods, (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2008), 122.

Paul was able to cover extraordinary distances given the limitations in transportation at the time.  His willingness to endure the hardships of travel to influence as many as possible for the gospel allowed him to make an incredible impact for the kingdom in his time on earth. That is some serious self-leadership.

What motivates you to go the distance?


[1] Roland Allen, Missionary Methods: St. Paul’s or Ours? (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1962), 3.

[2] Barry J. Beitzel, The Moody Atlas of Bible Lands (Chicago: Moody Press, 1985), 176-177. Quoted in Charles R. Swindoll, Paul: A Man of Grace and Grit (Nashville, TN: Word Publishing Group, 2002), 142.