HIS SERVANTS' MINISTRY
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The Book of ACTS
THEME: Facing Paganism
In chapter 14, Paul and Barnabas face the almost impenetrable paganism of Galatia. I think that the Galatian field was the hardest mission field that Paul ever encountered. You need only to read the Epistle to the Galatians to see that. Galatians was the harshest letter that Paul wrote. He wrote it to a people who were going in the wrong direction. They wandered continually off the right road.
This is a brief background of the Galatian country which Paul is entering on this first missionary journey. The people for whom the province was named were Gauls, a Celtic tribe from the same stock which inhabited France. In the fourth century B.C. they invaded the Roman Empire and ransacked Rome. Later they crossed into Greece and captured Delphi in 280 B.C. At the invitation of Nikomedes I, king of Bithynia, they crossed over into Asia Minor to help him in a civil war. They were a very warlike people and soon established themselves in Asia Minor. In 189 B.C. they were made subjects of the Roman Empire and became a province. Their boundaries varied, and for many years they retained their customs and language. The churches which Paul established on this first missionary journey were included at one time in the territory of Galatia, so this is the name which Paul would normally give to these churches.
The people were blond orientals. These Galtic Celts had much of the same temperament and characteristics of the majority of the American population, which came out of that same stock in Europe and the British Isles. Caesar had this to say about them: "The infirmity of the Gauls is that they are fickle in their resolves, fond of change, and not to be trusted." Another writer of that period described them as "frank, impetuous, impressible, eminently intelligent, fond of show, but extremely inconstant, the fruit of excessive vanity." Paul wrote them a very harsh letter because they needed that kind of letter. Many of the people in the United States are like them. That is the reason so many cults and "isms" have begun in this country. We are a fickle people. One day we follow one leader, and the next day we follow someone else. It is amazing to watch the polls of our political candidates. If they make one statement, one slip of the tongue, the entire population shifts from them to someone else.
All of this should make this section especially interesting to us. Martin Luther used the Epistle to the Galatians for the Reformation because it was written to people who are like we are.
The Work In Iconium (Acts 14:1-7)
Acts 14:1 And it came to pass in Iconium, that they went both together into the synagogue of the Jews, and so spake, that a great multitude both of the Jews and also of the Greeks believed. (KJV)
Paul and Barnabas crossed over the length of the island of Cyprus, and then sailed to Perga in Pamphylia. Then they traveled up into the country of Antioch, Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe. These are the cities of Galatia. They are now in the heartland of Asia Minor.
That they went both together into the synagogue of the Jews . . . which was in Iconium; Paul and Barnabas went together like they had done at Antioch.
And so spake . . . words and doctrines of grace, with much power, authority and demonstration of the Spirit.
That a great multitude, both of the Jews, and also of the Greeks, believed . . . they preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ boldly and plainly that there were not a few, but a great multitude, both Jews and Greeks that believed!
Acts 14:2 But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles, and made their minds evil affected against the brethren. (KJV)
But the unbelieving . . . the disobedient Jews, the Jews that continued in unbelief and rejected the doctrine of the apostles, concerning Jesus of Nazareth as being the Messiah . . . stirred up the Gentiles . . . causing friction and hostility by representing them as rebellious and disloyal persons of bad designs.
And made their minds evil affected . . . the unbelieving Jews tried to embitter or poison the multitude against the Christians . . . just as false teachers do today!
The brethren . . . the apostles themselves and others that were converted by them, whose spiritual Father was God through Jesus Christ, and were as a result endeared one to another.
Acts 14:3 Long time therefore abode they speaking boldly in the Lord, which gave testimony unto the word of his grace, and granted signs and wonders to be done by their hands. (KJV)
Long time therefore abode they . . . undaunted and not discouraged, at the treatment they met with there, to strengthen the new converts against the opposition they met with in the way of Christ, willingly partaking with them in their afflictions for Christ's sake.
Speaking boldly . . . speaking out, without fear, the doctrines of the Gospel, in the Holy Name of the Lord, and depending on the strength, assistance and support, from Him, and with great courage and humble confidence they continued, as knowing in Whom they had believed, and that He was able to keep that which they had committed unto Him against that day (2 Tim.1:12). They were SURE of Jesus, as we should be, for God CANNOT lie! (Tit.1:2).
