Acts 14



1 “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.”    Entered for went both, Authorized Version;

Jews for the Jews, Authorized Version; and for and also, Authorized Version;

Greeks for the Greeks, Authorized Version. Observe how in every case Greeks are

found attending the synagogue. So spake, etc. This illustrates the statement in

Romans 10:17, that "faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God."


2 “But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles, and made their minds evil

affected against the brethren.”  The Jews that were disobedient for the unbelieving

Jews, Authorized Version and Textus Receptus; stirred up the souls of the Gentiles,

and made them, etc., for stirred up the Gentiles, and made their minds, etc.,

Authorized Version. The Jews that were disobedient. The Received Text

(ἀπειθήσαντες apeithaesantesunpersuading; being stubborn) may equally

and even better be rendered, the Jews that were unbelieving (compare John 3:36,

where πιστεύων pisteuonone believing  and ἀπειθῶνapeithonunpersuading;

being stubborn are opposed to each other, and Romans 11:30-32, where the idea of

belief is far more appropriate than that of obedience). Stirred up the souls, etc. Paul

speaks with much warmth of the constant opposition of the Jews, "forbidding us to

speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved" (1 Thessalonians 2:14-16).




Hinderers of Christian World (v. 2)


The apostle elsewhere expresses in a sentence what was the common

experience of his missionary life. He says (I Corinthians 16:9), “A great

door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries.”

And we must still accept the fact that, if we will do any special work, or

manifest in work any energy or individuality, we shall soon have persons

opposing, misrepresenting, and hindering us. Here, in the very outset of

Paul’s missionary career, the influence of the “unbelieving Jews” is

indicated, and this fanatical Jewish party persistently followed up the

apostle wherever he went, trying to destroy his work and create prejudice

against him. It may be said — What great things Paul would have

accomplished if he had not been checked by these hinderers! But a deeper

view of the influence permanently exerted on the Church by Paul’s life

and writings would rather lead us to say — What sublime things Paul

did accomplish in spite of the hinderers, and even out of the very impulse

excited by their opposition; for in this, too, God made “the wrath of man to

praise Him!”  (Psalm 76:10)   More and more clearly is it now seen that a man’s

moral nobility is gained, not by silent, unresisted growths, but by the steady,

persistent, often imperiling, conflict with adverse influences and open foes.

And that which is true in the individual life is true of the composite Church

life. We may thank God that He has overruled, for the Church’s permanent

good, the hinderers, the opposers, the persecutors. We may consider:


(1) the sources whence hindrances come, getting illustrations from the

older times, and making applications to our own;


(2) the influences which hindrances may have upon the mind and feeling of

the workers; and


(3) the influences which they have upon the growth and progress of

Christ’s Church.



CHRISTIAN WORK, They have always come both from without and from

within the Church; but our thought is now chiefly confined to hindrances

coming from without. Hinderers are generally:


Ø      Persons of antagonistic disposition, who always take “the other side,”

are quick to imagine some evil in everything attempted, see no good in

anything with which they are unassociated, and have a sort of natural

horror of things that are new.


Ø      Or persons who have strong religious prejudices, which they feel the

fresh thing tends to undermine, and for which they consequently fight

as if they were the truth of God.


Ø      Or persons who cling to doctrinal forms or to ceremonial rites, and fail

to see that God may send forth floods of new life, too mighty to be kept

within their prescribed riverbanks, and so they vainly try to hold back

God’s floods.  (“But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply

ye be found even to fight against God.”  - ch. 5:39)


Ø      Or persons who have no faith in the future, and cannot trust God to

oversee and overrule the future, even as He does the present and has

done the past.


Ø      Or persons whose temporal condition may be injuriously affected by the

new enterprise; as illustrated by the shrine-makers of Ephesus. (ch. 19)

The phases which these hindrances take in modern life need to be carefully observed and thought out.




course, differ according to the disposition of the workers. We may divide

them into these classes.


Ø      Hindrances will dishearten and depress some. It is characteristic of some

that they are sunshine workers, and give up easily when the least cloud

shadow passes across. These are usually weakly in body and nervously

sensitive, and they need encouraging and the frequent kindly word.


Ø      Hindrances wilt keep up in some a “dogged persistency.” This

expression is not the most graceful one, but no other so well expresses

their condition of feeling. Like Nehemiah, they simply keep on, let other

men talk, send messages, or do what they will; and if they say anything to

the hinderers, it is only this, “We are doing a great work, therefore we

cannot come down.”  (Nehemiah 6:3)


Ø      And hindrances arouse some to new and nobler activity. The spirit of the

soldier is in them, and the very presence of a foe, and the very difficulties

of an enterprise, touch and awaken the noblest within them. Direct

application to present-day Church-workers should be made, and the duty

of resisting the undue influence of hinderers pressed home.





Ø      Internal growth in spirituality, in development of doctrine, in practical

application of principle to details of life.


Ø      External progress. Hinderers give publicity to the Christian Church,

calling the attention of many who would otherwise not hear of it. Hinderers

waken the natural sympathy of men for a resisted and persecuted thing.


Ø      Hinderers increase the evangelizing and aggressive fervor of the Church,

and so, by means of the hinderers, Christ’s kingdom steadily advances.

Illustrate by the persecutions of the early Church, the history of English

Protestantism, and the tale of Christian life in Madagascar. The Church

may have “many adversaries,” but she learns how to make their very

enmity her inspiration.


3 “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.”  They tarried there for abode they, Authorized Version;

bare witness for gave testimony, Authorized Version; granting for and granted,

Authorized Version. For the phrase long time (ἱκανὸν χρόνονhikanon chronon

enough; considerable time), compare ch. 27:9, "much time," and "many days"

(ἡμέραι ἱκαναί - haemerai hikanai), ch. 9:23. So also Luke 8:27, long time, or

"for a long time" (ἐκ χρόνων ἱκανῶνek chronon hikanon). Speaking boldly

(παρρησιαζόμενοι parraesiazomenoi ) in the Lord (ἐπὶ τῷ Κυρίῳ - epi to Kurio);

i.e. having the Lord for their support.  It was the special prayer of the Church that

God would "grant to His servants that they might speak the Word with all boldness

(μετὰ παρρησίας πάσηςmeta parraesias pasaeswith all boldness)," and in answer

to that prayer they were enabled to speak "the Word of God with boldness"

(ch. 4:29 ,31; compare ch. 9:29; 18:26; 19:8; I Thessalonians 2:2, etc.).

It was no small evidence of the power of the Holy Ghost that the apostles were able

to speak with such uncompromising fidelity in the face of such bitter opposition.

Signs and wonders, etc. See Mark 16:17-20; comp. too ch. 4:30, which also indicates

that we ought, perhaps, to understand here τῷ Κυρρίῳ - to Kurrio -  of God the Father

rather than of "His holy Servant Jesus."


4 “But the multitude of the city was divided: and part held with the Jews, and

part with the apostles.”  Was divided (ἐσχίσθη  - eschisthae); hence σχίσμα

schismaa schism (see John 7:43;  9:16; 10:19; I Corinthians 1:10).


5 “And when there was an assault made both of the Gentiles, and also of the

Jews with their rulers, to use them despitefully, and to stone them,”

Made an onset for an assault made, Authorized Version; of the Jews for also of

the Jews, Authorized Version; to entreat them shamefully for to use them despitefully,

Authorized Version, as I Thessalonians 2:2. As regards ὁρμή - hormeonset; rush,

neither the Authorized Version’s assault nor the Revised Version’s  onset expresses

it exactly. Ὁρμή means the strong bent of the mind, as in James 3:4, where it expresses

the strong will of the steersman directing the ship against the force of the winds. Here

it means that both Jews with their rulers, and Gentiles, under the influence of violent

passion, had determined and agreed to assault Paul and Barnabas. To entreat them

shamefully. ΨβριςHubris and ὑβρίζω hubrizo - denote "violence," as Matthew

22:6; Luke 18:32; II Corinthians 12:10. It is sometimes used of corporal punishment,

even legally inflicted, as Proverbs 19:18 (Septuagint).


6 “They were ware of it, and fled unto Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and

unto the region that lieth round about:”  Became aware for were ware, Authorized

Version (συνιδόντεςsunidontesbeing conscious), see Acts 12:12; the cities of

Lycaonia, Lystra, and Derbe, for Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, Authorized

Version; the region for unto the region, Authorized Version; round about for that

lieth round about, Authorized Version.


7 “And there they preached the gospel.”  They preached; were preaching - not

once or twice, but continuously. Lystra and Derbe were cities of southern Lycaonia,

obscure and remote from civilization, situated north of Mount Taurus, in a cold arid

country somewhere between Ak Ghieul on the north, and the volcanic region of

Karadagh on the south. They seem to have been included at this time in the

dominions of Antiochus, king of Commagene (Lewin). Lystra is thought to be now

represented by Bin-bir Kilissete (the thousand and one churches) (Lewin and Renan),

though this is doubtful; and Derbe distant about twenty miles from Lystra, and the

capital of that part of Lycaonia called Isaurica, is thought to be the modern Dioli

(Hamilton, Renan, etc.); others, however, place it nearer the White Lake, Ak Ghieul,

where the ruins of an ancient town are found.



Apostolic (ministerial) Experience (vs. 1-7)


  • THE PRIVILEGE OF PREACHING. The apostles at Iconium “so

spake(v. 1), i.e. with such force, persuasiveness, fidelity, that “a great

multitude believed” (ibid.); “they abode speaking boldly in the Lord”

(v. 3), i.e. they urged the truth with fearless vigor, their confidence being

grounded on God’s presence and support; “there they preached the gospel”

(v. 7). There is no vocation which any man can engage in which gives

such scope for the exercise of his highest powers as that of the Christian

minister or missionary. To preach the gospel of the grace of God as it

should and may be proclaimed, is to do that in which:


Ø      the fullest intellectual energy,

Ø      the utmost spirituality,

Ø      the largest beneficence,

Ø      the greatest strength of will, and

Ø      all the supreme faculties of redeemed and elevated

manhood, should be lavishly poured forth.



function to work miraculous cures: “signs and wonders were done by their

hands” (v. 3). This does not fall to our share, but it is always the

missionary’s and frequently the minister’s office — as an auxiliary to his

more spiritual work — to try to heal bodily complaints; and always is it his

concern to devise and encourage those institutions and habits which tend to

health, harmony, comfort, domestic peace.



gratified must have been the hearts of the apostles as they saw that

“multitude” of Jews and Greeks acknowledging the truth and power of the

gospel which they were preaching (v. 1)! All the harvest is not to be

reaped here; much of it “after many days;” much of it by other hands

(John 4:38). But God does give increase for our own eyes to see and our own hands to reap (I Corinthians 3:6). And of all the joys with which He fills our human hearts there are few, if any, comparable to that of seeing the pleasure

of the Lord prosper in our hand (Isaiah 53:10).



with a keen pang that Paul and Barnabas witnessed the evil machinations of

those “unbelieving Jews” (v. 2), hindering, as they must have done, the

good work which was proceeding. Too often the Christian teacher has to

look on at such scenes and grieve at the sad mischief which is being

wrought. At such times he can only cast himself on God, fleeing to the

Rock of his refuge, remembering that it is the work of the Infinite and

Almighty One in which he is engaged.


