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 with him.
a … multitude … of the Greeks
believed—meaning probably the religious proselytes, as
opposed to "the Gentiles" mentioned Ac 14:2.
3. Long time therefore abode
they—because in spite of opposition they were meeting with so
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
and granted—"granting," that is, who
confirmed the Gospel by granting miraculous attestation to it. (The
"and" is wanting in the best manuscripts).
5. an assault made … to stone
them—rather here, "an impetuous movement" with a view to
stoning them: for in 2Co 11:25,
Paul says, "Once I was stoned," and that was at Lystra, as
expressly related in Ac 14:19.
Paulinæ—on this singular coincidence between the Epistle
and the history are very striking).
fled—(See Mt 10:23).
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 Lystra Paul
Healing a Cripple, the People Are Scarce Restrained from Sacrificing to
Them as Gods, but Afterwards, Their Minds Being Poisoned, They Stone
Paul, Leaving Him for
Dead—Withdrawing to Derbe,
They Preach and Teach There.
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 (Ac 14:11) 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
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
13. the priest of Jupiter, which was before their
city—that is, whose temple stood
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 him.
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
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
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 Ac 17:30; 1Co 1:21. Yet not without guilt on their part was
this privation (Ro 1:20,
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 "without excuse."
he did good—scattering His beneficence
everywhere and in a thousand forms.
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 greater effect.
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 (Ac 10:26), 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 Cross!
persuaded the people—"the
and having stoned Paul—(See on Ac 14:5). 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 (Ac 14:19),
but it was the act of the instigated and fickle multitudes along with
drew him out of the city—By
comparing this with Ac 7:58 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
16:1-3, he was already a
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
came into the city—Noble
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, see on Ac
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 (2Ti 3:11).
Ac 14:21-28. Paul and
Barnabas Retrace Their Steps, Return to Antioch in Syria, and Thus
Complete Their First Missionary Journey.
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
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 visible fruit.
they went down into Attaila—a seaport
on the Gulf of Pamphylia, drawing to itself the commerce of Egypt and
26. sailed to Antioch, from whence they had been
recommended—(See on Ac 13:3).
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 Ac 11:21; and on the language, see 1Co 16:9; 2Co 2:12; Col 4:3). The ascribing directly to God of such
access to the Gentiles is to be noted.
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. (But see Chronological Table.)