Study No. 16 - Circuit Riding Preachers Chapter 14
Last Study: Paul's and Barnabas' stay in Antioch. 13:46-49
After having a significant response for an unspecified period of time, and having switched to a ministry involving primarily Gentiles, the Jews initiated some form of opposition, expelling them from the area. We are not told what form this expulsion took.
Did they flee from opposition?
Were they forcibly dragged out of the city?
What were they leaving behind when they left? Yes, they left the opposition, persecution and danger, but more than that...Paul and Barnabas are forced to leave behind a brand new group of Christians. They are the church of Antioch, Pisidia. Who will lead them? What parting words of advice could possibly be enough to give these people a good start in Church life.
There is one basic truth that separates us from the world of false religions; it is the truth regarding eternal life and how to get it. In the Old Testament system all people were to look forward to the coming of Messiah and in the New Testament (our present time) we look back to the coming of Jesus as the Messiah.
This would be the ONE basic truth that Paul and Barnabas would emphasize more than anything else.
In this study we find Paul and Barnabas in Iconium, Lystra and Derbe
Iconium 14:1-7 Homework?
Here they used an approach that has now become their custom; they enter a synagogue and speak to both Jews and Gentiles and have remarkable results.
We are not told how they accomplish this, but the Jews are able to turn the Gentiles against Paul and Barnabas.
In an earlier situation we read the words that the Gentiles heard them gladly. It leaves us wondering what form of logical argument the Jews used to accomplish this.
In Antioch opposition or persecution forced them to leave. In this case we are told that because of opposition they stayed. (v3)
While in Antioch we read of no signs and wonders having been performed by Paul and Barnabas. Here in Iconium God 'grants' this power to them.
When opposition escalates to threat of death they are forced to leave.
Once again we are left wondering what kind of leadership this new church might have.
Next we find the team in the city of Lystra. There is no mention of a synagogue so it is probably safe to assume that they are speaking in an open market.
The signs and wonders done at Iconium were not specified but it is likely they had to do with healing. Here at Lystra a specific healing takes place that produces an amazing result. The healing of this lane man is reminiscent of the first healing at the temple gate with Peter and John.
This man had faith to be healed. Is faith always required?
Apparently not always. Consider the case of the Lame man healed at the temple gate (Acts 3:1-10).
As Paul preached to these people likely in an open market, he no doubt spoke about the power of God . He may have seen something in this man's face that caused him to think he had faith.
And seeing the look on his face Paul calls out to him with a loud voice.
What happens next is rather sad.
First we have an overwhelming response, an over reaction. The people begin to call Barnabas and Paul ‘gods’.
Paul restrains them. But then the Jews from Iconium AND Antioch, the ones who tried to have them stoned earlier, the ones from whom they had recently fled, came and ‘poisoned’ their minds like they did in Iconium. That is, they convinced the people that Paul and Barnabas were evil and needed to be killed.
Paul is stoned and left for dead. This is the only account in Scripture that Paul was stoned. He was the one who authorized the stoning of Steven.
For him to be able to travel the very next day indicates some kind of miracle. (19-21a)
Derbe is the next city where a church is planted. How long were Paul and Barnabas there?
Next they go back to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch ... why? To confirm or strengthen. (22)
We get a good picture of a church planters heart and method. Do you get a feeling that church life for them was a very serious proposition, more than a fun place to go, for sure.
- They leave a word of truth/warning. “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.”
- They now appoint elders … in each church. At least one in each.
On their return trip they spend some time in Perga, preaching and church planting, confirming and strengthening. How much time we are not told. They board a ship and go home to Antioch in Syria. There is no mention of why they did not go back to the island (Cyprus) and strengthen the churches there. We have no idea if there were many or only the one, when Sergius Paulus became a believer. A possible answer: Since there is no persecution mentioned or need for hasty retreats, it is possible that several churches were planted, nurtured for a while, and then left in the ‘capable’ hands if elders. If this actually were the case one would think that Luke would have made some small mention of it. So we are left in the dark regarding the developing church on the island.
They stay a ‘long time’ in their home church, sharing the good news of what God has been doing in Asia minor for the past year or so.
In the next study it seems that all their work … falls apart. As you look ahead, comment on 15:1 and compare it with what you read in Galatians 1:6-9. By the way … when was the book of Galatians written in relation to what we are studying in Acts?