Summary: Acts 14 contains a record of where Paul and Barnabas ministered after they left Cyprus. They worked in Asia Minor, encountering success but also persecution. But no matter what, they never gave up.
Introduction: Acts 14 records several events during the first missionary journey of Paul and Barnabas. Some of these events are almost hard to believe but they happened! Once they reached a stopping point, they retraced their steps and returned to Antioch of Syria, reporting all that the Lord had done where they had been.
1 The ministry in Iconium
Text: Acts 14:1-7, KJV: 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. 2 But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles, and made their minds evil affected against the brethren. 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. 4 But the multitude of the city was divided: and part held with the Jews, and part with the apostles. 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, 6 They were ware of it, and fled unto Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and unto the region that lieth round about: 7 And there they preached the gospel.
--Iconium was several miles east of Pisisdian Antioch but still in what seems to be a desolate place, according to maps or atlases of the area.
--As in Pisidian Antioch, there was at least one synagogue of the Jews (Luke only mentions one). Paul and Barnabas went there first.
--Luke doesn’t mention how long Paul and Barnabas stayed in Iconium but they were there long enough that “a great multitude” of Jews and Gentiles alike believed the Gospel.
--With the Lord’s help, Paul and Barnabas performed “signs and wonders” but Luke does not provide any further information. A study of “signs and wonders” in these early days of the Church might be helpful.
--Part of the city’s population “held with the Jews” and the other half, “with the apostles”. This tension, for lack of a better word, eventually led both of these groups to attempt to stone Paul and Barnabas to death.
--Blessings to those who got word of this assault to Paul and Barnabas so they could get away from Iconium. Paul and Barnabas made their way to Lystra and Derbe, “cities of Lycaonia” as Luke reports. Once Paul and Barnabas arrived in these new cities, they preached the Gospel.
-- Compare this with the first generation of missionaries in Acts 11, who fled Jerusalem and as they went to various places, they preached the Gospel too.
2 The ministry at Lystra
A The miracle
Text, Acts 14:8-10, KJV: 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: 9 The same heard Paul speak: who stedfastly beholding him, and perceiving that he had faith to be healed, 10 Said with a loud voice, Stand upright on thy feet. And he leaped and walked.
--“Impotent in his feet” is coupled with “being a cripple from his mother’s womb”. This man had never walked. Luke doesn’t give a further description of the man’s condition. Jonathan’s son Mephibosheth became crippled when his nurse dropped him as they fled for their lives (2 Samuel 4:4) but that implies he could have walked normally before. Other words for people with similar handicaps include “halt” and “maimed (Luke 14:13 and 21, e.g.)”
--Paul made eye contact with the man and realized (perceived) the man had faith to be healed. Luke didn’t provide any details as to how Paul knew this one man (there is no record of anyone else).displayed enough faith to be healed. A similar situation took place in John 5 when there were many people with physical problems at the Pool of Siloam waiting for the waters to move. Jesus spoke to one man, and apparently only one man, at the time, providing healing for him.
--Paul spoke with a loud voice, telling the man to “Stand upright on your feet!” The man leaped and walked, much like the lame man of Acts 3 and 4, who also was lame from birth but walked, leaped, and praised the Lord (Acts 3:8-10). The difference was this: in Acts 3, Peter reached down and grabbed the man by the hand; here, there was no physical contact, only a verbal command by Paul.
B The misunderstanding
Text, Acts 14:11- 18, KJV: 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. 12 And they called Barnabas, Jupiter; and Paul, Mercurius, because he was the chief speaker. 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. 14 Which when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of, they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out, 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: 16 Who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways. 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. 18 And with these sayings scarce restrained they the people, that they had not done sacrifice unto them.