Acts 13-14

Thursday Evening Bible Study

November 8, 2007

The First Missionary Journey

We begin a new section in the book of Acts, the journeys of Paul as the missionary to the Gentiles.  Jerusalem is no longer the center of spiritual activity in the world.  Antioch is the place where things are happening.

Acts 13

:1-3 Barnabas and Saul sent

:1 Now in the church that was at Antioch there were certain prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.

It appears that these were the men in leadership at the church at Antioch

Barnabas – that great encourager, Barnabas is originally from the island of Cyprus.

Simeon –His second name, Niger, is a Roman name, meaning “black”.

Lucius – from a city in Africa (Cyrene), perhaps one of those who started the church since it was started by men of Cyprus and Cyrene (Acts 11:20).

Manaen – a guy who had grown up with one of the Herods.

Saul – who we will know as Paul.

:2 As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, "Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them."

ministeredleitourgeo – (our word “liturgy”) to do a service, like the priests and Levites who served with the sacrifices and sacred rites in the tabernacle or the temple.  It’s a word that speaks of offering prayer and praise.

the Holy Spirit said – how did the Spirit speak?  Possibly through the prophets, through a human element.

:3 Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away.


Sending to ministry

God has specific things that He desires each of us to be doing.
(Eph 2:10 NKJV)  For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
Part of the purpose of the church is to help each of us find the kinds of things we are supposed to be doing in serving the Lord, and then be willing to go and do them.
Sometimes the ministry will involve going somewhere – Barnabas and Saul were “sent” out – their ministry wasn’t to stay at Antioch, but to go out and tell people about Jesus.

:4-12 Cyprus

:4 So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus.

Seleucia is about 12 miles southwest of Antioch, on the Mediterranean coast.  See map.

:5 And when they arrived in Salamis, they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews. They also had John as their assistant.

Salamis is 135 miles from Seleucia.  See map.

Their first stop is at Barnabas’ home area of Cyprus.

John – this is Barnabas’ nephew.  We usually refer to him as Mark, who would eventually write the gospel of Mark.

:6 Now when they had gone through the island to Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew whose name was Bar-Jesus,

:7 who was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, an intelligent man. This man called for Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God.

Paphos is on the other side of the island of Cyprus from Salamis, a journey of 90 miles.  See map.

Bar-Jesus – the name means “son of Jesus”.  The name “Jesus” wasn’t an uncommon name, but perhaps this fellow is trying to say that he’s related to our Jesus somehow.

proconsul – this fellow is the governor of the island.  He wants to hear about the real Jesus.

:8 But Elymas the sorcerer (for so his name is translated) withstood them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith.

Elymas = “a wise man” or “sorcerer”, probably his professional name.  Perhaps he feels a bit threatened, that he might lose his place of influence if the governor starts following Jesus.

:9 Then Saul, who also is called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him

This is the first mention of the name “Paul”.

SaulSaulos – “desired”, a Jewish name

PaulPaulos – “small or little”, a Latin name

The language seems to indicate that Saul had always had a Latin name, but it’s not until this missionary journey that will eventually reach out to the Gentile world that Saul starts to go more by his Latin name instead of his Jewish name.

:10 and said, "O full of all deceit and all fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease perverting the straight ways of the Lord?

:11 "And now, indeed, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you shall be blind, not seeing the sun for a time." And immediately a dark mist fell on him, and he went around seeking someone to lead him by the hand.

Paul has some pretty harsh words for this man, and God blinds the man.

:12 Then the proconsul believed, when he saw what had been done, being astonished at the teaching of the Lord.


It’s the message

We can look at this story and think that it must have been all about the magician going blind.  But it was the “teaching” that astonished the governor.
The message we have is powerful.
(Rom 1:16 NKJV)  For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.
The sharing of the message is how people are saved.
(1 Cor 1:21 NKJV)  For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.
Do you know what the message is?  I like to think of it in three parts:
There’s a problem - sin (our sin has separated us from God)
There’s a solution – Jesus paid for our sins on the cross (God has paid for your sins through Jesus’ death on the cross)
There’s an action – you must believe (we need to believe and receive God’s payment for our sins, we need to ask Him to be Lord of our lives)

:13-41 Antioch of Pisidia; Paul’s message

:13 Now when Paul and his party set sail from Paphos, they came to Perga in Pamphylia; and John, departing from them, returned to Jerusalem.

Perga – 160 miles northwest of Paphos.  See map.

