About Jesus Steve Sweetman
This Section - Chapters 14
1 confirms what we have said about Paulís way of ministry.
Paul and Barnabas went as usual into the Jewish synagogue to
To me it is interesting to note that even though Paul said that he
was going to take the gospel to the Gentiles in the last chapter, the
first thing he does in Iconium is to go to the Jewish synagogue.
He must still feel that the synagogue is a good place to start
preaching when entering a
says that Paul and Barnabas spoke so effectively that a number of Jews and
There are two things to note here.
Both Paul and Barnabas spoke.
The second thing is their "effective speaking".
Luke is basically saying that they did a great job in delivering
the message, although we know that behind this great message was the Holy
Spirit, as seen in the accompanying miracles. (verse 3)
in everywhere Paul and Barnabas went, some Jews did not believe or
appreciate their message, as seen here in verse 2.
In this case those "who refused" to believe, as Luke puts
it, "stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the
This time the Jews didnít stir up other Jews, but they stirred up
Gentiles, knowing that if Paul and Barnabas could get on the wrong side of
the Gentiles, they'd be in greater trouble.
that certain Jews refused to believe.
This was an aggressive and calculated act of unbelief based on the
clear preaching of the gospel.
It wasn't that these men didn't understand what Paul and Barnabas
were telling them, because they did, and, they simply rejected it.
also the words "poisoned the minds" of the Gentiles.
This is a good description of what really happened here.
Many of these Gentile men would have been more intellectually
orientated than emotionally orientated, thus, the poisoning of their
When it comes right down to the bottom line, mental poisoning is
from the devil. The goal of
the devil is to change the way we think.
He can do this much easier when people believe that one's thinking
processes aren't important. Our
dumbed down culture, both in the church and in the world, makes it easier
for the devil to accomplish his goal of poisoning people's minds.
3 tells us that Paul and Barnabas stayed around Iconium for a while
preaching the gospel, confirming what they were saying with miraculous
2 Corinthians 12:12 Paul teaches that signs, wonders, and miracles, mark
the sign of a true apostle.
If there were no miraculous signs, Paul would not call the preacher
verse 4 we see that the whole city was divided.
Some were for the apostles and some weren't.
This is the first mention that Paul was an apostle.
It's also the first mention of men other than the original twelve
apostles as being apostles.
This clearly tells us that there were more apostles than the
original twelve, and that includes both Paul and Barnabas here.
verses 5 through 7 we see that both Jews and Gentiles decided that they
would stone Paul and Barnabas.
Somehow the two men found out about this plot and fled to Lystra
and Derbe where they continued to preach the good news of Jesus. We
see here that God's will for Paul included much suffering, as was made
known in Acts 9 when Paul and Ananias met for prayer. Paul
and Barnabas didn't give up at the first sign of trouble and suffering.
The suffering simply helped them to be motivated to move on to the
next town and continue their mission.
verse 8 we see the city of
preaching in Lystra Paul glanced over to see a man that was lame from
notes that Paul felt that this man "ad faith to be healed".
Paul did not pray for him, nor did he lay hands on this man.
He simply said, "Stand up on your feet", as seen in verse
event tells us a few things.
One thing it tells us is that Paul had the ability to heal this
did not ask Jesus to heal him, but as Jesusí representative, acting in
the place of Jesus, Paul just pronounced this man healed. Obviously Paul
had the gift of healing, one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit as he teaches
in 1 Corinthians 12.
fact that Paul just said the word and the man was healed tells us that
there is no real formula when it comes to healing.
Sometimes a simple word is said, as in this case, and as in the
case of Peter and the lame man in Acts 3.
Sometimes people lay hands on the sick and they are healed.
Sometimes there is special prayer to the Lord that brings forth the
Simply put, don't doctrinalize a formula for healing.
is a difference between this man being healed and the lame man in Acts 3.
In chapter 3 Peter pronounced healing, yet it appears that it was
Peterís faith that caused the man to be healed.
In this case, Paul saw that the lame man had faith to be healed, so
Paul healed him.
Again, there is no special formula. One man had faith.
One man didnít seem to have faith.
I don't believe those of the hyper faith persuasion can use this verse to support their thinking that one's faith alone can bring healing to someone. This lame man had just heard the gospel and in response, he simply believed what Paul said was true. He didn't have great faith. His faith was new and fledgling and for that Jesus used Paul to heal him.
