THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES
by Greg Williamson © revised 2022
Scripture quotations taken from the NASB © The Lockman Foundation*

| Index | Intro | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 |
| 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | Sources |


In Iconium; In Lystra and Derbe; The Return to Antioch in Syria (Acts 14:1–7; 8-20; 21-28)

In Iconium (Acts 14:1-7)

From conversions to conspiracy (Acts 14:1-7)

 
(1) In Iconium they entered the synagogue of the Jews together, and spoke in such a manner that a large number of people believed, both of Jews and of Greeks. (2) But the Jews who disbelieved stirred up the minds of the Gentiles and embittered them against the brethren. (3) Therefore they spent a long time there speaking boldly with reliance upon the Lord, who was testifying to the word of His grace, granting that signs and wonders be done by their hands. (4) But the people of the city were divided; and some sided with the Jews, and some with the apostles. (5) And when an attempt was made by both the Gentiles and the Jews with their rulers, to mistreat and to stone them, (6) they became aware of it and fled to the cities of Lycaonia, Lystra and Derbe, and the surrounding region; (7) and there they continued to preach the gospel.
 

OUTLINE
I. PAUL AND BARNABAS IN ICONIUM (Acts 14:1–7)
  A. The conversions (Acts 14:1): A great number of both Jews and Gentiles respond to the gospel message.
  B. The confirmation (Acts 14:3): Paul and Barnabas spend considerable time here, discipling the new converts.
  C. The contrast (Acts 14:4): Paul's message divides the city in half, some receiving and others rejecting.
  D. The conspiracy (Acts 14:2, 5–7): The two apostles leave after discovering a plot by their enemies to stone them. [ref]
  • (Acts 14:1-2) Just as they had done in Pisidian Antioch, in Iconium Paul and Barnabas visit the Jewish synagogue, the end result being a large number of people coming to faith in Christ, both of Jews and of Greeks. Unfortunately the pattern of opposition also repeated itself.
    ■ Witherington: "The unpersuaded Jews incited and embittered the minds of some Gentiles against the brothers (presumably meaning the new converts), and this is precisely why Paul and Barnabas spent considerable time in the city speaking freely and boldly for the Lord." [ref]
    ■ Lenski: "A uniformly used weapon against the gospel and its true believers is this process of poisoning the minds of those who as yet do not know the gospel." [ref]
  • (Acts 14:3-6) The two apostles are there a long time, speaking freely, openly, and confidently as they present the clear evidence of God's gifts, God corroborating their work with miracles and wonders. But then there is a split in public opinion, some siding with the Jews, some with the apostles. One day, learning that both the Jews and non-Jews had been organized by their leaders to beat them up, they escape as best they can to the next towns -- Lyconia, Lystra, Derbe, and that neighborhood -- (The Message; some verbs changed to present tense). Bruce:
         
     
    It took a long time, however, for the opposition to become serious, and the missionaries continued to preach the gospel freely and boldly. The preaching was attended by miraculous signs, of a kind which confirmed its truth in the minds of the people. ... The longer this work of evangelization went on, the more decisively did the populace take sides, either with the Jewish leaders or with Paul and Barnabas ... At last a riot broke out, and the city mob was incited to assault and stone the two men. Fortunately, Paul and Barnabas came to know about the plot against them, and made their escape from Iconium before the mob could gain its objective. But they had made their mark in Iconium; a body of converts was left behind to maintain the witness which they themselves had started. [ref]
     
     
     
