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Acts of the Apostles: 25 - Acts Acts 14:1-21

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Acts of the Apostles

25 - Acts Acts 14:1-21



Acts of the Apostles: 25 - Acts Acts 14:1-21


In this class, we will discuss Acts 14:1-21 and look at the people Paul and Barnabas interacted with while traveling in Iconium, Lystra and Derbe. We will examine why the people of Lystra called Barnabas, Zeus and Paul, Hermes. Also, we will notice the events around Paul's stoning that almost left him for dead.


[Darris McNeely]: Well, good morning everyone. We are back with the Book of Acts. It’s a good day here in Cincinnati, sun’s shining in February, as I’m dating us, for those watching later online, but we’re excited that it’s warmer temperatures and the sun is shining at this time. And we’re into chapter 14 of the Book of Acts, ready to get into that here today. We are in the midst of Paul’s first journey of the Book of Acts with Barnabas. We, last time talked about chapter 13, and the episodes in Antioch and Pisidia, and on the island of Cyprus, and the Jewish sorcerer or magician that they ran into down there. And then, going up to Antioch and Pisidia.

I’ve got a map here to at least refresh our minds on where we are. And in Pisidia and Antioch, Paul and Barnabas spent some time preaching, and then, it kind of got too hot for them, and the Jews stirred up some trouble. And they then had to go down to Iconium, and that’s where chapter 13 ended. They kind of shook the dust off their feet, indicating that, “Hey, we’ve given you all we can do, and if you’ve rejected our message, then it’s on your shoulders, your head.” And they went on down to Iconium along the Roman Road, well-paved Roman Road down to Iconium. And that’s where we’ll pick it up here in chapter 14. And we’re going to have some interesting occurrences here as they go to Iconium, and then down to Lystra, and then over to Derbe, and then they’re going to retrace their steps. And that is shown by the map on the board here, where they come around to this point.

So, we’re right here at Iconium. And again, some interesting episodes. And keep in mind that as far as the narrative in Acts is concerned, and with what we’re going to be seeing here in chapter 14, these are church plantings, to use a term. We don’t necessarily talk about that in our culture in the Church of God in terms of a church startup. We start a church, we establish a congregation, when we will start congregations up in various places in our efforts within the Church. But that’s what we’re viewing here in Acts where Paul goes into these areas, into the synagogue first. People believe, some reject it, but then there’s a fledgling congregation of perhaps a few dozen people.

We’re never given numbers in Acts in terms of how large these congregations are, but keep in mind that they are small, probably to the size of a lot of our congregations in the United Church of God today, 15 people, 25, maybe 38, going up to, in some cases, in some of the larger cities, you could well imagine 50 or more. But they are what scholars call house churches. And we’ve already seen occasions of that, and we’ll see more, but they meet in houses. It’s not like they can necessarily always go out and, let’s say, rent a holiday inn express room, or a room at some other civic center or public facility. They couldn’t always do that. Now, we will see in Ephesus that Paul actually does rent a school room in probably a home in the city of Ephesus. We’ll talk about that there.

But most of these churches are in people’s homes, and so that’s going to limit the size, and certainly, tells you something about probably the homeowner. They would have a sizable home and have a reasonable amount of income to be able to afford that home where all this takes place. But beyond that, we’re also seeing an organizational structure begin to develop, and we’ll see that here in chapter 14 as Paul establishes these congregations.

And also keep in mind that the very fact that Paul and Barnabas are out and about on this tour is because of the initiative of the Church back in the city of Antioch where all of this began. The disciples there decided to fund and send out Paul and Barnabas. They fasted, they prayed about it. It was obvious, very obvious that God was leading them to do these things. And the Church is, in a sense, funding this evangelistic effort.

And so, we’re seeing the Ecclesia, the called-out groupings of these people, begin to form up and to develop. And so, that’s kind of an overarching theme as we will be in chapter 14, and into chapter 15, with what takes place, that has some very important lessons for us to kind of note in terms of our own organization, how and why we do things that we do, the importance of unity and what we would define as unity, and the steps that you have to take to ensure that there is a unity of faith and a unity of spirit, which Paul talks about in Ephesians 4, and are critical elements of a thriving church. So, keep that in mind as we kind of dip into chapter 14 now. And let’s begin reading in verse one.