  • THE DUTY OF PERSISTENCY. It is not by a slight obstacle that the

Christian workman is to be daunted. He is to act like Nehemiah, whom

neither the menaces nor the stratagems of his enemies could move. He is to

act as Paul and Barnabas did, who “long time abode, speaking boldly in the

Lord” (v. 3). He is to show himself a faithful servant of his fearless

Master, ready to encounter the contempt, or the ridicule, or the slander, or

the turbulence of the evil-minded, so long as there is any good to be

accomplished by his steadfastness. But it is not to be forgotten that there is:



When the time comes that it is quite clear that persistency would only

involve the one side in the guilt of murder and the other in the complete

arrest of usefulness, then must the Lord’s counsel be taken (Matthew

10:23). The hour comes when continuance in peril is not faithfulness, but

foolhardiness; not commendable martyr-zeal, but censurable indiscretion.

We must use our intelligence to discriminate between the two; but for

retirement when persistency is useless and even mischievous, we have the

example of our Lord himself (Matthew 12:15), and of his apostles here.




The Gospel at Iconium (vs. 1-7)


There was a series of acts and events such as seem typical of the progress

of the gospel elsewhere.



Many, Jews and Greeks, believed. This is the one test of true preaching. Is

the truth “commended to the conscience”? Are great moral laws brought

out distinctly, so that the heart of the people leaps up, in truth set free? He

who preaches out of his heart alone reaches to the heart. The arguments

that have convinced ourselves are the arguments that can alone be

expected to convince others.


  • OPPOSITION AROUSED. Jewish prejudice still stands in the path of

the gospel. But the gospel acquires force as it goes, and actually roots itself

the more firmly in men’s minds from the very fact that it is able to

surmount opposition.


  • CONCURRENT DIVINE TESTIMONY. God gives His servants

power to work and to effect good. Deeds of good done to the suffering

body or mind are silent words; just as true words are spiritual deeds. We

do not look for miracles, but we ought to look for “signs” that God is with

us in the word we speak and the work we do for others.


  • DIVIDED RESULTS. A split takes place in the multitude: some

siding with the Jews, some with the apostles. It is by opposition of opinions

and feelings that the world is carried on. It does not follow, because

division takes place, on the entrance of a new light, that it will be

permanent. God’s method seems to be to lead men through divisions to

deeper unity; by experience of the futility of partial opinions to the deeper

insight which reconciles and satisfies. These divisions were prophetic of

what has ever to be in the history of the Church. Ever has there been

division marked at every era of new light and progress. He is in the right

who follows the light within; all who seek to follow the living Savior, and

such alone, enjoy under every name that is supposed to divide, “the unity

of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”



Faithful Service: Iconium (vs. 1-7)


  • THE MAGNANIMITY OF THE PREACHERS; though badly used by the Jews of Antioch, they still return good for evil.


  • THE FIRST SUCCESS OF THE WORD, when there was no decided

attempt to thwart it, a powerful testimony to its adaptation both to Jews

and Gentiles.



OF THE TRUTH must be set over against the fickleness of their hearers

and the obstinacy and envy of evil-minded men. The Lord bears witness to us when we speak boldly in his Name.


  • THERE IS A LIMIT TO ZEAL. It must not unnecessarily sacrifice life.

Fly to other places when the testimony is persistently rejected. Cast not

pearls before swine.” (Matthew 7:6)  The true wisdom is seen exemplified in

this instance.The preachers remained at their post until their lives were actually

in danger, and God said clearly, Go.




       The Calm Force of the Gospel Amid Many Distractions of Men

   (vs. 1-7)


This portion of the history names Paul and Barnabas to us for the first time

as apostles (v. 4). It is noticeable also as substituting the expression,

“preaching the gospel,” for speaking “the Word of God” (v. 7). But it is

remarkable much more as giving us such a distinct impression of the way in

which the new truth, “the gospel,” bore itself amid many a variety of

opposition and unexpected combinations of foes. Let us notice some of the

groupings amid which the gospel made its way, either with their help or

against their hindrance.



THE FIRST GROUP. As the gospel is still persistently first preached to

the Jew and from the pulpit that the synagogue constituted, so it seems that

generally some of the Jews (and of course not infrequently Greeks with

them) believed. Not however, it is a great multitude of these. Probably the

early and trenchant conquests of the gospel again availed to waken all the

bitterest and more active hostility in the new scene, whatever it might be,

of labor. The first group shows Jew against Jew therefore.




GROUP. Jew and Gentile seldom worked together for good — at least not

in any way directly or indirectly connected with religious matters. But now

not only do they combine forces for evil, but it is at the instance of the

Jew. “The same day Pilate and Herod were made friends together” (Luke

23:12). Very true it is any way that enmity against Christ and the gospel of

His truth and love will need all the combined force possible, and will need

to try every possible variety of combination, not then to succeed, but to

prove to itself how vain its opposition and anger are.



OF THE NEXT GROUPING. And this grouping is one that shows a

whole city:


Ø      Not divided into its ordinary numerous civil, political, or ecclesiastical

divisions. It owns to a very simple classification indeed. It is rent in just



Ø      And the separating line, traversing all other considerations, is determined

simply by men’s attitude with regard to these two men, lately arrived at

Iconium after expulsion from Antioch. The question has come to be —

Who “hold” with these two men, or who do not hold with them? — for

“holding with the Jews” is merely the converse of this. Whatever may be

true of these two men and of their word, evident, it was in those days and

in that city that they were forces that had to be reckoned with. And go

where the gospel will, this at least has always been found.



JEWS, AND THEIR RULERS. They are not, indeed, openly and

compactly and homogeneously massed together, but they are ready to drop

all differences for twenty-four hours, and are preparing to do so, that in

untrained multitude they may try the effect of brute force. These were

meditating an assault upon the two unarmed defenseless preachers. They

were organizing themselves, truly after very rough sort, for this purpose.

And if the purpose be ever done, when it is done there will soon be an end

of their harmony.



THIRD WITH THEM, THOUGH INVISIBLE. These, passing from the

midst of an angry people, went their way to preach the same gospel, serve

the same Master, trust the same Savior, but to do these things elsewhere.

They “flee,” not for fear, not from cowardice, not from love of their own

life, but from love of the life of their gospel and their mission, and in

obedience to the plain command of the great Captain (Luke 10:23).

How strong that gospel was! How strong their heart was! And these gave

strength both to limb to go elsewhere and to voice to speak and preach

elsewhere. Often must those apostles and their converts too of the Jews

have thought of the old words of impassioned prophetic expostulation:

“Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? the kings

of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against

the Lord and against his Anointed.” For they arebroken as with a rod of

iron;” they are dashed “in pieces like a potter’s vessel.” But Jesus and His

gospel survive, and reign with a reign further and wider; they strew

blessings their whole way along, and wake ten thousand voices of praise.


8 “And there sat a certain man at Lystra, impotent in his feet, being a cripple

from his mother's womb, who never had walked:”  At Lystra there sat, etc.,

for there sat... at Lystra, Authorized Version; a cripple for being a cripple,

Authorized Version and Textus Receptus.


9 “The same heard Paul speak: who stedfastly beholding him, and perceiving

that he had faith to be healed,”  Speaking for speak, Authorized Version; fastening

his eyes upon for stedfastly beholding, Authorized Version (see above, ch. 1:10;  3:4);

seeing for perceiving, Authorized Version; made whole for healed, Authorized Version.

Heard. The force of the imperfect ἤκουεν aekouen - would, perhaps, be better given

by "listened" to Paul speaking. There is great resemblance between this miracle of

healing, and that of the lame man laid at the gate of the temple, who was healed by

Peter (ch. 3:2-10), and, not unnaturally, considerable identity of expression in the

narratives. Both men were lame from their birth; the apostles fastened their eyes

upon both; both, when healed, leaped and walked; and in both cases the miracle

had a great effect upon the multitudes who beheld it.


10 “Said with a loud voice, Stand upright on thy feet. And he leaped and walked.”

Leaped up for leaped. Authorized Version.


11 “And when the people saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices,

saying in the speech of Lycaonia, The gods are come down to us in the likeness

of men.”  Multitudes for people, Authorized Version; voice for voices, Authorized

Version. In the speech of Lycaonia. It is not known what the language of Lycaonia

was, whether Cappadocian, or Celtic, or Lycian; but we learn incidentally from

Stephanus Byzantinus, that there was a Lycaonian language, for he tells us that

Delbia (as some write the name Derbe) was the Lycaonian for ἄρκευθος

apkeuthos -  a juniper tree or berry. No other Lycaonian word is known  . 

The Lycaoniaus doubtless understood Greek as the language of intercommunication

all over Roman Asia, but among themselves would speak their native dialect. The

belief that the gods were come down in the likeness of men, and that these gods

were Jupiter and Hermes, or Mercury, was most natural to Lycaonians, who were

conversant with, and doubtless believed, the Phrygian legend of Philemon and

Baucis, who entertained hospitably Jupiter and Hermes, when no one else would

take them in, and whose cottage was by the gods turned into a temple (when all

the neighborhood was drowned by a flood), of which they were made priest and

priestess during life, and simultaneously metamorphosed into an oak and lime tree

when their life ended (Ovid, 'Metamorph.,'8:611, etc.). Ovid places the scene of the

legend at Tyana, the site of which has been ascertained by Hamilton to be near

Erekli, in Cappadocia, close to the borders of Lycaonia. The moral drawn in the

legend itself seems to have been that which influenced the people of Lycaonia

in their conduct towards the two strangers: "Cura pii dis sunt, et qui coluere

coluntur," which may be Englished, "Them that honor me I will honor"


12 “And they called Barnabas, Jupiter; and Paul, Mercurius, because he

was the chief speaker.”  Mercury for Mercurius, Authorized Version. For the

Latin Jupiter and Mercury the Greek original has Zeus and Hermes. Jupiter is

Jovis Pater, where Jovis or Diovis or Dies (in Diespiter) is the Latin form of Zeus,

gen. Δίος - Dios. Mercury is Hermes in his special character as the god of markets

and trade. But the Lycaonians here thought of him in his principal character of

herald and messenger of the gods, and hence the god of eloquence and speech.


13 “Then the priest of Jupiter, which was before their city, brought oxen and

garlands unto the gates, and would have done sacrifice with the people.”

