Ministry in Iconium: Acts 14:1-7.
Paul and Barnabas went to Iconium which was located east south of Antioch in Asia Minor. They went to the Jewish synagogue and preached the gospel with power and a great number of Jews and Greeks believed in Christ. However some of the Jews stirred up opposition against them. But the apostles were able to remain there and preach the gospel. Their ministry was accompanied by signs and wonders to authenticate their message. Where ever the gospel becomes effective, opposition also will come. Here gospel is called “the word of God’s grace”. The message of the gospel is the message of grace. Finally when the Jews incited riot, Paul and Barnabas fled to Lystra and Derbe. There they continued to preached the good news. Their ministry always had an evangelistic purpose. All Christian ministries should be gospel centered.
Stoning at Lystra: Acts 14:8-18.
At Lystra, apostles healed a crippled man. When people saw the power of God at work, they mistakenly believed that Paul and Barnabas are divine. They thought that Barnabas was the Greek god, Zeus and that Paul was Hermes and prepared to offer sacrifice to the apostle. But apostles tore their garments and stopped them from offering sacrifice to them. They said to the people that they are only human beings and they have come to bring the good news. Apostles knew that the power to heal the crippled man came from Jesus and gave glory to God. Paul reminded them that in the past God permitted all the nations to go in their selfish ways but never left them without witness (Gen 10, 11). Early Christians never considered themselves worthy of worship and sainthood. They are servants of God carrying out the great commission. May God help us to follow the apostle’s example.
Paul Surviving the Stoning at Lystra: Acts 14:19-23.
Then some Jews, who came from Antioch and Iconium, opposed the preaching of Paul and incited the crowd to stone Paul. They dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead. But when the disciples gathered around Paul, he rose up and entered the city. After surviving an attempted execution, Paul continues preaching the gospel. Paul refers to this experience in 2 Corinthians 11:24, 25. The next day they left for Derbe and preached the gospel and made many disciples. Many scholars believe that Paul led Timothy to Christ during this time. The apostles returned to each city they have visited and encouraged the believers. They exhorted them to continue in the faith and said “We must through many tribulations and enter the kingdom of God (14:22). This power for enduring suffering comes from God who works in us (Phil 2:12-13). God never promises to keep us out of troubles but He does promise to help us through them. We should cooperate with God by accepting the resources He makes available for us. God who began the good work in us will bring it to completion (Phil 1:6). Apostles appointed elders in each church. The elders shared the spiritual oversight of the local church among themselves. In fact they are appointed by God to minister under His authority. They have to obey God’s agenda which is expounded in the word of God. The greatest need in leadership role is the wisdom that comes from God (James 1:5; 3:13-18). Shepherds are under authority to bring the sheep to the chief shepherd (Heb 13:20). The local church was independent and there was no hierarchical structure in the early church.
The End of the First Missionary Journey: Acts 14:24-28.
Finally Paul and Barnabas returned to Antioch. Upon arrival in Antioch, they called the church that sent them to report everything God had done through them. They testified that it was God who had opened the door of faith to the gentiles. They stayed in Antioch for a long time with the disciples. It is assumed that the first missionary journey took about one year covering 900 miles. They preached Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit. They were willing to suffer for the gospel. They disciple the new converts and established them in the faith. They also enjoyed the support and fellowship of the sending church. And they did all things for the glory of God. May God help us to follow their example! Pray that the love of Christ would empower you to witness Christ to the lost and dying.