Acts 14:1 “Now, it happened in Iconium that they went together to the synagogue of the Jews.

Again, this was the first stop that would be traditional for Paul to go. And we just, we’ll see this pattern throughout the Book of Acts. They’re meeting on the Sabbath. They understand the Old Testament Scriptures, the law of Moses. And so, there’s a ready-made audience with the story of Israel, and the gospel now that is expanding beyond Israel to the nations and the gentiles, but it’s rooted in the Word of God, or at this time, the Old Testament. They’re writing by their example, the New Testament, what will be the New Testament.

Acts 14:1-3 “And so, he spoke to the great multitude, both of the Jews and of the Greeks that a great multitude of them believed.” And so, he had a good positive response. “But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brethren. Therefore, they stayed there a long time, speaking boldly in the Lord, who was bearing witness to the Word of His grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands.”

And so, there’s a divide. They stirred them up, poisoned their minds. They stayed there for a while. It doesn’t explicitly say they kind of went off to another place, but you kind of get the impression that they probably couldn’t stay in the synagogue. And we would assume, it’s not said, but that they may have gone somewhere else. It says in verse four.

Acts 14:4 “The multitude of the city was divided, part sided with the Jews and part with the apostles.”

And this would I think is showing us that there’s kind of a spillover out from the synagogue situation as people heard about what was going on, and at least a sizable portion of other people within the city who would not have been a part of the synagogue either as a Jew or as a God fearer, a devout gentile who had attached themselves to the synagogue, but they were interested citizens, and neighbors, fellow workers with these Jews. And the talk about... These were not that large cities that word didn’t spread real quick. And you could imagine that it did probably spread throughout the city. Whatever the multitude means, it was, at least, well-known among them. And so, some sided with the Jews and some with the apostles.

We should note that here in verse 4, and also down in verse 14 of chapter four, we have a reference to Paul and Barnabas. They’re called apostles. All right. So, we can go ahead and jump down to verse 14 in this.

Acts 14:14 which says, “When the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard this.”

So, verse 4, verse 14, we have a reference to Paul and Barnabas being called apostles. And this is the only place in Acts where that this occurs. And it is the word for messenger and it means apostle. It is in Greek, the apostolos, that word, and which means those sent forth with a message, and in this case the message of the gospel. And so, some of the scholars debate back and forth whether this is an official rank or title as Luke is using it here, or merely a designator keeping in mind that Paul and Barnabas were sent out as messengers of the gospel by the Church at Antioch when we read that earlier. And so, we know from other scriptures, certainly Paul’s road to Damascus conversion where God says to the member who baptizes him, his name skips my mind just now, but he tells that Paul is going to be sent to the gentiles and bear His name before Kings. And so, Christ always has had in mind that Paul was going to be a messenger to a large grouping of people, the world in essence, in his ministry, and this is the beginning stages of it here on this tour.

You know, was Barnabas an apostle in the same sense that...? And certainly, Paul later claims that title as well. Was Barnabas an apostle? Well, he was certainly sent forth. These are places where we have Barnabas lumped with Paul. And I don’t think we have to decide and determine Barnabas’ rank necessarily. He certainly was a leading minister, and he was sent forth, and he did a very significant contribution to the Church according to what we have here. But at least just note what is said here about Barnabas and Paul. And later, Paul will write about in Ephesians 4, that there are Christ set some to be apostles, some evangelists, some pastors, some teachers. And I won’t get into all of that at this time, but it is a position, it is a title.

And in this case, we could go back just to remember, there was one specific grouping of apostles that were first and always unique, and that’s the 12 who Christ called and trained in His ministry. Those disciples are the 12. Now, Judas disqualified himself, and we read in Acts 1 where they replaced him with Mathias. And so, when we again, go to Revelation 21, and we see this New Jerusalem coming down with the 12 apostles in the foundations of that city, then, you know, we’re talking about that group of 12, the original. And they had unique qualities that made them that grouping of people. Paul comes later, he does have a vision of Christ, and he has a unique role and relationship, and he is sent out with a message. But I don’t want to get into all the issues about Paul’s, you know, claims and all of that. Certainly, he was an apostle, but he was a unique apostle in that he came later and had a different calling there. But anyway, let’s go on. We’ll move into verse five.