John, departing – John Mark decides he doesn’t like mission trips. He decides he wants to go home.  This becomes the incident that Paul and Barnabas eventually split over.  Paul felt that this showed that John Mark was qualified, not dependable.

Note:  Barnabas’ name isn’t mentioned here.  The group is referred to as “Paul and his party”.  I wonder if John Mark’s departure had something to do with what seems to be a slight change in leadership.


Don’t quit too soon.

I wonder if Mark didn’t make a mistake in his life here.  Later on, Paul certainly seemed to think he did.
Certainly there are going to be times when it is simply time to leave.
But sometimes we would do ourselves a greater service to learning to persevere.
Over the years I’ve heard quite a few stories about some of our favorite Calvary Chapel pastors and how they were tempted to quit.  I’ve heard Skip Heitzig in Albuquerque tell the story.  I’ve heard Bob Coy in Ft. Lauderdale tell the story.  It is the same story.  It goes something like this.  The pastor has taken his family to a place to start a church.  It is difficult.  He doesn’t see very much fruit.  He wants to quit.  He calls up Pastor Chuck.  Chuck says, “Just stick it out six more months”.  He does.  Things change.  The rest is history.
The Bible tells us that difficult times act as a sort of “refining process” in our lives.
(1 Pet 1:6-7 NKJV)  In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, {7} that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,

The “testing” by fire is the refining process.  Gold is refined, purified, through fire.  The goldsmith will take the raw ore and heat it until it becomes liquid.  As the fire continues, the impurities begin to rise to the surface.  The goldsmith skims this “dross” off the top and continues to heat the gold.  The goldsmith knows his gold is pure enough when he can see his own reflection in the gold.

If you and I are the “gold” being refined by the fire, then why do we want to short circuit the process by jumping out of the fire.

Stay in the fire just a little longer.  Let God do His work.

:14 But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day and sat down.

Antioch – 125 miles due north of Perga.  Don’t confuse this with Antioch in Syria, where Paul and Barnabas have come from. See map.

synagogue – this would be the general rule Barnabas and Paul would follow when coming into a new city.  If there was a Jewish synagogue, you start your outreach there.  They are still thinking that the gospel is primarily for the Jews.

:15 And after the reading of the Law and the Prophets, the rulers of the synagogue sent to them, saying, "Men and brethren, if you have any word of exhortation for the people, say on."

Paul and Barnabas don’t interrupt the service, they wait to be asked.

:16 Then Paul stood up, and motioning with his hand said, "Men of Israel, and you who fear God, listen:

:17 "The God of this people Israel chose our fathers, and exalted the people when they dwelt as strangers in the land of Egypt, and with an uplifted arm He brought them out of it.

:18 "Now for a time of about forty years He put up with their ways in the wilderness.

:19 "And when He had destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan, He distributed their land to them by allotment.

:20 "After that He gave them judges for about four hundred and fifty years, until Samuel the prophet.

:21 "And afterward they asked for a king; so God gave them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for forty years.

Remember that Paul is also from Benjamin.  His name was also Saul.

:22 "And when He had removed him, He raised up for them David as king, to whom also He gave testimony and said, 'I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.'

:23 "From this man's seed, according to the promise, God raised up for Israel a Savior; Jesus;

Paul has reminded them of the history of Israel’s kings and that Jesus is a son of David.

:24 "after John had first preached, before His coming, the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel.

:25 "And as John was finishing his course, he said, 'Who do you think I am? I am not He. But behold, there comes One after me, the sandals of whose feet I am not worthy to loose.'

:26 "Men and brethren, sons of the family of Abraham, and those among you who fear God, to you the word of this salvation has been sent.

:27 "For those who dwell in Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they did not know Him, nor even the voices of the Prophets which are read every Sabbath, have fulfilled them in condemning Him.

:28 "And though they found no cause for death in Him, they asked Pilate that He should be put to death.

:29 "Now when they had fulfilled all that was written concerning Him, they took Him down from the tree and laid Him in a tomb.

:30 "But God raised Him from the dead.

:31 "He was seen for many days by those who came up with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are His witnesses to the people.

:32 "And we declare to you glad tidings; that promise which was made to the fathers.

:33 "God has fulfilled this for us their children, in that He has raised up Jesus. As it is also written in the second Psalm: 'You are My Son, Today I have begotten You.'

:34 "And that He raised Him from the dead, no more to return to corruption, He has spoken thus: 'I will give you the sure mercies of David.'

Quoting Is. 55:3

:35 "Therefore He also says in another Psalm: 'You will not allow Your Holy One to see corruption.'

