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The Book of Acts, lessons, commentary and study guide from the church of Christ


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Bobby Stafford Paul and Barnabus Head Home
Lesson 31 Acts 14:1-28

The Book of Acts

Paul and Barnabas Head Home


Paul and Barnabas are on what is called Paul’s “First Missionary Journey.”  They were last in Antioch of Pisidia and were then expelled and went to Iconium nearly 100 miles SE.

Text:  Acts 14:1-28


I.  At Iconium  Acts 14:1-6a  “Now it happened in Iconium that they went together to the synagogue of the Jews, and so spoke that a great multitude both of the Jews and of the Greeks believed.  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.  But the multitude of the city was divided:  part sided with the Jews, and part with the apostles.  And when a violent attempt was made by both the Gentiles and Jews, with their rulers, to abuse and stone them, they became aware of it” NKJV

·  As usual they started at the synagogue.  Many Jews and Gentiles believed.  We need to mimic their example:  “They spoke in such a way.”

·  Hearers cannot remain neutral about the gospel message.  Some Jews “disbelieved.” – This word means “disobeyed.”  Faith and obedience go together as do disbelief and disobedience.  (Hebrews 3:18-19 “And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey?  So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.” NKJV

·  They continued to preach in spite of opposition.  (Ephesians 6:19 “and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel,” NKJV  Also notice that miracles weren’t sufficient for some people.

·  But when their lives became endangered, they fled.  They had more good they could do. 

II.  At Lystra  Acts 14:6b-20a  “and fled to Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and to the surrounding region.  And they were preaching the gospel there.  And 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!’  And he leaped and walked.  Now 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.  But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard this, they tore their clothes and ran in among the multitude, crying out and 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 generation 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 theses sayings they could scarcely restrain the multitudes from sacrificing to them.  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.  However, when the disciples gathered around him, he rose up and went into the city. NKJV

·  Lycaonia is a province of Asia Minor which became part of southern Galatia.  Lystra was about 40 miles SE of Iconium.

·  Paul healed a lame man who had faith to be made well.  Faith was not a condition of being healed, though.  (Acts 3)  His faith must have come from listening to Paul preach the gospel which would have included acts of miracles being performed.

·  This striking miracle caused those who had been watching to proclaim that the gods have become like men.  Since Paul was the speaker, they called him Hermes, the messenger of the gods.  The people even began to worship them.  They brought oxen to sacrifice.  Garland was draped around the horns of the sacrificial victim.

·  Paul and Barnabas reacted strongly when they realized what the people planned on doing.  They cried out, “We are not gods, but men just like you.”  They were there, not to be worshipped, but to bring glad tidings [good news].  They had come to stop idol worship, not encourage it.  “Vain things” – empty, worthless, powerless  They needed to turn to the only true God, the Creator of the universe.  In order to teach someone the truth, one must correct his errors.  In times past, God allowed men to depart from Him without immediate punishment.  From the beginning, He has demonstrated His existence by sending rain to help crops grow.  (Genesis 8:22“While the earth remains, Seedtime and harvest, Cold and heat, Winter and summer, And day and night Shall not cease.” NKJV  Blessings of rain and food are often overlooked by man.

·  Unbelieving Jews had run Paul out of Iconium and now they had traveled 100 miles to do it again.  They persuaded the multitudes to have Paul stoned.  Look at how fickle people can be!  They went from wanting to worship Paul to wanting to kill him.  He looked like he was dead; but he wasn’t.  He got up; the next day he and Barnabas left for Derbe. 

III.  At Derbe and Then Back  Acts 14:20b-23  “And the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe.  And when they had preached the gospel to that city 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 had believed.”  NKJV

·  Paul preached the gospel at Derbe and, as a result, many disciples were made.

·  Paul returned to the cities where he had been persecuted in order to strengthen all the new Christians.  This is as important as converting people in the first place to exhort them to “continue in the faith.”  This shows that Christians can leave the faith.  There will be “many tribulations.”  Living a faithful life will involve sufferings and persecutions.  The appointment of leaders was also needed for these new congregations.  Notice there was a plurality of elders in each church. 

IV.  Paul and Barnabas Return to Antioch in Syria  Acts 14:24-28  “And after they had passed through Pisidia, they came to Pamphylia.  Now 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.  Now 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.” NKJV

·  They made their way back to their starting point – Antioch in Syria.  This church had sent them off on their first mission trip and was anxious to hear all about it.  Paul related how God had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles.  They stayed in Antioch for quite some time – maybe one to two years.


Are we ready for persecution, for trials and sufferings?  Are we ready to take the gospel to an ungodly world?  Are we preparing to be faithful unto death? 

Bobby Stafford 
January 17, 2016 
Acts:  Lesson 31 
Acts 14:1-28

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