Acts 14:5-7 “When a violent attempt was made by both the gentiles and the Jews, with their rulers of the city to abuse and to stone them, they became aware of it, and they fled to Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and to the surrounding region, and they were preaching the gospel there.”

After a few weeks, it got, again, too hot to stay there, and they became aware of a report to probably arrest them, beat them, and even stone them, which could lead to their death. And Paul knew what that would be. And they elected wisely to leave at that particular point. Now, they go south. If you look at the map, they go south. It’s about oh, roughly 30 miles, give or take, from Iconium down to Lystra. I mentioned in the last class, Iconium today is the modern Turkish city of Konya, K-O-N-Y-A. And there’s not much to see there from the first century ancient period. They just have not done a whole lot archeologically. It is today an Islamic hotspot. The tour guide I was with last April calls it the Vatican of Islam in Turkey. It is just a hotbed of, let’s say, conservative traditional Islam. Not radical or terroristic type, but at least, conservative Islam, in today’s Konya, ancient Iconium.

Now, they go south to Lystra. Now, you go south to Lystra, and this is what you see. You’re looking at a mound, what archeologists call a tell, a T-E-L-L. A tell is a place where a civilization once was. And this is the tell, if you will, of this ancient city of Lystra. There’s nothing going on there. They’ve not dug it up. This would’ve been probably the acropolis, the city there and around it. It is a very pastoral countryside. I was there with this group, and took that picture last April. We didn’t walk up to the top of Lystra. We wanted to get to a museum in Konya before it closed that day. But we at least, walked to the base of it. But this is where the events that we’re going to read about took place in the ancient city of Lystra. And it’s quite a story as we see that develop. So, let’s read about that here in verse eight, beginning.

Acts 14:8-9 “In Lystra, a certain man without strength in his feet was sitting, a cripple from his mother’s womb who had never walked. This man heard Paul speaking.”

So, Paul began speaking possibly either in a synagogue or, let’s say, in a public space, the agora, the market square that any sizable city would have where shops and trading vendors would’ve been set up and would’ve been a place where speakers would’ve just, you know, got up and started talking, and Paul did that. And so, it could have been there.

Acts 14:9-10 “He heard Paul speaking, and Paul, observing him intently and seeing that he had faith to be healed, said with a loud voice, Stand up straight on your feet.’ And he leaped, and he walked.”

A little different from when Peter went up into the temple back in Acts 3, and healed that man there, who was sitting. Peter stretched out his arm, and the man met it, and he lifted him up. In this case, he leaped, and he walked. He got up, it looks like without even Paul reaching out his hand. But he listened, he had the faith, and he was healed.

Acts 14:11 “And when the people saw what Paul had done, they raised their voices, saying in the Lycaonian language, ‘The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men.’ “

Now, this is in a region of Lycaonia here, and they had a different language from the other parts. And it’s evident here that Paul nor Barnabas understood the Lycaonian language because of what will happen. They’re saying, “The gods have come down before us.”

Acts 14:12-13  It says, “And Barnabas, they called Zeus. And Paul, they called Hermes, because he, Paul, was the chief speaker. And then the priest of Zeus, whose temple was in front of their city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates intending to sacrifice with the multitudes.”

All right. Now, we got a lot packed into this passage here, so we need to talk about that. The picture here shows where they were. And they performed a healing and word quickly spread just like wildfire, just like it had in the previous situation with Peter and John in the temple in Jerusalem. And people got excited, they knew the man, and yet there’s something else that is working here that we’ll talk about here to understand.

First of all, let’s kind of look at why they called Barnabas, Zeus, and Paul, Hermes. Zeus, as you know, was the chief god of the Greek deities, all right? Jupiter was the Roman equivalent of it, but Zeus was the chief god. He was the numero uno, and he was a rather rascally fellow by all the mythology and what he did. He was very promiscuous, and venal, and, you know, had basically human nature, not divine nature, as all the Greek and Roman gods and goddesses did. There was nothing divine about them, obviously. They were myths and idols. But Zeus is always portrayed as this tall, large, muscular god. He’s the chief god. And most scholars realize and think that then in terms of a physical stature, Barnabas was bigger than Paul because they called him Hermes. And this is a statue of the Greek god, Hermes, smaller more diminutive. I got that word out on the third try there. Hermes was a son of Zeus, by all the mythological stories, but he was also a messenger.

