|Paul's First Missionary Journey, with Barnabas to Cyprus and Asia Minor c AD46-48 and Its Sequel, the Council at Jerusalem c AD49 from http://www.ccel.org/bible/phillips/JBPhillips.htm|
Even though Iconium (7) was in Lycaonia, the citizens were primarily Phyrgian in language and culture. Paul and company follow the familiar pattern of going to the synagogue, preaching boldly, having Jews and Gentiles believe but some Jews oppose. There are also signs and wonders that validate Paul's ministry (Galatians 3:5). Then, they flee to Lystra and Derbe.
Paul and Barnabas "continued to preach the gospel" in Lystra (8). The historical background behind the healing of the lame man and subsequent desire of the people of the city to worship Paul and Barnabas is interesting:
Zeus and Hermes (also known as Jupiter and Mercury) were two popular gods in the Roman world. People from Lystra claimed that these gods had once visited their city. According to legend, no one offered them hospitality except an old couple, so Zeus and Hermes killed the rest of the people and rewarded the old couple. When the citizens of Lystra saw the miracles of Paul and Barnabas, they assumed that the gods were revisiting them. Remembering the story of what had happened to the previous citizens, they immediately honored Paul and Barnabas and showered them with gifts.
(The Life Application Bible, Acts 14:11, 12, p. 1983)God gave Paul and Barnabas the ability to humbly respond to these Gentiles, showing them that God had not left them without witness through His creation (Psalm 146:6; Romans 1:19f).
Jews came in from Antioch and Iconium (like Al-Qaeda has infiltrated peaceful countries to stir up trouble), and stirred up the once welcoming crowd so that they stoned him and left him for dead! How fickle the people were!
Even after stoning, Paul and Barnabas went to Derbe (9), preached the gospel, and made disciples.
Return to Antioch of Syria (14:21-28)
After Derbe, they back tracked through Lystra (10), Iconium (11), and Pisidian Antioch (12). No doubt they were risking their lives by doing so, but they believed that follow-up of the new believers there was really important. They taught by word and deed that hardship was part of entering the kingdom of God. (I will have a LOT to say about both follow-up of new believers and developing a "theology of suffering" for your life later on in the New Testament.) After strengthening the disciples, they prayed and fasted and appointed elders for the church there, committing them to the Lord.
After this, they preached the word in Perga (13) and Attalia (14) before returning to Antioch where they gave a full report to the church there.
It is believed that Paul wrote his letter to the Galatians while he was staying in Antioch (A.D 48 or 49). It is believed that Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe were part of the Galatian region for which the letter was intended. The reason it is believed to be during this time period is because in the letter to the Galatians, the question of whether Gentiles should be required to follow the Jewish Law was not resolved. This will be resolved in Acts 15. Stay tuned!
I just returned from a 48 hour prayer summit with leaders of the valley in which I live. Eighty men and forty-four women gathered for praise, repentance, and prayer for each other and our valley. The last session involved much confession for our lack of confidence in sharing the Good News of Jesus with the lost around us. Why can't we be more bold, risking persecution, like Paul and Barnabas?
Many were so busy with all their church programs that it left no time to develop relationships with non-believers, another was laziness about meeting neighbors, another was lack of compassion for the lost, another was fear of rejection, another was lack of confidence. What is it for you?
On a scale of 1 - 10 with 1 being no confidence and 10 being very confident, where are you on your confidence in sharing the Good News? Is it lack of skill or lack of confidence?
Spend some time with God and ask Him what is keeping you from boldly sharing the Good News. What would He have you do to grow in that area of your life?
Sharing your faith is part of being a balanced disciple of Christ. I love to take people on a journey from Creation to Christ where we discover the Scriptures together. You do not have to have all the answers! Here is a link for helping you do that:
Discovering God Bible Study
Here is a downloadable handout I created that has all four discovery studies and a guide for leading them:
Discovery Study with Lists
Lord, make us bold in sharing the Good News! Amen.