And for then, Authorized Version; whose temple was before the city for which

was before their city, Authorized Version and Textus Receptus; the multitudes for

the people, Authorized Version, as in v. 12. The priest of Jupiter. The words,

δὲ ἱερεὺς τοῦ Διὸς τοῦ ὄντες κ.τ.λ.ho de hiereus tou Dios tou ontes k.t.l. –

the yet sacred of Zeus, etc., may be construed in two ways - either as in the

Authorized Version, or the priest of the temple of Jupiter, etc., understanding,

by a common ellipse, ἱεροῦ - hierou - priest, or, ναοῦ - naon - temple, after Διός

DiosZeus, as in the Latin phrase," Ubi ad Dianae veneris;" "When you come

to the temple of Diana," etc. But it is not a Greek phrase to speak of Jupiter being

before the city, meaning the temple of Jupiter. Therefore the proper way of

translating is to take the full phrase as being ἱερεὺς τοῦ Διός ναοῦ or ἰεροῦ,

the article τοῦ - touof the - belonging to ναοῦ, and Διός being, as in so many

instances,  without the article. The gates; viz. of the city. The temple was just

outside the gates; the lame man, it is likely, sat inside near the gates through

which men were passing in and out. Paul and Barnabas would address the

people in the square or open space inside the gates. Seeing a stir at the gates,

and hearing that it was the priest of Jupiter coming with oxen and garlands to

sacrifice to them, they immediately ran forward to prevent it. The ox was the

proper sacrifice for Jupiter.


14 “Which when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of, they rent their

clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out,”  But... heard of it for which ...

heard of, Authorized Version; garments for clothes, Authorized Version; sprang

forth for ran in, Authorized Version; multitudes for people, Authorized Version,

as before. The conduct of Barnabas and Paul, in abhorring the honors offered

to them, has been well contrasted with the profane vanity of Herod in accepting

Divine honors (ch.12:23).


15 “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:”  Bring you good tidings for preach unto you, Authorized

Version; vain things for vanities, Authorized Version; who for which,

Authorized Version; the heaven and the earth for heaven and earth,

Authorized Version; that in them is for things that are therein, Authorized

Version. For the declaration, We also are men of like passions with you, compare

Peter's saying to Cornelius (ch.10:26), "Stand up; I myself also am a man." Paul

finely contrasts the utter vanity, i.e. the impotence, lifelessness, uselessness, and

unprofitableness of the idols, with the power of the living God, who by His word

created heaven and earth and sea, and filled them all with beauty, shape, and life.



No gods, but THE ONLY GOD (v. 5)


The subject may be introduced by such a sketch of the incidents as will bring

prominently forward these points.


1. The apostles wrought a miraculous healing.

2. Their act was seriously misconceived.

3. Pagan sentiments overwhelmed the Christian teaching.

4. The apostles most deeply felt the insult which the proposed sacrifice

offered to the Divine honor and sole claim.


Remember that the first and supreme truth to a Jew is the unity and spirituality

of God, and observe that this should be as firmly and jealously conserved by the Christian as by the Jew. One of the most marked features of the pious man in

all ages is supreme jealousy of God’s sole honor. In describing the miracle out of

which the incidents grew, the necessity for a moral preparation before we

can receive Divine intervention and deliverance may be pointed out. Men

may be set so as to receive, or so as to be indifferent to, God’s saving

grace. Our Lord pleads thus, “Ye will not come unto me, that ye might have

life” (John 5:40)  The evident eagerness of this cripple marked him out to the quick insight of the apostle as one on whom a work of power could be wrought. It is

evident on the face of the narrative that it was not every cripple or every sufferer

that Paul would have attempted to heal; it was only such as, so to speak, met

halfway the exertion of spiritual power by their own ardent faith. Fixing

attention on the serious error of the excited populace, and the earnest

efforts of the apostles to correct it, we notice:



impulsive idea of them likely to spring up in men’s minds. Things that are

evidently beyond human power must be wrought by DIVINE POWER,

and persons by whom the wondrous work is wrought must be Divine persons.

Such reasoning was strengthened by the legends and superstitions of

heathenism, and it may be shown that there lingered in the particular

district of Lycaonia, traditions of incarnations of the deity (see instances in

the exegetical portion of this Commentary). But the first and natural

argument from miracles cannot be sustained when knowledge is advanced

and critical thinking gains power. That they are wrought by Divine power

and signs of Divine presence is not the only possible explanation of them.

Men properly test their so-called miraculous character, and then they test

the agency by which they are wrought. Therefore God never bears upon

men with the force of miracles alone, and we are led to consider.



necessary connection the heathen could not see, and to this day many

Christians do not see. A miracle is nothing standing by itself; it may be

most valuable as related to, and the exposition or illustration of, some

truth. Renan says rightly that the ancient heathen had no conception of a

miracle as the evidence of a doctrine. And Archbishop Trench points out

that our Lord’s miracles are never called merely wonders, “because the

ethical meaning of the miracle would be wholly lost were blank

astonishment or gaping wonder all which they aroused. They are also

‘signs - σηµεῖα - saemeiasigns, miracles, tokens, wonders and pledges

of something more than and beyond themselves.” It may be urged that miracles are never wrought save for the sake of THE TRUTH! Even when they are at first sight attestations of a person, they confirm our faith in him only for the

sake of the truth which he brings, and they only fulfill their mission when they produce in us receptivity to the truth taught. This is fully illustrated in the incidents connected with our text. The people stayed with what the miracle seemed to say concerning the persons Barnabas and Saul. The apostles

earnestly urged that the miracle was but designed to open their hearts to the

TRUTH. Much of the difficulty felt concerning the miraculous, would be removed if we dwelt more fully on its moral use, as producing a receptivity for the truth.




had been designed to aid in securing attention to the apostles’ message as

sent from God. It came to be a means of correcting men’s fundamental

error on the being of God. Ordinarily the truth received may be left to push

out cherished error. Monotheism, conceived from the Christian standpoint,

will of itself destroy all polytheistic conceptions. But sometimes

fundamental doctrinal errors need to be resolutely dealt with. The apostles

dare not dishonor their Master by permitting a vital error to be cherished.

So, at the utmost personal peril, they declare that there are no gods; THERE

IS ONLY GOD and that they themselves are only men, His servants, who are

permitted to put forth gracious power, as a persuasion to men to receive

Chrisit’s blessed message of pardon and life.


16 “Who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways.” 

The generations gone by for times past, Authorized Version; the nations for

nations, Authorized Version.




                           God’s Ways with the Nations (v. 16)


Attention is called to the sentence, “Who, in times past,” or in bygone

generations, “suffered all nations,” or all the heathen, “to walk in their own

ways.” On this sentence Olshausen writes, “In the first place, Paul

contrasts the present time, as the time of the Messiah, with former times, in

which the heathen world, with no such light as the Jewish nation

possessed, lived on in their own ways. In this thought is to be found the

apology for the design of the people of Lystra, so blasphemous considered

in itself. But again, this situation of the Gentile world was not sufficient to

free them altogether from guilt, for Nature herself, with all the wonderful

arrangements which she exhibits, furnished the means of rising to the idea

of the true God, who summoned the whole fabric into being.”  (See Romans



  • GOD HAD “WAYS WITH THE NATIONS.” A common sentiment has

long prevailed that God altogether left the heathen nations alone, doing

nothing for their intellectual or their moral life, and only preserving their

physical being by His providence. It is a sentiment which can only be

cherished so long as men do not think, and so long as they limit the

teachings of the Divine Word by their prejudices. “The God of the whole

earth must He be called” (Isaiah 54:5), and “all souls are His.” (Ezekiel

18:4)  (Reader have you ever considered the parameters of this?  - CY –

2017)  If they are His, He must be concerned in their well-being in every

respect, and can never have stood aloof from their mental, moral, and spiritual needs. It pleased God to grant a special revelation to the Jews for the whole world’s sake; but this does not assume that He gave no revelations at all to

others. In comparison, God’s ways with the nations may be called a “leaving

them to their own devices;” (Psalm 81:12); Romans 1:24) but He watched over them while thus carrying out self-devised plans, and overruled even this to become a kind of preparation for that gospel revelation which could be made

to the whole world. Each nation worked out a great experiment; we cannot

always be sure what each experiment was, but we can see it precisely in some cases. It may have been — Can man’s final good come through:


Ø      his imagination,

Ø      his intellect, or

Ø      his artistic taste,

Ø      his governmental faculties, or

Ø      through his activities and energies?


Put generally, we may say that God’s ways with the nations were to let them

be free to find out for themselves whether in man’s own nature there was any power by which he could free himself from sin and secure the perfection of his being. Such an experiment or series of experiments had to be made in the

interests of the whole race, and only when the failure of all such experiments was well proved could the revelation of salvation for men by A DIVINE

INTERVENTION be made. Man must find out that he cannot save

himself before he will be willing to look up and say, “Lord, help me!” The following passage from F. W. Robertson expresses the same view of God’s

ways with the nations in another and a suggestive form: — “Recollect that the Bible contains only a record of the Divine dealings with a single nation; his proceedings with the minds of other peoples are not recorded. That large other world — no less God’s world than Israel was, though in their bigotry the Jews thought Jehovah was their own exclusive property — scarcely is, scarcely could be, named on the page of Scripture except in its external relation to Israel. But

at times, figures as it were cross the rim of Judaism, when brought in

contact with it, and passing for a moment as dim shadows, do yet tell us

hints of a communication and a revelation going on unsuspected. We are

told, for example:


Ø      of Job; no Jew, but an Arabian emir, who beneath the tents of Uz contrived to solve the question to his heart which still perplexes

us through life — the coexistence of evil with Divine benevolence;

Ø      of one who wrestled with God as Jacob did, and strove to know the shrouded Name, and hoped to find that it was love.   (Genesis 28)

Ø      We find Naaman the Syrian (II Kings 5), and

Ø      Nebuchadnezzar the Babylonian, under the providential and loving

discipline of God. (Daniel 4)

Ø      Rahab the Gentile harlot is saved by faith. (Joshua 2)

Ø      The Syro-phoenician woman by her sick daughter’s bedside, amidst

the ravings of insanity, recognizes, without human assistance, the

sublime and consoling truth of a universal Father’s love in the midst

of apparent partiality.  (Mark 4:24-30)


The Light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world’ had not left        them in darkness.” How this may be applied to God’s ways with heathen nations

now requires to be thought out. THE UNIVERSAL REVELATION IS

YET TO BE MADE IN JESUS CHRIST yet requires to be universally made known.



VINDICATED. To their view and to our view there is much that seems to

need vindicating. For instance:


Ø      is there not much sign of favoritism in the Divine ways?

Ø      do not multitudes of men morally perish while God withholds from

them His revelation?

