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Chapter fourteen tells the second half of the first tour. Luke noted that “THE SAME THING HAPPENED IN ICONIUM,” that is, the legalistic Jews harassed those who did believe Paul and Barnabas’ message of the Messiah (Acts 14:1-7). Again, they performed miracles. This time, though, their lives were threatened (for the first time), and they had to leave quickly.
In Lystra (Acts 14:8-18) the welcome was not at all what they expected. Rather than rejecting the apostles, after seeing a man healed who had been “LAME FROM BIRTH,” the crowd instead began to worship them! Paul and Barnabas would not accept this, of course, but even then “THEY SCARCELY PERSUADED THE CROWDS NOT TO OFFER SACRIFICE TO THEM.” In what would become a trend (see Acts 17:13), the troublemaking Jews from previous places – both Antioch and Iconium in this case – had followed them to stir up trouble. Not only were they successful in threatening Paul’s life, this time they got the crowd to actually stone him, presumably to death (Acts 14:19-20). 1 He remained alive, however, and encouraged the believers before moving onto one more city, Derbe.
This concluded the first missionary tour. From Derbe, Paul and Barnabas circled back to the places they had already been where they “STRENGTHENED THE SOULS OF THE DISCIPLES AND ENCOURAGED THEM TO CONTINUE IN THE FAITH” (Acts 14:21-28). They also established formal leadership in the individual churches by appointing elders for them. Back in Antioch, they reported the wonderful news of what God had done and spent time recovering and preparing for their next ministry.
- Some understand this to be the time Paul referred to in 2 Corinthians 12 when he went to heaven. However, Paul said that took place “FOURTEEN YEARS” before he wrote that letter, which would have been too early for this missionary tour. ↩