I'd like to comment at this point on the hyper faith prosperity teaching that is prevalent among some Christians today. This man most likely had less faith than most Christians today. If healing of our sick bodies is purely a matter of our faith, then, because we have more faith than this man, we should be healed, but we know this is not the case. This clearly tells me that there is more to healing than having faith. There is the matter of God's will. There is the matter of sin, both in the lives of the individual and also collectively in the church that I believe slows down the healing processes.
11 says that those who saw this miracle felt that the "gods had come
down in human form". They called Barnabas Zeus and Paul Hermes.
This miracle so impressed the people that even the priest of
Zeusís temple brought bulls to sacrifice to Paul.
These are pretty important Greek gods, but that did not mean
anything to Paul and Barnabas.
Paul and Barnabas had a choice to make here.
They could have accepted the superstar mentality of the crowd and
have it go to their heads, or they could have, as they did, deflected it
to follow Jesus.
In our superstar Christian mentality today, many would not have
reason why they called Paul Hermes was because he was the chief spokesman.
We learn something here. Paul was the main speaker.
to note here is that we derive our English word "hermeneutics"
from the name of the Greek god Hermes, because Hermes means "the
speaker of the gods", thus, hermeneutics is the art of interpreting
and understanding someone's speaking or writing.
It's simply the art of common communication.
verse 14 we see Paul and Barnabasí response to the idea that they were
ripped their clothes in disgust in the midst of the crowd.
The ripping of clothes was a common jester to show disgust.
Most likely they ripped their inner tunic, which would be a thinner
material than their outer cloak.
They would rip it from top downward about six inches or so.
This would signify to others that something blasphemous had just
Being thought of as gods was intolerable to Paul and Barnabas.
ripping their tunic, they ran out into the street and told the crowd that
they were just men, and nothing more. In verse 15 Paul said, "We are
bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to
the living God".
What were the worthless things Paul was telling these people to
The worthless things were the very gods they claim Paul and
Barnabas to be and the idols associated with these gods.
These people should stop their worship of multiple gods and worship
the one and only true God who created all things.
need to know that Paul was speaking mainly to Gentile pagans here and his
message was different than the message he would have spoken to Jews.
He doesn't start by quoting Old Testament passages.
He starts his message with pagan gods.
tells these people to believe in the "living God".
By placing the word "living" in front of God Paul is
suggesting that their gods aren't alive.
Then, by saying this living God is the creator of all you see,
tells these people that He is the one and only creator God.
He is the true God of the universe.
16 is interesting.
Paul says, "In the past, He has let all nations go their own
Paul says that God has stepped back, at least to some degree, from
the affairs of men and nations.
He has let them go their own way.
This is similar to what Paul says in Romans 1 and 2 when he tells
his readers that God has given sinful men over to their sins of choice.
In both of these cases God has basically said, "If sin is the
direction you want to go, then go, but you will reap the consequences of
We should realize from many Old Testament passages that God does
allow men and nations to go their own way, but that doesn't stop Him from
stepping into the affairs of men and nations in judgment.
God has let nations go their own way in the past, it appears to me that He
does the same today.
He wonít make men or nations do His will, but as in Old Testament
times, God still judges men and nations today.
Paul is speaking to Gentiles at this moment of time.
He speaks of things that they would understand.
He does not talk to them about the Law of Moses or Jewish history.
He speaks to them about the rain and crops in the field as we see
in verse 16.
He does the same in the first chapter of his book to the Romans.
These are things that these people would understand. This
is important for those who want to preach the gospel.
It is important in your preaching to use analogies that those to
whom you are preaching will understand.
Of course, such things vary from place to place and culture to
in verse 17 that Paul says that God's creation gives people joy.
We don't worship God's creation, but we certainly can enjoy His
creation, even in its fallen condition.
What Paul is saying here is his first gospel preaching that is
recorded to the Gentile world.
In verse 18 Luke records that the people still had a
hard time not wanting to sacrifice to Paul and Barnabas.
In verse 19 we see the crowd was pretty fickle
because Luke tells us that some Jews from
The resulted of the Jews persuasion ended up in Paul
being stoned by the very same crowd that wanted to sacrifice to him.
They thought they had killed Paul so they dragged him outside the
city, yet he wasnít dead. When
certain brothers gathered around Paul, he got up and went back into the
city for the evening and left for Derbe the next day.
Some have suggested that Paul was raised from the
dead here but I don't believe the text states that Paul died.
The amazing thing to me is that once Paul got up from
this bloody stoning, he went right back into the city where he was stoned.
