ACTS CHAPTER 14
VERSES 1-4 "And it came to pass in Iconium, that they went both together
into the synagogue of the Jews, and so spake, that a great multitude both
of the Jews and also of the Greeks believed. But the unbelieving Jews stirred
up the Gentiles, and made their minds evil affected against the brethren.
Long time therefore abode they speaking boldly in the Lord, which gave
testimony unto the word of his grace, and granted signs and wonders to
be done by their hands. But the multitude of the city was divided: and
part held with the Jews, and part with the apostles."
A. "And it came to pass in Iconium"
1. Its location is that of the modern Turkish provincial capital
Konya. Iconium was mentioned for the first time in the fourth century B.C.
by the historian Xenophon. In New Testament times it was considered to
be a part of the Roman province of Galatia. Evidently it has had a continuous
existence since its founding.
2. Coffman cites the ancient history of Iconium, how it's origins
go back into prehistoric times. There is another of the flood naratives,
dressed in pagan language, that tells of a worldwide flood and its effect
on Iconium. These Flood Amyths are spread through the world, thus suggesting
there was actually a universal flood.
B. "that they went both together into the synagogue of the Jew9s, and so
spake, that a great multitude both of the Jews and also of the Greeks believed."
1. Iconium seems to be a carbon copy of what happened in Antioch.
C. "But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles, and made their minds
evil affected against the brethren."
2. Paul and Barnabas' message was tremendously appealing to the masses
of Gentiles, and also to many Jews who were sincerely searching for truth.
3. What would come next follows the earlier events in Antioch of Pisidia.
1. Most commentators believe that this is a group of Jewish
leaders from Antioch of Pisidia which followed Paul and Barnabas. While
it is true that Jews later did follow the disciples to cause them harm
and persecute them, the text does not give any indication that this was
the case here.
D. "Long time therefore abode they speaking boldly in the Lord, which gave
testimony unto the word of his grace, and granted signs and wonders to
be done by their hands."
2. The pattern seems to be the same. Paul and Barnabas were asked to
speak at the local synagoge. Their message struck a cord with many in the
city. It stirred opposition from those who were hardhearted or were jealous
of Paul and Barnabas' success. Conflict followed.
1. Simple opposition did not chase Paul and Barnabas away.
They continued to preach strongly and authoritatively.
E. "But the multitude of the city was divided: and part held with the Jews,
and part with the apostles."
a. We should all ask God for boldness in presenting the gospel
of Christ. See Acts 4:29, Philippians 1:20.
2. Notice that God confirmed Paul and Barnabas' message through the miracles
done by their hands. This is the purpose of miracles, to confirm the message
a. Mark 16:17-20; Hebrews 2:1-3; 1 Corinthians 1:5-7
1. The Gentiles did not have the Scriptures to either confirm
or deny Paul and Barnabas= preaching. It was quite natural that the unbelieving
Jews would be able to sway some to their side. These unbelieving Jews were
not interested in the Gentiles, but were using them to oppose Paul.
F. A final thought about belief here.
2. The whole city was in an uproar. A large segment sided with Paul
and Barnabas. Another large segment sided with the unbelieving Jews.
VERSES 5-7 "And when there was an assault made both of the Gentiles,
and also of the Jews with their rulers, to use them despitefully, and to
stone them, They were ware of it, and fled unto Lystra and Derbe, cities
of Lycaonia, and unto the region that lieth round about: And there they
preached the gospel."
1. Faith-only proponents say that the multitude believing here
was faith only. But it is significant that the word for unbelief in verse
two has the original language of Adisobedient.@ This is how the ASV translates
it. Thus disobedience is contrasted to belief.
A. "And when there was an assault made both of the Gentiles,
and also of the Jews with their rulers, to use them despitefully, and to
VERSES 8-10 "And there sat a certain man at Lystra, impotent in his
feet, being a cripple from his mother's womb, who never had walked: The
same heard Paul speak: who stedfastly beholding him, and perceiving that
he had faith to be healed, Said with a loud voice, Stand upright on thy
feet. And he leaped and walked."