  • (Acts 14:3-4) [T]he Lord attests to the gospel (the word of His grace) by enabling Paul and Barnabas to perform signs and wonders.
    ■ Wirtherington: "Here as elsewhere in Acts, Luke is concerned about the evidential value of miracles, that they confirm and certify the truthfulness of the spoken word (cf. Acts 2:19, 22, 43; 4:16, 22, 30; 5:12; 6:8; 7:36; 8:6, 13; and especially Acts 13:22; 15:8; 20:23)." [ref]
    ■ Toussaint: "The apostolic band was referred to as apostles. And so they were, for the word means 'those sent with authority as representatives of another,' and these men had been sent out by the church of Antioch on the Orontes River (Acts 13:3) with the church’s authority." [ref]
TRUTH APPLIED
Historically Reliable
After becoming aware of a deadly plot against them, Paul and Barnabas flee to the cities of Lycaonia, Lystra and Derbe -- that is: "to the Lycaonian cities of Lystra and Derbe" (CEB; NET; NIV) -- where they continue to preach the gospel. As explained by R. C. Sproul:
     
 
Luke tells us that the Apostles fled to Lystra and Derbe, which were situated in the province of Lycaonia. This minor detail is of great significance. In the nineteenth century we saw an unprecedented attack by liberal scholarship against the trustworthiness of the biblical record, and at the very front of this assault was an attack against the historical reliability of Luke, who gave us this history of the expansion of the early church. One of the things about which the critics carped was this little clause, "They fled to Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and to the surrounding region." The critics said that Lystra and Derbe, while closely situated, were not in the province of Lycaonia but in different provinces. That, the critics said, is a clear example of a historical error and inaccuracy in Luke's writing.

One of those scholars, distinguished for his historical expertise, was the British Sir William Ramsay. Ramsay decided to embark on a journey that followed the biblical record of Paul's missionary journeys and wherever possible to do archaeological research pertaining to the accuracy of the details supplied by Luke. Ramsay was a skeptic. He agreed with the liberal viewpoint that Luke's book had been filled with error, but everywhere he went, every time he turned over a shovel of dirt, his findings verified the details Luke had included in both his Gospel and in Acts. When Ramsay came in his journey to the places noted in this particular passage, he found the boundary marker between Derbe and Lystra, and indeed the boundary marker had the two cities in different provinces. However, upon further examination he found that at various times in antiquity the boundaries of those provinces changed, and, to his amazement, he discovered that between the years ad 37 and ad 72 Lystra and Derbe were in the same province -- the exact province Luke mentions here in the text. At the end of his tour Ramsay said that he could not find a single error of historical reliability in the book of Acts, and he joined other later scholars who now call Luke the most reliable historian of the ancient world. [ref]
 
     

TRUTH APPLIED
It Takes Courage
William Barclay: "It has to be noted that Paul and Barnabas were more and more taking their lives in their hands. What was proposed in Iconium was nothing other than a lynching. The further Paul and Barnabas went the further they moved from civilization. In the more civilized cities their lives at least were safe because Rome kept order; but out in the wilds Paul and Barnabas were ever under the threat of mob violence from the excitable Phrygian crowds stirred up by the Jews. These two were brave men; and it always takes courage to be a Christian." [ref]

HELPFUL RESOURCE
BEING COURAGEOUS

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In Lystra and Derbe (Acts 14:8-20)

From the cripple to the conspiracy (Acts 14:8-20)

 
(8) At Lystra a man was sitting who had no strength in his feet, lame from his mother's womb, who had never walked. (9) This man was listening to Paul as he spoke, who, when he had fixed his gaze on him and had seen that he had faith to be made well, (10) said with a loud voice, "Stand upright on your feet." And he leaped up and began to walk. (11) When the crowds saw what Paul had done, they raised their voice, saying in the Lycaonian language, "The gods have become like men and have come down to us." (12) And they began calling Barnabas, Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the chief speaker. (13) The priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates, and wanted to offer sacrifice with the crowds. (14) But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they tore their robes and rushed out into the crowd, crying out (15) and saying, "Men, why are you doing these things? We are also men of the same nature as you, and preach the gospel to you that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, WHO MADE THE HEAVEN AND THE EARTH AND THE SEA AND ALL THAT IS IN THEM. (16) In the generations gone by He permitted all the nations to go their own ways; (17) and yet He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good and gave you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness." (18) Even saying these things, with difficulty they restrained the crowds from offering sacrifice to them.

