At the Jewish synagogue in Iconium, Paul and Barnabas preached in such a way that a great number of Jews and Greeks believed. But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles and “poisoned their minds” against the believing brothers and sisters. They stayed for a long time, performing many signs and wonders. But the divided city resulted in a conspiracy of both Jews and Gentiles to persecute and to stone Paul and Barnabas. When they learned of this, they fled the city.
One of the places they went to from there was Lystra. There Paul healed a man who was crippled from birth. When he began walking, many people started calling Paul and Barnabas gods, referring to Paul as Hermes, and Barnabas as Zeus; and the crowds wanted to offer sacrifices. When they saw this, they were tremendously distressed and, assuring the people that they were just men, preached to these polytheists about the one true God and how he is evidenced in all the things of this world.
But Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and they turned the minds of the crowds. They stoned Paul and dragged him from the city, leaving him for dead. In verse 20, the disciples gathered around him and he rose up and went into the city. The Scripture does not tell us that this was a miracle, or even what Paul’s actual condition had been. Enough to say that the Spirit was with him, and he was not deterred. The next day, he and Barnabas went to Derbe. After preaching and making many new disciples there, they returned to Lystra and Iconium, and to Antioch. They encouraged and strengthened the disciples in those places and appointed elders for them in every church.
They went back to speak the word in Perga, and then to Attalia. From there, they sailed back to Antioch of Syria, where they had started their journey, telling all the brethren about the new “door of faith” that had been opened to the Gentiles.
Side note: This article from Ferrell’s Travel Blog contains interesting information about the connection that the people in Lystra made to Hermes and Zeus. This second article there is interesting in light of the sacrificial element.
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers
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