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Summary: Highs & Lows in Ministry. (PowerPoint slides to accompany this talk are available on request - email:


• When you read the book of Acts, don’t think villages, but cities.

• The church in the Book of Acts was almost entirely urban.

Quote Historian Wayne A. Meeks writes that;

“Within a decade of the crucifixion of Jesus, the village culture of Palestine had been left behind, and the Greco-Roman city became the dominant environment of the Christian movement”.

The church began in Jerusalem, and then spread to other cities,

• Including Samaria, Damascus, Caesarea, and Antioch in Syria.

• At least forty different cities are named in Acts.


• In fact in Acts chapters 13 and 14:

• Dr Luke describes Paul’s ministry in six different cities, (beginning and ending in Antioch).

• (1). Antioch in Syria (Chapter 13 verses 1-5).

• (2). Paphos (Chapter 13 verses 6-12).

• (3). Perga (Chapter 13 verse13).

• (4). Antioch in Pisidia (Chapter 13 verses 14-52).

• (5). Iconium (Chapter 14 verse 1-7).

• (6). Lystra (Chapter 14 verses 8-20).

• Then next week they go full circle and finish back at Antioch in Syria.

The title for this talk is Operation Yo-Yo.

• A Yo-Yo goes up and down, up and down;

• And chapters 13 and 14 are two chapters of highs and lows.

• Highs when circumstances favourable , then lows as circumstances change.

• Highs as people find Christ, then lows as people opposing the gospel.


• That Paul & Barnabus are first-time missionaries, they are two novices!

• They have never been in this situation before, and so they are still finding their feet.

• True, they were apostles, men of God.

• But they like us had to live out their faith in circumstances both good & bad.


• The apostles would have to learn;

• That it is through success & failure, through joy & sorrow and not around it or over it,

• And it is situations like the ones recorded in these chapters;

• That give substance to and make real the teaching of Paul in his letters.

• So having endured opposition an difficulties Paul could write;

• First hand practicle advice concerning trusting God and depending on him,

Quote Philippians chapter 4 verses 11b-13:

“I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me”.

In the following passage Paul models what he learned:

• Demonstrating the stability needed during life’s ups and downs.

• He shows us how we, too, can follow Christ . . . through it all.

Iconium - Division.

• Look back to chapter 13 verse 52:

• “And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit”.

• When the missionaries arrive in Iconium they are on a high.

• It doesn’t get much better than that! “Filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit”.


• Iconium is in modern day Turkey,

• Today it is called Konya and it is the 4th largest town in Turkey,

• But in New Testament times it was a city.

• In fact it was a Greek city, and was a center of agriculture and commerce.

• Iconium, had become a Roman colony under Hadrian,

• But it remained predominately Greek in flavour and tone.

• Iconium had became an independent unit.

• As a Greek city, Iconium was governed by its assembly of citizens.

(1). High - Converts to Christ (vs 1):

“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”

When Paul and Barnabas arrive in Iconium:

• They begin their ministry where any wise and experienced evangelist should,

• Where there are many people!


You don’t catch fish in a bucket, but on the riverbank.

• In the Book of Acts Paul & Barnabus have a plan of action for evangelism;

• They start by entering the Jewish synagogues and sharing the gospel there.

• Note: They are not exclusive because they move out the synagogue;

• Verse 1b tells us that they shared their message with Gentiles as well.

• And they spoke so persuasively that a great number of people believed,

• Both of Jews and of Greeks.

(2). Low - Opposition to the Apostles (vs 2)

“But the Jews who refused to believe stirred up the Gentiles,

and poisoned their minds against the brothers”.


• If you and I went to Southampton City center and started preaching;

• We might be heckled, or laughed at.

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