Act 14: "These were dramatic times, as the ecclesia was being
formed out of the difficulty and persecution from both Judaizers and the Roman
Pagan Empire. At the same time, those troublous times gave impetus to such as
the apostle Paul, confirming him in his newly-found realization of the identity
of Messiah and the fulfillment of the OT scriptures. Act 14 records the second
of two addresses by the apostle Paul, and introduces his work to the Gentiles as
continuing that of the apostle Peter to the Jews. His first address was given in
Antioch (Pisidia): Act 13:16-41, and his second at Lystra: Act 14:15-17.
Amazingly, the audience were not prepared to accept the logical and clear
contentions of the apostle -- typical of the spirit of the flesh, then and now!
Cp some of the drama of the record: in Act 14:19 Paul feels the impact of
stoning by the Jews; and thereby shared the fellowship of the sufferings of
Stephen, when he, himself, had given his support to those stoning the believer
because of his testimony (Act 7:58)!" (GEM).
V 1: ICONIUM: An ancient city of Asia Minor, now called
Konya, that was visited several times by Paul on his missionary journeys. Named
for the "eikon" -- the famous head of Medusa that was located there. The chief
city of Lycaonia in the Hellenistic period, Iconium lay on the border of the
districts of Phrygia and Lycaonia. It was incorporated into the Roman province
of Galatia in 25 BC. It stood on a level plateau 3,400 feet above sea level,
with 5,000-6,000 foot mountains a few miles to the west.
Paul brought the gospel there on his first missionary journey
(Acts 13:51; 14:1-6,21) and returned there on his second journey (Acts 16:2),
and prob on his third as well (Acts 18:23). It was poss to Iconium as well as
the other cities in that area that Paul wrote his letter to the Galatians to
combat the inroads of the Judaizers.
The apostles prayed for aid in their work of preaching, and
received it. Christ's personal concern and activity in the work of his men: Acts
7:55; 9:4,10; 13:52; 16:7,14; 18:5; 22:17; 23:11.
LYSTRA: A city about 18 miles sw of Iconium in the
Roman province of Galatia where Paul established an ecclesia on his first
missionary journey and which he visited on his second and third journeys (Acts
14:6-20; 16:1-5; 18:23). At Lystra or Derbe Paul met Timothy. Founded as a Roman
colony by Augustus about 6 BC, for the purpose of training and regulating the
mountain tribes on the southern frontier of the province of Galatia, Lystra was
a place of some importance under the early emperors.
DERBE: "A town in Asia Minor in the se corner of
Lycaonia on the main road from Lystra to Laranda. On Paul's first missionary
journey he came to Derbe after having been stoned at Lystra and made many
disciples there (Acts 14:6, 20). Paul passed through Derbe on his second journey
from Cilicia to Lystra (Acts 16:1) and likely visited there on his third
journey. Gaius, one of Paul's disciples and companions, was from Derbe (Acts
"Since Sir William Ramsay identified Derbe with Gudelisin in
1890, that view has been generally accepted. But two inscriptions found in
recent years have demonstrated rather conclusively that Kerti Huyk is the
correct site of ancient Derbe. Gudelisin is about 30 miles west of the modern
Turkish town of Karaman (66 miles by road se of Konya), and Kerti Huyuk is some
15 miles nw of Karaman" (WyE).
WHERE THEY CONTINUED TO PREACH THE GOOD NEWS: Timothy,
a resident of Lystra (Acts 16:1), was converted, becoming Paul's "son in the
faith" (1Ti 1:2; 2Ti 1:2).
HEALED: Gr "sozo", lit "saved" or
Cp similar miracle performed by Peter at Beautiful Gate (Acts
3:8). One Jew and, now, one Gentile!
Although the lame man had NEVER walked (v 8), he did not need
to learn how now!
IN THE LYCAONIAN LANGUAGE: "In their excitement, the
people fell into their native Lycaonian tongue, and Paul and Barnabas could not
understand what was happening. Much of the Mediterranean world was bilingual,
the people speaking the general language, Greek, and also their native dialect"
THE GODS HAVE COME DOWN TO US IN HUMAN FORM: "You
welcomed me as if I were an angel of God, as if I were Christ Jesus himself"
"The two visitors were thought to be two gods. Zeus was the
chief god of the Greek Pantheon, and Hermes was the herald of the gods. Jupiter
and Mercurius (AV) are the Latin equivalents for the Greek names of these gods,
but the Greek terms ought to be used. Since Paul was the spokesman of the two,
the people called him Hermes; while Barnabas, the more silent partner who stood
in the background, they called Zeus, the father of the gods. Legends existed
that told of other occasions when these two gods visited people of this area"
THE PRIEST OF ZEUS: Zeus was the patron god of Lystra;
his great statue was erected at the principal gate. The priest of Zeus prepared
oxen adorned with decorations to offer sacrifice to their unexpected
Although the apostles could not understand the Lycaonian
dialect (v 11), the actions of the priests soon indicated their purpose to
sacrifice, and when the apostles realized their intent, they strongly protested.