In the Lord . . . #1. In the Lord's cause, a business which He had sent them about. #2. In the Lord's strength, who enabled them in it. The word of his grace; the Gospel, wherein the grace of God is manifested. #3. Whereby it is offered to one and all. #4. To such as receive it in their hearts, it is given as a FREE Gift! #5. By the grace of God, is allowed to some but hidden and withdrawn from those who mock, refuse and reject.
Granted signs and wonders to be done by their hands . . . God, by His miraculous confirming the doctrine of the apostles, showed that it was from Him, they were granted signs and wonders to be done by their hands; such as healing the sick, curing the lame, casting out devils; whereby a testimony was given to the Truth of the doctrine they preached, that these miraculous works were NOT done by the power of the apostles, but by the power of God. They were only instruments by used by the Lord, and only by His power were they performed.
Acts 14:4 But the multitude of the city was divided: and part held with the Jews, and part with the apostles. (KJV)
Was divided . . . as it was with our Saviour and His doctrine (John 7:43), so too was the multitude divided that day: in their sentiments, about the apostles, their doctrines and miracles; some approving them, others condemning their doctrines as false, and their miracles as delusions. History repeats itself!
And part held with the Jews . . . that did not believe, but rejected the apostles, despised their doctrines, and disparaged their miracles . . . and part with the apostle . . . some sided with Paul and Barnabas. This coming from the depravity and corruption of human nature; and are what our Lord declared was, and foretold would be the case (Luke 12:51).
Paul and Barnabas, both Jews, cause quite a division in the city. They always went to the Jews first and used the synagogue as a springboard to get to the Gentiles.
Acts 14:5 And when there was an assault made both of the Gentiles, and also of the Jews with their rulers, to use them despitefully, and to stone them, (KJV)
And when there was an assault made . . . a strong inclination was in the minds of
both the Gentiles and also of the Jews, with their rulers; who encouraged them to use them despitefully, and to stone them; not only to give them reproachful language, but to smite, buffet, and scourge them, and to stone them for blasphemy, which was a punishment among the Jews for such causes.
Rulers . . . such as were called the chief men of the city (Acts 13:50). To use them despitefully . . . so it was with they that were called to the marriage of the King's Son (Mat.22:6), entreated them despitefully.
Acts 14:6 They were ware of it, and fled unto Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and unto the region that lieth round about: (KJV)
They were ware of it . . . they understood what was going on, and considered it in their minds, as to what was best to be done at this point.
And fled . . . the apostles did not flee so much to save their lives, as to obey the Lord. Mat. 10:23 But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come. (KJV) . . . Their time would be better spent
for the glory of God in other places.
Acts 14:7 And there they preached the gospel. (KJV)
Thus was verified what Paul observed. Phil.1:12 But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel; (KJV) . . . God working good out of evil, and causing the sun, when it leaves one part, to shine on another.
And there they preached the Gospel . . . they did not sit still, they did not hide, they preached the Gospel, the good news of the incarnation of Christ, of redemption, peace, and pardon, through His Blood, justification by His righteousness, His resurrection and eternal salvation through Him alone.
The Events At Lystra (Acts 14:8-28)
Acts 14:8 And there sat a certain man at Lystra, impotent in his feet, being a cripple from his mother's womb, who never had walked: (KJV)
Such defects as this are incurable by man, only to be helped by the Creator God.
And there sat a certain man at Lystra . . . where the apostle was preaching; maybe he sat there to beg, where there was a great flow of people, and which might be in the open street: this man was impotent in his feet; so weak, as not to be able to walk, and even to stand on them, and therefore is said to sit.he was a cripple from his mother's womb; he was born lame, as was the man cured by Peter in Acts 3:2.
Who never had walked . . . his condition is observed and increase upon, to make the miracle seem all the the more to be something that only God could do.
Acts 14:9 The same heard Paul speak: who stedfastly beholding him, and perceiving that he had faith to be healed, (KJV)
Paul might have know by the Spirit; and extraordinary gift of discernment. The same heard Paul speak . . . preach the Gospel; he was one of the hearers, and faith came to him by hearing (Rom.10:17)
Who steadfastly beholding him . . . not the lame man beholding Paul, but Paul beholding the lame man, as did Peter look on the man he cured (Acts 3:4).