His Roman equivalent name was Mercury from which, you know, we get, you know, Mercury. The god, Mercury, has been so popular in so much of culture, we used to have a dime in America, the 10 cent piece, it was called the Mercury Dime. It’s been out of circulation for years, but it had a depiction of Mercury on the backside of it. And I don’t know why they chose a 10 cent piece to do that, but it was small, as we know, maybe that was the reason. It was called the Mercury Dime. FTD Floral Service, I think they’re still around. But for years, if you would see a floral shop and they’d have an emblem of the FTD, the ability to wire flowers anywhere you wanted. The symbol of the FTD floral feature was Hermes with his, you know, winged helmet, and the idea that by a wire transfer, you could send flowers anywhere in the world. So, he was a messenger god. They called Paul, Hermes, and again, very likely giving him a smaller stature by comparison to Barnabas.

Just another comment about Paul’s stature, there’s an interesting... We get only little... There’s really not too much from any of the texts to help us understand other than this one, of Paul being kind of small. There’s a later epistle, it’s one of the gnostic epistles that is written in the second century, and it’s actually set in the city of Iconium, where they just came from. And in this gnostic epistle, they talk about there’s a guy who kind of stands at the gates of Iconium looking and waiting for Paul to come to him. And they describe Paul as kind of short, bandy-legged, which means kind of bow-legged with a hook-beak nose. And again, this is second century, and it may have accurate meaning in terms of Paul’s appearance, but generally, he’s usually considered a smaller person. Sometimes you’ll see him even depicted with a hook nose. And that was not a bad thing in the first century. In the ancient world, a hook nose or a beak nose was a sign of distinction, believe it or not. Just like in some parts of the world today, you know, being overweight is a sign of great wealth, believe it or not. And so, you know, cultures have different ways by which they value aspects of physical appearance, but that’s kind of where it is here. So, Hermes being the chief speaker, and Paul being the one who’s speaking and even performed this healing.

Now, this event, this particular scene is again, the kind of the foot of that hill, that tell, at Lystra, looking to the north, and kind of the rock and foreground gives you a little bit of perspective. But the road coming down from Lystra is right up here at the top where you see two towers, microwave communication towers. There’s a road there that comes down from the north, and it follows the course of what would’ve been the old Roman road and coming down. And this is felt to be, would’ve been into the entrance area, the main gate area of the city of Lystra. And so, the events that we’re reading about right now probably took place right out here where you see these trees in front of the Acropolis, and there would’ve been a gate there and many other buildings, but at least, the remains or the area of the road is there. So, it’s kind of interesting. I really enjoyed seeing places like this on the trip and tracing these steps of Paul and Barnabas on this journey. And so, you’re kind of looking at where these events took place.

Now, it says that they brought out notice they were going to do sacrifices. There was the priest of Zeus whose temple was in front of their city, and that would’ve been somewhere out in there. That’s the point where this temple would’ve been out in there.

Acts 14:13 “And he brought oxen and garlands to the gates, intending to sacrifice with the multitudes.”

They’re going to do sacrifice to Paul and Barnabas because they think that the gods, Zeus and Hermes, have come down to them. Now, this a piece of a building, a huge stone, and you’ll see the oxen head right there, and around him is a garland. It’s a wreath of, you know, vegetation and vines and plants. And this is very, very common in statuary, funeral-type statuary, that you’ll see in museums throughout Turkey and Greece and Rome. It is quite common, and you see this a lot. So, I put this one picture in. I think I’ve got another one here, it maybe a little bit better. This is a coffin, a huge coffin, and you’ll see the two bullheads there, and garland wreaths here. So, this is a decorative piece of a funeral piece of a coffin. And so, when it says here in the text that they brought oxen, they were going to kill the bull, and garlands, this was all part of the trappings of the worship that they were going to do with this. They were going to be sacrificing to the gods, thinking that the gods were now in front of them. So, this is quite a reaction. Now, look at verse 14.

Acts 14:14 “When the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard this, they tore their clothes and ran in among the multitude, crying out.”