1. Paul and Barnabas would never stir up those who followed
their teaching to attack the Jewish leaders. The unbelieving Jews, however,
how no such scruples. They actively influenced their adherants to stone
Paul and Barnabas.
B. "Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia"
2. Paul and Barnabas, perhaps being warned by some privy to the plot,
became aware of the deadly plot and left to preach in a new area.
3. This was not a cowardly act but simply a desire to continue preaching.
The church in Iconium had been planted. It would grow on its own. Paul
and Barnabas had more work to do in other places.
1. LYSTRA (Lihs' truh) A city in south central Asia Minor and
an important Lycaonian center. According to Acts 16:1, it probably was
the home of young Timothy, one of Paul's companions in the ministry. Paul's
healing of a crippled man at Lystra (Acts 14:8-10) caused the inhabitants
to revere him as a god. Many believed his preaching but were turned against
the missionary by Judaizers from Antioch and Iconium. Paul was dragged
out of Lystra, stoned, and left for dead. He revived and later went back
to the city to lend strength to the new Christians. Lystra was about 20
miles due south of Iconium.
2. DERBE (Dehr' bih) Important city in region of Lycaonia in province
of Galatia in Asia minor. It is apparently near modern Kerti Huyuk. The
residents of Derbe and Lystra spoke a different language from the people
to the north in Iconium. Paul visited Derbe on his first missionary journey
(Acts 14:6), fleeing from Iconium. Persecution in Lystra led to a successful
preaching mission in Derbe (14:20-21). On the second journey, Paul returned
to Derbe (Acts 16:1). He apparently visited again on the third journey
(18:23). Paul's fellow minister Gaius was from Derbe (20:4). Derbe is about
45 miles southeast of Lystra.
3. "And there they preached the gospel."
a. This short passage is significant to show that opposition
did not deter Paul and Barnabas from preaching the gospel. It should never
deter us either.
b. In Lystra we read of the first time when Paul and Barnabas preached
outside of a synagogue to begin a work in a particular city. It is possible
that Lystra did not have a synagogue, since it was necessary for six households
headed by a male to organize a synagogue. It is also possible that Paul
and Barnabas was "going to the Gentiles" like they promised earlier.
c. The preaching that took place in Lystra seems to take place in a
public place, perhaps near a city gate, open market, or a place patterned
on the Forum in Rome.
A. "And there sat a certain man at Lystra, impotent in his
feet, being a cripple from his mother's womb, who never had walked"
1. This man, who was among those in the gathered crowd, had
been a cripple all his life. This is an important piece of information.
It explains part of the purpose in Paul healing him, and the assembly's
reaction to the healing.
2. There are some similarites with Peter's healing of the man
at the Beautiful in Acts chapter three, but there are also some differences.
a. In chapter three the man was not spoken of as having any
faith, here it was prominently mentioned.
b. In chapter three the man was begging alms, here he was listening
c. In chapter three them healing took place before preaching, here it
seems to have taken place after Paul's preaching.
d. In chapter three Peter mentions about his poverty, here nothing is
said about Paul and Barnabas being poor.
B. "The same heard Paul speak: who stedfastly beholding him,
and perceiving that he had faith to be healed..."
VERSES 11-13 "And when the people saw what Paul had done, they lifted
up their voices, saying in the speech of Lycaonia, The gods are come down
to us in the likeness of men. And they called Barnabas, Jupiter; and Paul,
Mercurius, because he was the chief speaker. (And Barnabas they called
Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the chief speaker. NKJV ) Then
the priest of Jupiter, which was before their city, brought oxen and garlands
unto the gates, and would have done sacrifice with the people."
1. While Paul was preaching, he must have spoken concerning
Jesus and His miracles to show that God had give evidence to prove His
Sonship. See Acts 2:22.
2. During his message Paul must have seen that this crippled man was
following along closely and gave all indications of believing Paul's message.
