The Acts of the Apostles-Acts 16:1-15-Week 26-Rob Covell

The Acts of the Apostles

Acts 16:1-15

Week 26

Rob Covell

Introduction – This is a very exciting session because we begin Acts 16 we see launch of Paul’s second missionary journey. This will begin one of the most powerful seasons of the early church. From this point becomes the catalyst that starts a revival fire that consumes the Roman Empire in a span of about 40 years.

We will really begin to see how the operation of the apostolic gospel works, discover what that type expression looks like and how we can reproduce it. In Acts 16, we will pick up keys on how to interpret visions, deliver people from demons, endure persecution, heal the sick, and move in the power of love. Our time stamp at the beginning of Acts 16 is AD49.

Acts 16:1-2

a) As Paul and Silas began their second missionary journey strengthening the Churches that he had planted with Barnabas, we are introduced to Timothy who is from Lystra. Lystra had been a particularly hard place for Paul. Their revival began with a massive power demonstration when the lame man was healed at the city gates. Paul’s ministry in Lystra ended after he was stoned. It is important to see the contrast between that church that was birthed in power and persecution, to the current situation of peace as they arrive and meet Timothy.

b) Timothy (honored by God) was later to become a major force in serving the Church in Macedonia and he helped Paul for the entirety of his ministry. We have the letters of 1 & 2 Timothy that demonstrate Paul’s love for him, and belief in his destiny as a second generation apostle. Timothy eventually landed in Ephesus and served there most of his life. He was martyred in Ephesus at the age of 80 (AD97) when he attempted to preach the gospel at the annual feast of Diana. He was stoned to death for warning the people and urging them to leave the idolatry of the temple of Diana/Artemis.

c) Timothy is described as a disciple, an avid learner (Greek). His grandmother Louis and mother Eunice were observant Jews who taught him the Scriptures. Timothy had a good reputation as being godly. 2 Timothy 1:5

d) Technically Timothy was a Jew by birth. We can imply from the text that Lystra had less than 10 male Jews there because there is no synagogue and Timothy was not circumcised. The conditions there are similar to Philippi. There was no Rabbi to perform the sign of the Covenant. This is important to keep in mind as we move on.

Acts 16:3-5

a) Keep in mind that Paul is delivering the letter from the Council in Jerusalem to the Gentile churches in Galatia. We have what might be a contradiction because Paul circumcises Timothy.

b) It must be remembered that it was common knowledge that Timothy was considered Jewish by the community in that region, but uncircumcised and regarded as an unconfirmed son of the Old Covenant. Paul circumcises Timothy to legitimize and confirm him to the Jews of the region. Remember Paul is still recognized as a Rabbi/Teacher of the Scriptures. This was done not for the reason of salvation, but for the reason of confirming Timothy as a Jew so that he would have an effective ministry to the Jews in that region.

c) Verse 4 tells us that the churches were strengthened in faith and daily grew in numbers. The letter from the Council released freedom. Freedom from religious works is the best soil for faith to prosper and for churches to grow. We should expect church growth when we move away from religious works based systems of ministry and embrace an expression of freedom, love, honor and Holy Spirit led ministries. This is the soil that revival grows in.

Acts 16:6-7

a) We see the practical side of being led by the Holy Spirit as we do life with the Lord. Paul, Silas and Timothy were moving in the mandate of the Great Commission and willing to proclaim the gospel of the kingdom everywhere. However, as they sought to move out, doors were closed. By these doors closing, they were forced to wait on the strategy the Lord wanted to give them.

b) If we contrasted this event in the light of the whole history of the Christian Church, we would see the big picture here. Looking at the map of their second missionary journey, the places they were seeking to go were low impact areas as far as political position and population. The Lord had His eyes on the Roman Empire, and Rome in particular, the seat of the Beast and the Harlot; He wanted to conquer the most powerful empire that the world has ever seen by the gospel of Jesus Christ. As we move through Acts, we will see how in one generation the message of Jesus was spread through the entire Roman realm. This would have never happened if Paul had gone toward the sparsely populated regions of the Roman frontier. God is into great feats of transformation and high areas of high influence.