And perceiving that he had faith to be healed . . . as he might by the man's gestures, his attention in hearing, and as well as by revelation, or a spirit of discernment which Paul had.
Acts 14:10 Said with a loud voice, Stand upright on thy feet. And he leaped and walked. (KJV)
As in Acts 3:6,8, to shew that he was perfectly recovered of his lameness; as are all miraculous cures, since they are the work of God, were perfect.
Said with a loud voice . . . not only that the man, but that all there might hear and see the miracle about to be done.
Stand upright on thy feet . . . knowing Paul, I think that he most likely said: "In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk," just as Peter had said in Acts 3:6.
And he leaped and walked . . . he jumped up from his seat, and leaped for joy, and walked as well as any other man could.
When Paul told him to stand up, he leaped and walked. Paul and Barnabas had the sign gifts of an apostle, NOT like the loony heretics of today! They went to the places without any New Testament, just with the TRUE message of the Gospel. How did they prove their message was from God? The sign gifts were their credentials! They needed them, whereas today we have the entire Bible, so sign gifts are no longer needed. 1 Cor.13:8-10 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. 9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. (KJV) . . . The gift of "tongues" and "healing" have ceased! We NOW have the New Testament!
Acts 14:11 And when the people saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in the speech of Lycaonia, The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men. (KJV)
Remember that the people in that area were pagans. When they saw what Paul had done, they began to shout that the gods had come down in the likeness of men. They couldn't take their eyes off Paul and Barnabas. They were really excited about them.
Acts 14:12 And they called Barnabas, Jupiter; and Paul, Mercurius, because he was the chief speaker. (KJV)
Jupiter . . . whom the had as their chief God. Mercury was supposed to be the messenger of their gods, and therefore represented with wings; as also the interpreter of the gods, which caused their applying of his name to Paul.
And they called Barnabas Jupiter . . . the supreme God; it may be because that Barnabas was the older man, was taller and bigger, where Paul was younger, of a low stature, and small appearance.
Acts 14:13 Then the priest of Jupiter, which was before their city, brought oxen and garlands unto the gates, and would have done sacrifice with the people. (KJV)
Paul was the chief speaker, and the people want to make them gods. They bring garlands and sacrifice and are ready to worship them. SO SAD!!! It happens in today's world too in baseball, football, movie stars, politicians AND some of today's preachers and so-called healers! People eat up the glory that is for God alone!
Acts 14:14 Which when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of, they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out, (KJV)
They rent their clothes . . . they tore their clothes which was a sign of their greatest sorrow for such abominations.
And ran in among the people, crying out . . . expressing their great zeal for the glory of God, and their earnestness to hinder the idolatry of these people. They were expressing the great dislike of the action there.
Acts 14:15 And saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein: (KJV)
We also are men of like passions with you . . . we need food and clothing just like you, and we are susceptible to diseases and death just like you.
That ye should turn from these vanities Vanities . . . idols are frequently called vanities (1 K.16:13,26; Jer.14:22), because they disappoint the hopes that are placed in them, and are empty of any good which is expected from them, and have nothing except what vain men (their makers) give upon them.
The living God . . . the true God is called the living God (Deut.5:26; Josh.3:10), in opposition to those false gods, for these deities were dead men, and the lifeless images of them; who neither lived themselves, nor could give life to others, or do them any service of any kind. There is only ONE True Living God!
Which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein: . . . NO other god could have made Heaven and Earth! This also distinguishes the TRUE God is from false gods Jer.10:11-12), and is a great argument against all idol worship. Divine worship is a tribute we owe and pay to Him that made us (Ps.100:3-4).
Paul and Barnabas are confused and upset that these people want to worship them. They are completely shocked. They rush in among them, shouting, "We are human beings like you are!" Other times worship given to men in this book (Acts 8:10; 10:25; 12:22; 14:11; 14:13; 28:6).
NO one is to bow down to worship ANY man OR angel (Col.2:18; Rev.19:10; 22:9). A Christian is NOT to be so flattering or fawning that he gets down to lick the boots of anyone. But, sad to say, there are some people who want others to bow to them. Really SAD!
