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Acts Chapter Fourteen


Acts 14

Their missionary labours continue in Iconium with the same opposition from the Jews who incapable themselves of the work stir up the Gentiles against those who are performing it. As long as it was only opposition it was but a motive for perseverance; but being warned in time of an assault that was planned against them they depart to Lystra and Derbe. There having healed a cripple they excite the idolatrous respect of these poor pagans; but filled with horror they turn them from their error by the energy of the Holy Ghost-faithful to the testimony of their God. Hither also the Jews follow them. Now if man will not ally himself with the idolatry of the heart and accept exaltation from men the power of his testimony which they began by admiring as long as they thought they could elevate man and acquire importance through their flatteries being accepted ends by exciting the hatred of their hearts. The Jews bring this hatred into action and stir up the people who leave Paul for dead. But he rises up and re-enters the city remaining tranquilly there another day and on the morrow he goes with Barnabas to Derbe.

Afterwards they revisit the cities through which they had passed and at Lystra Iconium and Antioch they confirm the disciples in the faith and teach them that they must pass through tribulation to inherit the kingdom. They choose elders for them; and passing through some other cities to the place where they had disembarked they return to Antioch from whence they had been commended to God for the work causing great joy to the disciples there in that the door of faith was opened to the Gentiles. This is the first formal mission among the Gentiles where assemblies are formed elders appointed by the apostles and the hostility of the Jews to the grace of God outside their nation and independently of their law is distinctly marked. The word assumes a positive character among the Gentiles and the energy of the Holy Ghost displays itself to this end constituting and forming them into assemblies establishing local rulers in them outside and independently of the action of the apostles and assembly at Jerusalem and the obligation of the law which was still maintained there.

A question concerning this (that is whether it could be allowed) is soon raised at Antioch. It is no longer the opposition of the Jews hostile to the gospel but the bigotry of those who had embraced it desiring to impose the law on the converted Gentiles. But the grace of God provides for this difficulty also.

── John DarbySynopsis of Acts


Acts 14

Chapter Contents

Paul and Barnabas at Iconium. (1-7) A cripple healed at Lystra The people would have sacrificed to Paul and Barnabas. (8-18) Paul stoned at Lystra The churches visited again. (19-28)

Commentary on Acts 14:1-7

(Read Acts 14:1-7)

The apostles spake so plainly with such evidence and proof of the Spirit and with such power; so warmly and with such concern for the souls of men; that those who heard them could not but say God was with them of a truth. Yet the success was not to be reckoned to the manner of their preaching but to the Spirit of God who used that means. Perseverance in doing good amidst dangers and hardships is a blessed evidence of grace. Wherever God's servants are driven they should seek to declare the truth. When they went on in Christ's name and strength he failed not to give testimony to the word of his grace. He has assured us it is the word of God and that we may venture our souls upon it. The Gentiles and Jews were at enmity with one another yet united against Christians. If the church's enemies join to destroy it shall not its friends unite for its preservation? God has a shelter for his people in a storm; he is and will be their Hiding-place. In times of persecution believers may see cause to quit a spot though they do not quit their Master's work.

Commentary on Acts 14:8-18

(Read Acts 14:8-18)

All things are possible to those that believe. When we have faith that most precious gift of God we shall be delivered from the spiritual helplessness in which we were born and from the dominion of sinful habits since formed; we shall be made able to stand upright and walk cheerfully in the ways of the Lord. When Christ the Son of God appeared in the likeness of men and did many miracles men were so far from doing sacrifice to him that they made him a sacrifice to their pride and malice; but Paul and Barnabas upon their working one miracle were treated as gods. The same power of the god of this world which closes the carnal mind against truth makes errors and mistakes find easy admission. We do not learn that they rent their clothes when the people spake of stoning them; but when they spake of worshipping them; they could not bear it being more concerned for God's honour than their own. God's truth needs not the services of man's falsehood. The servants of God might easily obtain undue honours if they would wink at men's errors and vices; but they must dread and detest such respect more than any reproach. When the apostles preached to the Jews who hated idolatry they had only to preach the grace of God in Christ; but when they had to do with the Gentiles they must set right their mistakes in natural religion. Compare their conduct and declaration with the false opinions of those who think the worship of a God under any name or in any manner is equally acceptable to the Lord Almighty. The most powerful arguments the most earnest and affectionate addresses even with miracles are scarcely enough to keep men from absurdities and abominations; much less can they without special grace turn the hearts of sinners to God and to holiness.

