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Acts Chapter 14
An Understandable Version of ACTS
Translation by William E. Paul
Concise PRESENTATION NOTES
by Charles Dailey

(Black underlined words match words in the Bible text.)
1) It happened in Iconium that Paul and Barnabas [again] entered the Jewish synagogue and presented the message [so powerfully] that a large number of both Jews and Greeks [i.e., Gentiles] became believers. The rule has now become that the message in every town is presented to the Jewish people first. The logical place is the synagogue assembly - if there is one.
- The skill level of the speaker is important. Poor preparation and delivery do not serve God's goals.
- Belief (faith) is a personal choice each person makes after hearing the truth about Jesus.
2) But the Jews who did not obey [the Gospel message] incited the spirits of the [unconverted] Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers. False statements can poison the minds of even the open-minded. It is so important for us to get our information first-hand rather than from others.
3) Paul and Barnabas remained there a long time and spoke [the message] boldly for [or, in the power of] the Lord who gave His approval to the message of unearned favor by allowing [miraculous] signs and wonders to be performed by them. Paul and Barnabas had overcome a problem that plagues preachers everywhere - fear. They spoke out boldly. The Lord rewarded their willingness to go against popular opinion by allowing signs and wonders to be done by their hands. Paul had the power as an Apostle of Christ and Barnabas could have had it through Paul or another one of the Twelve.
- Their message was one of unearned favor with God rather than the Law-keeping message of the synagogue. These signs would later be used to prove to the assembled brethren at Jerusalem that God approved of their work.
4) But the large crowd in the city [who heard them] became divided [over how to respond to it]; some sided with the [unbelieving] Jews and some with the apostles. An apostle is one who is sent. Paul and Barnabas were sent from the Antioch church. The word may be used here in that non-technical sense instead of referring to the Twelve.
5) And when the Jews, along with their rulers and [unconverted] Gentiles, all mounted an attack, intending to stone them, Stoning is a Jewish form of death, so we know who was leading the charge against the team.
6) Paul and Barnabas found out about it and escaped to the towns of Lystra and Derbe, in the province of Lycaonia, and elsewhere in the vicinity. It seemed best to them to escape rather than be killed for their message. Death is eventual, but they could bring many others to saving faith by moving on from Iconium.
7) There they continued preaching the good news [about Jesus]. Their preaching plans were not deterred by the brush with death.
 
8) At Lystra they met a certain man sitting [on the street] who had a crippling handicap in his feet which he had suffered since birth. [It was so severe] he was never able to walk. Luke notes that his handicap was from birth. He could not have been a "set up."
 
- Luke frequently notes the time span of conditions that were healed.
9) As he listened to Paul, [the apostle] looked at him intently, perceiving that he had [enough] faith to be fully healed [of his lame condition], Unlike most towns the team entered, there was no synagogue or even a Jewish group to meet with. They probably spread the message in the town market place. One man listened over time and developed faith in Jesus. Hearing of Jesus certainly included his miracles.
- Faith was required to even try to stand up.
10) so he said loudly, "Stand straight up on your feet." And the man jumped up and began walking. Paul spoke loudly because this miracle would be a credential for his preaching. What a marvelous response from the man with the handicap! He began walking.
 
11) And when the crowd saw what Paul had done, they shouted in the dialect of Lycaonia, "The gods have come down to us in human form." The crowd connected the preachers with their own local deities. It was a day for shouting when the gods visited. But the apostles would soon be shouting, too. (Verse 14)
12) So, they called Barnabas, "Zeus," and Paul "Hermes," because Paul was the principal speaker. Zeus and Hermes are Greek gods. Zeus is known elsewhere as Jupiter, Ammon, Belus and Osiris.
- Hermes, known elsewhere as Mercury, was the messenger of the gods.
13) Then the priest of Zeus, whose temple was at the entrance of the city, brought bulls and wreaths of flowers to the gates [of the heathen temple], wanting to offer [animal] sacrifices on behalf of the crowds. The pagan worship was dynamic. They intended to DO something. This is probably the most honor the preaching team would encounter anywhere.
14) But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard about what they were trying to do [to them], they tore their clothes [i.e., as an expression of frustration] and rushed over to the crowd and shouted, Luke speaks of Barnabas first, probably because he was viewed as the chief god Zeus. Paul, the lead preacher, was thought to be a servant of Zeus.
- Tearing the clothes was a Jewish custom showing extreme displeasure. Although there was a language barrier (verse 11), the crowd must have understood this gesture.
- Now the preachers were shouting.
15) "Gentlemen, why are you doing these things? [Do you not know that] we are also human beings with the same kind of feelings that you have? And we are just bringing you the good news that you should turn away from these useless things [i.e., idol worship] and [turn] to the living God, who created the heavens, the earth, the sea, and everything in them. The crowd was multi-lingual and understood Greek, although the statements of verse 11 were spoken in the local dialect and the team did not understand them.
- The ability to speak in tongues was not the same as understanding other tongues.
- The mythological gods did not share human feelings, but these preachers had them.
- They didn't build a month-long foundation. They did not do the politically correct thing. The preachers immediately called the local deities useless and pointed towards the living God, the Creator of everything they touched.
16) God allowed all nations to go their own way in past generations,
 
17) and yet He did not leave them without evidence about Himself. He gave you good [things], brought rain from the sky, [provided] fruitful harvests and filled [your bodies] with food and your hearts with joy." Paul pointed to evidence of God in nature. He is seen in the rain, harvests and ultimately their own joy.
 
