The Acts of the Apostles
Introduction – As we move on in our Acts study, we will begin Acts chapter 14. We will break up this chapter into 2 Sessions. Chapter 14 completes Paul and Barnabas’ first missionary journey and the Church’s first season of co-laboring with God as it began to fulfill the Great Commission.
We have 3 movements in Chapter 14.
1 – Revival in Iconium and the spiritual warfare/persecution that follows the apostolic proclamation of the gospel.
2 – Signs and wonders in Lystra, Derbe and the stoning of Paul.
3 – The appointing of church leaders and their return to Antioch.
Lastly, it is important to note the vast importance of this first missionary trip.
1 – The Church begins to grow in its revelation concerning the gospel.
2 – The Epistle of the Galatians is written to these people.
3 – The Council of Jerusalem and their letter to these believers define the nature of the New Covenant and what is required of believers in terms of morality and freedom in Christ.
a) Iconium – Now called Konya in Modern Day Turkey. It was farming area and was part of Roman Galatia. Iconium was a populous city and had an influential Jewish population. It is interesting to note that Tertius, the professional scribe who wrote down the Epistle to the Romans (Romans 16:22), led the Christian community in Iconium, and was martyred in Iconium.
b) Paul and Barnabas follow their usual pattern of starting their proclamation of the gospel in the synagogue. From previous studies we know that Paul and Barnabas reached out to their brothers who understood the history of Israel, the Law and prophets, and the promise of Messiah.
c) The people in this synagogue received the message of Jesus as Messiah along with a great number of Gentiles. This indicates that the Jewish synagogue was entrenched in the culture of Iconium and had influence among the Gentiles.
d) Paul and Barnabas appear to be increasing in anointing because the mass salvations. In Iconium we see supernatural power in speech and in signs and wonders. The Apostolic Gospel is marked by Spirit filled speech and signs and wonders that confirm the message.
a) The people who refused to believe that Jesus was their Messiah shifted from children of promise to enemies of the God of Israel. Romans 11:28 – From the standpoint of the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but from the standpoint
of God’s choice they are beloved for the sake of the fathers;
b) The battle for life or death begins in the mind. Notice that the text says “poisoned their minds”. The spiritual warfare that we see in the text most likely followed the pattern found throughout Scripture and the history of the Church. The disbelieving Jews refused to believe in the claims of the New Covenant. Then they took their offense to the Roman authorities and made claims similar to the ones the Sanhedrin made against Pilate. The basic argument is that believers in Messiah were obedient to the One King and Lord of Lords, Jesus Christ and therefore are enemies of Caesar. The Christians became religious heretics and political enemies. See 2 Timothy 3:10-11
c) Notice the term of endearment “brethren”. Greek – ADELPHOS – a brother, whether born of the same two parents or only of the same father or mother, having the same national ancestor, belonging to the same people, or countryman, a fellow believer, united to another by the bond of affection. The believers in Iconium, Jews and Gentiles together were exhibiting the same attitude of the Church in Jerusalem that is described in Acts 4. The health of Christian Communities can be measured by their ability to love one another.
a) Paul and Barnabas spent considerable time in Iconium to support the revival that broke out and strengthen them to withstand the persecution.
b) The gospel of the kingdom, or the apostolic gospel can be identified by the following being present. 1 – Boldness in speech – 2 – Message of Grace – 3 – Miraculous signs and wonders.
c) Signs – Greek – SĒMEION – a sign, mark, token, a sign, prodigy, portent, i.e. an unusual occurrence, transcending the common course of nature, of signs portending remarkable events soon to happen, of miracles and wonders by which God authenticates the men sent by him, or by which men prove that the cause they are pleading is God’s.
d) Wonders – Greek – TERAS – a miracle performed by one.
e) These definitions can include any of the supernatural spiritual Gifts of the Holy Spirit. It is important to look at the whole of the text in the book of Acts and draw conclusions based on the whole of the evidence. Paul and Barnabas were moving in prophecy, healing, miracles, baptisms of the Spirit, deliverances and any other ministry of the Holy Spirit. These things confirm our speech.
a) Again we see social unrest associated with the gospel of Jesus Christ. In the context of their culture the message of Jesus was theologically challenging to Jews because the apostles were preaching the fulfillment of the Old Covenant in Jesus Christ’s ministry, death and resurrection as their Messiah, along with invitation to the New Covenant. The message of Jesus was challenging to the Gentiles and their leaders because of the political implications of another King being proclaimed in Jesus Christ, and the rejection of the Greek and Roman pantheon of Gods. The whole order in Iconium was being challenged by Paul and Barnabas.
b) The plot to stone them tells that it was the Jewish charge of heresy that was being brought against them. After all they were Jews. Paul a Pharisee and Barnabas a Levite. Leviticus 24:16 – ‘Moreover, the one who blasphemes the name of the LORD shall surely be put to death; all the congregation shall certainly stone him. The alien as well as the native, when he blasphemes the Name, shall be put to death. John 16:2 – They will make you outcasts from the synagogue, but an hour is coming for everyone who kills you to think that he is offering service to God.
c) The spirit of religion resists the truth of Jesus Christ, denies the power that witnesses it to be the truth and will always use persecution and death in its attack against the truth of Jesus Christ.
a) Paul and Barnabas were delivered by the providence of God and fled to Lystra and Derbe. It is written they continued to preach the good news. We do not see one hint of fear, loss of boldness or discouragement from the spiritual attack that Paul and Barnabas endured on this first missionary journey. All believers should have an expectation of boldness, passion and strength when on mission for the Lord