And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself. Luke 24.27
Be sure to view the video introducing our study of Acts 14 and 15 (Lesson 13) by clicking here.
Read and meditate on Acts 14.1-7.
From Antioch of Pisidia, Paul and Barnabas turned back to the east, arriving at Iconium. As was their custom, they went to the synagogue and waited for an opportunity to speak. When they did, they were very persuasive – because they were, as we’ve seen, very Biblical.
1. The Gospel’s power to persuade is in the Word of God, not in human eloquence (v. 3; cf. Jn. 6.63; Heb. 4.12). A “great multitude” believed the Gospel, both of Jews, and of Greeks associated with the synagogue. Does it seem to you that Christians today really believe the Gospel is powerful to convert all kinds of lost people? Explain.
2. But the power of the Gospel does not affect everyone alike. The Gospel will always have its detractors and opponents; this will be a consistent pattern throughout the book of Acts, and we can expect the same of our own witness for the Lord. Do you think the prospect of being opposed keeps believers from sharing their faith? How can we overcome this obstacle?
3. We note the approach of the enemies of the Gospel: they “stirred” up the Gentiles and “poisoned their minds” against Paul and Barnabas. Their arguments doubtless included a good bit of hyperbole, hysteria, worst case scenarios, implied insults, threats to tradition, and the like – all the usual suspects. In spite of the opposition, the brothers persisted, speaking boldly in the face of threats, and God blessed their witness with signs and wonders. We might have expected that to calm the opposition, but it only served to fuel their anger. Soon the city was divided. Those opposing the Gospel became convinced the only way to get rid of these preachers was to kill them. Should we be discouraged in our witness when people become upset, or even angry? Explain.
4. The apostles weren’t looking for trouble, and they wisely chose not to hang around for the martyr’s crown – not just yet, anyway. They left in haste and continued east to Lystra and Derbe and the villages in between, preaching the Gospel as they went. Luke will give us a bit more detail in the rest of the chapter. For now, he simply wants us to know that threats to their safety only redirected the mission of Paul and Barnabas; they did not bring it to a close. He’s also deftly foreshadowing events to come, as he is wont to do, and as we shall see. Paul and Barnabas clearly had a strategy for their mission. What is your church’s strategy for reaching lost people in your community?
5. Effective witness-bearing does not always result in people coming to faith in Christ. We should always expect some to believe, of course. But there will be many who just aren’t ready and will want to think or talk about it a little more. And there will be some who, for whatever reason, are downright hostile to the Good News and those who proclaim it. Their responses may not always be rational, but they will be effective, at least with some. We should expect each of these responses in our own witness for the Lord. What can we learn from Paul and Barnabas about how to reply to each of these three kinds of responses?
Precisely as Jesus had promised, those who bear the Good News of His Kingdom are not always welcomed with open arms. Those who love sin will do what they can to oppose the Gospel. But those who love the Lord will not be deterred in their mission to take the Gospel to the lost. Why do you think churches in our day are so little involved in the work of evangelizing the lost in their community?
Restore us, O God of our salvation,
And cause Your anger toward us to cease.
Will You be angry with us forever?
Will You prolong Your anger to all generations?
Will You not revive us again,
That Your people may rejoice in You?
Show us Your mercy, LORD,
And grant us Your salvation.
I will hear what God the LORD will speak,
For He will speak peace
To His people and to His saints;
But let them not turn back to folly.
Surely His salvation is near to those who fear Him,
That glory may dwell in our land.
T. M. Moore
Each week’s studies in Acts are bound together into a free PDF that you can download for personal or group use (click here). Each week also features a video related to the studies of the week, which you may find helpful as you work through our studies in Acts.
Acts is the record of Christ’s ongoing work as King and Lord. This is the work of bringing the Kingdom of God to earth as it is in heaven. Read more about the implications of this work in our new book, The Kingdom Turn (click here).
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