Acts 14 Bible Study

Bible study of Acts chapter 14

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Acts 14 Bible Study

ACTS 14:1  1 Now it happened in Iconium that they went together to the synagogue of the Jews, and so spoke that a great multitude both of the Jews and of the Greeks believed.

Where is "Iconium" (Acts 14:1) and who are the "they" (Acts 14:1)?
They are Paul and Barnabas, and they came to Iconium in Asia Minor (present day Turkey) after having preached the Gospel in Antioch, about 80 miles to the west.

Why did they go to the "synagogue of the Jews" (Acts 14:1)?
Since the Jews knew the Old Testament prophecies about and had been awaiting the promised Messiah, they in theory should have received the news of His arrival most easily and readily.

Didn't Paul declare to the Jews in Antioch that he and Barnabas will turn to the Gentiles?
Yes: "It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles." (Acts 13:46)

Then why did Paul and Barnabas again go to the synagogue of the Jews?
There are at least 3 reasons. Firstly, the immediate subject of Paul's declaration is the people of Antioch. since the Jews of Antioch had "rejected" the Gospel, they were turning to the Gentiles of Antioch, which is what they did. Secondly, the Gentiles who knew the Old Testament and was also awaiting the promised Messiah were in the synagogue of the Jews, both as 'proselytes' (who had been circumcised) and 'God-fearers' (who believed in the God of the Old Testament but hadn't (yet) been circumcised). Thirdly, while the thrust of Paul's ministry was to the Gentiles as appointed by God ("On the contrary, they saw that I had been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles, just as Peter had been to the Jews. For God, who was at work in the ministry of Peter as an apostle to the Jews, was also at work in my ministry as an apostle to the Gentiles." (Galatians 2:7-8)), Paul of course wasn't prohibited from preaching the Gospel to the Jews. After all, Jesus had commanded evangelizing all nations: "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations..." (Matthew 28:19)

What was one of the results of Paul and Barnabas' preaching in the Jewish synagogue of Iconium?
"A great multitude both of the Jews and of the Greeks believed." (Acts 14:1)

Why does the Bible say "Greeks" instead of "Gentiles"?
The language and the culture of the Roman Empire was Greek. As used above, "Greek" is synonymous with "Gentiles."

ACTS 14:2-3  2 But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brethren. 3 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.

What was the other result of Paul and Barnabas preaching in the Jewish synagogue of Iconium?
"... the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brethren." (Acts 14:2)

Why did Paul and Barnabas stay there "a long time" (Acts 14:3)?
A spiritual war of words broke out between the apostles and the unbelieving Jews, plus the Gentiles they stirred up, with the Lord confirming the apostles' words with miracles: "the Lord, who was bearing witness to the word of His grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands." (Acts 14:3)

ACTS 14:4-7  4 But the multitude of the city was divided: part sided with the Jews, and part with the apostles.  5 And when a violent attempt was made by both the Gentiles and Jews, with their rulers, to abuse and stone them, 6 they became aware of it and fled to Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and to the surrounding region. 7 And they were preaching the gospel there.

What happened to the people of Antioch in the end?
The Gospel polarized them - "The multitude of the city was divided: part sided with the Jews, and part with the apostles." (Acts 14:4) - as it tends to do today between those being saved and those not (yet).

Why did they make a "violent attempt ... to abuse and stone" (Acts 14:5) Paul and Barnabas?
Unable to win the spiritual war of words, they resorted to violence.

And why would God allow this "violent attempt"?
To have Paul and Barnabas preach "the gospel" (Acts 14:7) also in "Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and to the surrounding region." (Acts 14:6)

Where are Lystra and Derbe?
They are cities just to the south (Lystra) and southeast (Derbe) of Iconium.

ACTS 14:8-10  8 And in Lystra a certain man without strength in his feet was sitting, a cripple from his mother’s womb, who had never walked. 9 This man heard Paul speaking. Paul, observing him intently and seeing that he had faith to be healed, 10 said with a loud voice, “Stand up straight on your feet!” And he leaped and walked.

How did God open Paul's ministry in Lystra?
With a miracle pretty much from the start.

Who had the faith to be healed?
The crippled man "had faith to be healed." (Acts 14:9)

How did he get that faith?
By hearing the Gospel: "This man heard Paul speaking." (Acts 14:9)

Does a person need to have faith in Jesus to be healed by Him?
Not necessarily. Sometimes the faith to heal rests with the one being used by Christ to affect the healing. Consider the case of another man with bum legs: "Now Peter and John went up together to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms from those who entered the temple; who, seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, asked for alms. And fixing his eyes on him, with John, Peter said, “Look at us.” So he gave them his attention, expecting to receive something from them. Then Peter said, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.” And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them - walking, leaping, and praising God." (Acts 3:1-8)

So a healing miracle requires either the one healed or the one being used to heal to have faith?
Again, not necessarily. Nobody had "faith" that Jesus would heal another lame man when He healed him as recorded in John 5.