(19) But Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and having won over the crowds, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead. (20) But while the disciples stood around him, he got up and entered the city. The next day he went away with Barnabas to Derbe.
 

OUTLINE
II. PAUL AND BARNABAS IN LYSTRA (Acts 14:8–20)
  A. The cripple (Acts 14:8): There is a man in Lystra who has never walked.
  B. The command (Acts 14:9–10): Paul orders him to stand up and walk, and he does.
  C. The confusion (Acts 14:11–14)
    1. What the people assume (Acts 14:11–12): The amazed crowd mistakes the two disciples for gods.
      a. They think Barnabas is Zeus (Acts 14:11–12a)
      b. They think Paul is Hermes (Acts 14:12b)
    2. What the people attempt (Acts 14:13–14): They prepare to offer sacrifices and worship the disciples.
  D. The correction (Acts 14:15–18): A horrified Paul quickly stops this, pointing out the identity of the true God, for whom they are witnesses.
  E. The conspiracy (Acts 14:19–20)
    1. The slander against Paul (Acts 14:19a): Some Jews from Antioch and Iconium turn the crowds against the apostles.
    2. The stoning of Paul (Acts 14:19b–20): Paul is dragged out of the city, stoned, and left for dead, but he gets up and actually walks back into the city! [ref]
  • (Acts 14:8-18) Responding to Paul's healing of a lame man, the crowds go wild and declare that a divine visitation has taken place in the form of Barnabas and Paul, who only with great difficulty are able to prevent the crowds from offering sacrifice to them. Dunn: "Luke's skill as a storyteller is clearly in evidence, in the vividness of the visual detail in the scene he evokes for the reader. The irony is striking: Jewish missionaries, rejected by their own community in Iconium, are now hailed as the gods of old Greece. But most important of all is that the episode gave Luke the opportunity to stress that the message of Paul and Barnabas is a message about the one God, Creator of all." [ref]
  • (Acts 14:8-10) Now in Lystra, Paul is "preaching, presumably in the central market area" [ref], when he heals a lame man.
    Bruce: "The genuine and apparently incurable nature of the man's disability is emphasized by repetition: he had, we are told, no strength in his feet; he was a cripple from birth; he had never walked. ... In Acts, as in the Gospels, faith is regularly emphasized as a condition of receiving both physical and spiritual healing. That this lame man had faith was made plain by his ready obedience to Paul's command to stand up: he jumped to his feet, found that they supported his weight, and began to walk for the first time in his life." [ref]
  • (Acts 14:11-13) When the crowds see the miracle performed by Paul, they convince themselves that the gods have once again chosen to visit them and they make haste to pay them due tribute. Bruce: "[T]he Lystrans, seeing the instantaneous cure performed on the lame man, concluded that they were being favored with a divine visitation. Local legend told of earlier occasions when the gods came down to them in the likeness of human beings -- in particular, the two gods known to the Greeks as Zeus (father of gods and men) and Hermes (his son by Maia, and messenger of the gods)." [ref]
TRUTH APPLIED
Be On Guard Against Idolatry
R. C. Sproul:
     
 
Instead of being flattered by the adulation of the crowd, Paul and Barnabas were deeply disappointed. Why would people in any age be so silly as to worship human beings? Why would they be so silly as to create a religion of multiple deities -- one to cover the ocean such as Poseidon or Neptune; one for hearth and home such as Hestia or Vesta; one for the hunt such as the goddess Diana; one for wisdom; one for love; one for war; one for peace. They had a god and goddess for every human occasion. We know that was silly, but what happened in the later Western church? Instead of gods and goddesses, we have saints for every occasion.