Quoting Psalm 16:10

:36 "For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell asleep, was buried with his fathers, and saw corruption;

:37 "but He whom God raised up saw no corruption.

:38 "Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through this Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins;

:39 "and by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses.

Paul has shared the gospel.

He’s talked about Jesus being the rightful heir to the throne of David.

He talked about Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection.

He’s told them that if they believe in Jesus, they will be forgiven and made right with God.

:40 "Beware therefore, lest what has been spoken in the prophets come upon you:

:41 "Behold, you despisers, Marvel and perish! For I work a work in your days, A work which you will by no means believe, Though one were to declare it to you.'"

Paul ends with a warning from the scriptures about disbelief.


The living message

I know that sometimes I get pretty concerned about making sure I have the message right.  I have little checklists as I prepare my messages to make sure that I include certain things that I have found to be important.
But in reality, some of Paul’s messages don’t follow the same kind of scripts or guidelines I might want to have him use.
John Wesley describes his pilgrimage in terms of his preaching rather vividly. It parallels closely his inward growth.
(1) From the year 1725 to 1729 I preached much, but saw no fruit of my labor.
(2) From the year 1729 to 1734, laying a deeper foundation of repentance, I saw a little fruit.
(3) From 1734 to 1738, speaking more of faith in Christ, I saw more fruit of my preaching and visiting from house to house.
(4) From 1738 to this time (1746), speaking continually of Jesus Christ; laying Him only as the foundation of the whole building, making Him all in all, the first and the last; preaching only on this plan, "The  Kingdom of God is at hand; repent ye, and believe the gospel," the "word of God ran" as fire among the stubble; it "was glorified" more and more; multitudes crying out, "What must we do to be saved?" and afterwards witnessing, "By grace we are saved through faith."

-- John Wesley, An Autobiographical Sketch,

Just keep telling them about Jesus.  There are other things that are important, but keep talking about Jesus.

:42-52 Belief, persecution, moving on

:42 So when the Jews went out of the synagogue, the Gentiles begged that these words might be preached to them the next Sabbath.

:43 Now when the congregation had broken up, many of the Jews and devout proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas, who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God.

:44 On the next Sabbath almost the whole city came together to hear the word of God.

:45 But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy; and contradicting and blaspheming, they opposed the things spoken by Paul.

Note the reason for the persecution that’s going to come.  It was nothing more than simple envy.

We can sometimes think that people argue with each other because of issues of doctrine, but here it’s simply envy.

:46 Then Paul and Barnabas grew bold and said, "It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles.

judge yourselves – it wasn’t Paul that was judging them unworthy of eternal life, he’s telling them that they are judging themselves, by the way they are responding.


It’s their choice.

I think that sometimes I put a little too much emphasis in my mind on how well I’m doing at presenting the gospel.
If someone doesn’t accept Christ, I tend to put the blame on myself, that perhaps I didn't make the message clear enough.  Don’t misunderstand me, I do believe that it’s important that we understand the gospel message, and that we strive to make it clear to others.
But the bottom line is that it’s the one who hears the message that bears the responsibility of whether or not they receive or reject the message.

:47 "For so the Lord has commanded us: 'I have set you as a light to the Gentiles, That you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth.'"

Quoting from Is. 49:6

:48 Now when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.

:49 And the word of the Lord was being spread throughout all the region.

:50 But the Jews stirred up the devout and prominent women and the chief men of the city, raised up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region.

:51 But they shook off the dust from their feet against them, and came to Iconium.

Iconium – 70 miles southeast of Antioch. It would be a walk through mountains and valleys.  See map.

Paul is now in the area known as Galatia.  The churches here would be the ones Paul is writing to when he writes his letter to the Galatians.

shook off the dust – a symbol of contempt, as if the person was so unclean that even their dust was unclean.

This was in obedience to what Jesus had taught.

(Mat 10:14 NKJV)  "And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet.

It’s a way of putting the past behind and moving on.

:52 And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.

They are strange characters.  They are being persecuted and yet they seem happy.

(Mat 5:10-12 NKJV)  Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. {11} "Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. {12} "Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.


Trouble isn’t all bad

It might mean that you’re doing the right thing.
Sometimes it’s bad when you’re not in trouble.
John Wesley used to experience a lot of persecution as he preached the gospel in England.  There was a period of time when he hadn’t experienced much persecution and was afraid that he was becoming backslidden.  As he was riding his horse thinking about this, somebody threw a brick at him from the bushes and he thanked God that he wasn’t backslidden.
There was an old song titled, “Must be doing something right” – the gist of it was that if I’m going through a time of persecution, maybe it’s because I’m doing something right.  If you are backslidden, the enemy has no need to cause you trouble.

