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
- 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. (Yes there is. I will hold it for the next Gem. Ian)
- There is a difficulty to see why opposition stirred up would result in Paul and Barnabas saying there longer.
- 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?
- “They tore their clothing in dismay and ran out amongst the people…” that must have been quite a scene. Was this form of behaviour normal and is it still in present day times?
- Why didn’t Luke did not tell us anything about what Barnabas had done and the focus seems to be more on Paul?
- We don’t know what happened to Barnabas or where he was while Paul was being stoned and I wonder why Luke has not reported on it?
- 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?
It seems you have managed between you to cover all the bases. I received two more questions since I sent Gem 1639 and I have included them in the list above. You can compare lists to find out what they were if you wish. I have other elements of the text that I want to deal with but won’t frame them as questions, rather I will just deal with them as we go along. So without further comment let’s begin. I will delete questions from the list above as we progress if I think I have addressed it or dealt with your question in another way. But I will keep the list before me so that I don’t miss anything. There is one point where I have added my own comment to the list just to remind me to comment on that point.
I picked up on a strange difference between the translations in the first verse of the chapter. Some tell us Paul and Barnabas went to the synagogue together and some tell us like the NLT above “the same thing happened” or in others “just as they did in Antioch” meaning they went into the synagogue. What is the focus of this sameness?
Is the sameness Luke is highlighting focused on Paul and Barnabas doing the same thing – I.e. going in together? Hardly. I don’t think that is worth such a strange Greek construction to describe “together”.
Is the sameness the going to the synagogue first? It could be.
Or is the sameness related to the events that happened in Antioch were played out again in subsequent places? I think that is what is in focus. But you are free to come to your own conclusions. You don’t have to follow my lead. We don’t always have to do things together.
I presume the choice of town they visited were the ones that had a synagogue. – but not necessarily. In the first mentioned places yes there was a synagogue. But later on Paul and Barnabas are heading to completely Gentile or pagan cities and there were no synagogues. Why do Paul and Barnabas continue to go to the synagogue first when they have made the break now to minister to Gentiles? I think it was a habit or a cultural thing so strong they found it initially hard to not do it. But as time went by it became less of an issue.
Why didn’t Luke tell us what Paul and Barnabas preached to the Gentiles in Lystra and Derbe? I hinted at that in an earlier Gem but I don’t remember which one. I believe that the sermon we have recorded for us at Antioch was likely a pattern which Paul used in all places where they went to after that. So in answer to the question: Do you think knowledge of the Old Testament can be useful for us to understand the New Testament message? The answer is of course yes. And I think Paul and Barnabas would have used the approach they did in Antioch at other places. Especially so in those places where there were Jews. The missionaries (P & B) had to connect Jewish people’s understanding of the Jewish books with this new teaching. From a present day Christian point of view it is essential to connect the New Testament with the Old Testament. If you don’t, you will never understand the New Testament. There are many foolish Christians who don’t read the Old Testament preferring instead to read the New Testament over and over because they are not under law but under grace. However they remain ignorant of what the New Testament means in many parts if they don’t connect it to the Old Testament. The New Testament is built on the foundation of the Old Testament. That is why many people don’t understand the Bible because they don’t know the detail of the Old Testament and so they fail to see links and allusions to the Old Testament in the New and therefore miss the point.
Many commentators see the first sermon in Iconium as being so fantastic that the one sermon accomplished the result described. Others prefer to see it as the opening sermon of a series preached over a number of Sabbaths. You decide.
Notice also in verse three and following that Luke begins calling Paul and Barnabas “apostles” for the first time. Ponder that one too.
I will conclude this Gem at this point because the next elements I want to deal with will be longer ones so I won’t add it to this Gem.
You can’t start the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading the last one? Get over it and move on!Rick Godwin
By the time a man realizes that maybe his father was right, he usually has a son who thinks he’s wrong.Charles Wadsworth
Help! I keep hitting ESC but I’m still here!Anon
It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up!Ian Vail