"Now it happened in Iconium that they went together to the synagogue of the Jews, and so spoke that a great multitude both of the Jews and of the Greeks believed. But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brethren. Therefore they stayed there a long time, speaking boldly in the Lord, who was bearing witness to the word of His grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands. But the multitude of the city was divided: part sided with the Jews, and part with the apostles. And when a violent attempt was made by both the Gentiles and Jews, with their rulers, to abuse and stone them, they became aware of it and fled to Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and to the surrounding region. And they were preaching the gospel there.
Idolatry at Lystra
And in Lystra a certain man without strength in his feet was sitting, a cripple from his mother's womb, who had never walked. This man heard Paul speaking. Paul, observing him intently and seeing that he had faith to be healed, said with a loud voice, "Stand up straight on your feet!" And he leaped and walked. Now when the people saw what Paul had done, they raised their voices, saying in the Lycaonian language, "The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!" And Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the chief speaker. the priest of Zeus, whose temple was in front of their city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates, intending to sacrifice with the multitudes.
But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard this, they tore their clothes and ran in among the multitude, crying out and saying, "Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men with the same nature as you, and preach to you that you should turn from these useless things to the living God, who made the heaven, the earth, the sea, and all things that are in them, who in bygone generations allowed all nations to walk in their own ways. Nevertheless He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good, gave us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness." And with these sayings they could scarcely restrain the multitudes from sacrificing to them.
Stoning, Escape to Derbe
Then Jews from Antioch and Iconium came there; and having persuaded the multitudes, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead. However, when the disciples gathered around him, he rose up and went into the city. And the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe.
Introduction: Expelled from Antioch of Pisidia…Preaching the Gospel to the Gentiles
In Chapter 13, Paul and Barnabas visited a Jewish Synagogue in Antioch of Pisidia. When asked to share words of encouragement to the congregation, Paul took this time to share the history of their people and the Gospel (Good News) that Jesus Christ is the Messiah and the one that was rejected by the Jewish forefathers and the Jewish leaders of Paul’s day. At first, after hearing that Jesus Christ was the only way they could be justified in the sight of God and not the Law of Moses, many of the Jews and religious proselytes believed the Gospel and asked Paul and Barnabas to return the next Sabbath. Paul and Barnabas in response persuaded or strongly encouraged them to continue in the grace of God. What a difference a week makes!
The very next Sabbath, when nearly the whole city came to hear the Word of God, the same Jews who heard the Word gladly last week now have a totally different attitude. The Scriptures said in Acts 13:44-52: they were filled with envy; and contradicting and blaspheming, they opposed the things spoken by Paul. Then Paul and Barnabas grew bold and said, "It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles. For so the Lord has commanded us: 'I have set you as a light to the Gentiles that you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth.”The people’s “end response” in Antioch of Pisidia was 2-fold:
The Gentile were glad and glorified the WORD of the Lord because all of them who believed that Jesus is the Messiah were now saved and had eternal life and instantly became disciples and witnesses and began to spread the WORD all throughout the region.
But the Jews, now indignant and becoming rude and violent incited the God-fearing women of high standing and the leading men of the city. They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region. Paul and Barnabas responded by shaking the dust off their feet and left Antioch and travel to their next destination: Iconium.
Paul and Barnabas’ Ministry in Iconium (verses 1-6)
The preaching of the gospel produced “converts” and “division”.
A great multitude of Jews and Greeks believed in the synagogue…but a great number of unbelieving Jews stirred up a group of Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brethren.
This spurred Paul and Barnabas to stay in Iconium a long time and because they had been endowed with boldness, and they had great success in people both Jews and Greeks accepting Jesus Christ, they spoke about and in the Lord, trusting Him in the midst of persecution and opposition.
Note: Usually when God had given you victory in your work for HIM, opposition from among the ranks surely does come.