What then can we say about the Lord's miraculous healings?
He can give the faith to be healed to the one being healed, or to the healer, or to neither. The bottom line is that God heals whomever He wants to heal. This doesn't mean that we should stop praying for those who are sick or have infirmities, for God could very well intend for you to pray for that person so that His healing can be in answer to your prayers. But such prayers should trust both His power and sovereign choice to heal. And the cases of God not healing terminally-ill Christians shouldn't be seen as His failure to heal or ignorance of our prayers, but recognized as impending promotions to heaven.

ACTS 14:11-13  11 Now 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!” 12 And Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the chief speaker. 13 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.

To whom were they "intending to sacrifice" (Acts 14:12)?
To Paul and Barnabas, whom they mistook for their idols.

Why did they call Paul, Hermes and Barnabas, Zeus, and not vice versa?
In their idolatry, Hermes was the messenger for Zeus, the top idol. Since Paul was the "chief speaker" (Acts 14:11), they gave the messenger's title to Paul, and the other title to Barnabas.

ACTS 14:14-18  14 But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard this, they tore their clothes and ran in among the multitude, crying out 15 and saying, “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 the living God, who made the heaven, the earth, the sea, and all things that are in them, 16 who in bygone generations allowed all nations to walk in their own ways. 17 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.” 18 And with these sayings they could scarcely restrain the multitudes from sacrificing to them.

What is the first thing that Paul and Barnabas did in response?
They "tore their clothes." (Acts 14:14).

It was the way to express extreme outrage and anguish back then. Paul and Barnabas were outraged and anguished that they were being called gods and that a miracle of God was being credited to them.

How many pastors today are outraged and anguished when a work of the Lord is credited to them?

What is Paul's message to them?
We're "men" (Acts 14:15). Your gods are "useless" (Acts 14:15) idols. The real God is "living" (Acts 14:15), the Creator of "the heaven, the earth, the sea, and all things that are in them" (Acts 14:15) and the one who has been providing for you with "rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness." (Acts 14:17) Since the Lycaonians were unfamiliar with the Old Testament, Paul declared the Lord to them using realities which they were familiar.

Did the Lycaonians listen to Paul?
Enough not to sacrifice to them, but only barely: "they could scarcely restrain the multitudes from sacrificing to them." (Acts 14:18)

ACTS 14:19-22  19 Then Jews from Antioch and Iconium came there; and having persuaded the multitudes, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead. 20 However, when the disciples gathered around him, he rose up and went into the city. And the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe. 21 And when they had preached the gospel to that city and made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, 22 strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.”

Who chased after Paul and Barnabas?
The Jews from both "Antioch and Iconium." (Acts 14:19)

Was Paul killed and then resurrected?
He was beaten badly enough and so immobile that they "[supposed] him to be dead." (Acts 14:19)

What did God then do to Paul?
He healed Paul so quickly that he was able to travel the very "next day." (Acts 14:20)

Why did God let Paul be beaten so badly?
To grant another edifying miracle to Paul and the disciples who "gathered around" (Acts 14:20) his beaten body and witnessed it being restored, but also to grant Paul and Barnabas some time free from the pestering Jews, now departed, as the two planted the church in "Derbe" (Acts 14:20), and then revisited the churches just planted in "Lystra, Iconium and Antioch." (Acts 14:21)

Through what did the Apostles say we "must... enter the kingdom of God" (Acts 14:22)?
"Many tribulations" (Acts 14:22)

Christians fight for Christ against the devil: "Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places." (Ephesians 6:10-12) And as a Christian is used by and bear fruit for the Lord, s/he draws enemy fire, the lack of which should be cause for serious concern and self-examination.

ACTS 14:23  23 So when they had appointed elders in every church, and prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed.

What are "elders" (Acts 14:23)?
Elders, also called "Overseers" (Acts 20:28) or "Bishops" (Philippians 1:1) are Christian men who teach and lead churches under the authority of Jesus, who gave specific instructions on who may and may not serve in this leadership role: "A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach; not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous; one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?); not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil. Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil." (1 Timothy 3:2-7)

Why do many elders in churches today fail to meet the qualifications detailed above?
Since they fail to meet the above qualifications, they are not elders in the eyes of the Lord.

ACTS 14:24-28  24 And after they had passed through Pisidia, they came to Pamphylia. 25 Now when they had preached the word in Perga, they went down to Attalia. 26 From there they sailed to Antioch, where they had been commended to the grace of God for the work which they had completed. 27 Now when they had come and gathered the church together, they reported all that God had done with them, and that He had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles. 28 So they stayed there a long time with the disciples.

Where are "Pisidia" and "Pamphylia" (Acts 14:24), and "Perga" (Acts 14:25)?
Pisidia was the Roman province in which Antioch is located. Pamphylia was the province on the southern shore of modern day Turkey that was immediately south of Pisidia and where the two coastal city of Perga was located.

Hadn't they already preached the word in Perga on their way inland to Antioch?
No, thy had gone straight to Antioch: "Now when Paul and his party set sail from Paphos, they came to Perga in Pamphylia; and John, departing from them, returned to Jerusalem. But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia ..." (Acts 13:13-14)

Where is "Attalia" (Acts 14:25)?
It's the port city located immediately west of Perga and where Paul and Barnabas "sailed to Antioch" (Acts 14:26) of Syria to complete what for Paul would be the first of his four missionary journeys.

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