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Studies in The Book of Acts The Conclusion of the First Missionary Journey (Acts 14:1-28)

by Larry Miles

In the 13th chapter of the Book of Acts we read and studies about what is referred to as the First Missionary Journey.  We read about how the church at Antioch had sent out Paul and Barnabas to evangelize among the lost. It was in this chapter that the Apostle Paul begins the first of his three missionary trips that would take him from Antioch all the way to Rome.

            Here in the 14th chapter we will continue our study in the Book of Acts. We invite all who read to study along in their Bibles and be willing to be led of the Holy Spirit. Let’s learn from the experiences we read about and let’s strive to preach and teach the principles of New Testament Christianity in our day and age. The teaching of the Bible is timeless.

THE WORK AT ICONIUM: ACTS 14:1-6

            The text tells us that when Paul and Barnabas entered into the city of Iconium they entered the synagogue. It was their practice to preach the. gospel to the. Jew first (Romans. 1:16). Further in the first verse we’re informed that as a result of the preaching of the. gospel many believed. It is said that both Jews and Gentiles believed in the message of truth.

            In verse 2 the Jews who disbelieved stirred up some trouble. It seems that wherever the gospel is preached Satan causes trouble. Everywhere Paul went there would be those who caused trouble and stirred up the people against the teaching of the Truth. Here in Iconium was no exception. They stirred the Gentiles against the. brethren.

            Verse 3 tells us that Paul and Barnabas spent a long time in the work at Iconium. Luke tells us they were speaking boldly and relying on the Lord for guidance. The Lord was bearing witness to the Word of His grace. There were many signs and wonders being done. The power of the almighty God as present and many were hearing the good news proclaimed.

            In verse 4 we’re told that the multitude of the city was divided. Some were standing on the side of the Jews and some on the side of truth. In verse 5 we read of the plans to stone the apostles. They became aware of the plan against them and fled to the city of Lycaonia. Two of the most prominent cities in the area were Lystra and Derbe.

THE WORK AT LYSTRA: (ACTS 14:7-20)

            After they fled from Iconium and fled to Lystra they continued to preach the everlasting gospel. J. W. McGarvey wrote the following:

            “Finding at Lystra no Jewish synagogue to afford them an assembly of devout hearers, the missionaries were constrained to preach in the open air. The narrow streets in the cities of that age were unsuited to gatherings of the people; but in every city there was a more or less unoccupied space about the gates for crowds to gather. It seems from the context below (verse 13) that Paul was addressing a crowd at the principal gate when the following incident took place.”

            In verse 8 we’re told what happened in Lystra. Luke tells us that there was a certain man who was lame from birth. This man was listening the words of the apostles. Paul had determined that man had the faith to be made well. In verse 10 Paul healed the man and he leapt up and began to walk.

            It was as a result of this event that the people though they had been visited by the gods. In verse 12 they called Barnabas, Zeus and Paul, Hermes because he was the chief speaker. The priest of Zeus brought oxen and garlands to sacrifice.  They wanted to honor the apostles thinking them to be gods.

            It was at this time that the apostles heard of the events that had been transpiring. When they heard they were being called gods they were outraged. They rushed out into the crowd to dispel this false praise. Verse 15 tells us that they told the pagan Lysterians that they were men like themselves. They were not gods. Paul urged them to turn from worshipping idols and worship a living God.  Garreth Reese gives us this contrast of Paul’s preaching to the Jew and his preaching to the Gentiles.

            “All the openings of Paul’s sermons are dependent on the audience to who he was speaking. Whether he was before a Roman Governor or before the Athenians who were ignorant of a living God, or in a synagogue, Paul’s introductions were appropriate to the moment. If Paul must defend himself or give his credentials, these must be in his introduction. Following the introduction, the main points emphasized to his respective audiences would usually be:

Jewish Audiences

  1. God’s dealing with the Jews.
  2. Referring to the Law and the Prophets.
  3. Jesus is the Messiah (telling of His birth, death, burial and resurrection).
  4. Forgiveness through Christ.
  5. Universal salvation (The gospel is for Gentiles also).

                                                                                Gentile Audiences

  1. The creative activity of God.
  2. Man’s relationship to the Creator (sometimes shown by a reference to the heathen poets).
  3. Repentance is now required of all men. No longer are the days of ignorance which God overlooks.
  4. Coming judgment and need for Jesus as a personal Savior.
  5. Resurrection of Jesus is proof that He can save.”

It is at this time we return to the sermon at hand. Paul was urging these pagans to turn from idols to a living God. He tells the that in the past God had permitted them to go their own ways. In verse 17 he says that God has always had a witness. He tells them that God did good and gave them rains and fruitful seasons. Paul tells them that the Living God satisfied their hearts with foo and gladness. Verse 18 tells us that they were successful in reaching the people. They had restrained them from offering sacrifices.

It seems that there is an interval of time between verse 18 and 19. It is at this time that the trouble-making Jews show up on the scene inciting the people and stirring them against the apostles.  It is recorded that they won over the multitudes. The people stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing eh was dead. In verse 20 while the disciples stood around him, Paul arose and entered the city. The next day   he and Barnabas departed to the city of Derbe.

THE WORK AT DERBE AND THE RETURN TO ANTIOCH: ACTS 14:21-23

After they left Lystra they came unto Derbe. Luke tells us that the work there was very successful and that many disciples were made. A congregation of believers had ben planted in a pagan land. Verse 21 tells us that the. apostles returned to Antioch passing through the areas they had come earlier. They passed through Lystra and Iconium. Verse 22 shows us the reason for returning that way. They were striving to strengthen the souls of the disciples and encouraging them to stay true to the faith. They informed them that there would be r=tribulations but if they endured they would enter the kingdom of God. Verse 23 informs us that they appointed elders for them in every place.

PASSING TRHOUGH PISIDIA AND PAMPHYLIA: ACTS 14:2

The text. Simply tells us that they passed through Pisidia. According to past practice they would have spent the time evangelizing the area. They were retracing their steps. These steps would take them through and into Pamphylia. They were making their way towards the seacoast.

GOING THROUGH PERGA AND ATTALIA: ACTS 14:25

It is recorded that they spoke the word in Perga. They were striving to reach many for the Risen Lord. Their travels took them to Attalia, a town on the seacoast. There they would find a ship to take them back to. Antioch.

THEY RETURN TO ANTIOCH OF SYRIA: ACTS 14:26-28

From Attalia they sailed for Antioch. They would have landed at Seleucia.  Antioch was the church that had sent them out on this journey. Paul and Barnabas had, through the grace of God, carried out the work for which the church at Antioch had sent them.

Verse 27 tells us about the arrival of the missionaries back in Antioch. The church was gathered together to hear about all the God had done. They wanted to hear how God had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles. Paul and Barnabas didn’t disappoint them. They spent a long time with the disciples sharing with them the mighty works that God had wrought in their lives since they had left Antioch.

We have studied about in the 13th and 14th chapters of the First Missionary Journey. We have learned much about the spread of New Testament Christianity. Paul and Barnabas were willing to go anywhere to preach the. everlasting gospel. Let’s be willing to do the same.

The next lesson in this series will cover the events in the 15th chapter. The event is called the Jerusalem Conference. Please study the 15th chapter in anticipation of the study. With the next article we enter the latter half of the book. Until next time, MARANATHA!

 




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If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.

Romans 14:8