Acts 14:1-20

Sunday Morning Bible Study

March 22, 1998

Tonight: Terry Clark!

Introduction

We've seen Paul and Barnabas move into the area known as Galatia, and how they began their ministry in the city known as Antioch of Pisidia. We read Paul's sermon, delivered on the first Sabbath, and how the people responded. Some choose to believe on the Lord. Some got angry, and eventually stirred up a persecution against the apostles.

After having shaken the dust off their feet, they have moved on.

:1-7 Ministry at Iconium

:1 And it came to pass in Iconium

Iconium had something in common with Antioch of Pisidia in that both cities were Phrygian cities. In ancient times, the Phrygian people had migrated into this region. The two cities would have similar customs, culture, and language. Phrygia was considered by the Romans as a part of the overall region known as Galatia. So weíre still in an area that serves as background to the letter of Paul to the Galatians.

Today, Iconium is known as the Turkish city of Konya. It is about 75 miles southeast of Antioch, traveling down the mountain range that Antioch was in, across a valley, and up into another mountain range. Walking.

:2 But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles, and made their minds evil affected against the brethren.

unbelieving Ė apeitheo Ė ("not" + "persuaded") not to allow one's self to be persuaded

made Ö evil affected Ė kakoo Ė to oppress, harm; to embitter

minds Ė psuche Ė breath; the soul; the seat of the feelings, desires, affections, aversions (our heart, soul etc.)

NIV Ė "poisoned their minds", or we could say, "embittered their souls"

Lesson:

Watch out for bitter people.

There are people who are miserable with their concept of God, and they want you to be miserable with them.

Atheists Ė these are the people who claim to know that there is no God. Yet I wonder just how much they know of all that can be known. Is it possible that God exists outside their sphere of knowledge? Isnít it foolish to claim to know that God doesnít exist, when itís very possible that you just donít know about Him?

Agnostics Ė these people claim to be more honest, claiming that they just donít know whether or not there is a God. Itís based on the Greek for "not knowing". The question to me is, why are they trying to make everyone else as miserable as they are? The Latin word for agnostic is "ignoramus".

:3 Long time therefore abode they speaking boldly in the Lord

in the Lord - epi tw kuriw Ė AV Ė "in the Lord", NIV Ė "for the Lord, NAS Ė "with reliance upon the Lord" (probably closest).

:3 which gave testimony unto the word of his grace, and granted signs and wonders to be done by their hands.

Paulís message was always one of Grace.

Your relationship with God, and your eternal salvation is not based upon whether or not you are good enough. Itís based upon Godís great gift of love to you, in sending Jesus Christ to die on a cross and pay for your sins, which you could not do.

The idea here is that God was giving a witness that this word of His grace was true by allowing the apostles to do signs and wonders.

When Paul wrote back to these people (in Galatians) a few years later, he wrote,

(Gal 3:5 KJV) He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?

Lesson:

Godís power is in His grace.

Your relationship with God DOES NOT depend on you being good enough, it depends on you trusting Jesus to be your helper, your Savior.

(Gal 5:6 KJV) For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.

Illustration:

From "Why Grace Changes Everything" (pg.162), by Chuck Smith: "During his travels, the ancient adventurer Ulysses heard the stories of the island of the sirens - deadly enchantresses who made such beautiful music that any sailors passing by would turn their ships toward shore and be dashed upon the rocks. No one had ever heard the song of these sirens and lived. This sounded like a worthy challenge to a daring man like Ulysses. He decided to become the first to hear this music and survive.

In order to achieve his goal, Ulysses put wax in the ears of his crew and instructed his men to tie him securely to the ship's mast. As they rowed past the island of the sirens, the seductive music began. Ulysses began to strain against the ropes, struggling to get loose so he could swim to shore. He cursed at his sailors to turn the boat toward the rocks, but the wax prevented them from hearing his cries. Ulysses continued to fight against his bonds until the ship moved out of range and into safety. Ulysses had heard the song of the sirens and lived - yet ever after he was haunted by the memory of the beguiling music.

