The preaching of Paul and Barnabas drew large multitudes in Antioch. But when the Jews saw that the apostles freely reached out to the Gentiles, they became jealous and expelled them from their region. Then the apostles left Antioch and came to Lycaonia and preached in its cities as well as its surrounding regions. As in Antioch, the gospel message led many to the Lord but also resulted in much persecution. After preaching in various cities, enduring the oppositions, and strengthening the faith of the new converts, Paul and Barnabas completed the work they had been sent out to do and returned to the church in Antioch.
Did You Know...?
1. Iconium (14:1): “the modern Konieh, was the capital of Lycaonia, in Asia Minor. It was a large and rich city, 120 miles north from the Mediterranean Sea, at the foot of the Taurus mountains, and on the great line of communication between Ephesus and the western coast of the peninsula on one side, and Tarsus, Antioch and the Euphrates on the other.”
2. Lystra (14:6) was “a town of Lycaonia, in Asia Minor, in a wild district and among a rude population.” [ref]
3. Derbe (14:6): “a small town on the eastern part of the upland plain of Lycaonia, about 20 miles from Lystra.” [ref]
4. Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul, Hermes (14:12): Zeus was the god of gods in Greek mythology (also called Jupiter) and Hermes (or mercury) was the god of eloquence and the messenger of the gods. Perhaps it was Barnabas’ stately stature that earned him the name of Zeus, whereas Paul, the more active and outspoken of the two, was called Hermes.
- Ministry at Iconium (14:1-6)
- Ministry at Lystra (14:6-20)
- Preaching in Lystra (14:7)
- Healing a lame man (14:8-10)
- The people’s attempt to worship Paul and Barnabas (14:11-18)
- The multitudes stoned Paul (14:19-20)
- Ministry at Derbe (14:20-21)
- Strengthening the Disciples in Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch (14:21-24)
- Preaching in Perga (14:25)
- Returning to Antioch (14:26-28)
What were the responses to the gospel in Iconium?Hide Answer
The multitude was divided. While many Jews and Greeks believed, the unbelieving Jews stirred up some Gentiles and poisoned their minds.
The Lord granted signs and wonders to be done by the apostles’ hands (3). What is the importance of signs and wonders in our preaching?Hide Answer
Through signs and wonders, God bears witness to the word of His grace (3). God often uses miraculous deeds to confirm the truth of the gospel message and to lead people to the faith (Mk 16:20; Acts 8:6; 13:12; 19:11-20; Rom 15:18-19).
What forced Paul and Barnabas to leave Iconium?Hide Answer
Paul and Barnabas became aware of the opponents’ attempt to abuse and stone them, they fled to nearby cities.
What miracle did Paul perform in Lystra?Hide Answer
He healed a crippled man who was lame from birth.
What was the precondition that led to this man’s healing?Hide Answer
He heard Paul’s preaching and had faith in the Lord (9).
Compare the two completely opposite reactions from the multitudes (11-13 and 19).Hide Answer
One moment, they considered Paul and Barnabas to be gods and wanted to sacrifice to them. The next moment, they were persuaded by the unbelieving Jews and stoned Paul.
What were the devil’s tactics behind these?Hide Answer
The devil first tried to corrupt the apostles by making the people worship them as gods. If the apostles had not been watchful and humble, they would have accepted the people’s worship and sinned against God by robbing Him of His glory. When this “soft” tactic did not work, the devil used the “hard” tactic by making the people stone Paul and forcing the apostles to leave the city.
How does the devil also often use these two tactics against us?Hide Answer
Sometimes, he tempts us and hopes to make us fall into sin. Other times, he uses unbelievers who are callous in their hearts to oppose our work or even persecute us.
How did the apostles react when the multitudes wanted to make them gods?Hide Answer
Being greatly distressed by the actions of the multitudes, the apostles tore their clothes and ran in among the multitudes. They tried all they could to dissuade and restrain the multitudes from sacrificing to them.
What was the main point of Paul’s message in 15-17?Hide Answer
We must turn from useless idols to the living God, who is the Maker and Provider of all things.
Contrast the multitudes with the man who was healed with respect to their response to the gospel.Hide Answer
The crippled man listened to Paul’s preaching and accepted the gospel with faith. On the contrary, the multitudes were still inclined to idol worship despite the apostles’ preaching. They simply marveled at the miracle, but their hearts were unchanged. Since they did not accept the truth in their hearts, upon the persuasion of the unbelieving Jews, these adorers of the apostles quickly turned into persecutors and violent criminals.
What did Paul and Barnabas do when they returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch?Hide Answer
1. They strengthened the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith (22).
2. They appointed elders in every church, prayed with fasting, and commended the believers to the Lord (23).
What can ministers and the church today learn from this?Hide Answer
Conversion is not the completion of a preacher’s job. It is of utmost importance that we care for the souls of the new converts and build up their faith. It would be a great pity if we win many converts only to lose them quickly. Therefore, after a person becomes a believer, it is the preacher’s and the church’s responsibility to teach him the word of God and exhort him to grow in the Lord. When a new church is planted, elders should also be appointed to look after the well-being of the congregation. Finally, we need to pray with fasting for the new believers and ask the Lord to personally watch over their souls. Only if we pay careful attention to the soul of every convert can we minimize the drifting away of believers.
What are the responsibilities of elders in the church?Hide Answer
1. He is to oversee, watch over, and set an example for the flock of God (Acts 20:28; 1Pet 5:1-3; cf. 1Tim 3:5)
2. He is to teach and exhort by sound doctrine as well as convict those who contradict (1Tim 3:2; Tit 1:9).
3. He is to direct the affairs of the church (1Tim 5:17).
What important truth did Paul and Barnabas exhort the believers with?Hide Answer
“We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God” (14:22). Being a citizen of God’s kingdom involves many trials and difficulties.
How can this truth help you in your faith?Hide Answer
It helps us understand that tribulations are a necessary part of our walk of faith. With this understanding, we would not be caught by surprise or be disheartened when we face tribulations (1Thess 3:3; 1Pet 4:12).
This truth also encourages us that tribulations cannot defeat us because they are part of the process of entering God’s kingdom. Since our brothers throughout the world are undergoing the sufferings for their faith, and since many saints before us had overcome tribulations, we know that we are not alone (Heb 12:1-4; 1Pet 5:9). By the Lord’s help, we can also be victorious.
Verses 23 and 26 both speak of “commending to.” a. What does it mean to commend believers to the Lord? b. What does it mean for the church to commend the workers of God to God’s grace? c. What lessons can we glean from these examples?Hide Answer
a. To commend believers to the Lord means entrusting them to the Lord’s care.
b. To commend the workers of God to God’s grace means entrusting them as well as their ministry to God’s blessing and guidance.
c. Since the Lord is the Shepherd and Overseer of our soul (1Pet 2:25) and we are God’s workmanship created in Christ (Eph 2:10), the Lord is the Ultimate guardian of our spiritual well-being. Thus, in addition to faithfully and diligently teaching the believers, we need to ask the Lord to help them grow and watch over their soul.
By the same token, while the church embarks on different ministries, we have to trust God and seek His grace every step of the way. We plant and water, but it is God who gives the growth (1Cor 3:6). “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman stays awake in vain” (Ps 127:1). Only by God’s grace can we accomplish His good works.
According to verse 27, what was God’s purpose in sending Paul and Barnabas on their missionary journey?Hide Answer
Through their missionary efforts, God opened the door of faith to the Gentiles. It was God’s intention to extend His grace of salvation beyond the Jewish race.