Ø      however the experiment may serve the great interest of the race, it

brings the ruin of the individual; and

Ø      THE DARKNESS into which man sinks when left alone is so awful that even the gospel light seems powerless to dispel it.


In such ways we find utterance for our questionings and doubts. And yet

already God’s ways are being justified.


Ø      We are getting fuller and worthier conceptions of the Divine Being

Himself, which bring a most restful assurance that what He does for all His creatures is more than RIGHT,  is LOVINGLY RIGHT!

Ø      Philosophy is helping us to a truer knowledge of the individual man, and

of the purpose of race and climatic diversities of man, and enabling us to

conceive how God may deal with humanity as a whole, and with each

part in the interests of the whole.

Ø      The Christian revelation declares that the mystery of earth will be

unfolded by-and-by, and will even pass out of our thought as we


Ø      Christian missions are spreading THE ONE SAVING REVELATION

OF GOD amongst the nations in a way that assures of the coming fulfillment of our largest hopes. Till the day of vindication fully dawns,

we must strive to understand better God’s ways, and above all to make

full present response to God’s grace in Christ Jesus as revealed unto us.


17 “Nevertheless He left not Himself without witness, in that He did good, and

gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and

gladness.”  And yet for nevertheless, Authorized Version; you from heaven rains for

us rain from heaven, Authorized Version and Textus Receptus; your for our,

Authorized Version and Textus Receptus. Observe how the apostle adapts his preaching

to his hearers. How different this address to the heathen Lycaonians from those to Jews

and proselytes! Here he leads them from nature to God; there from prophecy to Jesus.



The Witness of Harvest-Times (v. 17)


For the point as presented to a very different audience, see Romans 1:19-20;

here ch. 17:28. It has been remarked that the Greek words here

used by the apostle are “so distinctly rhythmical that they suggest the

thought that Paul quotes from some hymn of praise which he had heard

in a harvest or vintage festival, and which, as with the altar to the

Unknown God at Athens, he claims as due to Him whom men ignorantly

worshipped.” A sentence from Neander may give the key-note to the

sermon. He says, “The whole creation, as a revelation of God, especially of

His almightiness and goodness, is designed to arouse the spirit of man to a

perception of the inward revelation of God.” Introduce the subject by a

picture of the scene connected with it. An occasion was made for declaring

the relations of nature with religion. Fix thought on the one nature-scene of

harvest, and apply Paul’s teaching; first showing how fully in harmony

with his views this representation was, and what support Holy Scripture

gives to it.





Ø      God must use some agency in revealing His mind to His creatures.

Ø      The agency He uses must be in relation to our bodily senses.

Ø      It need not be fashioned into precise words, because man’s heart can

be reached through the eye, the ear, the taste, as well as by verbal statements.


Illustrate the impressions of beautiful landscape, music of the waters,

thunderstorms, etc. Any of the things that man can feel God can use to

convey His mind and message to Him. The voices of God in nature are

translated for us by our poets, who are — if they fit into their true mission

— ministers of God’s will to men, or rather, ministers revealing God

Himself to men. See how the psalmist recognizes the universal witness of

this nature-voice: “Their sound is gone out through all the earth, their

words to the end of the world”  (Psalm 19:4) and apply especially to the

harvest-time of earth, which knits the millions of earth together in the joyful recognition of God’s loving care and providing mercies.





Ø      The truth of the Divine unity; for it is plain to all that nature is a design

— SOME ONE PERSON’S DESIGN!   Its perfect harmonies suggest this. And increasing knowledge corrects the notion of two agents, which men have been tempted to accept, when impressed with the seemingly injurious forces working in nature.


o       Science, in making more plain the perfect harmony of all nature-forces, is giving her testimony to the unity of God.


And then comes on us this consideration: if there be but one God, our

supreme concern is to BE IN RIGHT RELATIONS WITH HIM!


Ø      The truth that He is infinite in power; for nature shows us that He is

infinite in resources.


Ø      The truth that He is infinitely good; for nature shows Him to us fitting allthings together to secure the general well-being. Nature suggests the

attractiveness and beautifulness of God.



TO THE CHRISTIAN? The Christian man comes back upon nature with

the illuminations of that higher and fuller revelation which has for a time

absorbed him — from the vision of God, manifest in Christ Jesus, which

was so glorious as for a while to occupy his thought and feeling wholly.

But coming back with these new thoughts of God, he finds Nature has new

voices and new messages, and her provisions tell him:


Ø      Of God’s care.

Ø      Of God’s long-suffering and mercy; for he knows now that man has no

deserts upon which he might claim, and positive ill deserts which might

reasonably lead to the removal of his common every-day mercies.

Ø      Of God’s great love to man’s soul, which seems shown by its overflow

in God’s gracious provision in nature for all the wants of his body.

Ø      Of God’s faithfulness to all His promises, which are assured in His

yearly fulfillment of that earliest promise that “While the earth

remaineth, seed-time and harvest… shall not cease.” (Genesis

8:22)  Press, in conclusion, how Paul urges that the proper influence

of nature is a constant and mighty persuasion to turn from all our

vanities to the loving and hearty service of the one living God, and to accept of the full salvation which He has provided in the person of

His Son Jesus Christ.


18 “And with these sayings scarce restrained they the people, that they had not

done sacrifice unto them.  The multitudes for the people, Authorized Version;

from doing for that they had not done, Authorized Version.




    The Light Shining in Darkness — Lystra (vs. 8-18)


The heathenish state of the population. So much the brighter seemed the

light. The effect of the miracle on the cripple. A warning against making a

superstitious use of men’s credulity — as the Romish Church has done.




Ø      Of their faithfulness to the truth. Had they been willing, as the Church

afterwards was, to mingle heathenism with Christianity, they might have

accomplished more in captivating the minds of the people.


Ø      Of their humility and self-sacrificing zeal. They put aside men’s worship

that they might be free to serve God. What an example to their successors!


Ø      Of their inspired wisdom and discretion. They knew how to restrain an

excited people whose homage might easily be turned into fury. They made

the occasion an opportunity for preaching a gospel of love and purity.





Ø      Gaping after wonders. Led by priests; worshipping men of like passions

with themselves:

o        ignorant of the true character of God,

o        ungrateful in the midst of His abundant mercies, and

o        unobservant of the witness which He bears

to Himself in nature and in the course of providence.


Ø      The glad tidings brought into the midst of such a world. At first not

understood; but the preachers must follow the example of the apostles,

and, beginning at the testimony which surrounds men in their own life, lead

them to the higher truth of revelation. Missionaries should study the field

in which they labor.



Three Instances of Faith (vs. 8-18)


The contents of these verses are very diversified and very full. Yet a certain

unity attaches to them, and from this point of view they will be now

regarded. Paul and Barnabas have now reached a people who arc almost

exclusively Gentiles, and Gentiles of the Gentiles. The miracle with which

this paragraph opens may be supposed to find its place here by the mind of

the Spirit, less for its own particulars, interesting and instructive as they

are, than for the sequel, which shows the effect of miracle upon heathen,

and the way in which the apostles dealt with that effect. We may regard the

passage as exemplifying three various faiths, various because they were

different in their degree, and different in yet more essential respect, in their



  • THE FAITH OF THE CRIPPLE. It is to be assumed that he was not a

Jew, but a heathen. He hears Paul, presumably therein for the first time

hearing pure truth, whether Paul is speaking of the things of revealed

religion or of natural religion. The incident may have helped Paul to his

subsequent language: “So then faith cometh by heating, and hearing by the

Word of God” (Romans 10:17). Paul speaks. The lame man listens. He

listens more and yet more keenly. The “seed of the Word” is falling “into

good ground.” (Matthew 13:23)  Paul’s eye falls on him. Afterwards it is

riveted by him. The interested, eager, imploring eye of the lame man is met by

the divinely enlightened, divinely discerning, and divinely giving eye of Paul. Paul is led, as the consequence, to see that he has “faith to be healed.” The

question of a miracle lies with the omnipotence of God, but the question of

when that omnipotence shall be exercised may lie (beyond what we think,

and beyond what we can at present track) with the individual man. For this

is in the deepest sense the mystery of human life and human accountability;

nor can we even say where the line runs that distinguishes between the

agency of God’s Spirit, in the greatest miracles of all, THE CONVERSION

OF THE HEART, and the freedom of man’s will. The language we have

here may mean either:


Ø      distinctly that Paul saw that the lame man had the faith upon which the

omnipotent Word would take effect, not by bare right of its omnipotence

alone, but also by the more hidden harmony and sympathy of a sensitive,

a quickened, a trusting, and an obedient heart; or


Ø      that Paul saw that the lame man had already received the divinest gift

of all the Word of God, and that he was therefore a fitter vessel to be

“chosen” both to receive himself the lesser grace, and also to set forth to

others the abundant grace of God. Meantime the less enlightened the

nature and the less informed the actual mind of the lame man, the more

are we conducted to some discrimination of faith’s purest essence:


o       its trustingness,

o       its self-surrender, and

o        its clinging confessed dependence.




Ø      Their faith was of those who did believe, and did not either shut their

eyes, or quibble, or blaspheme.


Ø      Their faith was of those who attributed the work of a miracle to powers

distinctly higher. They were not of those who once said of Jesus himself,

“He casteth out devils through Beelzebub the chief of the devils.”

(Luke 11:15)  Nor were they of those who set it down to sorcery and witchcraft, What highest they knew de facto, to that they gave or desired to give glory.


Ø      But their faith was of those who, believing, believed “ignorantly,”

believed absolutely wrongly, and believed far more wrongly (now by

Scripture’s most emphatic assertion) than could be justified in any way.


Ø      Their faith exhibited that leading mark of the lowest kind of faith which

must link on the wonder done to the nearest manifest doer. It gets to a

god, but it is its own god peculiarly. It gets to a god, but not to the Spirit

and the Invisible, much less to the one invisible Spirit; nay, its way of

getting to a god is by bringing its gods to itself “in the likeness of men.” (v. 11)  “Thou thoughtest that I was altogether such a one as thyself:

but I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thine eyes.”

(Psalm 50:21)  It has not reached to the conception of the great power,

the great goodness, the great Being before all, who giveth to all life

and breath and all things” (ch. 17:25), and, among those all things, knowledge of His own will, and power to execute it, betimes in the fullness of its majesty.


Ø      But when all has been justly said to the disparagement of the faith of

these heathen men of Lystra, it may be put to their credit, that, even in

nature’s darkness, they did not believe in a faith barren of works; in

which respect, at least, they may often be taken as rising up in

judgment against the children of the light and of the day.




Ø      It was in the first place without doubt the pure faith that was wrought in

them by the Holy Spirit. It was by this that Paul recognized the

opportunity, and discerned in the cripple the real thing that was also in

himself, and taught him to speak that word “with a loud voice, Stand

upright on thy feet.”