They heard it and they saw what was taking place, and then they understood the language of the Lycaonians as to what they were doing. And it was probably not until the priest appeared with bulls and garlands, and then they got the idea that they’re going to do sacrifice to them. And they are not going to let that happen. They stop them here. But before we get into that part of the story, I want to mention why these people of Lystra are doing this. They’re doing it because there was a legend that at one time, Zeus and Hermes came into this region of Asia, Lystra and that whole area, so the area of Phrygia, and came walking among the people, one time. And it was told by the Greek poet, Ovid, about 100 years earlier in the time that we’re reading about, in his book “Metamorphosis.” So, the Roman poet, Ovid, tells this story.

I’m going to read it. Let me just go ahead. I’m going to just go ahead and read it out of “St. Paul the Traveler and Roman Citizen” by William Ramsay who talks about this. It’s a short piece, and I think it will do it about as better than anything else. It says, “The unusual reception, according to Paul and Barnabas by the Lycaonians,” the people in Lystra, “might be explained through a famous mythological story of antiquity. Jupiter or Zeus, and his son Mercury, the Roman names for Zeus and Hermes, once disguised themselves as mortals.” And this is what is told in Ovid, and it’s a legend. “Once disguised themselves as mortals and visited 1,000 homes in the area of Phrygia, which where Lystra was. At each home, they were denied rest. They were not invited in. Finally, an impoverished woman named Baucis and her husband, Philemon.” Note that name, Philemon. There’s a book in the Bible named Philemon. It’s not the same Philemon, but note the name.

“Finally, an impoverished woman and her husband opened their home to the gods. The two people set forth a meal of the best they had. When the wine flagon constantly replenished itself, the elderly couple realized their visitors were divine.” So, you got a miracle of the wine that takes place here. Where have you heard that before? “At the warning of the gods, the couple fled to the high ground.” Look at the high ground in this picture that is there. “Before a flood overwhelmed their wicked neighbors.” A flood. “Only their home was left, and that home was transformed into a magnificent temple. When asked to state their one wish, Philemon and Baucis asked that they might die at the same time. One day, many years later, while tending the temple, Philemon and his wife began to sprout leaves. Together they were transformed into trees for...” It’s, you know, Greek Roman mythology. What do you expect? “They were transformed into trees for all their neighbors to see. It is no wonder that Paul and Barnabas were given special treatment at Lystra,” as we read about. “The residents probably thought the gods were again, visiting the earth.” Interesting. And so this, I think, very well explains why they reacted the way they did when Paul healed this individual. They thought now the gods had come down to them again because of the story of what had been there before. And of course, that’s why there was a temple of Zeus there and a priest of Zeus to come in and make this sacrifice.

It’s interesting. This particular piece ends, “Later, Paul wrote a letter to a Church leader named Philemon who was probably named after his mythological namesake,” which it could be, you know, his pre-conversion life. “His home was in Colossae, which was located in Phrygia.” That’s Colossae is very near to Laodicea. Colossae. You know, Paul, they’re over here. And Colossae is right over here. So, it’s still in the region of Phrygia. And but that’s beside the text and what has happened here. So, that’s the background, that’s the backstory, which again, illustrates why knowing something about the Roman emperors that we talk about as we encounter them, their names and the Herod family through the gospels and the book of Acts is important to add a bit of color and dimension to the biblical text. And in this case this particular legend about Zeus and Hermes helps to explain then why they reacted to Paul and Barnabas this way. But Paul and Barnabas were not going to have anything of it because in verse 15, they said.

Acts 14:15 “Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men with the same nature as you, and preach to you that you should turn from these useless things to serve the living God.”

So, Paul tells them these matters were useless things, all right? Marble statues and idols of these various gods and goddesses, which were just rampant. I mean, there were whole factories that turned these things out in Greece for the Romans. The Romans loved the way the Greeks did all these things, and they just gave their gods different names, same gods, different names in Rome. But there were factories, if you will, turning out replicas of original statues of Apollo, or of Aphrodite, Athena, Hermes, Zeus, and shipping them to wealthy Romans.