3. Here would be the confirmation that Paul's message would need for
a city which had no faith in the Hebrew Scriptures and likely knew nothing
4. Paul's assessment of the man was accurate, he lept to his feet. His
faith must have been great, to try to do something that he had never done
A. "And when the people saw what Paul had done..."
1. This healing caused a joyous uproar among those gathered
there. They could see that a genuine miracle had taken place.
B. "The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men..."
2. It is likely that Paul had been preaching in Greek, the language
almost universally understood in all the Roman Empire. But the people naturally
reverted to the native tongue when they began to shot and cheer. It is
thus for this reason that Paul and Barnabas seem to not grasp what was
transpiring at first.
1. Having been believers in the Greek pantheon of gods the
Lyconians naturally assumed that it was some of the gods who had come down
and performed this great miracle.
2. While those around the man had heard the preaching of the Gospel,
it was possible that some farther away only saw the man leaping and jumping
and made the false assumption that the gods had intervened.
3. Barnabas was likely looked upon as being quiet stately. He was mistaken
to be Zeus, the father of the gods. Paul naturally was mistaken to be Hermes,
the messanger of the gods, since he seems to have done most of the speaking.
a. It is interesting that the KJV and ASV makes an obvious
mistake here by using Jupiter and Mercury, instead of Zeus and Hermes.
Brother Coffman speculates that the earlier translators used this to cover
up what they thought to be a mistake by Luke. They possibly thought that
Zeus and Hermes could not possibly be used here. But archeology again confirms
the inspired record. Evidence has been unearthed around ancient Lyconia
that shows that Zeus was their patron god and the Hermes was his protégé.
This seems to be the only explanation for why such an obvious mistake was
made by both the KJV and ASV translators.
C. "Then the priest of Jupiter, which was before their city,
brought oxen and garlands unto the gates, and would have done sacrifice
with the people."
VERSES 14-18 "Which when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of,
they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out, And saying,
Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you,
and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living
God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are
therein: Who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways.
Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good,
and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts
with food and gladness. And with these sayings scarce restrained they the
people, that they had not done sacrifice unto them."
1. Again the original text, along with most modern versions,
say "priest of Zeus."
2. It is quite natural that the priest of Zeus would come forward to
offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving for the gods coming down to be among
them. He was going to offer some oxen to the gates of the city to Paul
A. "Which when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of, they
rent their clothes..."
VERSES 19-21 "And there came thither certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium,
who persuaded the people, and, having stoned Paul, drew him out of the
city, supposing he had been dead. 20) Howbeit, as the disciples stood round
about him, he rose up, and came into the city: and the next day he departed
with Barnabas to Derbe. 21) And when they had preached the gospel to that
city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium,
1. As soon as Paul and Barnabas could piece together what was
happening they immediately set out to clear up any misconception that the
people of Lystra had about them and the miracle they performed.
B. "We also are men of like passions with you...."
2. They tore their clothes (a sign of deep emotion) and ran into the
crowd trying to stop them from offering sacrifice to them.
1. Paul declared that he and Barnabas were men just like the
2. He told them that their preaching was designed to turn them from
idolatry to the worship of the one living God.
3. Paul makes the same arguments that will be repeated in Acts 17 to
the Greek philosophers and in Romans chapter one.
a. God had allowed the Gentile nations continue serving idols
in years past, but was never approving.
4. Finally Panl and Barnabas were able to convince them not to offer sacrifice
b. He had left plenty of evidence of His presence in nature.
A. "And there came thither certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium..."
1. Those Jews who had stirred up trouble among the Gentiles
before now arrived in Lystra to continue to cause problems for Paul and
B. "And having stoned Paul...."
2. A mob can be very fickle. A short time later they were convince that
Paul and Barnabas were evil. It is a good possibility that the leaders
of the mob, along with the priests of Zeus and Hermes were happy to channel
their feeling of embarrasment into anger at Paul and Barnabas.
1. The hand of the Jews is apparent in this. Although it is
likely that that they stood back and let the Gentiles do their deadly work
it is certain that they suggested the means of execution.
