The same thing happened in Iconium. Paul and Barnabas went to the Jewish synagogue and preached with such power that a great number of both Jews and Greeks became believers. Some of the Jews, however, spurned God’s message and poisoned the minds of the Gentiles against Paul and Barnabas. But the apostles stayed there a long time, preaching boldly about the grace of the Lord. And the Lord proved their message was true by giving them power to do miraculous signs and wonders. But the people of the town were divided in their opinion about them. Some sided with the Jews, and some with the apostles. Then a mob of Gentiles and Jews, along with their leaders, decided to attack and stone them. When the apostles learned of it, they fled to the region of Lycaonia—to the towns of Lystra and Derbe and the surrounding area. And there they preached the Good News.
While they were at Lystra, Paul and Barnabas came upon a man with crippled feet. He had been that way from birth, so he had never walked. He was sitting and listening as Paul preached. Looking straight at him, Paul realized he had faith to be healed. So Paul called to him in a loud voice, “Stand up!” And the man jumped to his feet and started walking. When the crowd saw what Paul had done, they shouted in their local dialect, “These men are gods in human form!” They decided that Barnabas was the Greek god Zeus and that Paul was Hermes, since he was the chief speaker.
Now the temple of Zeus was located just outside the town. So the priest of the temple and the crowd brought bulls and wreaths of flowers to the town gates, and they prepared to offer sacrifices to the apostles. But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard what was happening, they tore their clothing in dismay and ran out among the people, shouting, “Friends, why are you doing this? We are merely human beings—just like you! We have come to bring you the Good News that you should turn from these worthless things and turn to the living God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them. In the past He permitted all the nations to go their own ways, but He never left them without evidence of Himself and His goodness. For instance, He sends you rain and good crops and gives you food and joyful hearts.” But even with these words, Paul and Barnabas could scarcely restrain the people from sacrificing to them. Then some Jews arrived from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowds to their side. They stoned Paul and dragged him out of town, thinking he was dead. But as the believers gathered around him, he got up and went back into the town. The next day he left with Barnabas for Derbe.
After preaching the Good News in Derbe and making many disciples, Paul and Barnabas returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch of Pisidia, where they strengthened the believers. They encouraged them to continue in the faith, reminding them that we must suffer many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God. Paul and Barnabas also appointed elders in every church. With prayer and fasting, they turned the elders over to the care of the Lord, in whom they had put their trust. Then they traveled back through Pisidia to Pamphylia. They preached the word in Perga, then went down to Attalia. Finally, they returned by ship to Antioch of Syria, where their journey had begun. The believers there had entrusted them to the grace of God to do the work they had now completed. Upon arriving in Antioch, they called the church together and reported everything God had done through them and how He had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles, too. And they stayed there with the believers for a long time.Acts 14:1-28
My thanks to all of you who responded with comments and stories of your own as to how amazingly God has spoken to you personally and in such timely ways. I love to hear those stories; it does my soul good – like the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. Yes God will be as personal with you as you will let Him be. I will be teaching the Deeper Bible class tonight that very point and giving them time to experience it. Tonight we come to the end of DB 501 in Jakarta and Tania and I will head back to Auckland again next week. The most amazing thing to me in all of this is to see and hear of God’s personal intimacy with His people over and over again. It is such a privilege to do what I do. Thanks for the honour and privilege LORD. Seeing Your people turned on to You is the best gift I can imagine.
Also hearing of your growing passion for God’s Word on a personal level as you share your stories with me is a delight. Seeing greater depth coming to your understanding of the Bible as you put Deeper Bible principles into practice delights me and tells me I am on the right track. Here are some of the questions and thoughts which came as a response to Gem 1638.
- I presume the choice of town they visited were the ones that had a synagogue.
- Why do Paul and Barnabas continue to go to the synagogue first when they have made the break now to minister to Gentiles?
- Why didn’t Luke tell us what Paul and Barnabas preached to the Gentiles in Lystra and Derbe?
- Ian, Do you think knowledge of the Old Testament can be useful for us to understand the New Testament message?
- I thought to myself I would love you to tell us about the connection between “poisoning our minds” and “spurning God’s message”. There is a sermon in that verse.
- It seems Luke was telling us of the different reactions between the Jews and the Gentiles – Then suddenly I read “a mob of Gentiles and Jews, along with their leaders, decided to attack and stone them.”
- I am confused – why are the Gentiles combining with the Jews now in opposition?
- I found the healing of the man in Lystra interesting and it caused me to want to know more about Paul looking straight at him.
- I assume this happened while Paul was preaching to the crowd and the man was somewhere among the crowds. What did the man do that caused Paul to look at him?
- It seems there was a strong conviction of faith on Paul’s part and that of the crippled man. Do you agree Ian?
- Is there any more information on the meaning that Paul realized the man had faith, what did the man do, or is the focus is that Holy Spirit is telling Paul to heal him?
- What does it mean “faith to be healed”? Is there a different level of faith, and how can you reach that level of faith ?