Acts 16:8-10

a) Notice the “we” in verse 10. Luke is the one telling this history of the early church, and we can conclude from the verse 10 that Luke joined Paul in Troas. Troas was an important port of commerce in the Roman Empire that linked the East to Western Europe. Luke shifted from the story based on interview, to a first person account. We covered the back story of Luke in our introduction to Acts so we will spend much time here re-telling his history. You can find his detailed history on my blog at the Refuge website. See Acts week 1.

b) Notice that the Holy Spirit led Paul by a vision. Greek – HORAMA – a sight divinely granted in an ecstasy or in a sleep, a vision – We should have an expectation that when we need an answer from the Lord, He would communicate to us in a night vision. This should be a common way of God communicating to us and is a normal part of our Christianity.

c) Let’s unpack the vision so that we will gain keys in understanding them. 1 – Man
from Macedonia was begging or appealing for them to come. God was giving them a target. The man represented the people of that region as whole. 2 – Come help us – Greek – BOĒTHEŌ – to help, succor, bring aid – The appeal was an invitation for them to give comfort and life through the gospel to a region. This is the first incursion of the gospel into Europe. Our message is life, peace and comfort to people because we are reconciling them to God. See 2 Corinthians 5:19 – namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. 3 – Paul moved in faith and immediately obeyed the vision. Co-laboring with God is a relationship of hearing and responding. Lastly, I will point out that the first person they ministered to in Macedonia was a woman named Lydia and not a man. We cannot be a literalist when it comes to subjective experiences with the Holy Spirit. The nature of visions, and other supernatural encounters are interpreted symbolically.

Acts 16:11-12

a) Philippi (lover of horses) – Established in 350BC by Phillip of Macedon. It is located in modern Greece and the ruins of Philippi are preserved as a World Heritage site. This city was established as transfer place for gold that was mined in the area and at time of Paul’s visit, Philippi was still an important wealth transfer city. It was located on the Via Egnatia road. At this time, it boasted a huge agora (marketplace), coliseum, and good population of people. This was a very prosperous city, in fact today there are many Latin inscriptions in the ruins that testify to its wealth. This city became vastly Christianized by AD 160, and the early church father Polycarp wrote them a letter. In 343 the Christian community built a church dedicated to Paul. We have the wonderful letter to the Philippians from Paul who wrote that letter to their community.

Acts 16:13-14

a) We can conclude from the text that Philippi had a very small Jewish population because it had no synagogue. In that culture, if there was no synagogue, the people would pray by running water. I want to point out that the first fruits of the European Church were women of prayer who were mixed Jews and Gentiles who were seeking the One True God of Israel.

b) Lydia – “travail” – It is totally God to save the first person in Europe who boasts a name that means travail. Her name is fitting for a prayer warrior. Lydia is an important person. She is wealthy because she has a large house and sells purple cloth from Thyatira. She is a successful business woman who is blessed by God. Thyatira is mentioned in Revelation 2:18-29, and was a very wealthy city known for its fine, purple and indigo cloth, the covering of the rich and famous in that day.

c) Notice the ministry of the Holy Spirit in opening people’s hearts to the gospel. See John 6:44 – “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day.”

Acts 16:15

a) Lydia is born again in faith and baptized. The text mentions her whole household. We can assume she was probably a divorced woman or a widow, and the household was probably consisted of children and servants. Not only is Lydia the first fruits of the European Church, she is the first baptized, and the first house church leader. See Acts 16:40.

Next week we will see a massive power encounter and spiritual warfare clash between the gospel of the kingdom and the forces of satan, and see them play out in the natural.

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The Acts of the Apostles – Acts 15:22-41 – Week 25 – Rob Covell

The Acts of the Apostles

Acts 15:22-41

Week 25

Rob Covell

Introduction – In this Session we will complete the interlude of Acts Chapter 15 and look forward to Paul’s exciting Second Missionary journey beginning in Acts 16.

Acts 15 ends with the Apostolic Council sending representatives to Antioch to settle the debate regarding how Gentiles are added to the New Covenant and the sharp disagreement and breakdown of relationship between Paul and Barnabas over John Mark. Our time stamp is approximately AD49.

