Today marks two weeks we’ve been reading through Acts! I feel transformed already, don’t you? We’ve learned a lot, and solidified a lot of facts about the disciples and apostles who went to work establishing the early church. Today we read more of Paul and Barnabas spreading the gospel to Jews and Gentiles alike, of Paul’s stoning, and much more. Join me now as we read the 14th chapter of the book of Acts. And in case you missed them, here are the first thirteen:
- The Beginning: Chapter 1
- The Apostles: Chapter 2
- Rise Up & Walk: Chapter 3
- Peter & John: Chapter 4
- Apostle’s Persecution: Chapter 5
- Stephen & the Apostles: Chapter 6
- Stephen Recalls Moses & More: Chapter 7
- Philip & Simon: Chapter 8
- Saul of Tarsus: Chapter 9
- Cornelius & His Household: Chapter 10
- Gentiles Conversion: Chapter 11
- The Imprisonment of Peter: Chapter 12
- Paul in the Synagogue: Chapter 13
Preaching to the Jews & Gentiles
(Vs. 1) 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.
(Vs. 2) But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles, and made their minds evil affected against the brethren.
(Vs. 3) 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.
The preaching that Paul and Barnabas did brought a lot of Jews and Greeks into the faith. But those Jews that still didn’t believe weren’t satisfied to just “not believe” and leave it at that. No, they had to go ahead and turn as many Gentiles away as possible.
The devil is never satisfied with just having someone not believe. He has to go a step further, almost always, in creating a mind that is evil affected towards the church, towards believers, and towards all that is right.
In fact, that’s pretty much what we’re dealing with in this day and age, in part. Many who are blinded to God grace always step out to make a havoc of as much as they can. They may not admit that. They may not even know it themselves. But all of the persecution of the saints is the devil’s doing.
Stonings Were Planned
(Vs. 4) But the multitude of the city was divided: and part held with the Jews, and part with the apostles.
(Vs. 5) 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.
(Vs. 6) They were ware of it, and fled unto Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and unto the region that lieth round about:
(Vs. 7) And there they preached the gospel.
The city was divided. That STILL sounds familiar doesn’t it? Part of them sided with the Jews, and part of them sided with the apostles. But it had been decided that the Jews and rulers would stone them. And so they fled.
And once they got there, they didn’t seek out an ear to listen to what they’d been through. They didn’t stand and give a speech about how the Jews hated them and how it was thwarting their message. And they didn’t complain about what they’d been through or escaped. They simply did ONE thing.
They preached the gospel!
Healing a Lame Man
(Vs. 8) And there sat a certain man at Lystra, impotent in his feet, being a cripple from his mother’s womb, who never had walked:
(Vs. 9) The same heard Paul speak: who stedfastly beholding him, and perceiving that he had faith to be healed,
(Vs. 10) Said with a loud voice, Stand upright on thy feet. And he leaped and walked.
This man they found in Lystra had never walked. Not once in his life. But when he heard Paul speak, his faith was stirred inside him! Paul saw that he had the faith to be healed, and so he told him, loudly, to get up on his feet.
The man did more than that. The Bible says he LEAPED and walked! Without any hesitancy at all. There was no partial healing, and it wasn’t delayed by the space of time, because the people saw it immediately.
Paul & Barnabas: Men or Gods?
(Vs. 11) 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.
Well, they got it partially right. God, the One True God, and King, the Creator Himself, HAD come down in the likeness of man. I think this is actually may have been a mirroring of the innate fleshly desire to serve SOMEONE, and when their own scope of knowledge has nothing, they will latch on to whatever looks supernatural. This is a dangerous road to take, as not all “spirits” are of God.
(Vs. 12) And they called Barnabas, Jupiter; and Paul, Mercurius, because he was the chief speaker.
(Vs. 13) 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.
They even had names for Barnabas and Paul and intended to sacrifice to them as the gods they supposed them to be!
We Also Are Men!
(Vs. 14) Which when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of, they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out,
(Vs. 15) 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:
(Vs. 16) Who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways.
(Vs. 17) 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.
(Vs. 18) And with these sayings scarce restrained they the people, that they had not done sacrifice unto them.
In addition to making it plain that they were not Gods themselves, Paul began to tell them about the living God, and telling a little bit about him. It restrained the people but…
They Stoned Paul
(Vs. 19) 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.
Now, remember, Paul and Barnabas had just LEFT these places because the contention was so bad, they feared for their lives! And here those same ones, that disregarded Paul and Barnabas as far as was possible, following them in to the next city!
Don’t you know that sometimes, trouble will follow you! That’s the way the devil works and it should be no surprise when it comes!
(Vs. 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.
Having been left for dead, Paul lay outside the city. As the apostles gathered round, no doubt fearing the worse, Paul got BACK up, went BACK inside the city, and probably finished his speaking on God’s behalf. then, he and Barnabas went on to the next city. Derbe.
Paul & Barnabas Return to Antioch
(Vs. 21) And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch,
Going back to those same cities where they had just recently been, and considering that the ones that stoned them came from these cities, it must have been hard going back. But that’s exactly what they did. They had a job yet to do.
(Vs. 22) 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.
Paul wanted to remind the new converts of God’s goodness and advised them to keep on believing, even in the face of adversity.
(Vs. 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.
Paul & Barnabas Pass Through Other Cities
(Vs. 24) And after they had passed throughout Pisidia, they came to Pamphylia.
(Vs. 25) And when they had preached the word in Perga, they went down into Attalia:
(Vs. 26) And thence sailed to Antioch, from whence they had been recommended to the grace of God for the work which they fulfilled.
(Vs. 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.
(Vs. 28) And there they abode long time with the disciples.
Turns out, they wound up back in Antioch all over again. And it’s not surprising then, that they wound up staying a long time with them there. Note how they called those new converts “disciples”. Apparently, even new converts were considered disciples then, as they should be now.
Disciple simply means, according to Strong’s G3129, “a pupil, one who follows a teaching”. Interestingly enough, this word is not mentioned in the Old Testament, the Epistles or in any Greek writings.
That means those of us who are still a student of Christ Jesus are also disciples!
Thank you so much for reading! Feel free to discuss your thoughts in the comments below!
Ever In His Service,