Summary: Learning about faithfulness through the examples of Paul and Barnabas
SERIES: “LESSONS FROM THE EARLY CHURCH”
TEXT: ACTS 14:1-7
TITLE: “FAITHFUL IN THE FACE OF PERSECUTION”
INTRODUCTION: A. At a retirement home in Florida, a group of residents were discussing their
ailments: "My arms are so weak I can hardly lift this cup of coffee," said one. "Yes, I
know, my cataracts are so bad I can’t even see my coffee," replied another. "I can’t
turn my head because of the arthritis in my neck," said a third, at which several others
nodded weakly. "My blood pressure pills make me very dizzy," another went on.
"I guess that’s the price we pay for getting old," winced an old man. There was
general agreement and a short moment of silence ensued. "Well, it’s not that bad,"
said one woman cheerfully. "Thank God that we can all still drive!"
1. Isn’t funny how we like to find the good in the middle of the bad?
2. Sometimes it’s our attitude that gets us through
3. What is our attitude toward being persecuted?
a. Do we let it get us down?
b. Do we look for the good we can do in the middle of the bad?
B. The Letter to Diognetus dates back to the 2nd century AD. An anonymous writer
describes a strange people who are in the world but not of the world:
Christians are not differentiated from other people by country, language, or
customs; you see, they do not live in cities of their own, or speak some strange
dialect… They live in both Greek and foreign cities, wherever chance has put them.
They follow local customs in clothing, food, and the other aspects of life. But at the
same time, they demonstrate to us the unusual form of their own citizenship.
They live in their own native lands, but as aliens… Every foreign country is to
them as their native country, and every native land as a foreign country.
They marry and have children just like everyone else, but they do not kill unwanted
babies. They offer a shared table, but not a shared bed. They are passing their days
on earth, but are citizens of heaven. They obey the appointed laws and go beyond the
laws in their own lives.
They love everyone, but are persecuted by all. They are put to the death and gain
life. They are poor and yet make many rich. They are dishonored and yet gain glory
through dishonor. Their names are blackened, and yet they are cleared. They are
mocked and bless in return. They are treated outrageously and behave respectfully to
When they do good, they are punished as evildoers; when punished, they rejoice as
if being new life. They are attacked by Jews as aliens and are persecuted by Greeks;
yet those who hate them cannot give any reason for their hostility.
C. Acts 14:1-7 – “At Iconium Paul and Barnabas went as usual into the Jewish
synagogue. There they spoke so effectively that a great number of Jews and Gentiles
believed. 2But the Jews who refused to believe stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned
their minds against the brothers. 3So Paul and Barnabas spent considerable time there,
speaking boldly for the Lord, who confirmed the message of his grace by enabling
them to do miraculous signs and wonders.
4The people of the city were divided; some sided with the Jews, others with the
apostles. 5There was a plot afoot among the Gentiles and Jews, together with their
leaders, to mistreat them and stone them. 6But they found out about it and fled to the
Lycaonian cities of Lystra and Derbe and to the surrounding country, 7where they
continued to preach the good news.”
1. “Persecute” – “to afflict constantly so as to injure or distress; to harass; to inflict
harm or evil”
--exactly what v. 2 says happened to Paul and Barnabas – “But the Jews who
refused to believe stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the
2. Jesus taught about persecution:
a. Mt. 10:16-17 – “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as
shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. 17"Be on your guard against men;
they will hand you over to the local councils and flog you in their synagogues.”
b. Jn. 15:18-25 – “"If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19If
you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not
belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the
world hates you. 20Remember the words I spoke to you: ’No servant is greater
than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they
obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. 21They will treat you this way