Monday, April 19, 2010

Acts 14 - Missionaries! (part two)

by Katrina

LINK: Acts 14

It will help you to understand that there are two cities named Antioch. The Antioch where Paul and Barnabas began their journey was in the region of Syria. The Antioch where Paul preached the sermon recorded in chapter 13 is in the region of Pisidia.

The missionary journey of Paul and companions, which began in chapter 13, continues through chapter 14. They were driven out of town (Pisidian Antioch) at the end of chapter 13, and chapter 14 opens with their escape to Iconium. There they entered the synagogue and began preaching about Jesus. A great multitude of people -- both Jews and Greeks -- believed in Jesus while they were in Iconium. The Jews who didn't believe stirred up trouble, though, for the team of missionaries and tried to stone them. They fled about 20 miles to the cities of Lystra and Derbe (both in the region of Lycaonia) and the surrounding area.

In Lystra, because they healed a lame man, the multitudes thought Paul and Barnabas were the Greek gods Zeus and Hermes and began worshiping them. Zeus was the chief god, and Hermes was the patron god of orators. Paul and Barnabas had great difficulty convincing the people that they were not gods but had healed the lame man through the power of the true God who is the Creator of all.

Paul and Barnabas kept getting run out of town by the Jews. And although many in Iconium believed their message, they were run out of that town as well. The Jews were strongly opposed to their teaching about Jesus, and they were following this group of missionaries. Jews from Pisidian Antioch and Iconium joined together and caught up with Paul and Barnabas in Lycaonia. They stirred up the crowds and stoned Paul. Thinking they had killed him, they dragged his body outside the city. But God miraculously healed him, and he and Barnabas went to Derbe the next day. Many people in Derbe also believed in Jesus.

Then Paul and Barnabas retraced their steps. They went back to Lystra and Iconium and Pisidian Antioch. They encouraged the new believers in each city and appointed elders to lead the believers in each place.

Maps by Gordon Smith can be used without further permission.

Next they went through Pisidia, to the cities of Perga and Attalia (in Pamphylia), and preached about Jesus wherever they went. Then they sailed back to Syrian Antioch, and gathered together those who had sent them, to report all that God had done on their journey.They were especially impressed at how many Gentiles had believed.

We'll talk more about these believing Gentiles tomorrow.

Last night was our church's annual missions banquet. It was so exciting to hear from newly appointed Wycliffe missionaries who will be going to Africa, hopefully by January 2011, to do translation work. There are still thousands of people groups with no scripture in their language. God is zealous to be worshiped by every people group and in every language. Let's be about the work of taking the good news of Jesus all over the world so everyone has the opportunity to become a true worshiper of the one true God.

Father, thank you for sending your good news to the Gentiles as well as to the Jews! May your word continue to spread to every people group in the world. In the name of Jesus, amen.
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