Greek myths also tell of another ship that passed this island and yet survived. As its crew was being drawn by the deadly melody to disaster on the shoals, a gifted man on board named Orpheus grabbed a lyre and began to play. The music of Orpheus so far surpassed that of the sirens that the men turned away from the rocks and sailed to safety, enraptured by these new, exquisite melodies that gave life."

If we try to handle life by living under the burden of a long list of "doís and doníts", itís like Ulysses, forever being haunted by what weíre missing out on.

But when we come to hear the melody of Love that Jesus plays, and we begin to taste of His grace and mercy in our lives, who cares what kinds of songs the world plays?

As we fall deeper in love with Him, we find that the world's temptations don't have the same kind of pull anymore. And we have the power to walk in a way pleasing to the Lord.

:4 But the multitude of the city was divided

Note: Even though they were performing signs and wonders, there were still people who did not believe, and were even antagonistic against them. Miracles donít convince everyone.

:5 to use them despitefully, and to stone them,

use them despitefully Ė hubrizo (from hubris, pride, haughtiness) Ė to be insolent; to treat shamefully; the idea of being so haughty and looking down on the poor scum, and humiliating them.

:6 They were ware of it, and fled

Sometimes God calls us to stand and take the persecution, sometimes He has us escape to safety.

:6 unto Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia

Lycaonia Ė Paul and Barnabas have been in an area known as Phrygia, but are not traveling to an area where the people have different customs, and even speak another language.

Lystra ĖA small, backward town of Lycaonia, established as a Roman colony by Augustus, about 6 BC. Itís about 18 miles south and downhill from Iconium.

A young man who will eventually be one of Paulís disciples, Timothy, lives in Lystra, and is about 15 years old at the time. Keep in mind the things we see in Lystra, Timothy is probably watching.

:7 And there they preached the gospel.

or, "and there also they continually were evangelizing"

Lesson:

Donít stop.

I am amazed at how Paul and Barnabas just keep going.

If this was me, I would have said to myself, "We get flack from that Bar-Jesus on Cyprus, then we get run out of town in Antioch of Pisidia, and now we barely escape for our lives in Iconium. Perhaps weíre not doing what God wants us to do."

But this doesnít stop them at all.

(Heb 12:1-3 KJV) Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, {2} Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. {3} For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.

Is there sin in your life that needs to stop? Is there something holding you back from serving Him with all you have? Run the race, and donít stop.

:8-20 Glory and dishonor in Lystra

:8 who never had walked:

This man had never walked in his life. His muscles were not only unable to carry him, but they had never learned the simple coordination of working together.

:9 who stedfastly beholding him, and perceiving that he had faith to be healed

stedfastly beholding him Ėatenizo Ė to fix the eyes on; the same word used of Peter who "fastened his eyes" upon the lame man at the gate of the temple (Acts 3:4)

perceiving that he had faith Ė or, "understanding that he had faith"

to be healed Ė literally, "to be saved" (sozo Ė to save)

Lesson:

Faith has a part of receiving healing.

It seems to be an ingredient that pops up from time to time.

Mt 9:2 And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee.

Mt 9:22 But Jesus turned him about, and when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour.

Your trust in Jesus can take you through the rough times.

(Psa 61:1-4 KJV) To the chief Musician upon Neginah, A Psalm of David. Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer. {2} From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I. {3} For thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy. {4} I will abide in thy tabernacle for ever: I will trust in the covert of thy wings. Selah.

God may not heal you every time, but your faith will still take you through. Donít neglect your faith. Nurture it.

(Rom 10:17 KJV) So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

:11 saying in the speech of Lycaonia, The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men.

Because the people start crying out in their native Lycaonian language, Paul and Barnabas donít realize at first whatís happening. Itís not until the priest shows up with a sacrifice that they begin to realize whatís going on.

:12 And they called Barnabas, Jupiter; and Paul, Mercurius, because he was the chief speaker.

There was a legend that these same two gods had visited Lystra long ago, and so these people are thinking that itís happening again.

Jupiter Ė the Roman name for Zeus, the chief of the Greek gods.