Commentary on Acts 14:19-28

(Read Acts 14:19-28)

See how restless the rage of the Jews was against the gospel of Christ. The people stoned Paul in a popular tumult. So strong is the bent of the corrupt and carnal heart that as it is with great difficulty that men are kept back from evil on one side so it is with great ease they are persuaded to evil on the other side. If Paul would have been Mercury he might have been worshipped; but if he will be a faithful minister of Christ he shall be stoned and thrown out of the city. Thus men who easily submit to strong delusions hate to receive the truth in the love of it. All who are converted need to be confirmed in the faith; all who are planted need to be rooted. Ministers' work is to establish saints as well as to awaken sinners. The grace of God and nothing less effectually establishes the souls of the disciples. It is true we must count upon much tribulation but it is encouragement that we shall not be lost and perish in it. The Person to whose power and grace the converts and the newly-established churches are commended clearly was the Lord Jesus "on whom they had believed." It was an act of worship. The praise of all the little good we do at any time must be ascribed to God; for it is He who not only worketh in us both to will and to do but also worketh with us to make what we do successful. All who love the Lord Jesus will rejoice to hear that he has opened the door of faith wide to those who were strangers to him and to his salvation. And let us like the apostles abide with those who know and love the Lord.

── Matthew HenryConcise Commentary on Acts


Acts 14

Verse 9

[9] The same heard Paul speak: who stedfastly beholding him and perceiving that he had faith to be healed

He had faith to be healed — He felt the power of God in his soul; and thence knew it was sufficient to heal his body also.

Verse 11

[11] And when the people saw what Paul had done they lifted up their voices saying in the speech of Lycaonia The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men.

The gods are come down — Which the heathens supposed they frequently did; Jupiter especially. But how amazingly does the prince of darkness blind the minds of them that believe not! The Jews would not own Christ's Godhead though they saw him work numberless miracles. On the other hand the heathens seeing mere men work one miracle were for deifying them immediately.

Verse 13

[13] Then the priest of Jupiter which was before their city brought oxen and garlands unto the gates and would have done sacrifice with the people.

The priest of Jupiter — Whose temple and image were just without the gate of the city brought garlands - To put on the victims and bulls - The usual offerings to Jupiter.

Verse 14

[14] Which when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of they rent their clothes and ran in among the people crying out

They sprang in among the people crying out — As in a fire or other sudden and great danger.

Verse 15

[15] And saying Sirs why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God which made heaven and earth and the sea and all things that are therein:

To turn from these vanities — From worshipping any but the true God. He does not deign to call them gods; unto the living God - Not like these dead idols; who made the heaven and the earth the sea - Each of which they supposed to have its own gods.

Verse 16

[16] Who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways.

Who in times past — He prevents their objection "But if these things are so we should have heard the in from our fathers." Suffered - An awful judgment all nations - The multitude of them that err does not turn error into truth to walk in their own ways - The idolatries which they had chosen.

Verse 17

[17] Nevertheless he left not himself without witness in that he did good and gave us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons filling our hearts with food and gladness.

He left not himself without witness — For the heathens had always from God himself a testimony both of his existence and of his providence; in that he did good - Even by punishments he testifies of himself; but more peculiarly by benefits; giving rain - By which air earth and sea are as it were all joined together; from heaven - The seat of God; to which St. Paul probably pointed while he spoke filling the body with food the soul with gladness.

Verse 19

[19] And there came thither certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium who persuaded the people and having stoned Paul drew him out of the city supposing he had been dead.

Who persuaded the multitude — Moved with equal ease either to adore or murder him.

Verse 20

[20] Howbeit as the disciples stood round about him he rose up and came into the city: and the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe.

But as the disciples stood round — Probably after sunset. The enraged multitude would scarce have suffered it in the day time: he rose and went into the city - That he should be able to do this just after he had been left for dead was a miracle little less than a resurrection from the dead. Especially considering the manner wherein the Jewish malefactors were stoned. The witnesses first threw as large a stone as they could lift with all possible violence upon his head which alone was sufficient to dash the skull in pieces. All the people then joined as long as any motion or token of life remained.

Verse 23

[23] And when they had ordained them elders in every church and had prayed with fasting they commended them to the Lord on whom they believed.

When they had ordained them presbyters in every Church — Out of those who were themselves but newly converted. So soon can God enable even a babe in Christ to build up others in the common faith: they commended them to the Lord - An expression implying faith in Christ as well as love to the brethren.

Verse 25

[25] And when they had preached the word in Perga they went down into Attalia:

Perga and Attalia were cities of Pamphylia.

Verse 26

[26] And thence sailed to Antioch from whence they had been recommended to the grace of God for the work which they fulfilled.

Recommended to the grace — Or favour of God for the work which they had fulfilled - This shows the nature and design of that laying on of hands which was mentioned Acts 13:3.

── John WesleyExplanatory Notes on Acts


Chapter 14. Prosperity and Adversity of Missionaries

Enter the Kingdom of God
Go Through Many Hardships

I. Work in Iconium

  1. Speak Boldly for the Lord
  2. A Great Number Believed
  3. Persecution from Unbelievers

II. In Lystra and Derbe

  1. Heal a Crippled Man
  2. Turn from Worthless Things
  3. Paul Stoned

III. Keep on Preaching the Good News with Wound

  1. Strengthen the Disciples
  2. Appoint Elders
  3. Keep on Preaching
── Chih-Hsin ChangAn Outline of The New Testament