Ac 14:1-7. MEETING WITH SIMILAR SUCCESS AND SIMILAR OPPOSITION AT ICONIUM, PAUL AND BARNABAS FLEE FOR THEIR LIVES TO LYSTRA AND DERBE, AND PREACH THERE.
"After this detailed account of Paul's labors at Pisidian Antioch, Luke
subjoins only brief notices of his further labors, partly because from
the nature of the case his discourses must have embraced nearly the same
topics, and partly because the consequences that resulted assumed quite
a similar shape" [OLSHAUSEN].
1. they went both together into the synagogue--Though Paul was now
the prominent speaker and actor, yet in everything Barnabas went along
a . . . multitude . . . of the Greeks believed--meaning probably the
religious proselytes, as opposed to "the Gentiles" mentioned
3. Long time therefore abode they--because in spite of opposition they
were meeting with so much success.
speaking boldly in the Lord--rather, "in dependence on the Lord," that
is, on their glorified Head.
who gave testimony to the word of his grace--a notable definition of
the Gospel, whose whole burden is GRACE.
and granted--"granting," that is, who confirmed the Gospel by granting
miraculous attestation to it. (The "and" is wanting in the best
5. an assault made . . . to stone them--rather here,
"an impetuous movement" with a view to stoning them: for in
Paul says, "Once I was stoned," and that was at Lystra, as
expressly related in
Paulinæ--on this singular coincidence between the Epistle and
the history are very striking).
6. unto Lystra and Derbe--the one some twenty miles to the south, the
other some sixty miles to the east of Iconium, somewhere near the bases
of what are called the Black Mountains and the roots of Mount Taurus;
but their exact position has not yet been discovered.
Ac 14:8-21. AT
There being no mention of the synagogue at Lystra, it is probable there
were too few Jews there to form one.
8-10. there sat there a certain man . . . a cripple from
his mother's womb . . . The same heard Paul speak--in the
open air and
to a crowd of people.
9. who steadfastly beholding him--as he did Elymas the sorcerer when
about to work a miracle on him.
and perceiving that he had faith to be healed--Paul may have been led
by the sight of this cripple to dwell on the Saviour's miracles of
healing, and His present power; and perceiving from the eagerness with
which the patient drank in his words, that he was prepared to put his
own case into the Redeemer's hands, the Spirit of the glorified
Physician came all upon Paul, and "with a loud voice" he bade him "stand
upright upon his feet." The effect was instantaneous--he sprang to his
feet "and walked."
11-13. in the speech of Lycaonia--whether a corruption of the
Greek tongue, which was well enough understood in this region,
or the remains of some older tongue, is not known.
The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men--the language of an
unsophisticated people. But "that which was a superstition in Lycaonia,
and for which the whole "creation" groaned, became a reality at
Bethlehem" [WEBSTER and WILKINSON].
12. they called Barnabas, Jupiter--the father of the gods, from his
commanding mien (CHRYSOSTOM thinks).
and Paul, Mercurius--the god of eloquence and the messenger and
attendant of Jupiter, in the heathen mythology.
13. the priest of Jupiter, which was before their city--that is, whose
before their city, brought oxen and garlands--to crown the victims and
decorate, as on festive occasions, the porches.
14-18. when . . . Barnabas and Paul heard--Barnabas is put first here,
apparently as having been styled the "Jupiter" of the company.
they rent their clothes and ran in--rather (according to the true
reading), "ran forth."
among the people, crying out . . . Sirs, why do ye these things?--This
was something more than that abhorrence of idolatry which took
possession of the Jews as a nation from the time of the Babylonish
captivity: it was that delicate sensibility to everything which affects
the honor of God which Christianity, giving us in God a reconciled
Father, alone can produce; making the Christian instinctively feel
himself to be wounded in all dishonor done to God, and filling him with
mingled horror and grief when such gross insults as this are offered to
15. We . . . are men of like passions, &c.--How unlike either
imposture or enthusiasm is this, and how high above all self-seeking do
these men of Christ show themselves to be!
unto the living God--This is the most glorious and distinctive of all
the names of God. It is the familiar phraseology of the Old Testament.
which, in such contrast with all that is to be found within the
literature of heathenism, is shown to be, with its sequel, the New
Testament, the one Book of the true religion.
who made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all . . . therein--This
idea of creation, utterly unknown alike to rude and to cultivated
heathenism, would not only define what was meant by "the living God,"
but open up a new world to the more thoughtful part of the audience.
16. Who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways--that
is, without extending to them the revelation vouchsafed to the seed
of Abraham, and the grace attending it; compare
1Co 1:21. Yet not without guilt on their part was this privation
(Ro 1:20, &c.).