Ø      The “faith that dwelt in” the apostle was one that made the ignorance of

the really Divine, now illustrated before their very eyes, and now taking

advantage of their very persons, so harrowingly painful. Their impetuous

rushing among the people, and rending of their clothes, and mingled

expostulation and instruction addressed to the people, all prove the

intensely exercised state of their own mind, almost to agony of anguish.

And the anguish was the reflection of just this — an enlightened, a pure,

a high faith. Many dark outer deeds had Barnabas and Paul too often

seen, from which, nevertheless, their inmost soul took less wound than from this, when the enthusiastic heathen of Lystra would fain have sacrificed to them.


Ø      The faith of the apostles was that which struck horror into them at the

very thought, if haply they should “rob God of his own” or seem to

share His undivided honor. May they not be considered in this light as holding out an example to all their spiritual successors, to fear, as much

as they would fear anything, lest they should be found at any time to “sacrifice unto their net, and to burn incense unto their drag” (Habakkuk 1:16), or lest they should accept the offerings of flattery to themselves which should be only offerings of praise to Christ. What a wonderful guide for the noblest life earth can know comes of the

enlarged, developed, mature faith of an experienced Christian!


19 “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.”  But there came Jews thither for and there came

thither certain Jews, Authorized Version; and having persuaded the multitudes,

they stoned for who persuaded the people, and having stoned, Authorized Version;

and dragged for drew, Authorized Version; that he was dead for he had been dead,

Authorized Version. But there came Jews, etc. Observe the persistent enmity of the

unbelieving Jews. The same fickleness of the multitude which led those who had cried,

"Hosanna!" to turn round and say, "Crucify him!" here led those who would have

worshipped Paul as a god, now to stone him as a blasphemer. This is, doubtless, the

instance to which Paul alludes when he says "Once was I stoned," (II Corinthians




Dangers and Successes (vs. 19-28)


The unstable multitude open to rapid changes of feeling. Hosanna!” to

day; “Crucify Him!” to-morrow. Paul’s miraculous escape a great help to

the faith of disciples. Possibly his suffering a reason for speedy return to






Ø      The necessity of patience.

Ø      The importance of making the work thorough and confirming the weak.

Ø      The relation of aggressive work to orderly Church life. Both in the new

Churches elders appointed, and at Antioch all rehearsed.



WATCHFULNESS, even at the risk of personal suffering. It was

dangerous for Paul and Barnabas to visit the same places again, but “the

souls of the disciples” were more in their eyes than their own comfort or

even safety.


Ø      True confirmation is a recognition of present grace.

Ø      The experience of the more advanced should help the new converts

and the young. The Church has often neglected this duty.

Ø      Trouble must always attend faith. The blessings which we care not to

fight for we shall soon lose.

Ø      The appointment of superintending elders is apostolic. They were

doubtless from among the new Churches themselves, but chosen with

discretion and in dependence on the blessing of God. All was done

with prayer and self-denial. The presence of the Lord is the one true sanction.





Ø      In the gathered Church, not merely in private; for the Church is the

true center from which all proceeds and to which all is brought.

Ø      The true missionary work is that which the Church maintains in its

united capacity. Individual and isolated efforts are not so likely to be


Ø      The special importance of the mission of Paul and Barnabas in showing

the open door of faith to the Gentiles. Such a fact could not have wielded

the same influence had it not been rehearsed thus solemnly to the

assembled brethren. Antioch was now the pledged source of light to the

Gentile world.


20 “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.”  But for howbeit,

Authorized Version; entered for came, Authorized Version; on the morrow for the

next day, Authorized Version; went forth for departed, Authorized Version. It is

pleasing to observe the fidelity of the converts, who, in the face of violence and death,

clave to the apostle, even when they thought he was dead. It does not appear how

Barnabas escaped.



The Insufficient and the Efficacious (vs. 7-20)


We ask such questions as these — What is it that will convince the minds

and convert the souls of men? What avails to establish the kingdom of

Christ in any town or neighborhood? What will secure the practical

acceptance of Divine truth? The answer is that some things are strong but

insufficient; one thing only is efficacious.




Ø      The hand of God in nature does not suffice. “The living God which

made heaven and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein,”

has “not left himself without witness” anywhere; everywhere He has “done

good, and sent rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts

with food and gladness” (vs. 15-17), pouring out, with the lavish hand of

Divine beneficence, beauty and plenty, love and joy, peaceful memories and

inspiring hopes, on to the path and into the heart of man. But what nations

of the earth has this great gift of His hand saved from the most shameful

and pernicious idolatry? How many thousands of hearts are there today

that are not drawn by this to filial gratitude and holy service?


Ø      The miraculous does not avail (vs. 8-13, 18). The healing of the man

who had been lame from his birth, so far from producing a favorable effect

and leading to a general acceptance of the Divine message, led to an

outburst of idolatrous zeal. The people immediately deified the human

agents and set about to worship them. If we turn back to the pages in

which the miraculous appears — to the times of Moses, Samuel, Elijah,

Elisha; or if we consider the treatment of our Divine Master Himself, whose

beneficent power reached so many human homes; or if we go on to the

gifts (miraculous) enjoyed by the Corinthian Church, if indeed they can be

truly said to have enjoyed them; — whithersoever we look, we see that the

effect of the visibly supernatural was far less potent for good than we, in its

absence, should have imagined it would be. Those who wait for the marked

and unmistakable interposition of God before they take the one right step

into the kingdom of Christ, before they “lay hold on eternal life,” are most

seriously imperiling their own souls (see Luke 16:31).


Ø      The exhibition of holy zeal is not sufficient (vs. 14-17). Though Paul

and Barnabas energetically disclaimed any title to be treated as gods, and

resolutely refused the proffered honors, and though they were laboring

without remuneration, and giving every possible proof of their disinterested

love, yet they did not succeed in winning the strong esteem of the

Lycaonians; these men proved fickle and faithless. Very soon indeed the

hands that were diligently employed in paying sacrifice to the apostles were

busy in hurling stones at them. Enthusiasm and even holiest heroism will

not of itself prevail against the prejudice and passion of unrighteousness.


  • THE EFFICACIOUS. We know that there were disciples gained at

Lystra, for they stood round and sheltered Paul when he was murderously

assailed (v. 20). We also know that these disciples were gained by the

preaching of the gospel (v. 7). We are not told here, but we are

abundantly assured elsewhere, that the preaching of the truth was made

effectual by the agency of the Holy Spirit of God. So that we may say that


Ø      Divine truth was the weapon,

Ø      the Holy Ghost the agent,

Ø      human faith (see v. 9, illustration) the condition, of the successful

work of the apostles at Lystra, as these will be of all efficacious

ministry everywhere now.




Healing of the Lame Man at Lystra (vs. 8-20)


The event is chiefly remarkable for the effect it produced upon the minds of

the people of the country and the illustration of the apostolic temper and

spirit thereby called forth.




Ø      His complaint was congenital, and, according to ordinary ways of

thinking, incurable. This brings all the more his faith into relief. It is the

very power and property of faith to conquer what seems to reason

unconquerable. It is impossible to show that any diseases are in themselves

incurable; they may baffle human skill, but not the healing energy of God.


Ø      “Faith comes by hearing, and bearing by the Word of God.”  (Romans

10:17)  The sufferer seizes on the truth that God is a Savior, and that in Him

is to be found full, present, immediate salvation from passing ills. Faith

realizes the unseen as if it were the seen.


Ø      Faith recognized by the minister of God. Paul sees that the lame man has

faith to be healed. There is sympathy between souls in God. The minister of

God’s mercy, of Christ’s saving energy, is directed to his object, and the

object is directed to him. If God has entrusted us with a good to dispense,

it will not be long before we find the soul who needs it. So Paul bids the

sufferer arise; the word of authority is echoed by the consciousness of new

power in the sufferer’s breast: he rises, he walks, he bounds with joy. It is a

representation of what ever will take place and does take place when true

words are spoken to the souls of men. Oh, let us believe in the energies of

the soul, by which we may lay hold on Divine power in our own weakness,

both that we may receive good and impart it to others!




Ø      They thought that they were receiving a visit from the gods. The air of

the ancient world was full of such stories. Doubtless the story of Zeus

visiting Philemon and Baucis was well known to them. These so-called

“myths contain a deep meaning; they are prophecies of the human heart, of

that intercourse between God and man which the gospel declares to be the

fact of facts in religion.


Ø      They were mistaken in the mode of the truth. Paul was not Zeus, nor

was Barnabas Hermes. But they were not mistaken as to the substance of

the truth. They were mistaken in offering worship to men like themselves,

but not mistaken in the heart-instinct by which they recognized behind the

healing power put forth the energy of God. The understanding may be in

error when the heart speaks true. When this is the case, instruction,

missionary effort, has always hopeful ground to work upon. The error and

unbelief of the heart alone is invincible and fatal.




Ø      Their horror and indignation. They rend their garments, and rush into

the crowd with exclamations of astonishment and anger. We must be

capable of a holy anger if we are capable of a holy love. Worship belongs

to THE DIVINE ALONE!  What would the apostles say now to the worship

of their bones or other relics, real or pretended?


Ø      Their clear protest. “We too are men of like passions.” Suffering,

sorrowing humanity is no object of such honors. To accept them is to

dishonor the Divine majesty, and to do injustice at the same time to

ordinary humanity. The true teacher will never magnify himself, and will

ask for nothing more than serious attention to his arguments and teachings.

If the teacher shows that he considers himself on a level with ordinary

humanity, the unconverted and self-humiliated will look up with hope of

their own deliverance from misery; and the awakened are warned not to

confound the imperfections of the teacher with the substance of his

message. The treasure is in earthen vessels, that THE EXCELLENCY

OF THE POWER MAY BE OF GOD, and not of us!


Ø      True views of God set forth.


o        He is the living God; and all in the world not derived from Him and

resting on Him is of no value. All worship directed to finite objects misses its supreme mark, and is a vanity, a “nothing.” The idol

itself is “nothing in the world.”   (I Corinthians 4:8)  All love is lost

save upon God alone!


o        He is the Creator. This is a thought brought into emphasis in the

preaching and teaching of Paul, as in his Epistle to the Romans and his

discourse on Mars’ Hill. (ch. 17)  Having made all things, he contains

all things in Himself.  (“by Him all things consist” (Colossians 1:17),  “....without Him was not anything made that was made.”  (John 1:3)  Man is His creature; and if man offers even his whole self upon the

altar to God, God but receives His own.


o        He respects the freedom of man. The nations were suffered to walk in

their own ways and to work out their own course of life. And in their

aberrations they justified the truth and ways of God. Our freedom is our

solemn heritage for weal or for woe. No explanation can be found for

the dark facts of human sin, except that which goes back to the freedom of the soul to decide between good and evil.


o        The unfailing goodness of God. The seasons fail not; food and

enjoyment are provided out of the abundance of the earth. In every

happy and healthy mood of mind the heart breaks into song, and

THANKS GOD  for the boon of existence. In every sunny scene,

every glimpse of pure and healthy happiness and domestic joy, there is the reflection of the “joy of God to see a happy world.” “God is

wisdom, God is love; “ — this is the refrain of the heart true to itself;

nor can the occasional discords of bodily pain or mental perplexity mar the sweetness of the music or obscure the clearness of the evidence.




