Notes for my weekly Bible Study group.
- NOTE: There is a lot of confusion around when Saul becomes Paul. Paul was on a mission to spread the gospel among the Gentiles who spoke Latin anf Greek. Paul adopted his Roman name (Paul) because the name Saul had a ludicrous meaning in Greek (roughly translated it means “little fellow”).
- In Acts 13, the focus shifts to Paul. Acts 28:30–31 tells us once Paul was taken to Rome, he spent two years in his own rented house, welcoming all who visited him, and boldly teaching them about Jesus Christ. This was how Paul lived throughout his years of ministry. A quick review of Acts 13 reveals Paul preached in Antioch in Syria, where he and Barnabas were commissioned for this first missionary journey. They visited Paphos on the island of Cypress. Paul and Barnabas continued on to Perga, where John Mark left them. They traveled to Antioch in Pisidia, where Paul gave his first sermon.
- Acts 14 covers the conclusion of Paul’s first missionary journey.
- Paul and Barnabas moved on to Iconium. Iconium was a “cultural melting pot” of the native communities: Phrygians, Greeks, Jews, and Roman colonists. Paul and Barnabas followed the pattern of speaking first in the synagogue, where many Jews and Greeks believed. The Jews who refused to believe turned the Gentiles against Paul and Barnabas. When someone doesn’t like what you do or who you are, they just start stirring the pot. But Paul and Barnabas spoke boldly about Christ, who granted that signs and wonders be performed through them.
- The people in the city were divided; some sided with the Jews, others with the apostles. Because the division was so bad, people wanted to stone Paul and Barnabas. But Paul and his companions found out and fled to Lystra and Derbe where they kept evangelizing.
- As they evangelized in Lystra, they encountered more resistance. Paul saw a man who was lame from birth but had faith, Paul tells the man to stand up, healing him. The crowds thought Paul and Barnabas were the gods Hermes and Zeus and feared that their town would be wiped out. According to ancient folklore, Zeus and Hermes visited Lystra asking for food and lodging but were refused. In response, Zeus and Hermes caused a flood to drown everyone who had been unwilling to help them.
- Barnabas and Paul tore their robes and told the the men of Lystra who they were and why they were there. Barnabas and Paul urged them to turn away from their “worthless things to the living God”. Paul and Barnabas barely escape the crowd trying to kill them.
- The Jews from Iconium chase and catch them in Lystra. They stone Paul and drag him outside the city, thinking they had killed him. Paul was probably killed when they stoned him because stoning usually involved throwing someone into a pit and dropping large rocks upon them.
- When the disciples find Paul, he gets up and walks into town (this implies to me that the Lord ressurected Paul so he could continue his work).
- The next day they leave for Derbe – Paul continues his work despite being persecuted for it.
- They evangelized in Derbe, then returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch. Paul and Barnabas report on everything that happened and explained how God “had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles”.