When you go to a museum in Athens and in Rome, and, you know, even Turkey today, and you see these statues, and they’ve got bunches of them, most of them are replicas of an original. And they were replicas in the first century. So, you look at that and you realize, I mean, you know, we go to... Where do we go? Hobby Lobby today, and we buy a... Or, you know, we buy a concrete statuary for our gardens, right? I’ve got a squirrel in my backyard. And I know the, you know, Church family up here in northern Ohio, who, they have a whole factory, they turn out concrete statuary for, you know, these garden centers where you buy them from. And, you know, you can buy statues of Bigfoot if you want. You can buy statues of whatever. And I keep looking for a bust of Marcus Aurelius. I haven’t found the concrete bust of Marcus Aurelius yet, but I’ve got a squirrel in my backyard. I call him Marcus Squirelius, and he’s the closest that I come to my Roman statuary in my backyard, probably as close as I need to be of any Roman statuary. But that’s what they were doing. That is what was decorating their homes at that time. All right. So, he goes on.

Acts 14:16 He says, “We’re men with the same nature as you. We preach to you to turn from these useless things to the living God who made the heaven, the earth, the sea, and all things that are in them.”

Useless, nothing gods. That is about as blunt a statement as you can find in Scripture to explain an idol, whatever it was, Bale, Zeus, Artemis, they are totally useless. They meant nothing.

Acts 14:17 And he says, “Nevertheless, he did not leave himself without witness in that he did good, gave us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.”

And so he says, you know, turn to the true God and learn of the God who made heaven and earth and the sea, who gives every good blessing, and the God family who does that.

Acts 14:18 “But, with these sayings, they could scarcely restrain the multitudes from sacrificing to them.”

They were caught up in a frenzy, which was typical of pagan worship. Just a seizure of emotion, of joy and happiness for them in that sense, they were being blessed with a visit from these gods again. And what would they expect? Would they all have things rain down from heaven upon them? But Paul tries to tamp it down, and evidently does, or after a period of time, and it ends the episode. But note, at this moment, on this day, they’re ready to do sacrifice, calling Paul and Barnabas divine. You know, they’re giving them the key to the city. And, you know, they probably got free coffee at the next kiosk, and their meal was paid for that night. That’s how the people were looking at them. But now it changes. Look at verse 19.

Acts 14:19 “The Jews from Antioch and Iconium came there some days later.”

So, the Jews were following Paul and Barnabas from Iconium, and back as far as Antioch. These posse of Jews on their carts and donkeys or horses or whatever were following them, and they were relentless. And now they caught up with them in Lystra.

Acts 14:19 “And they persuaded the multitudes.”

In other words, they basically said, “These men are preaching heresy, sedition, they’re preaching against the established Roman order. They’re going to bring down problems upon you first from the...” They’ve probably scared them with the idea that the Romans were going to come down on them. Because what the gospel, as we will see later, when Paul goes to Thessalonica, the same thing happens, they say that, “The people who have turned the world upside down have come here.” Well, the message of the gospel was intent upon turning their world upside down because it was the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God, a living ruler who was not a dead Caesar, and who was going to bring a Kingdom to replace the Roman kingdom. Well, that was sedition.

So, that was probably part of what they stirred them up with as well, especially the gentiles. They could not have appealed to them with the idea that Paul was preaching the Messiah because these gentiles, that was just right over their head, they wouldn’t have understood that. So, it was probably, you know, scaring them with threats that the Romans were going to come down on them if they followed this teaching. So, what happens? They stoned Paul, chief spokesman. Somehow Barnabas escaped. They stoned him, dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead. And again, probably right in that field that is in this picture, right out in there where they drug him, supposing him to be dead.

Acts 14:20 “However, when the disciples gathered around him, he rose up and went into the city.” Went back into the city through the gate. “And the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe.”

So, he was drug out supposing to be dead, which by, obviously, they probably threw their stones, ran out of stones, and, you know, the crowd dispersed, and they probably looked at him and he was unconscious. They didn’t bother to take his pulse or anything else, and they thought he was dead, so it was over. And he was drug out and just kind of left there. And after some time, he revived. So, he was just beaten within an inch of his death. And as Miracle Max would say, “He wasn’t really dead, he was just mostly dead.” So, I love it when I come to that part of the Book of Acts, I can say that every year. So, it’s one of the great scenes.

This is probably the best way to understand what happened with Paul there. He is stoned within an inch of his life. And then he revives, but he goes right back into the city. Now, that’s guts, that’s courage. And we’re going to see that he comes back to Iconium, but first, he goes to Derbe at the end of verse 20.

Acts 14:20 “The next day, he and Barnabas depart to Derbe.”