The Stoning of Paul (vs. 19-20)



“Once was I stoned”  (II Corinthians 11:25). The brevity of the record of the

incident of these verses may, perhaps, point to the modesty of Paul. Probably the historian of the Acts of the Apostles was not at this time with Paul and Barnabas

at Lystra. Paul is his informant, therefore, of what now befell him. The event

was treasured, as well it might be, among the great perils and sufferings,

but also among the great deliverances of Paul’s career. The event, as so

briefly detailed, nevertheless teaches:



of Iconium and Antioch are, after all, his agents, and, incited by him,

pursue Paul and Barnabas here.




persuaded to stone Paul were of the very people who had offered, as it

were the day before, to sacrifice to him as God. It is a repetition of the

“Hosanna!” of yesterday being turned into the “Crucify, crucify!” of today.




OR PRODUCE DANGER. Perhaps the people of Lystra would never have

been “persuaded” to stone Paul, if Paul and Barnabas had not yesterday so

faithfully sought to persuade them that they were but men like themselves.

And probably the emissaries of Iconium and Antioch would not have dared

to face the wild enthusiasm of Lystra, with their evil insinuation and malign




ARE FAITHFUL TO HIM. And Paul, who had wrought through the

mighty power of God, miracles for the deliverance of others, is the subject

of a miracle himself now. And it is the Divine favor, as no human minister

of it served the occasion. Paul has been stoned, drawn out of the city; foe

and friend take him for dead — nay, perhaps he was so; if not, there was

but a little “step indeed between him and death.” Yet he rises up, uncalled

by human voice, unhelped by human hand, and comes into the city.


  • THE UNQUENCHED COURAGE OF PAUL. He does not now flee

to another city.” He comes into that city. He could well trust the God who

had delivered him and would deliver him “in deaths oft.” And he was well

prepared to echo the words of the psalmist, “This God is my God for ever

and ever, and he will be my Guide even unto death.”



HUMILIATING FAILURE OF IT. The enemy’s work is exposed and is

undone. Christ triumphs with fresh manifestation. And His truth and glory

are spread.


21 “And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many,

they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch,”  Made many disciples

for taught many, Authorized Version; returned for returned again, Authorized Version;

to Antioch for Antioch, Authorized Version. Made many disciples (μαθητεύσαντες

ἱκανοὺς mathaeteusantes hikanousmaking disciples considerable); compare Matthew

28:19. What admirable constancy thus to run fresh risks to life and limb in order to win

souls to Christ!


22 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.”

Exhorting for and exhorting, Authorized Version; through many tribulations we must

for we must through much tribulation, Authorized Version. Paul spoke from his own

experience: "In labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more

frequent, in deaths oft," etc. (II Corinthians 11:23-27; see too II Timothy 3:10-12).

It is very touching to see the tender care of the apostles for the young converts, lest

they should fall away in time of persecution (see ch. 15:36; I Thessalonians 3:1, 5, 8;

I Peter 5:8-10).



Spiritual Confirmation (v. 22)


“Confirming the souls of the disciples.” Connect with the narrative,

showing that spiritual aggressiveness at Antioch was the sign of a deep and

true spiritual life. The haste and superficiality of the teaching from place to

place. Confirmation not a ceremony, but a process.


  • CONFIRMATION OF FAITH. Continue in the faith — both objective

and subjective; not a creed alone, if that was given at all, but the real root

or spiritual life. Faith was discipleship.



“Ordained [or, ‘appointed’] them elders in every Church.” A settled

ministry; an orderly maintenance of worship. Preparation for work in the



  • CONFIRMATION OF HOPE. The kingdom in view. Work towards

the future. Tribulation prepares for higher life.




Through Tribulation to the Kingdom (v. 22)


The force of a man’s preaching must, to a great extent, come out of his

personal experiences, and new experiences will give his preaching new

force. This is illustrated in the associations of our text. The apostle was in

measure fitted, by all he had borne and suffered, for exhorting the disciples

and comforting and confirming the Churches; but he had just passed

through a new and almost overwhelming experience. Excited by Jews from

Antioch and Iconium, the people at Lystra had violently stoned Paul, and,

thinking they had killed him, had dragged his body outside their city gates.

“Paul, liable at all times to the swoons which accompany nervous

organizations, had been stunned, but not killed; and while the disciples

stood in an agonized group around what they thought to be his corpse, he

recovered his consciousness, and raised himself from the ground.” But he

must have been terribly bruised and suffering, and it would seem that he

never fully recovered the effects of this scene. This new experience had put

a new tone of tenderness upon his ministrations; and, when visiting again

the Churches, he could add this new assurance, “that we must through

much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.” His thought has been

familiarized to the Christian mind by the verse —


“The path of sorrow, and that path alone,

Leads to that land where sorrow is unknown.”



trouble as the sparks fly upward.” (Job 5:7) It is often said that a world of

sinners must be, and indeed had better be, a world of sufferers. Troubles take

a variety of forms, but they come into every individual life and into every

form of associated life. They are necessary results of:


Ø      The disorder which man’s sin has produced in God’s world.

Ø      The lost self-control which sin has occasioned to each man.

Ø      The willfulness which persists in adjusting human relations to

man’s idea and pleasure, rather than according to God’s order.

Ø      The hereditary evils left from the past of men’s iniquity.



This is at once sealed and explained by the word tribulation, as the

Christian synonym for earthly troubles. The Latin origin of the word, as

taken from tribulum, the threshing-roller, should be explained. The

sorrows of life may seem but as the crushing of a great roller; they are

but the separating of the chaff from the wheat, and the gracious means by

which the sufferer is sanctified. The Christian system proposes no less a

thing than the full recovery of a man from sin and his full confirmation in

holiness, and it uses a variety of agencies for the perfecting of its work; but

it should ever be a wonder and a joy to us that it should propose to take

over the whole burden of human sorrow and trouble, and use even it for

effecting its blessed design. So, though no affliction can, even to the

Christian, seem other than grievous, not joyous, yet we may be sure that

God’s hand — God’s good handIS UPON IT ALL  and that “afterward

it will yield the peaceable fruits of righteousness, if only we are duly

exercised thereby.” (Hebrews 12:11)  And at last it even comes to be

the glory of the Christian that he is under God’s tribulum; and the glory

of the Christians by-and-by that “they have come out of great tribulation,

and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the

Lamb.”  (Revelation 7:14)



TO ENTER. Whether we conceive the kingdom as entered now or as to be

entered when we pass from earthly spheres, the one essential feature of it is

holiness, full deliverance from sin. THAT KINGDOM “nothing entereth

that defileth or that maketh a lie.” (Revelation 21:27)  As a matter of actual experience, it may be urged and illustrated that the meetness for the

inheritance of the saints in light” can only be wrought out of trouble.

Trials, testings, discoveries of secret sins, even the humiliations of affliction,

bear directly on the fitness for the kingdom. When we feel what heaven is,



23 “And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed

with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.”

Appointed for them for ordained them, Authorized Version (χειροτονήσαντες

- cheirotonaesanteshand stretching; selecting) ; had believed for believed,

Authorized Version. The original meaning of χειροτονέωcheirotoneo -  is "to stretch out the hand," and the substantive χειροτονίαcheirontonia - is used in the Septuagint

of Isaiah 58:9 for "the putting forth of the finger" of the Authorized Version. But the common meaning of the verb is "to vote by stretching out the hand" and hence "to elect" by a show of hands (II Corinthians 8:19), or simply "to appoint," without any reference

to voting. In the choice of an apostle the election was by lot (ch. 1:26), in the appointment of deacons the choice was by the people, how indicated we are not told (ch.6:5); the question here, on which commentators disagree, is whether the use of the word χειροτονέω indicates voting by the people, selection by the apostles, or simple creation or appointment. As χειροτονήσαντες is predicated of Paul and Barnabas, it cannot possibly refer to voting by the people, who are included in the able, as those on whose behalf the χειροτονία (choosing; electing; appointing) was made. It seems simplest and most in accordance with the classical use of the word and its use in ch. 10:41 (προκεχειροτονημένοις prokecheirotonaemenoisones having been selected before), to take it in the sense of creation or appointment. There is no reference to the laying

on of hands. Elders (see ch.11:30, note; ch. 20:17;  and especially Titus 1:5, 7, where

we see that πρεσβύτερος presbuteroselder was synonymous with ἐπίσκοπος episkoposbishop; overseer). From πρεσβύτερος is formed prester, priest, in French prestre, pretre. Compare ch 13:3, for fasting and prayer as accompaniments of ordination. Hence in the Church ordinations are preceded by the Ember days. They commended them to the Lord (compare ch.  20:32). In v. 26 the word used is παραδεδομένοι paradedomenoihad been recommended; having been given over.



The Christian Leader and the Novitiate (vs. 21-23)


Driven from Lystra by the turbulence of the people, Paul and Barnabas

went to Derbe, and there they “preached the gospel;” they seem to have

been unmolested, and consequently they “taught many people” (v. 21).

Having traveled so far eastward towards Antioch, it became a question

whether they should go on or return. Thus we come, as they came, to




Christian novice. We gather from the action of the apostles on this

occasion that it is the teacher’s duty:


Ø      To be earnestly concerned for his young disciples, and to go out of his

way to serve them. It would certainly have been the more desirable course,

“after the flesh,” to go through the Cilician Gates, and so home to Antioch,

rather than return and face the enraged populace from whom they had been

obliged to flee. But a deep sense of what was due to those whom they had

induced to forsake their old faith and enter on a new and trying course

constrained them to forego the inviting and to pursue the perilous path. To

encourage those who are beginning to live the Divine life, and who will

probably find themselves beset with unexpected and serious difficulties, we

should hold ourselves ready to go far out of our way and to run some

serious risks.


Ø      To impart additional instruction. The apostles not only repeated what

they had said before, but they added sound Christian doctrine; especially

they taught that we must expect to bear the burdens before we enter into

the glory of our Lord; that it is through much tribulation we enter the

kingdom (v. 22). Christian truth is large and deep. It has its portion for

the idolater, another for the novitiate, another for the matured. The true

Christian leader is he who varies his instruction in accordance with the

spiritual condition of his disciples.