Mercurius Ė the Roman name for Hermes, the messenger of the gods, the guy that has wings on his sandals (and delivers flowers?).

They identify Paul as Hermes because he was doing all the speaking, but there must be something in Barnabas that shows his own authority, to call him Zeus and not "Hermesí slave".

:13 brought oxen and garlands unto the gates Ö

I think that there are people who would be thinking about now, "Well, what would it hurt if they thought we were gods for awhile?" "Maybe if they worship us for awhile, they will be more open to the gospel when we get around to sharing it with them."

Lesson:

Thereís no place for ministry by deception.

Iím not sure itís Godís way for a person to try to become a big movie star, and then tell people about Jesus.

Iím not sure itís Godís way for a person to become a great athlete, and then tell people about Jesus.

Iím not sure itís Godís way to date a person, and once theyíre in love with you, then you are going to lead them to the Lord.

We need to be clear about our relationship with Jesus from the start.

:15 And saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you

like passions Ė homoiopathes Ė suffering the like with another, of like feelings or affections

Lesson:

God uses ordinary people.

Sometimes itís because we admire the way God uses certain people. Sometimes itís because we donít think weíre anything that God could use. But the problem is we think that God can use other people, but not us.

There arenít too many people that God has used as mightily as the prophet Elijah.

He declared that it wouldnít rain anymore unless he said so, and it didnít rain for 3 Ĺ years (1Ki.17:1). When the widow took care of him, she never ran out of flour or oil, miraculously (1Ki 17:16). When the widowís son died, Elijah raised him from the dead (1Ki 17:22). When he challenged the priests of Baal, he prayed and fire came down from heaven, consuming his sacrifice. (1Ki 18:38)

James 5:16-18 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. {17} Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. {18} And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.

Was he some kind of "superman"? No. He was just an ordinary guy. An ordinary guy who learned how to pray.

We look at the apostle Paul and think he was some kind of superman, some kind of mythical character from the past.

He was just an ordinary guy, just like you and me.

Could God use you?

All Heís looking for is someone who is available, not like the gals I tried to date in high school who always had to wash their hair or something. They were "unavailable."

God is looking for someone who, when He asks, "Who will go for us?" that he hears a "Lord, here am I, send me" from us.

:15 that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God

vanities Ė mataios Ė without purpose, without truth, without success

Lesson:

Turn from worthless things.

What are you trying to fill that inner hunger with? Have you noticed that youíre still empty? There is only one who can satisfy your deepest, inner needs. Jesus said,

(John 4:13-14 KJV) Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: {14} But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.

:17 Nevertheless he left not himself without witness

All of mankind has the evidences of God around them through the witness of Creation (Rom. 1:20). There is absolutely no reason not to believe in God.

:19 who persuaded the people, and, having stoned Paul Ö

One moment these people are ready to sacrifice oxen to Paul, the next theyíre ready to stone him.

Lesson:

Futility of people-pleasing.

If we are living to please people, weíre going to be greatly disappointed.

One moment youíre a god, the next youíre dead meat.

Illustration

Jacques Plante, a goalie for a professional ice hockey team, had just come off the ice after a particularly poor performance and responded to a badgering reporter with the following remark: "How would you like a job where, if you made a mistake, a big red light goes on and 18,000 people boo?"

People are fickle and are going to change all the time. Itís best that we learn to please God and not worry about what people think.

(Col 3:22-24 KJV) Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God: {23} And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; {24} Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.

:20 Howbeit, as the disciples stood round about him, he rose up, and came into the city

Some have suggested that Paul did briefly die, and for a moment got a taste of heaven which he hints at in 2Cor.12:2-4.

Some have suggested that Timothy and his mother Eunice, may have been in the circle around Paul. Paul will later write to Timothy, a young man who got scared at times, some twenty years later,

(2 Tim 3:11-12 KJV) Persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me. {12} Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.

:20 the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe

Again, they just keep moving. The Energizer Apostles. The Timex Apostles.

Derby is about 45 miles southeast, across the plain, from Lystra. An amazing trip, considering Paul was just left for dead.