A tragic accident took place locally a few years ago in which young children were killed. At the site of the tragedy is a shrine with a sign: "Saint Jude, help us." Jude is the saint to cover hopeless causes. How many people have Saint Christopher medals on the dashboards of their cars, praying to that specific saint who is supposedly responsible for keeping you safe from accidents? We develop a saint for every occasion, following in the same pattern of ancient people. We are just not satisfied with the Most High God. We, not just the ancient Greeks and Romans or the Roman Catholics, have an inclination so deeply rooted in our souls toward idolatry that it is our nature to exchange the glory of the eternal God for a lie, serving and worshiping the creature rather than the Creator (Rom. 1:25).

Washington DC contains some beautiful architecture. It is a city of shrines to our great heroes such as Jefferson and Lincoln. Painted on the ceiling of the rotunda of the U.S. Capitol is a magnificent scene of a man being lifted up on the clouds into the company of the gods and goddesses of Olympus. The title of the painting is "The Apotheosis of George Washington." Apotheosis means deification. Our cultural history does not deify George Washington, but we do have a tendency to exalt our great men and women to the status that belongs to God alone. The tendency is so deeply rooted in our souls that we have to be on guard against it in every circumstance. Only once did the living God become incarnate. This is no myth but sober history. The Son of God lived on earth under the law of God, and He was delivered up and crucified. [ref]
 
 
 

HELPFUL RESOURCE
THE VICE OF "IDOLATERS"
  • (Acts 14:14-18) Bruce: "It was some time before Paul and Barnabas understood what the people had in mind. When they did so, they rushed out from the place where they were, with every mark of horror at the idolatrous worship of which they were to be the unwitting recipients, and protested against it as vehemently as they could." [ref]
  • (Acts 14:15-17)
    ■ Wiersbe: "Paul's message was not based on the Old Testament, because this was a pagan Gentile audience. He started with the witness of God in creation (see Acts 17:22ff). He made it clear that there is but one God who is the living God, the giving God, and the forgiving God. And He has been patient with the sinning nations (Acts 17:30) and has not judged them for their sins as they deserve." [ref]
    ■ Toussaint: "Some interpret Acts 14:16 to mean that God will not judge the heathen who lived before the Apostolic Age. However, [Acts 14:16] must be taken with [Acts 14:17]. Up to the time of the church, God gave no direct revelation to the nations (i.e., Gentiles) so they were responsible only for their reactions to the general revelation discernible in Creation." [ref]
TRUTH APPLIED
Starting Where They Are
John Stott: "We need to learn from Paul's flexibility. We have no liberty to edit the heart of the good news of Jesus Christ. Nor is there ever any need to do so. But we have to begin where people are, to find a point of contact with them. With secularized people today this might be what constitutes authentic humanness, the universal quest for transcendence, the hunger for love and community, the search for freedom, or the longing for personal significance. Wherever we begin, however, we shall end with Jesus Christ, who is himself the good news, and who alone can fulfil all human aspirations." [ref]

One Path

Clinton Arnold: "Paul's comments about other religions would solicit a hostile reaction today in the contemporary climate of pluralism. To infer that worshipers of other gods are devoted to 'empty' things and neglect the living and true God would be viewed today as intolerant and inflammatory. It is important to realize that Paul was no angry man who said these things out of an unstable or uncharitable personality. He came to these people in love earnestly desiring for them to recognize and acknowledge the one true God. In Paul's understanding, there were not many paths that led to the same ultimate reality. There was one path and many deceptive counterfeits." [ref]

A PRINCIPLE TO LIVE BY
Glorifying God (Acts 14:8-18)
Spiritual leaders must never allow people to honor them above God. (Video link) [ref]
  • (Acts 14:19-20) Yet once again some Jews show up and cause serious trouble for the missionaries. In particular, they stone Paul and drag him out of the city, where they leave him for dead. Still very much alive -- and doubtless very much in pain -- Paul reenters the city. The following day he and Barnabas depart for Derbe
    ■ Bruce: "The Lystrans ... were probably offended by the missionionaries' refusal to accept divine honours from them: they had been made to look foolish, and felt resentful. Paul, so recently acclaimed as the messenger of the immortals, was the chief target for the violent assault that followed." [ref]
    ■ Barclay highlights Paul's "sheer courage": "The outstanding feature of this story is the sheer courage of Paul. When he came to his senses, his first act was to go right back into the city where he had been stoned. It was John Wesley's advice, 'Always look a mob in the face.' There could be no braver thing than Paul's going straight back amongst those who had tried to murder him. A deed like that would have more effect than a hundred sermons. Men were bound to ask themselves where a man got the courage to act in such a way." [ref]
TRUTH APPLIED
The Church: Militant Or Impotent?
R. C. Sproul:
     
