Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Pastor Carolyn Sissom


14:22b:  We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.


Far from retreating in discouragement, the two missionaries pushed deeper into Gentile territory.  Moving eastward from Antioch, they traveled 90 miles along the Roman military highway to Iconium.  The town known today as Konya, Turkey, contained many Greeks, a few Roman soldiers, and an old established Jewish colony. 


One of the great interests of this section is the way Paul sought to gain entrance for at least a minimum of gospel light to uncultured pagans.


When Paul and Barnabas reached Iconium, they went first to the synagogue where they preached the gospel with so much power that a large number of both Jews and Gentiles became believers. 


14:2-3:  But the unbelieving, Jews stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brethren.  Therefore, they stayed there a long time, speaking boldly in the Lord, who was bearing witness to the word of His grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands. 


This is now a pattern of Satan’s strategy of resistance to the gospel.  However, the Jews were unable to stir up enough opposition to drive the two teachers from the city, at least not just yet.


Paul and Barnabas were able to keep on preaching for a long time.  The Lord backed their words with signs and wonders. 


14:4: The multitude of the city was divided.  Part sided with the Jews, and part with the apostles. 


“Multitude” here means most of the people of the city. 


14:5-7:  A violent attempt was made by both the Gentiles and Jews, with their rulers, to abuse and stone them.  They became aware of it and fled to Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and to the surrounding region.  They were preaching the gospel there.


Jesus gave them the divine strategy in such cases:


Mt. 10: 14-23:  Whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet.  Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city!  Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves.  Therefore, be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.  But beware of men, for they will deliver you up to councils and scourge you in their synagogues.  You will be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles.  But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak.  For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you. Brother will deliver up brother to death, and a father his child, and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death.  You will be hated by all for My name’s sake.  But he who endures to the end will be saved.  When they persecute you in this city, flee to another.  Assuredly, I say to you, you will not have gone through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes.


In view of this threat, and in obedience to their ministry boundaries set by Jesus., they leave Iconium and go to Lystra.  The supernatural power of the gospel does not give us permission to act rashly or without wisdom. 


In Lystra, a certain man without strength in his feet was sitting, a cripple from his mother’s womb, who had never walked.  This man heard Paul speaking.  Paul observing him intently and seeing that he had faith to be healed, said with a loud voice, “stand up straight on your feet!”  The man leaped and walked.


This is gift of discerning of spirits.  Paul discerned the man’s faith and spoke into his faith.


According to the scriptures, Paul had all the gifts of the Holy Spirit.  Romans 15:29:  I know that when I come to you, I shall come in the fullness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ.


1.       Word of Wisdom (1 Cor. 2:7; Eph. 1:8; Col. 1:28; 2 Cor. 12: 17,7).

2.      Word of Knowledge (2 Cor. 2;14; 11:6; 12:1, 7; Eph. 3:4; 2 Pet. 3:18).

3.      Faith (1 Cor. 13:2; 2 Cor. 4:13; Gal. 2:20; Eph. 3:12; 2 Ti. 4:7).

4.      Gifts of healing (Ats 14:3, 10; 15:12; 19:11; Rom. 15: 18-29).

5.      Working of miracles (Acts 19:11).

6.      Prophecy (1Cor. 13:2; 14:3; 1 Tim.)

7.      Discerning of spirits (Acts 13:1; 14:9; 16:18; 1 Cor. 13:2).

8.      Tongues (1 Cor. 13;1; 14:18).

9.      Interpretation of tongues (1 Cor. 14: 13-18).


The healing of the lame man is similar to the miracle of Peter healing the lame man at the temple gate.  The difference is the reactions of a Gentile crowd.  The ignorant crowd was impressed, but Paul could not speak to them of the power of the God of Abraham, as Peter had done to the Jews.  The excited shouting went on in the Lycaonian speech, not in Greek; the apostles would not have understood what was about to happen.


14:11-13: When the people saw what Paul had done, they raised their voices, saying in the Lycaonian language, “the gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!”  And Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the chief speaker.  Then the priest of Zeus, whose temple was in front of their city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates, intending to sacrifice with the multitudes.


We can be amused by this, as I am, just picturing the shock and horror of Paul and Barnabas; but when it happened, I am sure neither of them was laughing.  With all their adventures and experiences, this is a first.


Filled with horror and astonishment, they began tearing their clothing and raced shouting into the crowd.  The tearing of clothing, mentioned here for the last time in the N.T., was a Jewish gesture of horror or some act of blasphemy. 


14:15-18: Stop!  Yelled the apostle, saying, Men, why are you doing these things?  We also are men with the same nature as you, and preach to you that you should turn from these useless things to the living God, who made the heaven, the earth, the sea, and all things that are in them, who in bygone generations allowed all nations to walk in their own ways.  Nevertheless, he did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good, gave us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.  And with these sayings, they could scarcely restrain the multitudes from sacrificing to them.


