Summary: Paul and Barnabas. Through this narrative these two servants of God manifest examples of seven qualities that make for effective spiritual ministry.
Qualities of an Effective Servant
Admittedly this lengthy narrative passage contains no explicit teaching on God’s requirements for effective service. It does, however, present two highly qualified and effective servants who modeled the qualifications necessary for all who would proclaim the good news through the Lord Jesus Christ. The many diverse and unique features of this inspired record of the further extension of the gospel into the Gentile world can be tied together by focusing on the two constants in diversity – Paul and Barnabas. Through this narrative these two servants of God manifest examples of seven qualities that make for effective spiritual ministry.
I. Spirit Giftedness
a. The characteristic of Spirit-giftedness is evident throughout the chapter.
i. As Paul and Barnabas ministered, they employed the gifts the Spirit had given them.
ii. A spiritual gift is not a natural human ability or talent but a bestowment by the grace of God on believers that provides a channel through which the Holy Spirit’s power flows in ministry.
iii. The mutual exercise of those enablements is thus vital to the proper functioning and building of the Body of Christ.
b. Four of these gifts can be seen in operation in Chapter 14.
1. The spirit given ability to proclaim the Word of God with clarity and power
1. This gift is seen in verse 22 and describes their ministry of strengthening the souls of the disciples.
1. This gift of spiritual encouragement leads the one encouraged to pursue a righteous course of action.
2. Verse 22, finds them encouraging the believers to continue in the faith.
1. As part of their duties, Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in every church.
2. They did not leave their new converts to fend for themselves.
3. Their leadership gifts enables them to bring structure to the newly formed congregation and install appropriate leaders.
c. Those four gifts are at the heart of all spiritual ministries in building the church and are still vital today.
II. Boldness (vv. 1-7)
a. Having been driven out of Antioch, Paul and Barnabas went to Iconium, about 80 miles SE.
i. Iconium was a cultural melting pot and ancestry dated back to 312 B.C.
b. When they arrived in Iconium they as was their custom in evangelizing a new city immediately entered the synagogue of the Jews.
i. A great multitude believed, both Jew and Greek
ii. However, just like in Antioch, jealously rapidly appeared in all its ugliness.
iii. Those Jews who disbelieved stirred up the unbelieving Gentiles and embittered them against Paul and Barnabas.
1. Embittered translates to mean “poison”
2. Their enemies slowly poisoned public opinion against them.
3. That is the expected result when the gospel is properly presented.
c. The mounting opposition did not intimidate Paul and Barnabas; it energized them to speak out boldly.
d. Boldness is that essential quality without which nothing significant can be accomplished for the gospel.
e. Boldness is what enables believers to persist in the face of opposition.
III. Humility (vv. 8-18)
a. Paul ministered as the Spirit’s power flowed freely through him.
b. Out of the dozens of people in the crowd, Paul noticed this lame man and instructed him to stand up.
c. Paul saw an opportunity to confirm his message with a miraculous sign
i. The unhindered flow of the Holy Spirit’s power through Paul resulted in a dramatic miracle.
d. Although today’s believers do not possess miraculous healing power as Paul did, the principle is instructive – God’s power is absolutely necessary if His work is to be accomplished.
e. Along with power and results in service in Christ comes the temptation of pride.
i. It is often difficult to acknowledge that the results stem from God’s power, not human ingenuity and ability.
f. Paul and Barnabas knew where the power came from and knew that they were only God’s vessels, even though the crowd did there best to exalt them and praise them like gods.
g. This incident reveals the humility of Paul and Barnabas.
IV. Persistence (vv. 19-21)
a. Whether the Jews who came to Lystra from Antioch and Iconium were hunting for Paul and Barnabas, or were simply traveling through on business, is unknown.
b. In any case they were outraged at finding the two missionaries again proclaiming the gospel.
c. Paul was stoned and dragged outside the city and left for dead.
d. The missionaries ministry at Lystra had not been without fruit though, some of the new disciples they had made now stood around the fallen body of Paul.
i. Possibly among them was Timothy, a native of Lystra.
e. When Paul regained consciousness, he arose and courageously entered the city again.
i. Most of us would have taken some time off to recuperate, but not Paul.