Acts 14

:1-7 Trouble at Iconium

:1 Now it happened in Iconium that they went together to the synagogue of the Jews, and so spoke that a great multitude both of the Jews and of the Greeks believed.

:2 But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brethren.

:3 Therefore they stayed there a long time, speaking boldly in the Lord, who was bearing witness to the word of His grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands.


The word of His grace

The theme of the book of Galatians is grace.  We are saved by grace, not works.
(Gal 3:1-5 NKJV)  O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? {2} This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? {3} Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh? {4} Have you suffered so many things in vain; if indeed it was in vain? {5} Therefore He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does He do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?;
We can see back in their history as a church that they had indeed experienced “signs and wonders” as Paul was preaching grace, not law.

:4 But the multitude of the city was divided: part sided with the Jews, and part with the apostles.

:5 And when a violent attempt was made by both the Gentiles and Jews, with their rulers, to abuse and stone them,

:6 they became aware of it and fled to Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and to the surrounding region.

Lystra – about 12 miles south of Iconium. See map.

Lycaonia – Paul and Barnabas are moving into a different region where the culture is different and the people speak a different language.  They can be preaching in Greek and using translators.

:7 And they were preaching the gospel there.

:8-18 Miracle at Lystra

:8 And in Lystra a certain man without strength in his feet was sitting, a cripple from his mother's womb, who had never walked.

:9 This man heard Paul speaking. Paul, observing him intently and seeing that he had faith to be healed,

:10 said with a loud voice, "Stand up straight on your feet!" And he leaped and walked.

This sounds very much like what happened with Peter and the lame man in the Temple (Acts 3).

Here – there is no mention of Paul using the name of “Jesus”, but keep in mind that Paul and Barnabas have been preaching the gospel (vs.7).

:11 Now when the people saw what Paul had done, they raised their voices, saying in the Lycaonian language, "The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!"

Because the people start crying out in their native Lycaonian language, it appears that Paul and Barnabas don’t realize at first what’s happening.  It’s not until the priest shows up with a sacrifice that they begin to realize what’s going on.

:12 And Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the chief speaker.

Zeus was the king of the gods.  Hermes was the spokesman for the gods, the guy with wings on his sandals (and who delivers flowers for FTD?).  Paul had been doing all the speaking.

:13 Then the priest of Zeus, whose temple was in front of their city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates, intending to sacrifice with the multitudes.

:14 But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard this, they tore their clothes and ran in among the multitude, crying out

Barnabas and Paul are totally devastated that the people have come to the conclusion that they are gods.

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.”  Paul wants nothing to do with a ministry based on deception.


There’s no place for ministry by deception.

I’m not sure it’s God’s way for a person to try to become a big movie star, and then tell people about Jesus.
I’m not sure it’s God’s way for a person to become a great athlete, and then tell people about Jesus.
I’m not sure it’s God’s way to date a person, and once they’re 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.
Look at Paul’s heart in sharing the gospel to the Thessalonians:
(1 Th 2:2-7 NKJV)  But even after we had suffered before and were spitefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we were bold in our God to speak to you the gospel of God in much conflict. {3} For our exhortation did not come from error or uncleanness, nor was it in deceit. {4} But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts. {5} For neither at any time did we use flattering words, as you know, nor a cloak for covetousness; God is witness. {6} Nor did we seek glory from men, either from you or from others, when we might have made demands as apostles of Christ. {7} But we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children.

:15 and saying, "Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men with the same nature as you, and preach to you that you should turn from these useless things to the living God, who made the heaven, the earth, the sea, and all things that are in them,

:16 "who in bygone generations allowed all nations to walk in their own ways.

:17 "Nevertheless He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good, gave us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness."

These are Gentile people.  Paul doesn’t quote the Old Testament to them, but refers to nature instead as a witness of God.

:18 And with these sayings they could scarcely restrain the multitudes from sacrificing to them.

:19- Stoning, moving on to Derbe

:19 Then Jews from Antioch and Iconium came there; and having persuaded the multitudes, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead.

The fellows that caused trouble at Antioch and Iconium seem to be intent on following Paul and stopping him.

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


Futility of people-pleasing.

