Bible Study

“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable ...”

The Book of Acts

Left arrow   Prev chapter Table of Contents Next chapter   Right arrow

Chapter 14

Paul and Barnabas Finish Their First Journey   (Acts 14:1-28)

Paul and Barnabas, having been expelled from the coasts of Antioch in Pisidia, moved on into Iconium. "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. But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles, and made their minds evil affected against the brethren. 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. But the multitude of the city was divided; and part held with the Jews, and part with the apostles" (Acts 14:1-4). We are told that these two missionaries so spake in the synagogue of the Jews that a great multitude both of the Jews and also of the Greeks believed (Acts 14:1). Their testimony must have been the same as that which they gave in the synagogue at Antioch in Pisidia—"Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: and by Him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses" (Acts 13:38-39).

We also know that their abode in Iconium was for a "long time" and that, during this long period, they spoke "boldly in the Lord," and that the Lord "gave testimony unto the word of His grace, and granted signs and wonders to be done by their hands" (Acts 14:3).

The success of their ministry rested upon two facts, They spoke "in the Lord," that is, in the energy of the risen Christ who indwelt them in the person of the Holy Spirit. And they spoke "the word of His grace," that is, they distinguished between the "law" which God gave "by Moses" and "grace and truth" which "came by Jesus Christ" (John 1:17).

The risen Lord manifested His approval of the message given by Paul and Barnabas by granting "signs and wonders to be done by their hands" (Acts 14:3). He was still making His appeal to the Jews, and "the Jews require a sign" (I Corinthians 1:22). This was in perfect keeping with the will of God as revealed in Hebrews 2:3-4—"How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard Him; God also bearing them witness both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to His own will?"

Evil Affected Against the Brethren

We noticed in Acts 14:2 that it was the unbelieving Jews who stirred up the Gentiles, "and made their minds evil affected against the brethren." During that long period in which Paul and Barnabas were so passionately and effectively preaching the word of His grace, the unbelieving Jews were stirring up hatred against their message. These two forces working at the same time divided the citizenship of Iconium: "and part held with the Jews, and part with the apostles"(Acts 14:4).

The opposition continued until an assault was made against Paul and Barnabas. Both Gentiles and the Jews with their rulers attempted to "stone them" (Acts 14:5). "They were aware of it, and fled into Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and unto the region that lieth round about: and there they preached the gospel" (Acts 14:6).

A Lame Man Healed

In verses 8 to 10, we have the brief statement concerning the healing of a certain lame man. We call attention to the fact that this man was "a cripple from his mother's womb, who never had walked," and that he was healed instantly and completely. This man "heard Paul speak" and Paul, steadfastly beholding him, perceived that he had faith to be healed. Then Paul spoke with a loud voice, "Stand upright on thy feet. And he leaped and walked." This is the kind of healing God does. He has no part or parcel with the kind of so-called healing practiced in our present day. The false, fraudulent, fanatical healing programs of the different, present-day holiness groups are entirely without scriptural foundation. This is why those who claim healing during the excitement of the evangelistic campaign are back on their crutches or in their beds within a few days after the evangelist leaves town. We need to remember that even though Jesus Christ is "the same, yesterday, today, and forever," He is not doing the same things yesterday, today, and forever. A careful division of the Word clearly proves that God's healing program which was used for a sign during His ministry to the Jews was never brought over into our present-day dispensation of the mystery.

When the people of Lystra saw what Paul had done for the lame man, they lifted up their voices saying in the speech of Lycaonia, "The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men" (Acts 14:11). They even went so far as to call Barnabas "Jupiter," which was the name of the national god of the Greeks. To Paul they gave the name "Mercurius," which means "the messenger of the gods." Then the chief priest of Jupiter brought oxen and garlands unto the gates of the city, "and would have done sacrifice with the people" unto Paul and Barnabas. When the apostles heard of this, "they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out, 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" (Acts 14:12-15). These same people who were ready to worship Paul and Barnabas as gods (Acts 14:11), joined with the unbelievers of Iconium in the stoning of Paul (Acts 14:19). This shows the instability of religious worshippers. They worship their leader today, and stone him tomorrow. We find these religious worshippers in our present-day congregations. They worship the preacher while things are running to suit their fancy; but they will stone him with their bitter, biting criticisms when his method or message crosses them. Any preacher does well to avoid those who would worship him.

Paul Stoned and Left for Dead

"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. 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" (Acts 14:19-20).

We call attention to the fact that the unbelieving Jews of Antioch and Iconium were so set against the message of grace that they followed Paul and Barnabas unto Lystra, persuading the people against him and even attempting to stone Paul to death.

It is thought by many that when Paul was stoned and left for dead outside the city of Lystra, that for a brief time his spirit actually left his body and was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it was not lawful for a man to utter, as is recorded in II Corinthians 12:1-4. At any rate, we know that those who stoned him supposed him to be dead. His disciples, however, "stood round about him" and he rose up and came into the city with them and the next day was able to depart with Barnabas to his next preaching appointment in Derbe.

Paul and Barnabas Return Home

Derbe was the last preaching point of this first missionary journey before they returned to their home base in Antioch. "And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch, 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" (Acts 14:21-22).

We call attention to the fact that these missionaries were not afraid of those who had persecuted them. If they had been, they would not have returned home by way of the same towns where they had preached and had been so bitterly opposed. They fearlessly returned to these towns that they might strengthen the disciples which they had made.

Elders Ordained

On this return trip Paul and Barnabas ordained elders in every church. These men were to oversee the work of the assemblies. After ordaining these elders, they prayed and fasted and then commended each little company to the Lord on whom they believed (Acts 14:23).

Moving on from their ministry to the saints in Lystra, Iconium and Antioch in Pisidia, they passed throughout Pisidia and preached the word in Pamphylia, Perga and Attalia: and thence "sailed to Antioch, from whence they had been recommended to the grace of God for the work which they fulfilled. 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. And there they abode long time with the disciples" (Acts 14:23-28).

Tracing the steps of Paul and Barnabas on this first missionary journey, we find them traveling as follows—departure from Antioch, 13:4; then to Cyprus, 13:4-12; then to Perga, 13:13; then to Antioch in Pisidia, 13:14-50; then to Iconium, 13:51-14:6; then to Lystra, 14:6-20; and finally to Derbe, 14:20. The return trip was from Derbe to Lystra, 14:21; then to Iconium, 14:21; then to Antioch in Pisidia, 14:21-24; then to Perga, 14:25; from there to Attalia, 14:25; and back to their starting point in Antioch, 14:26-28.


Left arrow   Prev chapter Table of Contents Next chapter   Right arrow