Confraternity Bible: New Testament and Supplemental Commentary

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ACTS - Chapter 14

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Acts 14

Supplemental Commentary:

II.  THE CHURCH IN ASIA MINOR AND EUROPE:
THE MISSIONARY JOURNEYS OF ST. PAUL  13, 1 -- 28, 31 (continued)

1.  First Missionary Journey  13, 1 -- 15, 35 (continued)

14, 1-6:  Iconium.  Iconium was about eighty miles east of Antioch.  Like Lystra and Derbe it lay in the great plain at the foot of the Taurus mountains.  The whole region belonged to the Roman Province of Galatia, but Iconium was on the frontier of the older districts known as Phrygia and Lycaonia and the inhabitants considered themselves Phrygians.    4.  Apostles: used in a wide sense of missioners here and in v.13.    5.  Rulers of the Jews: had the civil rulers been hostile, they would have arrested the missioners instead of letting the mob rule.

14, 7-19:  Lystra.  Lysta was about twenty miles south of Iconium.    12.  Mythology had a legend of Jupiter and Mercury being entertained in Phrygia by the virtuous peasants.  Baucis and Philemon (cf. Ovid, Metamorphoses, 8, 611 ff).  Mercury was the eloquent messenger of the gods, and St. Paul was here the chief speaker.    13.  The preparations for sacrifice were the first intimation the missioners had of what was afoot; they had not understood the acclamations made in the Lycaonian dialect.    14-16.  Speaking to a pagan audience, St. Paul begins with arguments drawn from pure reason.  The Apostles were men like themselves with human needs and cares, but their purpose in coming to them was to show them the vanity of worshipping  imaginary deities and lifeless idols and to lead them to a knowledge of the true God, who was the creator of all things in heaven and on earth.  In the past God had permitted them to go their own dark way with only the light of reason for their guide.  Even that light should have been enough to reveal His existence and His good will toward men, for He was the source of all the natural blessings which brought them joy and satisfaction.  St. Luke gives us only this opening address, but it is easy to see how the reference to God's natural manifestations of Himself opened the way for speaking of His supernatural revelation which came to a climax in the sending of His own Son as the teacher and redeemer of mankind.

14, 20-27:  Derbe; the Return.  Derbe was near the eastern frontier of the province of Galatia, about thirty miles southeast of Lystra.    21.  Kingdom: as consummated in the next life.    22.  Appointed: the Greek verb means literally "to choose by a show of hands," and is not restricted to ordination; but it has the force here of ordaining priests, as priests would be needed to carry on the religious services.    24.  They had been in Perge before, but perhaps had pushed on to the interior without stopping to preach.  It was the capital of Pamphylia and about eight miles from the coast.  Attalia was on the coast about fifteen miles from Perge.    27.  No little time: perhaps the winter of 48/49 A.D.


Confraternity Bible:

Iconium  1 Now it came to pass at Iconium that they went in the same way into the synagogue of the Jews and so spoke that a great multitude of Jews and Greeks believed.  2 But the disbelieving Jews stirred up and poisoned the minds of the Gentiles against the brethren.  3 They stayed a long time, therefore, acting fearlessly in the Lord, who gave testimony to the word of his grace by permitting signs and wonders to be done by their hands.  4 But the people of the city were divided, some siding with the Jews and some with the apostles.  5 But when there was a movement on the part of the Gentiles and of the Jews with their rulers to insult and stone them, 6 hearing of it, they escaped to the Lycaonian cities Lystra and Derbe and the whole country round about, and there they went on preaching the gospel.

Lystra  7 And in Lystra a certain man used to sit whose feet were crippled.  He had been lame from his very birth, and had never been able to walk.  8 He listened to Paul as he spoke; when Paul, gazing at him and seeing that he had faith to be cured, 9 said with a loud voice, "Stand upright on thy feet."  And he sprang up and began to walk.

10 Then the crowds, seeing what Paul had done, lifted up their voice saying in the Lycaonian language, "The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men."  11 And they called Barnabas Jupiter, and Paul Mercury, because he was the chief speaker.  12 And the priest of the Jupiter that stood at the entrance to the city brought oxen and garlands to the gateways, and with the people would have offered sacrifice.  13 But on hearing of this, the apostles Barnabas and Paul rushed into the crowd, tearing their clothes, and shouting, 14 "Men, why are you doing this?  We also are mortals, human being like you, bringing to you the good news that you should turn from these vain things to the living God who made heaven and earth and the sea and all things that are in them.  15 In the generations that are past he let all the nations follow their own ways; 16 and yet he did not leave himself without testimony, bestowing blessings, giving rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling your hearts with food and gladness."  17 And even with these words they could hardly restrain the crowds from offering sacrifice to them.

18 But some Jews arrived from Antioch and Iconium; and after winning over the crowds, they stone Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking that he was dead.  19 But the disciples gathered round him and he got up and re-entered the city.

Derbe; the Return  The next day he set out with Barnabas for Derbe.  20 After preaching the gospel to that city and teaching many, they returned to Lystra and Iconium and Antioch, 21 reassuring the disciples and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and reminding them that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.  22 And when they had appointed presbyters for them in each church, with prayer and fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed.  23 Crossing Pisidia, they came to Pamphylia, 24 and after speaking the word of the Lord in Perge they went down to Attalia, 25 and from there they sailed back to Antioch, where they had first been entrusted to the grace of God for the work which they had now finished.  26 On their arrival they called the church together and reported all that God had done with them, and how he had opened to the Gentiles a door of faith.  27 And they stayed no little time with the disciples.