 
We read now that the opposition became so severe that the Jews rose up in fury against Paul and, after holding a kangaroo court, used the Old Testament means of capital punishment, stoning, in an attempt to execute Paul.

We tend to pass over the fact of that stoning lightly, not considering how brutal it was for Paul to stand exposed before an angry mob as large rocks were hurled at him. Rocks hit him all over his body, tearing his flesh until he was knocked unconscious to the ground. Thinking that he was dead, the people opposed to him grabbed him by the feet and dragged him outside the city. He was not dead, however, and as the disciples gathered around and ministered to him, he was revived and was able to move on to the next city.

How many of us have been stoned and left for dead because of the proclamation of our faith? How many of us have been burned at the stake? How many of us have been used as human torches to illumine the gardens of Nero? How many of us have been sentenced to the Circus Maximus as fodder for roaring lions or for the sport of gladiators? The blood of the martyrs has been the seed of the church. We sing in church about the faith of our fathers, which led them to dungeons, to death, and to all sorts of peril, but we don't live in a place like that. We have freedom of assembly in the United States. Is it because suddenly our country is more open to the proclamation of the gospel, or is it because in a very real sense the church militant has become the church impotent as we seek a safe way to experience our faith? [ref]
 
 
 

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The Return to Antioch in Syria (Acts 14:21-28)

From strengthening to remaining (Acts 14:21-28)

 
(21) After they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, (22) strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying, "Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God." (23) When they had appointed elders for them in every church, having prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed.

(24) They passed through Pisidia and came into Pamphylia. (25) When they had spoken the word in Perga, they went down to Attalia. (26) From there they sailed to Antioch, from which they had been commended to the grace of God for the work that they had accomplished. (27) When they had arrived and gathered the church together, they began to report all things that God had done with them and how He had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles. (28) And they spent a long time with the disciples.
 

OUTLINE
III. PAUL AND BARNABAS IN DERBE (Acts 14:21): Again a large number respond to the gospel message.
IV. PAUL AND BARNABAS BACK IN LYSTRA, ICONIUM, AND ANTIOCH OF PISIDIA (Acts 14:22–25): The apostles now minister in a twofold way to the new converts in these cities.
  A. They strengthen everyone in the churches (Acts 14:22)
  B. They select elders for the churches (Acts 14:23–25)
V. PAUL AND BARNABAS BACK IN ANTIOCH OF SYRIA (Acts 14:26–28)
  A. They report to their home church (Acts 14:26–27)
  B. They remain (for a long time) in their home church (Acts 14:28) [ref]
  • (Acts 14:21-23) In Derbe the gospel is proclaimed (preached) and a new church is established (they ... made many disciples). Then Paul and Barnabas retrace their steps by returning to Lystra and to Iconium and to Pisidian Antioch, where they strengthen and encourage the new believers as well as appoint church leadership. As Polhill explains:
         
     
    The two apostles returned the way they had come, revisiting the newly established churches along the route -- first Lystra, then Iconium, and finally Pisidian Antioch. In each congregation they performed three essential ministries.