VERSES 22-23 "Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them
to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter
into the kingdom of God. 23) And when they had ordained them elders in
every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord,
on whom they believed."
2. Paul was taken out for dead from the city and rudely cast
down to decompose as any animal carcase would. But he was not dead. While
the brethren were standing around him weeping (Paul and Barnabas= preaching
had not been entirely in vain) he stood on his feet and went back into
the same city from whence he had been so savagely ejected. Their can be
little doubt that Paul was miraculously aided by God in recovering his
strength so quickly. He had recovered so quickly that he was able to depart
with Barnabas to Derbe, a trip of over 30 miles)
C. "And when they had preached the gospel to that city..."
3. We are told nothing about why Barnabas did not receive the same fate
as Paul. Quite possibly the brethren were able to shelter him before the
mob could turn their attention on him. Nothing is known for sure.
1. The savage stoning that Paul had received in Lystra did
not discourage the two gospel preachers. They were found next in Derbe
preaching the gospel to the inhabitants there.
2. We are not told details of their work, other than that is was successful
in converting a number of the residents to Christ.
3. They concluded their work in these central cities by returning the
way they came, visiting the brethren in all the towns where they had worked.
This shows the fearlessness of Paul and Barnabas. They had been attacked
and plotted against everywhere they went, but were not afraid to go back
to advance the cause of Christ.
A. "Confirming the souls of the disciples..."
1. Paul and Barnabas sought to strengthen the brethren. They
would be departing soon, leaving them alone to face idolatry and the hateful
enemies among the Jews.
B. "that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God."
2. Paul had been close to his home town of Tarsus while he was in Derbe.
Nothing is stated of a visit by Paul. It is possible that he did. But one
thing is certain. He and Barnabas did not allow the relative peace in Derbe,
or the nearness of Paul's home, to keep them from neccessary work. The
church in the other cities needed to be strengthened and leadership appointed.
3. The message they carried to the brethren was familar to Barnabas.
It preached a very similar message to the brethren of the great Antioch
church some years earlier. See Acts 11:23ff.
1. There would be certain persecution for the brethren.
a. See 2 Timothy 3:12
2. The kingdom here is spoken of in the future sense - the eternal kingdom
b. Paul was not speaking of any command that Christians endure persecution,
rather stating that their very profession would cause them to suffer persecution.
See John 15:19-20.
a. See 2 Peter 1:11 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 and 2 Timothy 4:18.
b. It is certainly true that the kingdom is in existence today (Colossians
1:5 and Hebrews 12:28).
c. This persecution would strengthen them and prepare them for eternity.
See 1 Thessalonians 1:5.
C. "And when they had ordained them elders in every church"
1. Paul and Barnabas desired that these church which they had
begun would be able to function on their own without their constant supervision.
This would take leadership.
2. The text does not say how Paul and Barnabas chose these elders but
several points should be noted.
a. From the very beginning there were always a purality of
elders involved. There was never elderships with only one elder in New
Testament times. See Acts 11:30; 16:4; 20:17 and Philippians 1:1.
b. This passage does not tell us how Paul and Barnabas ordained the
elders. Although the greek word cheirotoneo has it's root meaning
"to vote, have a show of hands" it also has a meaning of select or appoint.
The one thing we can be sure of is that Paul and Barnabas appointed in
accordance to the qualification of elders that Paul spelled out to Timothy
c. It is inconceivable that Paul and Barnabas left the selection
to a Ashow of hands@ for these young Christians. At the very least he would
have identified those whom were qualified to the congregation. There is
no set pattern in the New Testament for the selection of Elders. As long
as the qualifications are followed and biblical principles are observed,
any selection process that would be chosen would be approved. The guideline
in such matters is 1 Corinthians 14:40.