They tore their clothes -- a Jewish gesture of horror at blasphemy (Mar
As long as nations did not come into contact with God's truth,
they were not held accountable for their sins: Acts 17:30. By contrast, Israel's
close acquaintance with their Creator brought them greater responsibility -- and
greater punishment -- for their sins (Amo 3:2). Jesus' teaching on the grounds
of responsibility: John 3:18-21.
FROM ANTIOCH: A 100-mile trip.
THEY STONED PAUL: 2Co 11:25; 2Ti 3:11; Gal
HE GOT UP: "Anistemi" = he rose, implying a true
resurrection! Note: although he seemed to be dead, he requires no assistance
when he "stands up"! A miracle.
Here (in Derbe) Gaius is converted (Act 20:4).
THEN THEY RETURNED TO LYSTRA, ICONIUM AND ANTIOCH:
Rather than taking the easy and direct route to Tarsus and Syrian Antioch, Paul
and Barnabas retraced all their steps in a circuitous trip -- so as to visit all
the newly-formed ecclesias, and strengthen them.
WE MUST GO THROUGH MANY HARDSHIPS TO ENTER THE KINGDOM OF
GOD: Paul had been the perfect example, demonstrating in his own trials the
truth of these words! Note also Christ's words of warning and encouragement:
"Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will
rebel against their parents and have them put to death. All men will hate you
because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved" (Mat
10:21,22,38; cp Mat 16:24). "The man who loves his life will lose it, while the
man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever
serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father
will honor the one who serves me" (John 12:25,26). "All this I have told you so
that you will not go astray. They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, a
time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to
God... I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this
world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world" (John
Good men must never expect to escape troubles; if they do,
they will be disappointed, for none of their predecessors have been without
them. Consider the patience of Job; remember Abraham, for he had his trials, and
by his faith under them, he became the "father of the faithful" (Rom 4:11-16).
Study the lives of all the patriarchs, prophets, apostles, and the early
brethren, and you shall discover that there were none of those whom God made
vessels for His mercy, who were not -- like fine pottery in the hands of the
Potter -- made to pass through the furnace of affliction.
It is ordained of old that the cross of trouble should be
engraved on every vessel of mercy, as the royal mark whereby the King's vessels
of honor are distinguished. But although tribulation is the path marked out for
God's children, they have the comfort of knowing that their Master has walked
that path before them; they have his presence and sympathy to encourage them,
his grace to support them, and his example to teach them how to endure. And when
they reach the kingdom, it will more than make up for the tribulations through
which they passed on their way!
PAMPHYLIA: A small province between Galatia and the
Mediterranean Sea, of which Perga was the capital and Attalia the chief seaport
WENT DOWN: The classic language of theophany, or
Yahweh-manifestation, occurs often in Acts in the context of gospel preaching,
as if the witness to the gospel were another manifestation of the Yahweh-Name:
Act 8:5; 10:21; 13:4; 14:25; 15:30; 16:8; 18:22.
ATTALIA: "A city on the coast of Pamphylia, visited by
Paul on his first missionary journey (Acts 14:25). It was founded c 165-150 BC
by Attalus II Philadelphus (159-138 BC) of Pergamum to be an outlet to Egypt and
Syria. It was punished by the Roman consul Isauricus (c 77 BC) for aiding
Zenicetes in his piracy by being added to the Roman province
"Coins were struck from the time of the founding of the city
and its name is spelled thereon as Attaleon ('belonging to Attalia'). When Paul
was there, the main type of coin showed Claudius on the obverse, and on the
reverse Athena dressed in a crested Corinthian helmet. It should be remembered
that the people of Attalia claimed kinship with the Athenians... The situation
of this port city, rising as it does by tiers from its harbor is still
picturesque and is partly responsible for its continued existence and commercial
activity. Ruins there are traceable to the Roman and Hellenistic periods. It is
called Antalya today" (WyE).
At this time there was contention between Paul and Peter
regarding the treatment of Gentile converts at Antioch: Gal 2:11-17.
GOD... HAD OPENED THE DOOR OF FAITH TO THE GENTILES:
Barriers to Gentiles going down: Acts 6:5 (proselytes as well as Jews); Acts
6:14 (Stephen's argument); Acts 8:5 (Samaritans); Acts 8:35 (Ethiopian eunuch);
Acts 10:20; 11:18 (Gentiles!).