    • First, they strengthened the disciples (Acts 14:22a). This probably refers to their further instructing the Christians in their new faith.
    • Second, they encouraged them "to remain true to the faith" and pointed out the "many hardships" they might encounter for bearing the name of Jesus (Acts 14:22b). Paul and Barnabas had themselves experienced persecution on this trip in almost every city where they witnessed. They reminded the Christians that this was not just the lot of missionaries but could be expected of all who carry Christ's name. The theme is one Paul often sounded in his epistles -- we must be willing to suffer with Christ if we expect to share in his glory (Rom 8:17; cf. 2 Thess 1:4; 2 Tim 2:12); the path to resurrection is by way of the cross.
    • The final ministry of the apostles was to establish leadership in the new congregations. For these early churches there was no professional clergy to assume their leadership. Consequently, the pattern of the Jewish synagogues seems to have been followed by appointing a group of lay elders to shepherd the flock. [ref]
     
     
     
A PRINCIPLE TO LIVE BY
Qualified Spiritual Leaders (Acts 14:19-23)
To lead people to become mature disciples of Jesus Christ, we must select and appoint qualified spiritual leaders in every local church. (Video link) [ref]
  • (Acts 14:24-28) Paul and Barnabas make the final leg of their return journey to their sending church in Antioch, where they give a full report on the rousing success of their mission to the Gentiles.
    ■ Toussaint: "Thus ends the first missionary journey which lasted between one and two years and in which Paul and Barnabas traversed more than 700 miles by land and 500 miles by sea. But more than that, it demolished the wall between Jews and Gentiles (cf. Eph. 2:14–16)." [ref]
    ■ Swindoll:
         
     
    The church had delegated a responsibility to Paul and Barnabas, equipped them with the necessary provisions, conferred its authority upon them, and sent them out. The missionaries owed the church accountability. They called the congregation together and gave a complete report of all that had occurred (Acts 14:27). While all the details interested the church, the bottom-line outcome thrilled them. They had "opened a door of faith" to the Gentiles. This was the first coordinated, organized effort to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ to Gentiles where not even a synagogue had existed. The ministry of Paul and Barnabas had shed light into the lives of the darkest pagans, and the Gentiles responded in belief. With the door of faith now open, they hoped to see innumerable Gentiles pour into the church. [ref]
     
         
TRUTH APPLIED
Notable Lights
William Barclay:
     
 
In this passage [= Acts 14:21-28] there are three notable lights on the mind of Paul.

(1) There is his utter honesty to the people who had chosen to become Christians. He frankly told them that it was through many an affliction they would have to enter into the kingdom of God. He offered them no easy way. He acted on the principle that Jesus had come "not to make life easy but to make men great."

(2) On the return journey Paul set apart elders in all the little groups of newly-made Christians. He showed that it was his conviction that Christianity must be lived in a fellowship. As one of the great fathers put it, "No man can have God for his father unless he has the Church for his mother." As John Wesley put it, "No man ever went to heaven alone; he must either find friends or make them." From the very beginning it was Paul's aim not only to make individual Christians but to build these individuals into a Christian fellowship.

(3) Paul and Barnabas never thought that it was their strength which had achieved anything. They spoke of what God had done with them. They regarded themselves only as fellow-labourers with God. After the great victory of Agincourt, Henry the king forbade any songs to be made and ordered that all the glory should be given to God. We begin to have the right idea of Christian service when we work, not for our own honour, but from the conviction that we are tools in the hand of God. [ref]
 
 
 

TRUTH APPLIED
Wisdom In Responding To Opposition
Ajith Fernando:
     
 
This passage [= Acts 14] contains three keys to understanding and responding to opposition. (1) The first is a sad one, in that the gospel does sometimes divide communities. Well do I remember being at a Buddhist temple facing the wrath of the monks and their lay supporters in an area where we had started an evangelistic work. Our accusers said to us that they had lived in peace for so many centuries and that now we had come and ruined the peace of the community. And we knew that this was partly true. It was a hard accusation to take, for Christians seek to follow Paul's advice: "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone" (Rom. 12:18). We who aim to be instruments of peace had become agents of disharmony.

