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.Acts 14:1-22
The topographical position of Iconium is clearly indicated in Acts, and the evidence of Acts has been confirmed by recent research. Was Iconium in Phrygia or in Lycaonia, and in what sense can it be said to have belonged to one ethnical division or the other? The majority of our ancient authorities (e.g. Cicero, Strabo, Pliny), writing from the point of view of Roman provincial administration, give Iconium to Lycaonia, which makes it the natural capital. But Xenophon, who marched with Cyrus’ expedition through Phrygia into Lycaonia, calls Iconium the last city of Phrygia. Luke in Acts14:6 appears to make the same statement when he represents Paul and Barnabas as fleeing from Iconium to the cities of Lycaonia – implying that the border of Phrygia and Lycaonia passed between Iconium and Lystra, 18 miles to the South. Other ancient authorities who knew the local conditions well speak of Iconium as Phrygian until far into the Roman imperial period. At the neighboring city of Lystra (Acts 14:11), the natives used the “speech of Lycaonia.” Two inscriptions in the Phrygian language found at Iconium in 1910 prove that the Phrygian language was in use there for 2 centuries after Paul’s visits, and afford confirmation of the interesting topographical detail in Acts.
In the apostolic period, Iconium was one of the chief cities in the southern part of the Roman province Galatia, and it probably belonged to the “Phrygian region” mentioned in Acts 16:6. The emperor Claudius conferred on it the title Claudiconium, which appears on coins of the city and on inscriptions, and was formerly taken as a proof that Claudius raised the city to the rank of a Roman colonia.
Lystra owed its importance, and the attention which Paul paid to it, to the fact that it had been made a Roman colonia by Augustus and was therefore, in the time of Paul, a center of education and enlightenment. Nothing is known of its earlier, and little of its later, history. The site of Lystra was placed by Leake (1820) at a hill near Khatyn Serai, 18 miles South-Southwest from Iconium; this identification was proved correct by an inscription found by Sterrett in 1885. The boundary between Phrygia and Lycaonia passed between Iconium and Lystra. (Acts 14:6). The population of Lystra consisted of the local aristocracy of Roman soldiers who formed the garrison of the colonia, of Greeks and Jews (Acts 16:1, Acts 16:3), and of native Lycaonians (Acts 14:11).
After Paul had healed a life-long cripple at Lystra, the native population (the “multitude” of Acts 14:11) regarded him and Barnabas as pagan gods come down to them in likeness of men, and called Barnabas “Zeus” and Paul “Hermes.” The accuracy in detail of this part of the narrative in Acts has been strikingly confirmed by recent epigraphic discovery. Two inscriptions found in the neighborhood of Lystra in 1909 run as follows: (1) “Kakkan and Maramoas and Iman Licinius priests of Zeus”; (2) “Toues Macrinus also called Abascantus and Batasis son of Bretasis having made in accordance with a vow at their own expense (a statue of) Hermes Most Great along with a sun-dial dedicated it to Zeus the sun-god.” Now it is evident from the narrative in Acts that the people who were prepared to worship Paul and Barnabas as gods were not Greeks or Romans, but native Lycaonians. This is conclusively brought out by the use of the phrase “in the speech of Lycaonia” (Acts 14:11). The language in ordinary use among the educated classes in Central Anatolian cities under the Roman Empire was Greek; in some of those cities, and especially of course, in Roman colonies, Latin also was understood, and it was used at this period in official documents. But the Anatolian element in the population of those cities continued for a long time to use the native language (e.g. Phrygian was in use at Iconium till the 3rd century of our era. In the story in Acts a distinction is implied between the ideas and practices of the Greeks and the Roman colonists and those of the natives. This distinction would naturally maintain itself most vigorously in so conservative an institution as religious ritual and legend. We should therefore expect to find that the association between Zeus and Hermes indicated in Acts belonged to the religious system of the native population, rather than to that of the educated society of the colony. The names in those inscriptions can only have been the names of natives; the Zeus and Hermes of Acts and of our inscriptions were a graecized version of the Father-god and Son-god of the native Anatolian system. The miracle performed by Paul, and his companionship with Barnabas would naturally suggest to the natives who used the “speech of Lycaonia” a pair of gods commonly associated by them in a local cult. The two gods whose names rose to their lips are now known to have been associated by the dedication of a statue of one in a temple, of the other in the neighborhood of Lystra.
