The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Acts 14

Act 14:1

Act 14: "These were dramatic times, as the ecclesia was being formed out of the difficulty and persecution from both Judaizers and the Roman Pagan Empire. At the same time, those troublous times gave impetus to such as the apostle Paul, confirming him in his newly-found realization of the identity of Messiah and the fulfillment of the OT scriptures. Act 14 records the second of two addresses by the apostle Paul, and introduces his work to the Gentiles as continuing that of the apostle Peter to the Jews. His first address was given in Antioch (Pisidia): Act 13:16-41, and his second at Lystra: Act 14:15-17. Amazingly, the audience were not prepared to accept the logical and clear contentions of the apostle -- typical of the spirit of the flesh, then and now! Cp some of the drama of the record: in Act 14:19 Paul feels the impact of stoning by the Jews; and thereby shared the fellowship of the sufferings of Stephen, when he, himself, had given his support to those stoning the believer because of his testimony (Act 7:58)!" (GEM).

V 1: ICONIUM: An ancient city of Asia Minor, now called Konya, that was visited several times by Paul on his missionary journeys. Named for the "eikon" -- the famous head of Medusa that was located there. The chief city of Lycaonia in the Hellenistic period, Iconium lay on the border of the districts of Phrygia and Lycaonia. It was incorporated into the Roman province of Galatia in 25 BC. It stood on a level plateau 3,400 feet above sea level, with 5,000-6,000 foot mountains a few miles to the west.

Paul brought the gospel there on his first missionary journey (Acts 13:51; 14:1-6,21) and returned there on his second journey (Acts 16:2), and prob on his third as well (Acts 18:23). It was poss to Iconium as well as the other cities in that area that Paul wrote his letter to the Galatians to combat the inroads of the Judaizers.

Act 14:3

The apostles prayed for aid in their work of preaching, and received it. Christ's personal concern and activity in the work of his men: Acts 7:55; 9:4,10; 13:52; 16:7,14; 18:5; 22:17; 23:11.

Act 14:6

LYSTRA: A city about 18 miles sw of Iconium in the Roman province of Galatia where Paul established an ecclesia on his first missionary journey and which he visited on his second and third journeys (Acts 14:6-20; 16:1-5; 18:23). At Lystra or Derbe Paul met Timothy. Founded as a Roman colony by Augustus about 6 BC, for the purpose of training and regulating the mountain tribes on the southern frontier of the province of Galatia, Lystra was a place of some importance under the early emperors.

DERBE: "A town in Asia Minor in the se corner of Lycaonia on the main road from Lystra to Laranda. On Paul's first missionary journey he came to Derbe after having been stoned at Lystra and made many disciples there (Acts 14:6, 20). Paul passed through Derbe on his second journey from Cilicia to Lystra (Acts 16:1) and likely visited there on his third journey. Gaius, one of Paul's disciples and companions, was from Derbe (Acts 20:4).

"Since Sir William Ramsay identified Derbe with Gudelisin in 1890, that view has been generally accepted. But two inscriptions found in recent years have demonstrated rather conclusively that Kerti Huyk is the correct site of ancient Derbe. Gudelisin is about 30 miles west of the modern Turkish town of Karaman (66 miles by road se of Konya), and Kerti Huyuk is some 15 miles nw of Karaman" (WyE).

Act 14:7

WHERE THEY CONTINUED TO PREACH THE GOOD NEWS: Timothy, a resident of Lystra (Acts 16:1), was converted, becoming Paul's "son in the faith" (1Ti 1:2; 2Ti 1:2).

Act 14:9

HEALED: Gr "sozo", lit "saved" or "delivered".

Act 14:10

Cp similar miracle performed by Peter at Beautiful Gate (Acts 3:8). One Jew and, now, one Gentile!

Although the lame man had NEVER walked (v 8), he did not need to learn how now!

Act 14:11

IN THE LYCAONIAN LANGUAGE: "In their excitement, the people fell into their native Lycaonian tongue, and Paul and Barnabas could not understand what was happening. Much of the Mediterranean world was bilingual, the people speaking the general language, Greek, and also their native dialect" (WyC).

THE GODS HAVE COME DOWN TO US IN HUMAN FORM: "You welcomed me as if I were an angel of God, as if I were Christ Jesus himself" (Gal 4:14).

Act 14:12

"The two visitors were thought to be two gods. Zeus was the chief god of the Greek Pantheon, and Hermes was the herald of the gods. Jupiter and Mercurius (AV) are the Latin equivalents for the Greek names of these gods, but the Greek terms ought to be used. Since Paul was the spokesman of the two, the people called him Hermes; while Barnabas, the more silent partner who stood in the background, they called Zeus, the father of the gods. Legends existed that told of other occasions when these two gods visited people of this area" (WyC).

