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Summary: The pattern of a mixed response set in Pisidian Antioch again greeted the missionaries at their next place of witness, Iconium[1]. It was not an easy journey. Iconium was about seventy miles southeast of Antioch by the Sebastian way, the main route...

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October 26, 2014

By: Tom Lowe

Lesson: IV.A.4: From Iconium to Lycaonia, Lystra and

Derbe (14:1-7)

Scripture (Acts 13:42-52; 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.

Introduction

The pattern of a mixed response set in Pisidian Antioch again greeted the missionaries at their next place of witness, Iconium[1]. It was not an easy journey. Iconium was about seventy miles southeast of Antioch by the Sebastian way, the main route that connected Ephesus with Syria and Mesopotamia. Iconium was located on a plateau 3,370 feet in elevation. In many ways the city was Hellenized because it had been under Seleucid rule during the second and third centuries before Christ. In short, Paul and Barnabas encountered a cultural blending—native Phrygians whose ancestors had occupied the area from ancient times, Greeks and Jews who dated back to the Seleucid period (312-65 b.c.), and Roman colonists whose presence dated from more recent times. Geographically, it was the most ideal place for human settlement in an otherwise desolate area, and there is evidence for a town there from ancient times right down to the present.

Commentary

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.

If you follow the journey of these two missionaries on a map, you will notice that they crossed over the length of the island of Cyprus, and then sailed to Perga in Pamphylia. Then they traveled up into the country of Antioch, Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe. These are the cities of Galatia. So they are now in the heartland of Asia Minor.

Paul and Barnabas had come to Iconium (the modern Konia); a city more Greek than Roman. In setting up their witness in the major city of the area, the two missionaries followed a pattern Paul would continue to follow—establishing his work in the main population centers. Paul and Barnabas began their work in the usual manner—“they went both together into the synagogue of the Jews.” Instead of using the word “together,” it might be better to say, “In the same way” as they had done at Antioch. They went first to the Jewish synagogue: he used the synagogue as a springboard to get to the Gentiles. Even though Paul’s words in Pisidian Antioch had a somewhat definitive ring to them about turning to the Gentiles, they evidentially only applied to that city—“Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles (Acts 13:46). Throughout Acts, Paul’s usual method was to go to the synagogues first, where they were permitted to preach, in accordance with the custom prevailing among the Jews at that time. There was wisdom to this. For one, Paul never gave up on the Jews. There would be some who would hear gladly the message of the Messiah’s coming. Also there would be present in the synagogues Gentile proselytes and other Gentiles who believed in God and would be particularly open to the inclusive Christian message. To be sure, verse 1 attests to Paul and Barnabas being successful with both groups, Jews as well as Gentiles. Barnabas accompanied Paul almost everywhere he went, even though Paul was now the prominent speaker and personality.


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