Acts 14:16 Who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways. (KJV)
Their own ways . . . ways of their own choosing, and not in obedience of God's commanding. They are false ways . . . and the just judgment of God shall be upon them (Ps.81:12; Rom1:24,26,28).
Acts 14:17 Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness. (KJV)
Nevertheless, he left not himself without witness . . . God, in His kindness and goodness to them, during this long interval and period of time; for they had not the written law, yet they were not destitute of the law of nature. How many witnesses has God against sinful man? Every creature and circumstance speaks of His power, His wisdom, His goodness and call upon us to love and obey Him! Every living creature tells us that God has made it, NOT some ridiculous idol (man-made god)!
And gave us rain from heaven . . . which NOT one of the gods of the Gentiles could (Jer.14:22). And fruitful seasons . . . spring, summer, harvest, and autumn, at which several times, different fruits of the earth appear . . . NO man-made god could do that! Filling our hearts with food and gladness . . . giving a sufficiency of food, and even an abundance of it, and that for pleasure and delight, as well as for support and refreshment. Rom. 1:20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: (KJV) . . . SO true!
Acts 14:18 And with these sayings scarce restrained they the people, that they had not done sacrifice unto them. (KJV)
It is SO hard to persuade someone to stop their sins they are accustomed to, or to turn their backs on such errors in religion which men are brought up in. See our Catholic article: www.godcannotlie.org/f_falsehoods_catholics_are_wrong.htm and www.worldlychaos.org/w_c_islam.1.htm and also many other dangerous cults out there: www.worldlychaos.org/w_c_cults.1.htm
Paul is trying to turn the attention of these heathens to the Living God, Who is the Creator. He desperately wants to draw them away from their heathen, pagan idols and the mythology of the Greeks.
Acts 14:19 And there came thither certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium, who persuaded the people, and, having stoned Paul, drew him out of the city, supposing he had been dead. (KJV)
How true this is. Such fickle people! One day they are ready to worship Paul and Barnabas as gods. The next day they stone Paul to death.
They stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city "supposing he had been dead."
Do you think he was dead? Later Paul writes about his experience: "I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter" (2 Cor. 12:2-4). Who was that man? It was Paul! "And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure" (2 Cor.12:7).
(See Acts 14:5). It seems they left Barnabas alone. Paul was the prominent speaker, and was the object of all their rage. The words seem to imply that it was the Jews who did this; and no doubt they took the lead, but it was the act of the instigated and fickle multitudes who joined in with them.
By comparing this with: Acts 7:58 And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul. (KJV) . . . It was the Jews who were the chief villains in this both scenes.
Some say that Paul was dead, and that God raised him from the dead. Why would God permit this stoning? Galatians 6:7 says: "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." Did Paul reaped what he had sowed? He had ordered the stoning of Stephen. You decide! I'll stay out of it.
Acts 14:20 Howbeit, as the disciples stood round about him, he rose up, and came into the city: and the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe. (KJV)
This is a miracle! A man who has been stoned would be brutally wounded. BUT . . . Paul rose up, and the very next day he was able to travel. This is a miracle whether or not he was actually raised from the dead.
Acts 14:21 And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch, (KJV)
And when they had preached the Gospel to that city . . . To the inhabitants, as they did in every place where they went. Had taught many; had made many disciples by teaching, and also by baptizing of them (Mat.28:19-20). For as by circumcision they were made Moses's disciples, so by baptism they are made Christ's disciples.
They returned again to Lystra . . . where Paul had been stoned . . . and to Iconium . . . where both Jews and Gentiles and the magistrates of the city, had attempted to use them ill, and to stone them . . . and Antioch . . . in Pisidia, where a persecution was raised against them, and from the coasts of which place they were expelled. They were so fearless of danger and so zealous to promote the Gospel of Christ, trying to do good for souls.
Acts 14:22 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. (KJV)
Confirming the souls of the disciples . . . not wicked men in their wickedness, not self-righteous people in an opinion of their own righteousness, for NO self-righteousness is ever sufficient for justification (Rom.3:23-24; 5:1). Only the ministry of the Word of God; the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the doctrine according to godliness, and a revelation of the righteousness of Christ.