Satan moved in with no ordinary temptation.  Let all ministries be aware that we cannot carry the supernatural gifts if we allow men to give us glory.  They could have reasoned that accepting the worship would give the gospel more favor and acceptance.  “The end sanctifies the means” is not a gospel truth.  The apostles would have none of it, but protested with as much grief and energy as possible.  They refused to bring the sin of idolatry upon themselves or the people by tolerating such an act.  Denying any deity, they put themselves in the same class with their audience.


Jus’ sayin’, I don’t have to worry about that, plenty of people come knocking at my door with no fear of God or man to set me straight according to their views.  There has been more than usual lately.  With that level of judgment, I should be expecting to come into a greater manifestation of miracles.  I am counting on it!


This popularity didn’t last long.  Unable to tempt the missionaries with worship, Satan turned to violence.  Here comes the ole’ debil’. 


14:19:  Then jews from Antioch and Iconium came there; and having persuaded the multitudes, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead. 


Honored as gods in one hour, they were regarded as criminals the next.  Such is the fickle nature of popularity.  I give it no place.  I have experienced both.  I suppose tested in both.  Just keep on preaching the gospel and don’t let it turn your head.


Thinking Paul dead, they dumped his body outside the city.  When Paul writes in 2 Co. 11:25, “once I was stoned,” this is the occasion he is referring to.


14:20:  However, when the disciples gathered around him, he rose up and went into the city.  The next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe.


We can consider, Paul was dead and raised by a miracle.  That seems logical since the crowds thought he was dead.  It is possible Timothy was one of the disciples.  He would have been 15 at the time.  Lystra was his home.  The genuineness of the disciples’ salvation is seen in the fact they did not forsake the gospel though their leader was supposedly slain. 


14: 22-23:  When they had preached the gospel in Derbe, and made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.”  So, when they had appointed elders in every church, and prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they believed.


Even though it was dangerous to return to these cities, Paul’s purpose was to strengthen the churches he left so quickly after their foundation.  He exhorted with the truth that tribulation was inevitable.  He was also able to discern that a number of brethren in each church had given proof of having received the pastoral gift, and these were appointed as elders.  The special prayer and fasting appears to be related to committing these leaders to the Lord.  It is understood during the formation of the church of the Book of Acts, elder=bishop.  (Overseer) = pastor.   That there was a plurality of these in each church, is the sovereign work of Jesus Christ, the Bishop of our Souls setting men/women in his church.  Jesus is the only one who chooses. The presbytery only confirms.


14: 24-28:  After they had passed through Pisidia, they came to Pamphylia.  When they had preached the word in Perga, they went down to Attalia.  From there they sailed to Antioch, where they had been commended to the grace of God for the work which they had completed.  When they had come and gathered the church together, they reported all that God had done with them, and that He had opened the door of faith to the gentiles.  So, they stayed there a long time with the disciples.  


In completing this first missionary journey, the apostles covered fore than 1400 miles and were gone for two years or longer (A.D. 45-48).


Now that the first missionary circuit has been completed, Luke ties the story together.  It began with the apostles prayerfully committed to God and sent forth by the Antiochian congregation.  The prayers of that church have been answered.  In addition to the individual cases of conversion on the island of Cyprus, were at least four Christian churches consisting mostly of converted pagans.  The focus of the report, however, is on God, not on the sufferings or sermons of the missionaries.  Antioch is no longer the only Gentile church in existence.  Luke seems to be stressing the role of the local church and its prayer-support behind this first missionary journey.


The demonstration that God had thrown open the door of the kingdom to Gentiles was unchallengeable.  This is more confirmation that Gentiles do not have to become Jews in order to be saved.  Further, it proved that no ceremonial requirements of any kind were necessary. The door to the kingdom is entered by faith in Christ and nothing else.  


The Antiochians were not the only ones interested in the spread of the gospel in Cyprus and Asia Minor.  The Jerusalem church (wholly Jewish) was concerned.  It now seems certain the world-wide church would soon become Gentiles and Jewish converts.  It is estimated that Paul and Barnabas remained with the Antiochian disciples for a year or more.


Chapter 15 starts the battle over whether the Gentile brethren have to be circumcised in order to be saved.  It is an exciting and powerful chapter.


Carolyn Sissom, Pastor

Eastgate ministries Church

Scripture from N.K.J.V.; I entered into the labors of C. S. Lovett’s Lights on Acts; F. F. Bruce Bible Commentary.  Comments and conclusions are my own and not meant to reflect the views of those who I entered into their labors (Jn. 4:38).

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