In much of the discussions on social harmony today, evangelism with conversion as a goal is considered a major hindrance. In earlier generations, people viewed evangelism as taking the gospel to those who had forsaken the path of human righteousness. But today we realize that the living religions of the world also advocate human righteousness. Thus, some view our evangelism as disrupting the harmony of religious people who pursue righteousness.

For this reason even some Christians are not enthusiastic about evangelism. They feel conversion is desirable, but if it is going to cause so much disruption to families and societies, they ought to downplay its importance. For example, some evangelists in Sri Lanka went to an area and won many Buddhists to Christ, provoking opposition to Christianity. Then other Christians, who were doing joint social projects with the Buddhist temple nearby, tried to discourage the evangelism because it was disrupting their program.

Yet when we realize the supreme worth of an individual and of his or her salvation, and when we realize that we are carrying the message of ultimate importance from the Creator to his creation, we are challenged to persevere despite the cost. When we take the gospel to primitive tribes, we are criticized for disrupting the "pristine beauty" of cultures that have not been affected by the ravages of modernization; but the message of the gospel is so important that we must take it to them. However, as Donald McGavran used to say, we must aim at conversion with minimum social dislocation.

(2) We must also take into consideration the mood of the people, realizing that sometimes unnecessary harm can be done by our staying in a situation where a mob mentality has taken over and reason will not prevail. Note how twice in this chapter Paul and Barnabas leave an evangelistic situation because of the hostile environment. Boldness and wisdom combine to produce an effective evangelistic strategy. Because of the ethnic conflict in our land, there are some places where YFC works that I cannot visit, even though I would dearly like to go to those places. But if I go there, I would be putting my colleagues at risk. Similarly, we may sometimes need to let someone else do what we like to do if we sense that our presence there will not help.

(3) It seems that when Paul and Barnabas came back to these cities where opposition had developed, they came in a new role -- to strengthen believers. This may be the role that foreigners have in certain sensitive missions situations: let the locals preach the gospel and train them to do it. Nevertheless, there are other times when the presence of a foreigner may be more effective in evangelism than that of a local. In our ministry we generally do not use Westerners for evangelism among the Easternized people, who speak only the local languages. But we have found music and drama teams and preachers from Western countries can be effective in evangelism with the Westernized youth of our land. All this indicates that we must be wise in our strategizing so that what is most effective will be done to get the gospel out. [ref]
 

TRUTH APPLIED
Paul's Missionary Principles
Warren Wiersbe:
     
 
As you review Paul's first missionary journey, you can see the principles by which he operated, principles that are still applicable today.
  • He worked primarily in the key cities and challenged the believers to take the message out to the more remote areas. The Gospel works in the population centers, and we must carry it there.
  • He used one approach with the synagogue congregations and another with the Gentiles. He referred the Jews and Jewish proselytes to the Old Testament Scriptures; but when preaching to the Gentiles, he emphasized the God of creation and His goodness to the nations. His starting point was different, but his finishing point was the same: faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
  • He majored on establishing and organizing local churches. Jesus had the local church in mind when He gave what we call "The Great Commission" (Matt. 28:19-20). After we make disciples ("teach"), we must baptize them (the responsibility primarily of a local church) and then teach them the Word of God. Merely winning people to Christ is but fulfilling one-third of the Commission! It takes the local assembly of believers to help us fulfill all of what Jesus commanded us to do.
  • He grounded the believers in the Word of God. This is the only source of strength and stability when persecution comes, as it inevitably does come. Paul did not preach a popular "success Gospel" that painted a picture of an easy Christian life.
  • The amazing thing is that Paul and his associates did all of this without the modern means of transportation and communication that we possess today. Dr. Bob Pierce used to say to us in Youth For Christ, "Others have done so much with so little, while we have done so little with so much!" The wasted wealth of American believers alone, if invested in world evangelization, might lead to the salvation of millions of lost people. [ref]
 

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*Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, © Copyright 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. www.Lockman.org