Acts 15:22-23

a) The Council issued their decree and drafted a letter to the Gentile believers. The Church of Jerusalem sent 2 witnesses to Antioch with the Council’s decision. Deuteronomy 19:15 is in view here, as this is a legal matter in the context of their culture. Deuteronomy 19:15 – One witness is not enough to convict anyone accused of any crime or offense they may have committed. A matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.

b) Judas (Barsabbas) and Silas are the representatives. Judas Barsabbas (son of the oath) is not mentioned in Scripture again after this mission. Barsabbas is his surname/last name. It is likely his brother is Justus Barsabbas mentioned in Acts 1:23 who was nominated as a replacement for Judas Iscariot in Acts 1:23.

c) Silas (woody/of the forest) becomes Paul’s travelling companion and his ministry continued throughout the era of the Early Church. He is mentioned in Acts as well as 2 Corinthians 1:19, 1 Thessalonians 1:1, 2 Thessalonians 2:1, and 1 Peter 2:5. In Church History, Silas is regarded as the one who established and strengthened the churches in Macedonia, Greece and Turkey. He is said to have been martyred, but there is no record of his trial or execution.

d) I want to point out that the Church in Jerusalem regarded all believers as brothers. Greek – ADELPHOS – this is not a gender specific word, and should be understood to include all who are of the family faith and participants in the New Covenant. e) Notice the offices of church leadership that are presented to us in Acts; Apostles, Elders, Prophets, and Teachers.

f) The letter is written to 3 regions. We can imply that the letter is written to the whole global church at that time and in our time so that we always defend the truths of grace and faith as the entry point of the New Covenant and that which sustains us in the New Covenant.

Acts 15:24-29

a) The Council letter decided once and for all the debate over how Gentiles are added the Israel’s Covenant history, as well as settles the issue of the Law being carried over into the New Covenant Age. We have the books of Romans,
Galatians and Hebrews as supporting Apostolic teaching that defends the Acts Council decision.

b) In the last session we looked at the decree in detail so we will briefly re-cap their exhortations for Gentiles believers.

c) First Commandment First – Food offered to idols – Clearly this is not acceptable because it denies the Lord His sovereignty and directly denies our confession of faith. See Leviticus 26:1 & 1 Corinthians 8

d) Purity imitates Christ’s Covenant with the Church – Sexual Immorality – Greek – PORNEIA – The whole sum of illicit sexual encounters i.e. adultery, homosexuality, bestiality, pedophilia, incest, and marriage of close family members, or anything that defiles the mind and body sexually (pornography), including religious or temple prostitution. See Ephesians 5:3, 1 Corinthians 6:18, Colossians 3:5 – God requires purity because Christian sexuality is a prophetic symbol of the fidelity, faithfulness and Covenant love of Christ and His Church. Purity

e) Sanctity of Life – Meat of strangled animals and blood – This refers to Genesis 9:4-6 and is God’s decree for all men through Noah, and honors the gift of life that God gives to all creation.

f) False doctrines always start outside of apostolic relationships. Notice these false teachers did not have authorization or relationship with the leadership in Jerusalem. Notice that the battlefield for all false teachings rage in the minds of people, because they attack the nature and character of God. It should be mentioned that this same group attacked the Church in Galatia, and remained a source of spiritual attack throughout the first 200 years of the Church. This false teaching has been revived in the Messianic/Hebrew roots movement today by the mixing of the Old Covenant Law and New Covenant grace.

Acts 15:30-35

a) The church in Antioch was relieved to hear the news. This was truly a victory for the Church because it communicates the truth that God desires all people, that He relates to humanity on the basis of grace, faith and reconciliation, and that simplicity of faith is defended by the Lord.

b) Silas and Judas model the prophetic ministry to us in that it is encouraging and strengthening to God’s people. See 1 Corinthians 14:3

c) Notice that Holy Spirit is the One directing and leading the Church. We would do well to allow Holy Spirit to direct our communities and partner with His wisdom.

Acts 15:36-38

a) About 3 years have passed and Paul and Barnabas want to check on the churches in Cyprus, Pamphylia, and Galatia. Apostolic leaders plant, establish, raise leaders and then Father their spiritual sons and daughters.

b) We see the sad reality that the unity, honor and love of the Acts 2 Church has waned. We see a contrast between the leadership styles and maturity levels of Paul and Barnabas. Barnabas has developed a redemptive leadership flow in that he contends for the destinies of others, even when they have failed or not living in the fullness of their assignments. Paul is still needing growth in the area of grace, forgiveness, and people skills. The Lord is committed to our maturity and eventually Paul and John Mark reconcile. See 2 Timothy 4:11, Colossians 4:10 and Philemon 1:24.

c) The contention between them stemmed from Mark’s fear that lead him to abandon his mission. John Mark would have been valuable witness to the mission because he was eye witness to Jesus’ ministry, death and resurrection. He would have been able to confirm the message of Jesus, Messiah, that Paul and Barnabas were bringing to the synagogues. Paul lacked in forgiveness and grace towards John Mark’s ministry failure.