Act 14:13

THE PRIEST OF ZEUS: Zeus was the patron god of Lystra; his great statue was erected at the principal gate. The priest of Zeus prepared oxen adorned with decorations to offer sacrifice to their unexpected visitors.

Act 14:14

Although the apostles could not understand the Lycaonian dialect (v 11), the actions of the priests soon indicated their purpose to sacrifice, and when the apostles realized their intent, they strongly protested. They tore their clothes -- a Jewish gesture of horror at blasphemy (Mar 14:63).

Act 14:16

As long as nations did not come into contact with God's truth, they were not held accountable for their sins: Acts 17:30. By contrast, Israel's close acquaintance with their Creator brought them greater responsibility -- and greater punishment -- for their sins (Amo 3:2). Jesus' teaching on the grounds of responsibility: John 3:18-21.

Act 14:19

FROM ANTIOCH: A 100-mile trip.

THEY STONED PAUL: 2Co 11:25; 2Ti 3:11; Gal 6:17.

Act 14:20

HE GOT UP: "Anistemi" = he rose, implying a true resurrection! Note: although he seemed to be dead, he requires no assistance when he "stands up"! A miracle.

Act 14:21

Here (in Derbe) Gaius is converted (Act 20:4).

THEN THEY RETURNED TO LYSTRA, ICONIUM AND ANTIOCH: Rather than taking the easy and direct route to Tarsus and Syrian Antioch, Paul and Barnabas retraced all their steps in a circuitous trip -- so as to visit all the newly-formed ecclesias, and strengthen them.

Act 14:22

WE MUST GO THROUGH MANY HARDSHIPS TO ENTER THE KINGDOM OF GOD: Paul had been the perfect example, demonstrating in his own trials the truth of these words! Note also Christ's words of warning and encouragement: "Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved" (Mat 10:21,22,38; cp Mat 16:24). "The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me" (John 12:25,26). "All this I have told you so that you will not go astray. They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God... I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world" (John 16:1,2,33).

Good men must never expect to escape troubles; if they do, they will be disappointed, for none of their predecessors have been without them. Consider the patience of Job; remember Abraham, for he had his trials, and by his faith under them, he became the "father of the faithful" (Rom 4:11-16). Study the lives of all the patriarchs, prophets, apostles, and the early brethren, and you shall discover that there were none of those whom God made vessels for His mercy, who were not -- like fine pottery in the hands of the Potter -- made to pass through the furnace of affliction.

It is ordained of old that the cross of trouble should be engraved on every vessel of mercy, as the royal mark whereby the King's vessels of honor are distinguished. But although tribulation is the path marked out for God's children, they have the comfort of knowing that their Master has walked that path before them; they have his presence and sympathy to encourage them, his grace to support them, and his example to teach them how to endure. And when they reach the kingdom, it will more than make up for the tribulations through which they passed on their way!

Act 14:24

PAMPHYLIA: A small province between Galatia and the Mediterranean Sea, of which Perga was the capital and Attalia the chief seaport (v 25).

Act 14:25

WENT DOWN: The classic language of theophany, or Yahweh-manifestation, occurs often in Acts in the context of gospel preaching, as if the witness to the gospel were another manifestation of the Yahweh-Name: Act 8:5; 10:21; 13:4; 14:25; 15:30; 16:8; 18:22.

ATTALIA: "A city on the coast of Pamphylia, visited by Paul on his first missionary journey (Acts 14:25). It was founded c 165-150 BC by Attalus II Philadelphus (159-138 BC) of Pergamum to be an outlet to Egypt and Syria. It was punished by the Roman consul Isauricus (c 77 BC) for aiding Zenicetes in his piracy by being added to the Roman province thereafter.

"Coins were struck from the time of the founding of the city and its name is spelled thereon as Attaleon ('belonging to Attalia'). When Paul was there, the main type of coin showed Claudius on the obverse, and on the reverse Athena dressed in a crested Corinthian helmet. It should be remembered that the people of Attalia claimed kinship with the Athenians... The situation of this port city, rising as it does by tiers from its harbor is still picturesque and is partly responsible for its continued existence and commercial activity. Ruins there are traceable to the Roman and Hellenistic periods. It is called Antalya today" (WyE).

Act 14:27

At this time there was contention between Paul and Peter regarding the treatment of Gentile converts at Antioch: Gal 2:11-17.

GOD... HAD OPENED THE DOOR OF FAITH TO THE GENTILES: Barriers to Gentiles going down: Acts 6:5 (proselytes as well as Jews); Acts 6:14 (Stephen's argument); Acts 8:5 (Samaritans); Acts 8:35 (Ethiopian eunuch); Acts 10:20; 11:18 (Gentiles!).

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