Derbe was a city in the extreme Southeast corner of the Lycaonian plain is mentioned twice as having been visited by Paul (on his first and second missionary journeys respectively), and it may now be regarded as highly probable that he passed through it on his third journey (to the churches of Galatia). The view that these churches were in South Galatia is now accepted by the majority of English and American scholars, and a traveler passing through the Cilician Gates to Southern Galatia must have traversed the territory of Derbe.
Derbe is first mentioned as the seat of Antipater, who entertained Cicero, the Roman orator and governor of Cilicia. When the kingdom of Amyntas passed, at his death in 25 BC, to the Romans, it was made into a province and called Galatia. This province included Laranda as well as Derbe on the extreme Southeast, and for a time Laranda was the frontier city looking toward Cappadocia and Cilicia and Syria via the Cilician Gates. But between 37 and 41 ad Laranda was transferred to the “protected” kingdom of Antiochus, and Derbe became the frontier city. It was the last city on distinctively Roman territory, on the road leading from Southern Galatia to the East. It was here that commerce entering the province had to pay the customs dues. It owed its importance (and consequently its visit from Paul on his first journey) to this fact, and to its position on a great Roman road leading from Antioch, the capital of Southern Galatia, to Iconium, Laranda, Heracleia-Cybistra, and the Cilician Gates. Roman milestones have been found along the line of this road, one at a point 15 miles Northwest of Derbe. Derbe is mentioned several times in the records of the church councils. A bishop, Daphnus of Derbe, was present at the Council of Constantinople in 381.
The site of Derbe was approximately fixed by the American explorer Sterrett, and more accurately by Sir W. M. Ramsay, who, after carefully examining all the ruins in the neighborhood, placed it at Gudelisin. Up to 1911, certain epigraphic evidence fixing the site had not been found, but Ramsay’s identification meets all the conditions, and cannot be far wrong. On the East, Derbe was conterminous with Laranda, on the Northeast with Barata in the Kara Dagh. It bordered on the territory of Iconium on the Northwest, and on Isauria on the West. Its territory touched the foothills of Taurus on the South, and the site commands a fine view of the great mountain called Hadji Baba or the Pilgrim Father. The Greeks of the district say that the name is a reminiscence of Paul, “over whose travels” the mountain “stood as a silent witness.”
In Acts 14:20-21, it is narrated that Paul and Barnabas, after being driven out of Lystra, departed to Derbe, where they “preached the gospel … and made many disciples.” But they did not go further. Paul’s mission included only the centers of Greco-Roman civilization; it was no part of his plan to pass over the frontier of the province into non-Roman territory. This aspect of his purpose is illustrated by the reference to Derbe on his second journey (Acts 16:1). Paul started from Antioch and “went through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the churches” (Acts 15:41). “Then he came to Derbe and Lystra” (Acts 16:1 the King James Version). The unwarned reader might forget that in going from Cilicia to Derbe, Paul must have, passed through a considerable part of Antiochus’ territory, and visited the important cities of Heracleia-Cybistra and Laranda. But his work ends with the Roman Cilicia and begins again with the Roman Galatia; to him, the intervening country is a blank. That Paul was successful in Derbe is indicated from the fact that he does not mention Derbe among the places where he had suffered persecution (2Tim 3:11). Gaius of Derbe (among others) accompanied Paul to Jerusalem, in charge of the donations of the churches to the poor in that city (Acts 20:4).
Some of you have drawn attention already via your questions to the fact that Paul and Barnabas return to the places where they were attacked. The mob in Iconium cross over to Lystra and stir the crowds there. How could Paul and Barnabas can go back along the same route they had travelled on? The threat appears to not be in Derbe but in Iconium and Lystra. Think on these things while Tania and I retrace our steps as well.
Your vision is only as powerful as your commitment to pursuing it!Brian Houston
I have seen, at different times, the smoke of a thousand villages, whose people are without Christ, without God, and without hope in the world.Robert Moffat
Without Dreams We reach nothing. Without Love We feel nothing. Without God We are nothing.Marina Florintina
Your dream is only as big as the team you have behind it.Anon
VENI, VEDI, VISA: I came, I saw, I did a little shopping.Vic(k)i