Acts 15:39-41 a) Their argument was deep and temporally ended their friendship. We should not be surprised that even apostles are capable of failing in relationships. It is ironic that Paul wrote some the most corrective language when dealing with divisions in the early church. It shows us that he learned from the damage that divisions and breaks in relationships do to people.

b) Sharp disagreement – Greek – PAROXYSMOS – pä-ro-ksü-smo’s – incitement, irritation.

c) Parted company – APOCHŌRIZŌ – to separate, sever

d) Barnabas takes John Mark to Cyprus and Paul takes Silas and begins his second missionary journey.

e) 1 Corinthians 9:6 implies that Barnabas and Paul reconciled and were able to continue their friendship and ministry together. I want to mention a couple of interesting facts about Barnabas since he is not mentioned in Acts from this point forward. Church history tells us that Barnabas became the leader of the church on Cyprus, continued to influence the apostolic hub in Antioch, was martyred around AD61. Barnabas was martyred by being stoned to death after he preached Jesus in a synagogue, and the jealousy of the leaders, due to his success, led to his martyrdom. Barnabas’ tomb is in Cyprus to this day. Tertullian says that Barnabas wrote Hebrews as an apologetic to Jewish believers who were wavering in their faith because of Jewish persecution. However, scholars are divided between authorship between Paul and Barnabas. Lastly, church history records that Barnabas and Paul began their friendship in the Rabbinic School of Gamaliel in Jerusalem, and maintained it with the exception of this separation, until Barnabas’ martyrdom.

The Acts of the Apostles – Acts 15:1-21 – Week 24 – Rob Covell

The Acts of the Apostles

Acts 15:1-21

Week 24

Rob Covell

Introduction – In this session we will begin Acts 15, and we will divide up this chapter into 2 sessions. This chapter is an interlude between Paul’s first and second missionary journeys, and it is an exciting chapter because we see the Church’s first theological spiritual attack revolving around the theology of salvation or soteriology, and how they overcame the theological challenge.

In this chapter we see the apostles and elders in Jerusalem issue an Apostolic Decree that settle the theological dispute regarding how Gentiles are to be included into the New Covenant Community. We must realize the cultural context to understand the debate. As God moved through history, building a salvation narrative through Covenants; God provided Jesus to be the institution of the New Covenant by means of the cross and resurrection. Jesus fulfilled the requirements of the Old Covenant, and brought Israel into the New Covenant. In Acts 15 the debate rages around how will Gentiles become included into Israel.

Romans 2:28-29 A person is not a Jew who is one only outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. No, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a person’s praise is not from other people, but from God.

Acts 15:1-2

a) Antioch, the Apostolic Hub of revival, and the launching point for all of Paul’s missionary journeys. See Map

b) We are introduced the first heresy of the Church, as men from Judea begin teaching that Gentiles must be circumcised into the Old Covenant before they could be saved. This heresy became known as the Ebionite heresy in the early church and today a variant of this error manifests itself in the Messianic/Jewish Roots communities that teach that God requires the celebration of the feasts, Sabbath keeping, and kosher laws to enjoy favor with Him as a New Covenant Partner. This message directly contradicts the gospel that Paul and Barnabas were proclaiming as well as denies the validity of Peter’s vision and his interaction at the house of Cornelius in Acts 10. We will discuss this in greater detail as we move on in Acts 15.

c) The position is that the Gentiles CANNOT be saved unless they are circumcised. The cultural context implies 2 thoughts here. 1 – For the Gentiles to be part of the New Covenant, they must be first, be added to the Old Covenant. Exodus 12:48 is in view here. 2 – One cannot be part of Israel (God’s Covenant People) unless he becomes circumcised. To be saved in the context of this debate means that “you have been accepted by God as a Covenant partner”. This argument revolves around the definitions of acceptance of God of an individual and the inclusion and identity of Israel. The Epistle to the Galatians is written to address this same topic.

d) Verses that define the acceptance of God and the Inclusion and Identity of Israel. Turn to Ephesians 2:12-17, Romans 2:28-29, Colossians 3:11-12, Galatians 2:16, and Romans 11:17. e) Paul and Barnabas entered into a sharp debate because of this teaching directly opposed their ministry to the Gentiles on their last missionary trip and denies the apostolic decision to include the Gentiles in evangelism efforts. The church in Antioch sends Paul, Barnabas and others to Jerusalem to receive an Apostolic review of their ministry and an Apostolic decree that settles the manner. This is the first Apostolic Council in the history of the Church. The second was the Nicene Council in AD325 to decide a uniform statement of faith; the second was in Constantinople AD381 to defend the Person and ministry of the Holy Spirit.