If you are living to please people, you are going to be greatly disappointed.
One moment you’re a god, the next you’re dead meat.
Think about A-Rod (Alex Rodriguez) and the fickle time he’s had playing for the New York Yankees.  When he goes into a hitting slump, as all batters do, he gets booed by the crowd, even though he’s arguably one of the best players in the game.  Amazing.
People are fickle and are going to change all the time.  It’s best that we learn to please God and not worry about what people think.
(Col 3:22-24 NKJV)  Bondservants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but in sincerity of heart, fearing God. {23} And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, {24} knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.

:20 However, when the disciples gathered around him, he rose up and went into the city. And the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe.

rose up … It has been suggested that this was the time that Paul talks about being caught up into heaven:

(2 Cor 12:2 NKJV)  I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago; whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows; such a one was caught up to the third heaven.

Derbe – about 45 miles southeast of Lystra. See map.

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, a young man from “Derbe and Lystra” (Acts 16:1) some twenty years later Paul reminds Timothy that all who want to follow Jesus will be persecuted (2Tim. 3:12)

(2 Tim 3:10-12 NKJV)  But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, {11} persecutions, afflictions, which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured. And out of them all the Lord delivered me. {12} Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.

:21 And when they had preached the gospel to that city and made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch,

They don’t leave Derbe because of persecution, but because it was time to leave.  But only after making “disciples”.

:22 strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, "We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God."

They are not saying that you only get to heaven if you’ve lived a rough life.  They are saying that the road to heaven is going to take you through tough things.

“Christianity has not been tried and found wanting, it has been tried and found difficult!”    -- G.K. Chesterton

:23 So when they had appointed elders in every church, and prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed.



Jesus didn’t command us to just make “converts”.  He didn’t ask us to get a lot of people to pray the “Sinners’ Prayer” with us.  He told us to make “disciples”.
(Mat 28:19-20 NKJV)  "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, {20} "teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen.
Jesus gave us the definition of discipleship:
(Mat 16:24-25 NKJV)  Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. {25} "For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.
Being a disciple of Jesus is not just about going to church, it’s about laying down your life and following Him.

Notice how Paul and Barnabas are encouraging these people with reality – it’s going to be tough to be a Christian, there will be many “tribulations”.

“Jesus has many lovers of the heavenly kingdom, but few bearers of his cross. He has many desirous of consolation, but few of tribulation. He finds many companions of his table, but few of his abstinence. All desire to rejoice with him, few are willing to endure anything for him, or with him. Many follow Jesus to the breaking of bread, but few to the drinking of the cup. Many reverence his miracles, few follow the ignominy of his cross. Many love Jesus so long as no adversities befall them, many praise and bless him so long as they receive any consolations from him; but if Jesus hides himself and leaves them but a little while, they fall either into complaining or into too much dejection of mind.” – Thomas À Kempis (C. 1380–1471)
Paul and Barnabas are now going back through the places they’ve been, tracking down the people who were following Jesus, encourage them and help them.
It would have been easier and closer if they had just gone home after their time in Derbe, but they choose instead to go back and build up the people they had led to the Lord.
They also set up a “structure” in each church, appointing leaders over the churches.

:24 And after they had passed through Pisidia, they came to Pamphylia.

Pisidia and Pamphylia are regions, not cities.  Pisidia was where Antioch was, Pamphylia was where Perga was.  See map.

:25 Now when they had preached the word in Perga, they went down to Attalia.

Attalia is the main seaport in the area.  Perhaps they got extra bonus miles on their frequent sailor’s program if they sailed from Attalia instead of Perga?

:26 From there they sailed to Antioch, where they had been commended to the grace of God for the work which they had completed.

We don’t know why, but they do not go back through Cyprus like they did with all the other places they had been.  In Cyprus they only had preached in the synagogues and apparently no Gentile churches had been started.

Note:  Their journey had been about grace.  When they started, they had been “commended” (literally, “handed over”) to the grace of God.  Again, think about the Galatians, how they eventually were straying from grace, even though Paul’s ministry had been all about grace.

:27 Now when they had come and gathered the church together, they reported all that God had done with them, and that He had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.

:28 So they stayed there a long time with the disciples.

they reported – I think of that scene in Star Wars where C3PO is telling the Ewoks about the adventures they had been as they are all gathered around the fires.

They had been gone some 18 months, traveled some 700 miles by foot, and some 500 miles by sea.

I think a valuable part of mission trips comes after the trip – letting the church know what had happened.  It lets people know how their prayers had been at work.  It challenges some to think about going next time.  It encourages people to step out in faith to tell others about Jesus.

It has been suggested that Paul might have possibly written the letter to the Galatians at this point, from Antioch, to the churches he’s just established. The date is around AD 49.

The Map