He was one hard headed, Holy Spirit, filled man.
this point Paul and Barnabas head back to
calls these Christians disciples.
The simplest definition of a disciple is one who is in the process
Of course, these people would be learning about the Lord Jesus
through Paul and Barnabas.
This does not negate the fact that these disciples would have
learned directly from the Holy Spirit as well, but we do need to
understand Paul's roll in this.
verse 22 Paul specifically encouraged them to remain in the faith.
This would suggest to me that if he wanted these disciples to
remain in the faith, it would seem probable that they could depart from
If this indeed is the case, then the doctrine of "eternal
security:", or, "once saved always saved", is unbiblical.
If we enter salvation by faith, and then we lay aside this faith,
the logical conclusion is that we lay aside our salvation.
As I have always said, "faith saves us and unbelief unsaves
in the faith simply means to continue on trusting Jesus because faith is
believe in today's world we've lost the true meaning of faith.
We still know what trust means, and I like the word trust better
than faith at this point for this very reason.
It's not that the word "faith" is no longer acceptable,
because it is.
We need to be re-educated when it comes to the meaning of faith.
This is true for many other Biblical words as well that have lost
their original meaning.
verse 22 Paul and Barnabas told these new converts that "we must go
through many hardships to enter the
may be debatable to know just what Kingdom
reason for this tribulation is due to the enmity that produces conflict
are to represent the
verse 23 we see another reason why Paul and Barnabas came back to these
The word "appoint" here is translated from the Greek word
"cheirotoneo". This word literally means "to stretch forth
This word was used in the Greek world for the voting process.
Did Paul and Barnabas have a congregational vote?
We donít know the answer to this for sure. Some commentators say
there was a vote.
I do believe we can safely say that the disciples had a say into
who were to be elders or else Luke would not have used this Greek word.
It appears that Paul and Barnabas saw those who were actually
caring for Godís people and affirmed them.
That was normally what Paul did. I
believe the word "affirm" would be a good word to substitute for
the word "appoint".
I see it this way.
Paul and Barnabas surveyed the local community of believers.
They probably spoke with many in the community.
From this they recognized who had been leading, (leading mean
caring) and appointed them as elders.
I suggest the appointment came with the laying on of hands.
should understand that just because Luke uses a Greek word that means
"vote" in normal Roman usage, it doesn't have to necessarily
mean "vote" here.
We need to consider other things in attempting to understand this
The New Testament often modifies certain Greek words to fit its own
note that after Paul and Barnabas prayed and fasted for these elders they
left the city and also left these people in the hands of the Lord.
For those who believe in strong apostolic authority we should see
that Paul could not be with these people very often.
He had to leave them in the hands of the Lord. We thus should know
that apostolic authority has its limitations.
In the final analysis the Lord is the one who causes the disciples
that they chose more than one elder.
The leadership of the local church, or as I'd rather put it, the
local community of disciples of Jesus, consisted of a body of men.
The local church was not led by one man.
This was how Paul structured all of the churches he was involved
is the first time appointing elders are mentioned in the book of Acts.
you want to know what qualifications an elder must possess, you can read 1
Timothy 3. Paul lays out what kind of man an elder must be there.
says that elders were appointed "for the church".
To me this suggests elders are men who serve the local community of
Being an elder is not a job.
It's not a career.
It's a calling to serve.
word "elders" here is translated from the Greek word
"Presbyteros" simply means an older man.
We should realize that these elders could not have been Christians
a long time, like for many years.
Were these men older men?
We don't know the answer to this question for sure.
I do think I can safely say that they exhibited the characteristic
of an older, caring, fatherly, type.
appointing these elders there was a time of prayer and fasting for these
says that they "committed these men to the Lord, in whom they had put
This is where I believe Paul and Barnabas would have laid their
hands on these elders in prayer.
Paul and Barnabas would leave these cities not knowing when or if
ever they would return.
The best they could do was to appoint elders and hand over the
situation to the Lord Jesus.
This is what is meant when Luke points out that after ordaining
these men; they put their trust in the Lord. As
I've said before, Paul put his trust in Jesus to keep these people in the
faith. We too often today put our faith in ourselves to keep people in the
the use of the word "fasting" here I suggest that this time of
prayer wasn't some short little two minute prayer to confirm these men.
Fasting implies not eating for a period of time.
Confirming these elders was a very serious thing for Paul and
verses 24 through 26 we see that Paul and Barnabas worked their way back
verse 28 Luke records that upon completing their work, that is their trip;
they stayed in