Acts 15:3-4

a) Paul and Barnabas minister in the churches as they travel down the coast to Jerusalem. We get a sense that the consensus of believers has accepted the inclusion of the Gentiles into the New Covenant by means of faith and not by adhering to Exodus 12:48. They arrive in Jerusalem to discuss the issue.

Acts 15:5

a) Many Pharisees became believers in Jerusalem and would have naturally required Gentile believers to comply with the command in Exodus 12:48. Remember the debate centers around the inclusion of Gentiles into God’s Covenant Community and how they are received into God’s Covenant.

b) Notice the strategy of the enemy/spirit of religion to divide God’s people by the introduction of theologies that complicate peoples access to Him.

Acts 15:6-11

a) Peter retells his experience with Cornelius in Acts 10. Notice that Peter provides the proof of God’s acceptance of Gentiles, by telling them about how the Gentiles received the gift of Holy Spirit. In that interaction the Holy Spirit was received not by the laying on of hands, but by a sovereign move of the Holy Spirit. Good theology flows from that which is experienced.

b) The conclusion was that the Gentiles were accepted into the New Covenant by faith in Jesus and not on the works of the Law. Peter describes the Law as a yoke that no man has been able to bear. This supports the truth of Jesus being the perfect Covenant Law-keeper who was then the acceptable representative sacrifice for humankind. Romans 8:3-4 – For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

Acts 15:12

a) Paul and Barnabas describe their ministry to the Gentiles on their first missionary journey. Notice that the miraculous signs and wonders are used as the apologetic to prove that God partnered with them, and therefore accepted the Gentiles by faith. Galatians 3:5 – So then, does He who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?

Acts 15:13-18

a) James – This would be James, the half-brother of Jesus by Mary and Joseph. This is the same James that wrote the Epistle of James. He is described by Josephus as the most righteous and holy man in Jerusalem. He was said to have knees like camels because of his many hours in prayer. He was martyred by being thrown from a high place at the Temple and then stoned and clubbed to death by the crowd. His brother Jude was probably in attendance at this council.

b) James keys in on the truth that God shows concern for all people. Over and over we see the Father being presented in the light of goodness towards humanity.

c) David’s fallen tent – 2 Samuel 7 – The Davidic promise restored in Jesus Christ. James quotes Amos 9. It was always on God’s heart for Israel to be the light of the nations and fountain of salvation to the world through Jesus Christ.

Acts 15:19-21

a) James issues the Apostolic decree concerning the acceptance of the Gentiles into the Covenant Community. Notice the simplicity of the decree that supports the freedom of relationship between God and people.

b) Food offered to idols – Clearly this is not acceptable because it denies the Lord His sovereignty and directly denies our confession of faith. See Leviticus 26:1 & 1 Corinthians 8

c) Sexual Immorality – Greek – PORNEIA – The whole sum of illicit sexual encounters i.e. adultery, homosexuality, bestiality, pedophilia, incest, and marriage of close family members, or anything that defiles the mind and body sexually (pornography), including religious or temple prostitution. See Ephesians 5:3, 1 Corinthians 6:18, Colossians 3:5 – God requires purity because Christian sexuality is a prophetic symbol of the fidelity, faithfulness and Covenant love of Christ and His Church.

d) Meat of strangled animals and blood – This refers to Genesis 9:4-6 and is God’s decree for all men through Noah, and honors the gift of life that God gives to all creation.

Next session we will complete Acts 15 and read the Apostolic Letter issued by James and the apostles. We will also look at some of things that Paul wrote to Gentile believers to protect them from the spiritual attacks of centered around this debate.

The Acts of the Apostles – Acts 14:8-29 – Week 23 – Rob Covell

The Acts of the Apostles

Acts 14:8-28

Week 23

Rob Covell

Introduction – In this session we will complete Acts 14 and study the amazing power encounter and healing in Lystra, the major spiritual attacks from the idolaters of Zeus, the persecution from the Jews of Iconium in Lystra, and Paul being stoned by the rioters in Lystra.

