SUMMARY.--Paul and Barnabas at Iconium.
Flight to Lystra and Derbe.
The Cripple at Lystra Healed.
The Heathen Seek to Worship Paul and Barnabas as Gods.
A Persecution Raised by the Jews.
Paul Stoned Until Supposed to Be Dead.
They Return to Visit the New Churches.
The Return to the Syrian Antioch.
The Report of Their Labors.
1. They went . . . into the synagogue of the Jews. Just as in
the island of Cyprus and at 
In almost every principal place a colony of Jews and a synagogue were
found. Here, among their own nation, and in accordance with the customs
of the synagogue, they spoke, and first declared the gospel. The result
seemed uniformly to reach some Jews, and a number of the "devout
who attended the synagogue to learn more of God. Thus was formed the
nucleus of the church. At Iconium, "a great multitude both of the Jews
and the Greeks believed."
2, 3. The unbelieving Jews. Here, as elsewhere, there was
division. Those who stubbornly rejected the gospel were filled with
hatred and opposed in every possible way. As they could do nothing
without the aid of the Gentiles in that Gentile city, they sought to
prejudice them. Notwithstanding, for a long time, Paul and Barnabas,
continued to preach there with great success. How long they continued
at Iconium is unknown, but as the first missionary journey occupied
three or four years, they probably were here several months.
5, 6. There was an assault made. Hardly an assault, so much as a
movement to make one. The Greek term
implies a sudden movement. The attempt was avoided by the preachers
receiving information and escaping from the city. In this effort there
was concert of action between the Gentiles and Jews, the rulers of the
synagogue joining, and the purpose was murderous. Paul
(2 Cor. 11:25)
says, "Once was I stoned." That stoning was at Lystra.
There was an attempt to stone at Iconium, but not a stone was
Fled to Lystra and Derbe. These were Lycaonian cities, not far
from Iconium. Neither now exists, but the ruins of Lystra, and those of
Derbe it is thought, are identical. The first is called by a name
meaning "The Thousand and One Churches," on account of the ruins of so
many sacred edifices. Lystra is named frequently in early church
history as a center of Christian influence.
8-10. There sat a certain man at Lystra. The account of the
healing of this cripple is related, not as an unusual occurrence, but
because it led to the attempt to deify Paul and Barnabas. As to the
frequency of the miracles, see
The same heard Paul speak. He might have been carried by his
friends to the place of speaking, some open square or thoroughfare, to
gratify his curiosity, or even to ask alms.
He had faith to be healed. Wrought by hearing the word. As faith
is a gospel 
requisite that we should be healed of our sins, so it was required as a
condition of miraculous healing of bodily diseases. Note that this
miracle, like those of Christ, is a parable of redemption. There is
(1) Hearing of the Word; (2) faith which comes by hearing
(3) the command that calls for an exercise of faith; (4) the effort to
obey in faith; (5) salvation from the infirmity by obedience. As Christ
so often said,
so might Paul, "Thy faith hath saved thee."
11-13. When the people saw what Paul had done. It must be kept in
mind that the people of Lystra were heathen, that they believed in many
gods, that their legends taught them that the gods had often come down
in the form of men and interfered in human affairs. Hence, it is not
strange that when they witnessed this miracle, unlike anything ever
seen before in their city, they exclaimed, "The gods are come down to
us in the likeness of men."
In the speech of Lycaonia. Paul had preached in Greek, which was
understood over all the East, but the native dialect of the Lycaonians
was different, and in that they confer together.
Called Barnabas, Jupiter. The chief of the gods in the Greek
and Roman Pantheon. Barnabas was no doubt a more stately man than Paul,
who says that his own "bodily presence was weak and speech
and there was also a reason why they thought Paul,
Mercurius. Mercury was the "interpreter of the gods." His Greek
name, Hermes, is the origin of our word Hermeneutics. Paul,
eloquent, persuasive, active, was thought to represent the part of
Then the priest of Jupiter. There was a temple of Jupiter before
the gates of the city, with the usual priest, and carried away by their
idea, they prepared to offer sacrifices to the gods whom they supposed
to have visited them.
