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Summary: Paul’s journey had been one of missionary enterprise; it was the journey of a pioneer, the going into new territory with the Gospel. He created division wherever he went, dividing cities and men into two camps, believers and blasphemers, men full of...

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December 1, 2014

By: Tom Lowe

Title: The Return to and Stay at Antioch (Acts 14:20b-28)

Scripture (Acts 14:20b-28; KJV)

20b and the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe.

21 And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch,

22 Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.

23 And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.

24 And after they had passed throughout Pisidia, they came to Pamphylia.

25 And when they had preached the word in Perga, they went down into Attalia:

26 And thence sailed to Antioch, from whence they had been recommended to the grace of God for the work which they fulfilled.

27 And when they were come, and had gathered the church together, they rehearsed all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles.

28 And there they abode long time with the disciples.

Commentary

20b and the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe.

21a And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many,

Paul and Barnabas did not linger in Lystra. It was no longer safe to remain there. The very next morning they set out for Derbe. Since Derbe was some 60 miles southeast of Lystra the journey would have taken several days on foot. This is miraculous! A man who had been stoned would be severely wounded. But Paul got up from the ground, and the very next day he was able to travel. This was a miracle whether or not he was raised from the dead.

Follow-up is something most churches do a very poor job of. I don’t know how many times I have heard someone say, “So and so was saved a while back, but we haven’t seen her since.” The newly converted should be kept in touch with and encouraged to come to church and join the fellowship. Discipleship training should begin immediately to teach the important doctrines of the Christian religion and those unique beliefs of your denomination.

Luke related no specific narrative about the ministry in Derbe but only gave the essential details that a successful witness was carried on there (“taught many”) and many disciples were won to the Lord. There is no mention of Jews in the city, which is one reason for their success. From other writings we know that in Derbe the apostle gained a friend, a companion, a fellow-helper by the name of Gaius. Derbe was the eastern most church established on the mission of Paul and Barnabas. Had the two chosen to do so, they could have continued southeast from Derbe on through the Cilician Gates the 150 miles or so to Paul’s hometown of Tarsus and from there back to Syrian Antioch. It would have been the easiest and quickest and safest route home by far, for the distance was very little in comparison with the route taken. But they must have received word that hostility had subsided since they chose to retrace their footsteps and revisit all the congregations that had been established in the course of the mission. In so doing they gave an important lesson on the importance of follow-up and nurture for any evangelistic effort. Paul would again visit these same congregations on his next mission (see Acts 16:1-6).


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