As Paul and Barnabas’ missionary journey concludes, it ends with the fanfare and activity of an action movie. Their mission lasted approximately 3 years (AD46AD49), they have established churches, endured horrible spiritual attacks that manifest in dangerous ways, and they conclude their mission by appointing leaders in these churches. This is an action packed section of Scripture, so let us move right into the text.

Acts 14:8

a) Lystra – From the text we can see that there must have not been a synagogue in Lystra because there is no mention of one being present. This is the first time the gospel had been preached exclusively to Gentiles without using the common ground of the synagogue. In Lystra we see that Paul and Barnabas use power demonstrations of the Holy Spirit that accompany their message as the means to reach people who were not familiar with the history of Israel or the hope of Messiah.

b) Lystra is located approximately 19 miles south of Iconium. It was located on a trade route called the Persian Royal Road. It was a trading center and support city for the flow of goods from the east to the west. It is located in modern day Turkey. In Lystra there are numerous ruins including an ancient church, winepress, and houses. Paul visited this city again on his second missionary journey. It is the hometown of Timothy; who Paul took with him on his second missionary journey. See Acts 16.

c) Notice the similarity of this miracle and the miracle of Peter and John in Acts 3, when they healed the crippled man at the Beautiful Gate.

d) It is important to point out that Paul and Barnabas have been in Lystra a good number of days. We tend to read Acts with an understanding that this miracle immediately happened on their arrival. However, Paul and Barnabas were probably in Lystra a number of weeks at this point. Notice that Paul and Barnabas were street preaching. This is another indication that there was no synagogue in Lystra.

Acts 14:9-10

a) In these verses we begin to learn about the dynamics of faith and miracles. Paul must have been preaching about the narrative of Jesus’ life, His miracles and His reconciliation of all things by His death on a cross and His resurrection.
Otherwise the man who never walked would not have had faith for his healing. In this we see the power of testimony, and its ability to establish a spiritual atmosphere for healing.

b) Paul was becoming used to operating in power demonstrations and had developed an awareness that led him to being paying attention to those who would have faith for healing. Notice the sequence of this healing. 1 – proclamation of Jesus ability to heal, 2 – faith was born in the man who needed healing, 3 – Paul discerned the faith in the man, 4 – Paul declares the man healed, 5 – the man, full of faith, partners with Paul’s declaration and activates faith, stands and is healed. Faith is a target for the kingdom of God to be released. In this miracle we see heaven partnering with proclamation, faith and action, that produces a miracle. The gospel is nothing less than the healing of the whole person.

Acts 14:11-13

a) We see more evidence of how entrenched the Greek pantheon of gods was in Lystra. We are presented with a majority of the people in Lystra being separated from Father God because of the darkening of their minds. Their declaration about Paul and Barnabas being gods aligns with their idolatrous theology.

b) Zeus is the sky god in the Greek pantheon, and Hermes was the Greek god who would interact with mortals, and interceded between the gods and men according to Greek mythology. Their Roman equivalents would be Jupiter and Mercury. The people were so apt to draw the conclusion of Paul being Hermes because he healed the lame man, and in their mindset this would be a work of Hermes.

c) Notice the error of idolatry. Idols reflect the nature of creation and not the nature of the One who created it. Isaiah 44:9-10 – All who make idols are nothing, and the things they treasure are worthless. Those who would speak up for them are blind; they are ignorant, to their own shame. Who shapes a god and casts an idol, which can profit nothing? Romans 1:21-23 – For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

d) Idolatry is closely related to a priest-class that draws attention away from the truth and controls the religious lie that the people are believing. All ancient cultures that engaged in idolatry were managed, manipulated, and robbed by a priest class.