- How did the Lord proved their message was true by giving them power to do miraculous signs and wonders? Why doesn’t Luke tell us what happened?
- Zeus is famous but I haven’t heard much about Hermes.
- Why didn’t Paul and Barnabas use the people’s thought that they were Gods for their benefit?
- Why didn’t Luke did not tell us anything about what Barnabas had done and the focus seems to be more on Paul?
- The respond of the crowd is confusing: if they really think that Paul and Barnabas were gods and they tell them not to sacrifice, why did they still do it?
- How come Paul was stoned but Barnabas was spared?
- Paul should have died, can he really fake his death against angry mob who dragged him out of town ?
- If he is dead and he was ressurected, why luke story seems like downplaying the miracle by not telling it more plainly ?
- How could Paul and Barnabas returned to towns that had rejected them? Did the people just forget about them?
- I would like to know about the way Paul strengthened them. Can I conclude that the believers live in oppression and must have met secretly to go to church?
- How could Paul and Barnabas appoint elders in every church when they didn’t really know the people and didn’t belong to the church or have authority there?
- I find it amazing Ian that we are reading all about this and you are experiencing it as you write in Jakarta. How can that be?
- I love how God uses you wherever you are. I want Him to use me like that. Tell me how it happens.
- Looks like the enemies of Christianity followed Paul and Barnabas and stirred up the crowd. Sounds like where you are Ian?
- The theme throughout this section of Acts is relentless missionary zeal as Barnabas and Paul take God’s word to the people, Jew and Gentile.
- Their faith is unshakeable even to the point of death by stoning but still they keep going! There is a message here for us too isn’t there Ian?
- I couldn’t help but sense there was a deja vu feel to all of this. Haven’t we heard all this before? Is it more of the same? Why?
- Luke could have shortened Chapter 14 and added it to Chapter 13 by adding to the previous section “and the same thing happened in Lystra and Derbe when they went there.”
- Why is all so repetitive Ian? The Bible would be so much shorter if the repetition were taken out of it. Then I might be more willing to read it. [Just saying :)]
- I realized then I read that Paul and Barnabas went back to the church in Antioch and gave a report that is like what happens when you come back to New Zealand, Ian You are really living this stuff.
Well that was a stack of questions. That will keep me going for a sometime yet. I am now going to do a foolish thing and suggest that if there are yet more questions to come then now is your chance. Once I get underway and have passed the point of commenting on a particular verse I won’t go back and pick it up later. Give me your questions now. There are some good ones in the list above. I can see for some of you this is starting to get more real and personal. That is what this exercise is all about it. So I will give you one more chance to add your questions before we begin.
I will not pre-suppose your questions nor prematurely answer them. But I will point out as I think some of you have seen, if I read between the lines above, that this chapter is almost normative for the church. That is what I meant in Gem 1339 when I talked about Acts being descriptive or prescriptive. This characteristic is what prompts some of your questions or comments above related to the repetitive nature of the book and especially this section. It is also the reason why some of you are sensing the link to life now and the questions related to how God’s Word can have an up-to-date-for-today component to it. This chapter concludes what was started at the beginning of Chapter 13. These two chapters encapsulate the complete story of Paul’s First Missionary Journey. Are they merely describing what happened at the time or is there a prescriptive quality to them which lays out the pattern for all missionary journeys? Of course that is what lies behind the title for Bible Gem 1339 – Acts as a Manual – Church Growth or Missionary Manual?
Take note of the way Luke writes this account of Paul and Barnabas’ journey. The repetitive elements he uses which give this part of the book its flavour. It is the way Luke has written this story which gives it the feeling it has and also lays out the comparisons and fuel for thought that it does. It is really a clever piece of writing. But then would we expect anything else from Luke the Physician. He was a learned man and clearly knew how to put words together. When you step back from the detail you see the overall structure and understand more of Luke’s purpose behind the book. But then we have to ask another question. Is it Luke’s purpose or is it God’s purpose? Notice too how the repetitive elements provide the scheme or plan of attack. See how each phase of missionary activity is divided according to the phases of the operation. Namely:
- Go the synagogue
- They speak (using the Old Testament background) – which one of you picked up on.
- They stay a while
There, that gives you enough impetus and direction as you ponder this section and come up with more questions (or the first of YOUR questions).
How is that something written so long ago can have relevance now and even more speak to me in what I am dealing with at the moment? Ponder that one!Ian Vail
Ian, how is it that God can make what He inspired so long ago match my life today . . . day after day. He just keeps doing it.Bruce
Ah now you are starting to get it. This is the wonder of God’s Word. How such an “old dusty book” has such relevance in real time.Ian Vail
When you start to see or experience that, it is the feature of the Bible and how God works through it which makes it so addictive.Ian Vail
Ian, you are a contagious bible-loving virus.Paulina Ongkowidjaja
It is not because of anything special in me; it is because He (Who is Most Special) works in me through His Word.Ian Vail
Now you go and do likewise.Ian Vail