Ø      To exert a powerful personal influence, The apostles “confirmed the

souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith” (v. 22); i.e.

they brought to bear on their minds and hearts all the moral influence

which they could exert by the weight of their love and their urgent

solicitation; they appealed to them by every consideration which would

touch their souls to remain steadfast in the faith, loyal to the Lord their



Ø      To make permanent provision for Christian culture (v. 23).


Ø      To make them the object of earnest prayer (v. 23).




§         To recognize the earnestness of his spiritual guide, and to give him his

best attention. We have no truer friend, none to whom we owe more, not

one who has a greater claim on our reverent regard, than the teacher who

has led us to God.


§         To expect a fair share of struggle and endurance. There is no kingdom,

and certainly not the kingdom of God, to be entered without trying and

even painful experiences. The Christian disciple must lay his account with

this fact: he is to understand that whoever will follow Christ must take up

his cross to do so (Matthew 16:24); that there will be ridicule to be

endured, opposition to be overcome, disappointments to be surmounted,

inward evils to be subdued, many things that will demand a holy and

elevated fortitude.


§         To submit to those who are appointed to exercise authority — the

“elders in every Church;” and to avail himself of those means of grace and

growth which they may institute.


§         To keep in view the consummation of Christian hope, the blessed

kingdom of God. When trials thicken and duties multiply, when the new

and better life is shadowed with dark clouds, when the way is long and

toilsome, then the disciple is to look on and up, beyond the plains and hills

of earth to the heavenly Zion, beyond the sufferings of the present to the

glory which is to be revealed.  (“For I reckon that the sufferings of

this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that

shall be revealed in us.”  (Romans 8:18)  “For our light affliction

which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding

and eternal weight of glory.”  (II Corinthians 4:17)


24 “And after they had passed throughout Pisidia, they came to Pamphylia.

They passed through for after they had passed throughout, Authorized Version;

and for they, Authorized Version; spoken for preached, Authorized Version; to for into, Authorized Version. Paul and Barnabas had come from Cyprus to Perga (see ch. 13:13, note). Thence to Antioch, Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe. They now returned from Derbe

by Lystra, Iconium, Antioch, Perga.


25 “And when they had preached the word in Perga, they went down into Attalia:

But, instead of taking ship at Perga, after preaching the Word there they went down to Attalia, now Adalia or Satalia, the chief seaport of Pamphylia, some miles west of the month of the Cestrus, probably hearing that a ship was about to sail thence to Antioch. It does not appear that they made any converts or even preached at Attalia.


26 ‘And thence sailed to Antioch, from whence they had been recommended to the grace of God for the work which they fulfilled.” They sailed for sailed, Authorized Version; committed for recommended, Authorized Version; had fulfilled for fulfilled, Authorized Version.



  Prayer as a Recommendation to the Grace of God (v. 26)


The Syrian Antioch is here referred to as the place “from whence the two

great missionaries had been recommended to the grace of God,” and from

ch. 13:3 we learn in what this recommendation to the grace of God

consisted: “And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on

them, they sent them away.” We fix attention, then, on the point that we

know what were the prayers of these Antiochene disciples. They were

intercessory prayers, and they lovingly commended the Christian laborers

to the grace of God. When prayer, for any reasons, cannot be precise and

definite request for particular things, it can still be offered, and take this

every-way satisfactory form, a commendation of those for whom we pray

to the grace of God. We may show how:


(1) such a kind of prayer may satisfy our love and our longing for the good

of others; and


(2) how it may secure for them even better blessings than any precise

requests, based only on our thought of their well-being. What can we do so

well for our friends as bring down over them the hallowing shadow of the




THE GOOD OF OTHERS. For, after all, just the one thing we want for

them is to have God for their portion. No requests for temporal blessings

can adequately express our hearts’ desires. Ask what we may, we feel that

we have not asked enough or asked the best things. So we get no rest in

prayer for others until we learn simply to commend them to the grace of

God. The same may be shown by pointing out that our knowledge of our

friends’ needs is never adequate, and we may make serious error by asking

unsuitably. There can be no mistake if we ask for them God’s grace.




the grace and keeping and supply of God is to have the best blessings, in

fittest adaptations. Illustration should be taken from the first missionary

journey of Barnabas and Paul. They were prospered and preserved because

they were within the grace of God.


27And 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.  All things for all, Authorized Version; how that for how, Authorized Version;

a door for the door, Authorized Version. A door. The door is preferable, because "the faith" limits the door to one kind of opening. In Colossians 4:3 the case is a little

different both in the Authorized Version and the Revised Version, though in the latter "the door of the Word" would be a truer rendering. Observe how the leading idea of

the narrative is the conversion of the Gentiles.



                                    The Door of Faith (v. 27)


When may it be said that God has “opened the door of faith” through which men

may enter? This is true, as described in the text when:




opened, through the hand of Paul, to the Gentiles, and multitudes entered

in thereat. This may be said when:



gradually widened as their intelligence opens; it is not long before it is

sufficiently open for the soul to pass through and hold intimate and living

converse with the Divine Friend.



IN AN APPRECIABLE FORM. Always essentially and fundamentally the

same, the truth may be represented in such form as to be wholly

inappreciable by some minds; but, on the other hand, it may be unfolded in

such wise as exactly to meet the needs and satisfy the cravings of the soul.

Then there is an opening through which the satisfied intellect can pass, and

where the soul may feed and be sustained. Or when:




considerations sink into insignificance and the soul feels, profoundly, that

the living truth of God as revealed in Jesus Christ is the one supreme and

sovereign thing, then the door is opened wide, through which the soul

should pass without delay, for on the inner side of it is:


Ø      rectitude,

Ø      peace,

Ø      usefulness,

Ø      eternal life.



The Door of Faith (v. 27)


The narrative of the returned missionaries, as given to the assembled

Church at Antioch, took two forms:


  1. in part it was a personal narrative of what they had done and suffered; and
  2. in part it was a report of the acceptance which the gospel message had

received in the countries they had visited.


And in this part of their account, one thing appeared to them to be of peculiar

interest — God had manifestly “opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles.”

The expression is a sufficiently striking one to be made the subject of earnest

meditation. Two ways of explaining it may be suggested:


1. God had given them large and free access to the Gentiles for the

preaching of the faith in Christ.


2. God had manifestly made faith, not circumcision, the ground of

admission to his kingdom; and so the Gentiles could be saved. Gospel

privileges were offered TO EVERYONE that believed. For Paul’s use of this

figure of the “door” variously applied, see I Corinthians 16:9, II Corinthians 2:12; Colossians 4:3; and compare Revelation 3:8. The figure is a suggestive one. The

special favor of God had been enjoyed by the Jews, and in a manner limited to

them. They had been, as it were, shut up with God in His house; none else might

come in, for the door was shut.  BUT NOW,  in the greatness of God’s mercy to

men, He had opened the door, made a new and most gracious condition of

 admission, and invited “whosoever would” to enter in. The grace of this was too surprising to the Jewish mind, and it was a long time ere it could receive the truth.

Such testimonies as Barnabas and Paul brought from Gentile lands did much to

establish the free right of all believing men to enter the one Father’s house,

through His graciously opened door.



THE GENTILES. They had gone forth fully understanding that the door

was open to preach the gospel to the Jews. They knew that, wherever they

went, they could enter the synagogues, expound the Scriptures, and preach

Christ; but events that happened brought home to them the conviction that

Jewish privileges were no longer exclusive, and that God had “granted

unto the Gentiles also repentance unto life.” (ch. 11:18)  Recall the incidents which brought to the missionaries this conviction. They found Divine

providence leading them to speak to Gentile audiences. They found that

Divine grace had been before them, creating in the Gentile mind a

preparedness for and a susceptibility to the gospel message. And they found

that the condition of entrance into the new gospel standing and gospel

privileges was one which the Gentiles could meet, since faith is common to human nature, and in no sense special to any one race. It would even seem

that the missionaries felt their work among the Gentiles to be more hopeful

than that among the Jews. And it led them to cherish serious thoughts about

the vast work to be done among the Gentile nations, now God had so evidently opened the door to them all. Illustrate from the way in which the Church of

Christ has been led on to preach the gospel to one nation after another, by the

opening of providential doors; especially illustrating from China, and more

recently Central Africa. The inspiration of Christian missions is this fact,

“God has opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles.”




OF ADMISSION INTO GOD’S KINGDOM, They addressed an audience

that was still largely under Jewish mental bonds. Even the early disciples

seem for a long time to have cherished the idea that Christianity was only a

reformation of Judaism. The very apostles could not readily accept the

truth of salvation by faith alone. They thought that at least the Jewish

requirement of circumcision must be made. But Barnabas and Paul

rendered their testimony to the fact of their finding the “faith-condition”

quite sufficient. They had required no other of their Gentile converts, and

God had sealed them by the gift of his Spirit, and they had manifested

every sign of the true Christian life. FAITH is the only door into the

kingdom, but there is no entrance save by this door.  Jesus said, I am

the door, by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved.”  (John 10:9)

Still the gospel message is, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou

shalt be saved, and thine house.”  (ch. 16:31)


28 “And there they abode long time with the disciples.”  They tarried for there they abode, Authorized Version; no little for long, Authorized Version. Bishop Pearson reckons it a little more than a year; Lewin, "about a year;" Renan, "several months."

No accurate statement can be gathered from Luke;s indefinite expression. With this chapter closes the account of Paul's first missionary tour. Conybeare and Howson (pp. 177, 213) assign to it a duration of about nine months, from early spring, March, to November, when the sea would be closed; bringing him to Perga in May, and thence for the next five or six months into the mountains of Pisidia, where it was the custom for the inhabitants of the lowlands to congregate during the hot months. Others, however, as Lewin (pp. 156, 157), think the circuit must have occupied "about two years;" Wieseler (p. 224), "more than one year;" but Renan assigns to it "five years" (" Saint Paul," p. 55). "Conjectural estimates vary between two and eight years" ('Speaker's Commentary'). Lewin's estimate is, perhaps, the most probable. Whatever the exact period may have been, it was a time fruitful in consequences to THE IMMORTAL INTERESTS




. The Word and the Miracle (vs. 1-28)


In the advancement of the kingdom of God on earth, whether by our Lord

Himself in the days of His flesh, or by the apostles after His ascension, two

great instruments were in constant and simultaneous use:


Ø      the preaching of the Word of God and

Ø      the working of miracles.