Acts 14:14-15

a) Paul and Barnabas tear their clothes. This is the Jewish custom of rending the garment and it communicates mourning and grief over a situation, anger, or mourning the death of someone. It communicates that which is deep emotion in the heart over the loss of something. In this case Paul and Barnabas being committed Jewish disciples of Jesus Christ, were mourning the action the Gentiles and they were probably very worried that their ministry in Lystra was compromised.

b) They begin to exhort the crowd with force telling them that are men and not gods and that they were bringing good news of the God who made all creation. They tell the people in Lystra that their idols were worthless. Greek – worthless things – MATAIOS – devoid of force, truth, success, result, useless, of no purpose. It is beauty of the Christian faith that all people who believe are capable of re-imaging their Savior with power demonstrations.

c) Paul writes to this same group of people who would have remembered this event in Galatians 4:8 – Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods.

d) Turn to the Living God – The God who contains life in Himself. The origin of this though is Deuteronomy 5:26 – For what mortal has ever heard the voice of the living God speaking out of fire, as we have, and survived? – Hebrew – CHAY ‘ELOHIYM – The Living (Abstract Emphatic) True God (Plural Intensive – Singular Meaning).

Acts 14:16-18

a) God allows the freedom of choice. As time moved forward from the generations after the flood, humankind moved away from the revelation and worship of the Living God, Yahweh, and devolved spiritually. The freedom to choose is the freedom to choose love. God honors the decisions of our hearts, either good or bad.

b) In the midst of not choosing God, God still testified about Himself through creation. God never abandoned humanity, and was always ready to reveal Himself when people chose to be enlightened.

c) Notice that God’s primary revelation of Himself is kindness, provision and joy. Romans 2:4 – Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?

d) The Greek idolatry and mythology system of worship was so entrenched in Lystra that Paul and Barnabas had to work hard to persuade these people not to blaspheme God.

Acts 14:19-20

a) The level of spiritual warfare in Lystra and the region of Galatia was intense. Paul and Barnabas faced spiritual attack on two 3 fronts in Lystra. The religious attack from the unbelieving Jews in Antioch. The attack from the idolaters of Zeus, and the attack from the crowd that stoned Paul. In 2 Corinthians 11:25 Paul mentions this spiritual attack. The stoning was instigated from the same group from Pisidian Antioch and the charge was religious heresy. The idolaters were more than willing because their religious hustle was being threatened by the gospel. It is important to recognize that some time had passed from the healing of lame man and the time when the Jews from Antioch arrived. They probably had heard from people travelling between the 2 cities that Paul and Barnabas were in Lystra, and from there mobilized against them.

b) Many scholars conclude from these verses that Paul died and was resurrected. Paul was stoned, dragged outside the city and left as dead. To be stoned is a
brutal process. Paul would have been bruised and bloodied all over from head to legs. Even if Paul was not dead, it is no less miraculous that he would have been able to move on his own and would have had many broken bones, even many skull fractures.

c) Notice the boldness, fearlessness and courage of Paul to walk back in to a city that just stoned him. Paul was supernaturally strengthened, healed, and defiant in the face of spiritual warfare. This is victory in Christ being modeled to the highest extent. See Romans 8:37-39. It is also miraculous that Paul would be able to walk to Derbe. Derbe is approximately 60 miles from Iconium and about 40 miles from Lystra.

Acts 14:21-22

a) The text does not give us specifics regarding Derbe, but we can assume that there was little or no affliction or persecution in Derbe to the gospel and they were successful in taking the territory of souls for the Kingdom of God.

b) Paul and Barnabas returned and matured the revivals they established and strengthened the believers. c) Paul and Barnabas encouraged the disciples to remain true and persevere through the hardships of the infant Church that would certainly at some point be challenged. The Greek word here is really tribulation – THLIPSIS – a pressing, pressing together, pressure, metaph. oppression, affliction, tribulation, distress, straits. It is same word to describe the tribulation. If we look at the First Century Church and the references in Revelation concerning tribulation, we would see them all used in the present tense. Revelation 1:9 – I, John, your brother and fellow partaker in the tribulation and kingdom and perseverance which are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. The first apostolic generation lived through the tribulation of persecution as the Church was being established and the two Covenants were wrestling as God was ending the Old Covenant and instituting the New Covenant.

Acts 14:23

a) We see the establishment of Church leaders who would continue to strengthen and lead their fellowships in truth. Prayer and Fasting opens up revelation and helps move our flesh out of the way, so that we, in our weakness, will find the strength, wisdom and direction of God in the decisions we need to make.

Acts 14:24-28

a) Paul and Barnabas conclude their mission and report their victories to the apostolic revival hub in Antioch. This first missionary journey spanned approximately 3 years, from AD46-AD49. We must not think that they just blew through town and moved on. Paul and Barnabas spent a considerable amount of time developing these fellowships, teaching them, and establishing good leadership in them.