17. Nevertheless he left not himself without witness--Though the
heinousness of idolatry is represented as so much less in the heathen,
by how much they were outside the pale of revealed religion, he takes
care to add that the heathen have divine "witness" enough to leave them
he did good--scattering His beneficence everywhere and in a thousand
rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons--on which human subsistence
and all human enjoyment depend. In Lycaonia, where, as ancient writers
attest, rain is peculiarly scarce, this allusion would have all the
filling our hearts with food and gladness--a natural colloquialism,
the heart being gladdened by the food supplied to the body.
18. with these sayings scarce restrained they the people that they had
not done sacrifice to them--In spite of this,and Peter's repudiation
of all such honor
how soon idolatrous tendencies began to show themselves in the
Christian Church, at length to be systematized and enjoined in the
Church of Rome!
19. came thither certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium--Furious
zeal that would travel so far to counteract the missionaries of the
persuaded the people--"the multitudes."
and having stoned Paul--(See on
Barnabas they seem to have let alone; Paul, as the prominent actor and
speaker, being 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 along with
drew him out of the city--By comparing this with
it will be seen that the Jews were the chief actors in this scene.
20. as the disciples stood round about him--sorrowing. So his
labors here had not been in vain: "Disciples" had been gathered, who
now rallied around the bleeding body. And one appears to have been
gained on this occasion, of far more importance than all the
rest--TIMOTHEUS. See on
Ac 16:1-3. (It could scarcely have been at the subsequent visit,
Ac 14:21, for the reason given in
2Ti 3:10, 11; while at the third visit,
Ac 16:1-3, he was already a Christian).
he rose up--It is possible that this recovery was natural; the
insensibility occasioned by such treatment as he had received sometimes
passing away of itself, and leaving the patient less hurt than appeared.
But certainly the impression naturally left on the mind by the words is
that the restoration was miraculous; and so the best interpreters
understand the words. This is confirmed by what follows.
came into the city--Noble intrepidity!
next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe--a journey for which
he could hardly be fit if his recovery had been natural. (As to Derbe,
21. and when they had preached . . . to that city and had
taught many--rather, "had made many disciples" (Margin); but
probably without suffering any persecution, as Derbe is not mentioned
along with Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra
Ac 14:21-28. PAUL AND
21, 22. they returned . . . to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, confirming
the souls, &c.--At Derbe, Paul was not far from the well-known pass
which leads down from the central tableland to Cilicia and Tarsus. But
his thoughts did not center in an earthly home. He revisited the places
where he had been reviled and persecuted, but where he had left as sheep
in the desert the disciples whom his Master had enabled him to gather.
They needed building up and strengthening in the faith, comforting in
the midst of their inevitable suffering, and fencing round by permanent
institutions. Undaunted therefore by the dangers that awaited them, our
missionaries return to them, using words of encouragement which none but
the founders of a true religion would have ventured to address to their
earliest converts, that "we can only enter into the kingdom of God by
passing through much tribulation" [HOWSON].
23, 24. when they had ordained them elders--literally, "chosen by show
of hands." But as that would imply that this was done by the apostles'
own hands, many render the word, as in our version, "ordained." Still,
as there is no evidence in the New Testament that the word had then lost
its proper meaning, as this is beyond doubt its meaning in
2Co 8:19, and as there is indisputable evidence that the concurrence of the people
was required in all elections to sacred office in the earliest ages of
the Church, it is perhaps better to understand the words to mean, "when
they had made a choice of elders," that is, superintended such choice on
the part of the disciples.
and had prayed with fasting--literally, "fastings," thus setting them
solemnly apart. This last clause confirms our interpretation of the
former. For if "ordination" was by prayer and fasting (see
Ac 13:3), why should it be said they first "ordained elders," and after that
"prayed with fasting?" Whereas if the first clause refer to the
choice and the second to the ordination, all is natural.
them--that is, all these churches.
to the Lord--Jesus.
25. when they had preached the word in Perga--now doing what, for some
reason, they had not done on their former visit, but probably with no
they went down into Attaila--a seaport on the Gulf of Pamphylia,
drawing to itself the commerce of Egypt and Syria.
26. sailed to Antioch, from whence they had been
27. when they had gathered the church together, they rehearsed all that
God had done with them, &c.--As their call and mission had been solemn
and formal, in the presence of and by the Church as well as the Holy
Ghost, they dutifully, and no doubt with eager joy, convened the church
and gave their report of "all that God had done with them," that is, by
and for them.
and how--in particular.
he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles--to such even as
before had not been proselytes. (See on
and on the language, see
The ascribing directly to God of such access to the Gentiles is to be
28. there they abode long time--"no little time." From the
commencement of the mission till they left Antioch to go up to attend
the council at Jerusalem, some four or five years elapsed; and as the
missionary journey would probably occupy less than two years, the rest
of the time would be the period of their stay at Antioch.