In the Gospels it is difficult to say which was the most prominent feature of our

Lord’s life — His preaching the Word or His mighty works of power. He Himself

places them side by side in His description of His own course: “The blind receive

their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the dead are raised up,”

and “the poor have the gospel preached to them” (Luke 7:22). Many

reasons may be assigned for this. The miracle gave authority to the Word

before the Word had time to assert its own authority in the conscience and

reason of the hearer. The miracle awakened attention by its irresistible

surprise. The miracle was a witness to confirm the doubtful and the

wavering. Then again the miracle, having matter for its seat, testified to the

sovereignty over all nature — the body, the sea, the air, the fruits of the

earth, the grave — of Him whose word was preached. Again, being that

evil had set its two feet, one upon the body, the other upon the soul of

men, producing in the one pain, sickness, infirmity, and death, and in the

other sin, sorrow, and guilt, the double action of the miracle, healing,

restoring, raising, the body, and of the Word, justifying, purifying, and

sanctifying the soul, exhibited the true nature of the kingdom of God as the

destruction of evil and the establishment of eternal joy and life. So that the

miracle, besides its other functions, was a necessary complement of the

Word in holding up a true picture of that kingdom of God which Jesus

Christ was sent to found and to establish forever. But now, having seen the

common work of the Word and the miracle, let us note certain important

differences in their respective functions. The miracle does not sanctify. It

does not renew the inner man after the image of God. It does not prick the

conscience, or soften the hard heart, or give wisdom, or produce love. It

surprises, it alarms, it evidences, it displays power and goodness, it

corroborates the Word, but it is not in itself a spiritual power. Hence of the

number who saw Christ’s miracles, how very few became His disciples! Of

the ten lepers that were cleansed only one gave glory to God. Nearly ten

thousand ate of the loaves and fishes; how many ate of that bread which

came down from heaven? The whole Sanhedrim knew of the lame man

who was healed at the beautiful gate of the temple, but they were only the

more eager to silence the voices of those who spake of Jesus and the

Resurrection. The priests of Jupiter and the whole populace of Lystra were

ready to worship Barnabas and Paul because of the healing of the cripple,

but they were as ready immediately afterwards to stone them and cast them

out of their city. But the Word of God is a creative, quickening power in

the soul. its entrance gives light; its action gives life; its fruit is love; it does

sanctify; and it saves. At Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra, and at Derbe, the

Word preached by Paul brought faith, and life, and joy, and salvation, both

to Jews and Greeks. By the Word which they heard and believed they were

brought to God, begotten unto life, quickened with Christ, made heirs of

the Resurrection and of the kingdom of God. Everything that can enrich,

and beautify, and comfort, and exalt a human being, is wrought by the

Word of God received unto the heart. Let us, then, prize the Word of God;

let us love it; let us cherish it in our bosoms; let us yield ourselves to its

teaching, its action, its power; let us hide it in our secret soul; let us never

be content till it has brought forth fruit a hundredfold in our lives to the

glory of God the Father.




Return to Antioch: A Picture of Apostolic Activity 

      (vs. 21-28)


The scene quickly changed at Lystra. The multitude, wrought upon by

Jews from Antioch and Iconium, rise up against Paul, and stone their late

hero and god. Fickle world, which now brings garlands and now stones!

“Every generation stones by-and-by its own gods, but every time has its

own method of stoning.” The boldest antagonists of the kingdom of

darkness arouse most foes; Paul is stoned, not Barnabas. Perhaps his own

act comes back upon him in stoning Stephen; certainly it must be present to

his mind. God makes of our own past evil acts whips to scourge us or

stones to pelt us. But Paul rises from the ground. “Rejoice not, O mine

enemy, for though I fall I shall rise again.” (Micah 7:8)  The story is told of

Numidicus at Carthage, in the time of Cyprian, that, half burned and stoned,

he lay as dead. His daughters came to bury him, whereupon he arose and went

into the city. The next day, following the marching orders, “When they

persecute you in one city, flee into another”  (Matthew 10:23)  Paul goes

forth with Barnabas to Derbe. Now comes a rapid sketch of busy labor.




Ø      He is not to be cast down by disappointment nor defeated by opposition.

Faith, tried by fire, proves its enduring quality. The more the apostle

suffers, the more glowing becomes his love. He returns, as if by irresistible

attraction, to the scene of defeat. It is just those souls which resist us that

we must mark out for conquest; they will be well worth perseverance to



Ø      He is ever seeking for new worlds to conquer for the kingdom of Christ.

Ever planting and propagating the Word in virgin ground, the motto of the

missionary is, “Tomorrow to fresh fields and pastures new.”


Ø      His cares and duties are manifold. This is suggestively brought out by

the different words employed.


o        He “evangelizes;” i.e. he announces the good news of the

kingdom; he proclaims, or preaches, in the proper sense,



o       Next, he “instructs” (μαθητεύειν mathaeteueinmaking

learners) the converts, so that they become disciples, i.e. men

taught and ever learning more of Christian truth.


o        He also “strengthens,” or “confirms,” Christian believers, by

calling to mind and applying the old truths.


o        He “exhorts,” bringing the force of personal love and suasion

to bear on the will, “speaking from the heart to the heart.”

To keep men in the faith is no less an anxiety than to bring them

into it.


Ø      He is the comforter, He sheds a light upon man’s troubles, by showing

that it is through them the path lies to the kingdom of God.


“The path of sorrow, and that path alone,

Leads to that land where sorrow is unknown.”


Christianity glorifies suffering; apart from it, we sink amidst them into a

cheerless pessimism or a blind resignation,


Ø      He has to take part in the government and guidance of communities, The

appointment of officers over the different Churches is here mentioned.

Christianity is a social as well as an individual life, and social life must have

its organization. If we carefully study this short passage (vs. 21-23), we

find in it a compendium of the Christian minister’s duties. Truly — “‘Tis

not a cause of small import, The pastor’s care demands.”





Ø      Reflex blessings on the mind and heart of the preacher; assurance

through suffering and trial and experience of Divine help. Even if a man

sees but little present fruit of his labor, he has reason to thank God for the

effect upon his own spirit and character of a work so holy on the souls of

others. Discimus docendo (we learn by teaching); and he that watereth is

watered himself.


Ø      To those who receive the message. Instead of the wild irregularity of

passion and fancy, Christian order and sobriety takes possession of the

soul. Idle fables are driven out by the Divine Word.


Ø      To the supporters and messengers of missionary work. Joyous was the

welcome, great the thanksgiving at Antioch when the missionaries came

back. And so ever; refreshment of faith, broadening of sympathies,

quickening of intelligence, ever follows upon the receipt of good news

from the fields of Christian work, and opening of new doors to the free

passage of the Word.




The Return Home (vs. 21-28)


The furthest limit of the mission of Paul and Barnabas is not reached till

their visit is paid to Derbe. After the recovery by miracle of Paul from his

stoning, the next day he advances with Barnabas to Derbe. And after some

time spent there and much work done, of which no details are given, the

two apostles set their face homeward. And it is evident that the Spirit still

leads them. For;



COURAGE FAILS THEM NOT. The apostles return by the route and the

towns and cities by which they had come. It is wonderful, and indeed it is

often of the merciful consideration of Heaven, how brave men may be

toward unforeseen dangers and difficulties. How often, however, does

courage vanish after a taste of real work and real difficulty! Not so now.

The apostles will face again, if necessary, all which they had before




of the apostles follows closely in the tracks of the very well-ascertained

needs of new converts. They would:


Ø      Confirm them.

Ø      Exhort them to steadfastness and endurance “even unto the end.”

Ø      They would tarry to instruct them in aspects among the deepest of the

Divine life — that men “must through much tribulation enter into the

kingdom of God.” There were “musts” in the life, the journeys, the

sufferings, the death of the great Captain of our salvation Himself.

And musts there must be in the life and work and discipline of His followers.

Ø      They would also begin to organize Church life in place after place,

and ordain elders” in the new Churches.

Ø      They show an example of their faith in prayer and fasting and

commending individuals and Churches to the Lord, of their faith

and of their life. All these activities of:


o       thought,

o       speech,

o       affection, and

o       deed


were tokens and were the trustworthy tokens of men who were still

LED BY THE SPIRIT and who were still following that lead.






Ø      They honor the Church of God’s appointment, by calling it together on

their return to receive their report. Next to being the servants of Christ,

we are the servants of the Church, and ought to hold ourselves so far

forth answerable to it.

Ø      They do not carelessly forget or only slightingly remember how by the

prayers and fasting of that very Church, they also, months and years

before, had been commended to THE GRACE OF GOD!

Ø      They give, in some instructive, impressive, and reassuring detail, a

rehearsal of:


o       “all that God had done with them,” and

o       how indisputably God “had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles.”


Ø      There awhile, in the holy fellowship of that Church, they rest from their

harder labors. They recruit their souls in the healthy air and the genial

comfort of that society, after years of fierce conflict and almost

perpetual anxiousness and keen persecution. Happy servants, happy Church, “in the midst of whom God” is present, shedding light,

peace, joy, UPON ALL!



The Work of God (vs. 24-28)


This first famous missionary tour had some features quite peculiar to itself

and is, in some respects, inimitable by us. But in other aspects it may be

regarded as a typical work of God.


  • IT WAS BEGUN IN GOD. It was:


Ø      prompted by His Spirit (ch. 13:2, 4);

Ø      entered upon after seeking Divine guidance (v. 26). Paul and

Barnabas went forth, the conscious workmen of God Himself.

They felt that what would be done through their instrumentality

would be done “by God with them.” All was, as all should ever be, “begun in Him.”



His strength. The entire account, from beginning to end, conveys the idea

that the apostles sought and found their strength in a Divine source;

indeed, nothing less would have sustained them under the difficulties and

sufferings of their mission. It was carried on and completed. It was a work

which they fulfilled:”


Ø      in spite of Mark’s discouraging defection (ch. 13:13);

Ø      notwithstanding the physical difficulties of traveling and the active

animosity of the Jews;

Ø      though every personal consideration would have led them to conclude

it earlier (v. 21). Undeterred by any checks, untempted by any

inducements, they went quite through their work — God’s work — and

did not cease to toil and to endure until everything was done they could do, not only to introduce but to establish the Christian faith in the heart

of the heathen land they visited. Well is it for the Christian workman

when it can be said of him that he “fulfilled” or finished his work. Sometimes:


o       weariness, or

o       timidity, or

o       dissatisfaction, or

o       dissension


overtakes the laborer even in the field of holy love, and he

lays down his weapon and forsakes his work. Not his is the crown

nor Well done!” at the hand and the lips of the Lord.



REPRESENTED. Paul and Barnabas were undoubtedly sent of God; but

they also went as members of the Church at Antioch. That Church

regarded them as its representatives, followed them with its sympathies,

sustained them by its prayers, and received them back with its warmest

welcome. And to that Church, gathered together for the purpose, they

recounted “all that God had done with them “a most suitable crown to

a noble work. With eager, sympathetic, rejoicing spirits the assembly must

have received the narrative. How grateful must have been the psalms, how

fervent the prayers, how heartfelt the congratulations, that followed! A

work is not crowned until its story has been told to those who had a real

and living part in its initiation and its procedure.



rest of:


Ø      happy human fellowship and

Ø      appreciated service.



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