Brought oxen and garlands. The oxen for sacrifices; the
sacrifices before being offered were crowned with garlands. Floral
crowns were also worn by the priest offering sacrifice.
14-18. Which when the apostles. The term "apostles" is used in
It is applied in the New Testament a number of times to persons not of
the twelve, but apostolic men (see
2 Cor. 8:23).
was an apostle, chosen by the Lord,
and Barnabas was an apostolic missionary, sent out (apostle means "one
sent") by the Holy Spirit.
They rent their clothes. A sign of great grief, and even of
indignation and horror. See
Gen. 37:29 and Matt. 26:65.
We are men. Not gods, but human, human as you are. See in
this protest the unfaltering devotion to truth of these men. No
advantage to themselves would induce them to permit a deception.
Should turn from these vanities. From this idolatry. Instead,
they called them to the worship of the Living God, the Creator of all
Who in times past. He had left the nations to their own
conceits until it should be demonstrated that man by searching cannot
find out God. The efforts of human wisdom were a failure.
Nevertheless he left not himself without witness. Nature
with many voices testified of him. See
19, 20. Came thither Jews. These inveterate opposers followed
from the late scenes of gospel triumphs, and found the Lystrians
disappointed that they had not been allowed to adore Paul and Barnabas.
From one extreme they were easily led to the other. If they were not
gods, they were bad men. The fickle populace was easily stirred to
riot, and, led by the Jews, they seized and stoned the great apostle
until they supposed he was dead. This, the first bodily injury he
suffered for Christ, of which we have record, is alluded to in
2 Cor. 11:25,
where he gives some account of what he had endured. After the stoning,
his enemies dragged him out of the city as they would a carcass. When
Paul's enemies had gone, the disciples gathered around, and to their
joy and surprise
he rose up, and came into the city. Whether he had received a
blow that rendered him unconscious and apparently dead, until he
recovered from the swoon, or whether his restoration was miraculous,
cannot be surely determined. As commanded by Christ,
when persecuted in one city, they departed and came the next day to
Derbe, to labor for a time.
21-23. They returned again to Lystra. After a season of work at
Derbe. The Jews had gone, the excitement had subsided, and it was
needful to revisit their fields of labor to organize the churches. It
is well to remember that one of the converts was Timothy
Confirming the souls of the disciples. Not an outward rite, but
words of cheer that strengthened their souls.
Through much tribulation. They taught them that they must expect
trials and persecutions. All have to bear the cross. See
2 Cor. 4:17; Heb. 12:5-11.
And when they had ordained them elders. Observe (1) that
elders were not appointed as soon as the churches were planted; time
must be taken so as to know what men were fitted for the office; (2)
that elders were not appointed to preside over a district, but
in every church;
(3) that there was a plurality; (4) that they were set apart with
fasting, prayer, and imposition of hands. It is not here stated who
selected the men, but from
we would infer that they were chosen by the church under the advice of
24-28. Preached the word in Perga. Here they had landed early in
this missionary journey, but did not then, from some cause, pause to
preach the gospel. See
Went down into Attalia. A seaport not far from Perga.
Thence they sailed to Antioch. The Syrian Antioch, the first
church, the mother church of Gentile missions, the church that sent
them forth several years before
Exactly how long a time had been occupied in this missionary tour
cannot be ascertained, but it is almost certain that the visit to
Jerusalem, recorded in
Acts 11:29, 30 and 12:25,
took place in A. D. 44, while that mentioned in
took place in A. D. 51, there being six or seven years between.
This time was occupied with the missionary journey and the stay at
Antioch. The first probably extended over three or four years.
They rehearsed all that God had done with them. They very
properly made a report to the church that had sent them forth. It was a
very cheering report. The gospel had been planted in the great island
of Cyprus, received by the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, and extended
through Pamphylia, Pisidia and Lycaonia, strong churches having been
planted in their principal cities.
Abode there a long time. As near as we can learn about two
years, no doubt busy all the time preaching in the great city.