- It would have been pointless to quote from the Old Testament for these people who lacked this heritage of the revelation of God.
18) And [even though] they said these things, it was difficult to restrain the crowds from offering [animal] sacrifices to them. These sentences were not very convincing to people that were certain their god was with them. But this is all about to change in the next sentence.
 
19) But Jews came to [Lystra] from Antioch [in Pisidia] and Iconium. When they persuaded the crowds [to reject Paul's message] they stoned him and dragged him out of town, assuming he was dead. We have meet these angry people before in chapter 13:50 and 14:5. The team stayed in Lystra long enough for news to reach these distant cities. These troublemakers came immediately.
- The instigators were from the synagogue because of the form of punishment.
20) But as the disciples stood around [Paul's apparently lifeless body], he [surprisingly] stood up [fully restored to health] and entered the town. On the following day he went with Barnabas to Derbe. The team had converts because there are disciples. Evidently both those who threw the stones and the believers believed Paul was dead.
- Luke did not claim a resurrection for Paul, but some miracle must have been involved because he went walking the next day.
- Was this the same as 2 Corinthians 11:25?
 
21) When they had preached the good news to that town, and had led many to become disciples, they returned to Lystra, [then] to Derbe, and [then on] to Antioch [in Pisidia]. The preacher's courage continued. And their results continued. Many were led to become disciples.
- Speaking of courage, they returned to the lion's den.
- They probably avoided preaching in public places as they retraced their steps and focused on the new disciples.
22) [Along the way] they strengthened the hearts of the disciples, urging them to continue [to believe and practice] the faith and [explaining] that entering God's [heavenly] kingdom [See II Tim. 4:18] requires enduring many trials. Not "Once saved, always saved." Falling away is a genuine possibility and idolatry had its allurements and social pressures from friends and neighbors.
- There is an eternal or inheriting phase to the Kingdom of God. Galatians 5:21 with Colossians 1:12-13; 4:11. We are citizens now, but we inherit later just as those leaving Egypt were counted among Israel after crossing the Red Sea, but the did not inherit their land until they crossed the Jordan.
23) And when Paul and Barnabas had appointed elders [for the churches] in every congregation and had prayed and fasted [over these elders], they committed them to [the care of] the Lord, in whom they had come to trust. A plurality of elders was appointed. The church in this regard is somewhat like the Jewish synagogue where each congregation is self-governed by elders. Many of these men could have been Jewish synagogue elders and would have quickly qualified to be elders in the emerging churches.
- Appointed: From the Greek "To stretch out the hand." It was probably Paul and Barnabas laying hands on the newly appointed elders.
- Acts 6 makes clear how local leaders were chosen. It included the approval of those being led.
- The church was already on its own! The preachers had done their part. Sustaining the group was up to the Lord.
24) Then they traveled through [the rest of] Pisidia until they came to [the province of] Pamphylia.
 
25) After they had proclaimed the message in [the town of] Perga [in the province of Pamphylia], they went down to Attalia [a seaport of Pamphylia]. No results are mentioned at Perga. Even the inspired men did not have success in every place.

    There are photos of Perga and Attalia on the Internet at:
      http://www.exploreturkey.com/perge.htm
      http://www.exploreturkey.com/antalya.htm
26) And from there they sailed to Antioch [in Syria], from where they had [originally] been committed to God's favor for [carrying out] the work which they had just completed. The team could identify when the assignment had been completed. Their task was to plant churches in major cities. Local men and women would carry the message to the countryside. Paul makes a clear statement about this strategy in 1 Thessalonians 1:8.
- The Spirit had called the men, the church committed them to the work.
27) And when they arrived [in Antioch of Syria], they gathered the church together and reported everything that God had done through them and how He had opened a door [of opportunity] for the [unconverted] Gentiles to [enter] the faith. The gathering shows that this was not a normal Lord's Day meeting.
- They described God's direct support for their work.
- Reporting is a worthy purpose for a church gathering.
- The Gentiles had entered the door of faith, not the door of a legal library.
28) And they stayed with the disciples [there at Antioch] for quite some time. This brings to a formal close what we generally call Paul's First Missionary Journey.

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