Successful revival of religion often produces excitement (riots) by the bad passions from those who oppose. Enemies of the truth will always form parties, cliques and then organize opposition. It’s not uncommon for such parties to be formed. (even from members inside the church) The reason for the opposition is never in Christianity. The fault always lie with those who form a party against the Christian religion, and who becomes haters and the opposition.
The city was now spiritually and literally divided: The Greeks and Jews. Some of the people from the city sided with the Jews and their religious dogmas. (The keeping of the Mosaic Law down to the rituals and ceremonies) and the other part of the city sided with the Apostles.
The opposition of Gentiles and Jewish leaders became thugnatious and aggressive toward Paul and Barnabas. They began to press forward toward them and sought to stone them and accuse them as blasphemers. Paul and Barnabas got word of the impending opposition and left Iconium and led to Derbe, Lystra, and Lycaonia and the adjacent region in the area. (vs. 6)
Ministry in Asia Minor: Healed A Crippled man Healed… A new church started (verses 7-10)Note: Leaving Iconium, Paul and Barnabas continued to preach the Gospel. The Jewish leaders could not bear to know that the Gentiles shared “equal status in Christ, in Chapter 13. In this chapter, the Jews sought to discredit them and their preaching. The plot was to accuse them of seditin and have them stoned. thus, they blasphemed the name of Jesus Christ and denounced Christianity as a whole.
Healing: a man with “impotent” feet and establishing a new church
The “tale” of the different crowds we minister to
At Iconium the citizen consisted of Greeks, a powerful Jewish colony, Roman officials, and a few natives of the country.
In Lystra and Derbe, the citizenship were mainly rude idolaters who were natives. The reception you will get in your ministry depends upon the type of crowd you are ministering to.
In Lystra a certain man sat in the crowd, with impotent feet born of this condition from birth and never had ever walked. The man heard Paul speak: Paul using the gift of discernment observed the man for a period of time and concluded the man had faith enough that he could be healed. Paul, getting the man’s attention said with a loud voice: Stand upright on your feet. The man leaped (jumped up) and walked.
The people’s “idolatry practices” came forth in response to the healing of the crippled man. (verses 11-18)
First the people responded verbally: "The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men"
Then, they gave Paul and Barnabas names of 2 of the pagan gods they worshipped . They called Barnabas Jupiter. They called Paul Mercury, because Paul was the primary speaker who share the Gospel and under the anointing and direction of the Holy Ghost directed the man to stand up and receive his healing.
Then the priest of Jupiter prepared to do a sacrifice in behalf of Paul and Barnabas because they believed they were actually 2 of the gods they worshipped and thought they had become flesh (human) before them.
Paul and Barnabas both in response to the oblations rented (tore their clothes literally) ran out among the people and Cried out the following things:
Why are you doing these things? We are men just like you.
The reason we are here in the first place is to preach the truth of Jesus Christ to you in order that you will see the error of your ways and denounce these vanities, the worship of idol gods and turn to the Living God: the one who made heaven, earth, the sea, and all things that are were created.
Paul then gives these words of "reflective history":There was a time when God tolerated ignorance like this, but now HE demands that man repent. The following paragraph is a
summary concerning the History of Man in His Relationship to God: (Early History)
There was a time in the early history of man as God was multiplying man over the face of the earth when the Bible said God “winked” at behavior of mankind in the time of “ignorance”. This was a long period when people were ignorant of the true God, and when they worshipped stocks and stones. God for His own reasons looked pass those times without punishing them, as if he did not see them. He, in His infinite wisdom allowed them to walk in ignorance in order that there might be a fair experiment to show what people would do if left to their own devices and decision making and to show and how much necessity there was for a revelation to instruct them in the true knowledge of God. We are not to suppose that God regarded idolatry as innocent, or the crimes and vices to which idolatry led to as of no importance; but their ignorance was a mitigating circumstance, and he allowed the nations to live without coming forth in direct judgment against them, even thou had He done so, His judgments would be just as right and just.