And exhorting them to continue in the faith . . . encouraging them in the exercise of faith.
And that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God . . . for there often much trouble gaining an entrance into it, both from within, from the corruption and unbelief of the heart, and from without, from the temptations of Satan, and from the revilings and insults of men, and even from friends and family, of which I am a witness. John 15:18 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. (KJV) . . . IF you love and stand up for Jesus, the "world" will hate you! Mat. 5:10-12 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. 12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you. (KJV) . . . Taking a firm stand for Jesus will most certainly bring persecution your way! Count on it. People just do NOT want to hear the Truth!
Acts 14:23 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. (KJV)
And when they had ordained them elders in every church . . . as soon as a number of disciples were made, or souls were converted to Christ in any place, Elders . . .men that would instruct and govern the church.
They commended them . . . they considered the disciples as their great treasure.
To the Lord on whom they believed . . . to Christ, the best and faithful Keeper, that He should keep and further them in grace and goodness; to whose providence they wholly had committed themselves. 1 Peter 4:19 Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator. (KJV)
Acts 14:24 And after they had passed throughout Pisidia, they came to Pamphylia. (KJV)
They went back by the same way which they had come, as it appears in Acts 13:13-14.
Acts 14:25 And when they had preached the word in Perga, they went down into Attalia: (KJV)
The word . . . the Gospel, the Word of the Lord; or Christ, Who is the Word (John 1:1) , and who is the TOTAL of what the ministers of the Gospel should preach about.
Perga . . . is mentioned Acts 8:13 and 13:13, a city, or as some say, a country in Pamphylia, by the sea side. But the bounds of provinces were often altered by the Romans, some made larger and others smaller.
Acts 14:26 And thence sailed to Antioch, from whence they had been recommended to the grace of God for the work which they fulfilled. (KJV)
And thence sailed to Antioch . . . in Syria, from this place they first set out on their travels. It is here they were separated by the order of the Holy Ghost to the work of the ministry, and were sent forth, after they had in prayer commended them to God, and to His grace to assist them, as well as to equip them with words and wisdom.
Acts 14:27 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. (KJV)
And when they were come . . . to Antioch, and had gathered the church together . . . the church in that place and believers who came together at their request. For because they were sent out by them, they thought it proper to call them together; and give them an account of their work.
They rehearsed all that God had done with them . . . and by them, as His instruments by opening the door of salvation to the Gentiles. Told of the grace and strength God had given them to preach the Gospel; told the great number of souls converted by it; what miracles were done by them to confirm it; and what persecutions and sufferings they had endured for the sake of it. All that God had done with them . . . Since God was with them, and they being laborers with God (1 Cor.3:9; 2 Cor.6:1), there was great success.
Acts 14:28 And there they abode long time with the disciples. (KJV)
And there they abode long time with the disciples . . . meaning Paul and Barnabas stayed a considerable time at Antioch with the believers there, before they set out on another journey. To confirm them, as Acts 14:22, and also, as our Saviour withdrew Himself from the multitudes (Mark 3:7), they chose to refresh themselves there for a while, out of the heat of contention and persecution.
Paul and Barnabas return to Antioch to give a report of the work because this is the church that had sent them out. They revealed that God had now definitely opened the door of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to Gentiles. When the Gospel started out, the churches were nearly all Jews. Then as the Gospel reached people, the church became part Gentile. Today, the Gospel is going definitely to mostly Gentiles. The churches in Asia Minor were comprised entirely of Gentiles. Although there may also have been some Jews in these churches, it seems that in most places the Jews rejected the Gospel and the Gentiles received it. Very few Jews, then or now, want to hear the Truth of God's Holy Word!
Book of Acts
Ch.1 . . Ch.2 . . Ch.3 . . Ch.4 . . Ch.5 . . Ch.6 . . Ch.7 . . Ch.8 . . Ch.9 . . Ch.10 . . Ch.11 . . Ch.12 . . Ch.13 . . Ch.14 . . Ch.15 . . Ch.16 . . Ch.17 . . Ch.18 . . Ch.19 . . Ch.20 . . Ch.21 . . Ch.22 . . Ch.23 . . Ch.24 . . Ch.25 . . Ch.26 . . Ch.27 . . Ch.28