3. Concerning how there would be men qualified in the various congregations
so soon after their beginning McGarvey says, "If any one is surprised that
men were found in these newly founded congregations possessed of the high
qualifications for the office laid down by Paul in his epistles to Titus
and Timothy, he should remember that although these disciples had been
but a comparatively short time in the church, many of them were, in character
and knowledge of the Scriptures, the ripest fruits of the Jewish synagogue;
and they needed only the additional knowledge which the gospel brought,
in order to be models of wisdom and piety for the churches. They were not
'novices' (I. Tim. 3:6) in the sense of being newly turned away from wickedness.
Cornelius the centurion might represent the class, as respects Gen-tile
converts, and Nathaniel those brought in from the Jews."
D. "and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the
Lord, on whom they believed."
VERSES 24-25 "And after they had passed throughout Pisidia, they came
to Pamphylia. 25) And when they had preached the word in Perga, they went
down into Attalia:"
1. Fasting was used as a tool to clear one's mind of all worldly
things so that the person could draw closer to God in prayer. It was never
commanded for Christians, but assumed that Chritians in the first century
would do such.
a. It was regulated by our Lord.
2. After prayers and encouragement Paul and Barnabas left the brethren
and began the return trip to Antioch of Syria.
b. He tells us that when we fast, to not do it for show or to demonstrate
how spiritual we are. A proper fast would be one that would never be known
by anyone but and God. See Matthew 6:16-18.
c. On the other hand, it was said that Jesus' disciples did not fast.
See Mark 2:18-20.
d. The disciples did it in New Testament times to clear their minds
and center them on spiritual matters. See Acts 13:2-3.
A. "And after they had passed throughout Pisidia..."
VERSES 26-28 "And thence sailed to Antioch, from whence they had been
recommended to the grace of God for the work which they fulfilled. 27)
And when they were come, and had gathered the church together, they rehearsed
all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith
unto the Gentiles. 28) And there they abode long time with the disciples."
1. Paul and Barnabas began to retrace their steps to return
to Antioch of Syria.
B. "And when they had preached the word in Perga, they went down into Attalia:"
2. Everywhere they went they taught the lost and sought to strengthen
3. Chronologists estimate that Paul and Barnabas passed through Perga
during the summer of a.d. 48. DeWelt says that Paul and Barnabas now preached
in Perga because when they had first arrived it was the summer when the
bulk of the city was in the mountains due to the stiffling summer heat.
1. It is quite possible that Paul and Barnabas had done no
preaching in Perge when the arrived. Now they preached the gospel before
their return to Antioch.
2. We are not told concerning their success. After some work there,
they passed the short distance to the port of Attalia, since they had been
unable to secure a boat at Perga for the short trip home to Antioch.
A. "And thence sailed to Antioch..."
1. Antioch of Syria was the homeport for Paul and Barnabas.
It was the congregation that sent them out on their journey after the Holy
Spirit signaled them out.
B. "And when they were come, and had gathered the church together, they
rehearsed all that God had done with them"
2. We are told that they accomplished all that the Lord had desired
them to do.
1. It is possible that the only news the Antioch brethren had
heard of the work of Paul and Barnabas was the short report of John Mark
on his return. There would be a thousand question for them.
C. "how he had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles."
2. God had done the work with them. They credited the power of God for
everything that was accomplished.
1. God had providentially openned a door of opportunity for
the preaching of the gospel to the Gentiles. This could be seen by the
first results of the preaching of Paul and Barnabas.
D. "And there they abode long time with the disciples."
2. Concerning God opening doors see Colossians 4:3 and Revelation 3:8.
1. We are not told how long Paul and Barnabas stayed with the
Antioch or what they did. Both would be a matter of conjecture.
2. It is likely that they spent some time in rest and recuperation from
the grueling labor that they had engaged in. It is also likely that they
spent time in teaching and preaching, and in upbuilding the brethren in
3. Coffman says that the time period for the missionary journey and
the stay in Antioch would likely be A.D. 45 to A.D. 50, with a couple of
years devoted to the returning work in Antioch of Syria.
4. They had covered some 1300 miles journey on their mission. Eight
hundred of it was over rough terrain and in much danger.
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