But Now in Modern Times: Jesus Commanded By the Gospel of
(Luke 24:44-48) “All Men Must Repent”
He said to them, "This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms." Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, "This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things”.
“All Men Must Repent”!
This included the Jewish race, who had been favored with special privileges, as well as all nations. The barrier was broken down, and the call to repentance was sent abroad into all the earth. All men are required to exercise sorrow for their sins, and to forsake them , that is completely turn away from that sinful life .
God commands all people to repent. Why?
That it is their duty to do it. There is no higher obligation than to obey the command of God.
It can be done. God would not command us to repent if it wasn’t possible to do so.
What God requires is binding on everybody. This includes the rich, the learned, the great, the frivilous, are as much bound as the beggar and the slave.
It’s imperative that repentance must be done, or the soul of the unrepentant is lost. It is not safe to neglect a plain Law of God. It will not be well to die reflecting that we have all our life despised his commands.
We should share the gospel to the pagans in every nation. God calls on the nations to repent, and to be saved. It is the duty of Christians to make known to them the command, and to invite them to the blessings of pardon and heaven. Paul continued:
Nevertheless He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good gave us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness."
Paul said even though God did not in those times give any revelations to them, He did show great evidence of goodness towards them in the following manner:
Rain from heaven.
Rain is one of the evidences of the goodness of God. Man could not cause it; and without it, regulated at proper intervals of time and in proper quantities, the earth would soon be one wide scene of desolation. The falling of rain is regulated by laws which we cannot trace. Rain comes forth as God commands it to do so.
Fruitful seasons. Seasons when the earth produces abundance. Fruitful seasons are a striking proof of the divine goodness, so much so that so few seasons are unfruitful. The earth yields her increase; the labors of the farmer are crowned with success; and the goodness of God demands the expressions of praise. God does not forget his ancient covenant, even though man tends to forget it.
God’s Ancient Covenant:
"As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease." (Genesis 8:22)
Filling our Hearts with Food.
Nourishment from the WORD of God, the "Living bread".
Filling Us with Gladness.
That is filling us with Joy and comfort. This means the comfort that comes from supplying all of our constantly returning needs. This is proof of “ever watchful” goodness. It is an immediate demonstration that there is a God, and that he is good. Think about it! It would be easy for God to withdraw these blessings, and leave us destitute. If God chose to deviate single word, or do a single deviation from the fullness of His benevolence, it would alter all these comforts, and leave us to lamentation, woe, and death,
“And with these sayings they could scarcely restrain the multitudes from sacrificing to them”. (vs.18)
Despite all that Paul and Barnabas said to turn the hearts of the people of Lystra from idolatry, they were more convinced that their gods had come too them in human form and were more zealous to honor them in their manner.
Persuaded by Outsiders: Paul Stoned (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”
The Jews who rejected Paul and Barnabas in Iconium and Antioch pursued them from their cities and followed them into Lystra. They spoke harshly against the Apostles and accused them of being imposters and incited the people of Lystra to rage against them. They stoned Paul as a result of this. Afterwards, they drug Paul out of the city and left him thinking that he was dead. This is a great example of how fickle popularity is.
They now have stoned the very one that they were ready to worship as a god. Just before they were ready to adore him; now they sought to put him to death. Nothing is more fickle than popular favor. Remember: on Palm Sunday, they revered Jesus as He rode into Jerusalem on a colt, throwing palm branches at His feet and cried “Hosanna”, “Hosanna”. Five days later, most of the same crowd that cried Hosanna on that Sunday also cried out “crucify HIM”.
Note: Bad people will often travel further to do evil than good people will travel to do good. Wicked people often show more zeal in opposing the gospel than professed Christians do in advancing the gospel. We would benefit greatly if we had the same fervency in evangelism as the wicked have in opposing it. Another way of putting it is just as the wicked are hell bent to do their evil, the righteous should be heaven bound to do the will of God.
Dr. William Edward Boddie