Now, this is Derbe. I drove by Derbe here last April. Walked to the top of Derbe. Here’s the sign that says Derbe. That’s Andy Diemer, one of our pastors, elders down in the Miami area. He and I were in Turkey together last year, and we stopped at the site of Derbe. You can see our tour bus over on the right over here. And not much going on in Derbe. Not even a coffee stand there or a gas station for Miles. It’s kind of out in the middle of nowhere. If you look at the map here, it’s about a 60, maybe a 60-mile drive, but they walked it down to the middle of nowhere.

Why did they go to Derbe? One of the... There’s a scholar, Mark Wilson, that was leading our tour, he’s written a paper on that very question, why Derbe? Why did Paul and Barnabas go to Derbe? They don’t really provide a lot of answers to that. One speculation is that maybe among the people who listened to Paul in Lystra said, “Hey, come down to Derbe. The city needs your message.” And perhaps, you know, that would’ve been an invitation to come down there. It also could be that Paul maybe had already been there and knew the area, because Derbe is not all that far from Tarsus where Paul had been for 10 years. In fact, some think that Paul kind of ranged in through this area of Asia during that 10-year period before we pick him up in at Antioch, but the Scripture really doesn’t tell us. Why Derbe? That’s where they go.


Acts 14:21 Now, it says, “They preached the gospel to that city and made many disciples.” So, they had success. A dozen, two dozen, three dozen, we don’t know, but many disciples were made. “And they returned to Lystra.”

So, they reversed their steps. Now, I’m going to go back to the map that I started with at the beginning here for the screen, and show you something. The yellow line shows their return. Notice, if they were going to go back to Antioch, which they eventually do, they go back to Lystra, Iconium. They go back up to Antioch and Pisidia, then they go down to Perga. They get a boat, they go back to Antioch. While in Derbe, they were much closer to Antioch, about 200 miles. Less than 200 miles. And they could’ve just walked. It would’ve been a... You know, if they were walking, it would’ve been, you know, a week or more of a walk, and it would’ve been over some pretty high hills. They would’ve gone through the Cilician Gates and the Taurus Mountains here. This is the Taurus Mountain range. It runs through Southern Turkey. And just in this area, there is a pass through the mountain, it’s called the Cilician Gates. And later Paul’s going to walk through that area, and had probably been through it before, but that would’ve been much closer to get back down to Antioch.

And just by the way, as an aside, you’ve probably heard, and again, I’ll date this, but that’s all right, I’ll go ahead and do it right now, the earthquake in Turkey and Syria this week that has killed over 10,000 people, occurred right down in here in the area of ancient Antioch, and ranged up in through here to what is today, Syria and Southeast Turkey. And actually, we drove right through that area that has been affected by that earthquake on our tour last year. And a pretty strong 7.5, 7.8 earthquake in that region. And that is an earthquake-prone area.

We stayed in a hotel in Antioch last year that is built over a Roman excavation. When they were digging out the hole to build this nice hotel, they found huge mosaics on the floor. I can show you pictures of them. And buildings and baths from the Roman period. And because of the laws, they couldn’t tear it up. So, they had to elevate the hotel, another story, and build the hotel on stilts above this archeological dig. They call it a museum hotel. And it’s built over an archeological... You walk along catwalks and you look down on these huge mosaics. But the mosaics, and I should show you, I wish I’d put those in, maybe I’ll show them to you on Friday in World News and Prophecy class, the mosaics are undulating because of earthquakes, and they survived. But they’re wavy. There’s little dips and hills on these huge mosaics that stretch from here to the back of the room in some cases. They’re quite large. And, but the evidence of past earthquakes from the ancient world are right there told and preserved in these ancient mosaics. It’s quite a hotel, quite a site that they have preserved there, but it’s in that earthquake-prone area of Antioch, which is devastated by what has happened this past week.

So, but Paul and Barnabas, they decided to go back here, getting back into the story, and revisit. And why they did that is a fascinating part of the story, as we will see. So, we’re going to leave it there, and in the next class we’ll pick it up, and we’ll see what they did as they went back to Lystra and Iconium and Pisidia and Antioch, because what they did, tells us something about the Church structure, organization, and methods of unity, of faith, and spirit in the Church today. And so, a significant passage. We’ll take the time to go into that in the next class.