Daily Bible Studies & Sermon Notes

Acts 14:8-20
Pastor Steve Schell
Sunday: Acts 14:8-11
vs8-10: Luke records an extraordinary miracle that took place in Lystra. A crowd had gathered and Paul was preaching. Among them was a crippled man who had been born lame. He must have been listening very attentively because he caught Paul’s eye. Paul stared at him for a moment and discerned that faith was present in him to be healed. With a loud voice he said, “Stand up on your feet!” Instantly, the man leaped to his feet and walked. vs11-12: Lystra was not a large city. It was one of the 13 Roman military outposts in the Galatian region and probably had no more than two thousand inhabitants (Ray Vander Laan, “Faith Lessons,” Vol 7, “Lystra,” Zondervan, 2006). Everyone must have, at least, been familiar with this crippled man. So when he stood up and walked there was no possibility of fraud.

Monday: Acts 14:11, 12
vs11-12 (continued): The healing could not have been faked, which is why those in the crowd reacted the way they did. They were stunned and began to explain the miracle using their own religious concepts. In their Lycaonian language they shouted, “The gods made like men have come down to us,” and they also called Barnabas “Zeus” and Paul “Hermes,” since he was the one leading the speaking. Most likely, the apostles did not understand the dialect being spoken which explains why they appear slow to react as this situation developed (v14). The crowd’s fanatical response seems to have been influenced by a legend told in that region that Zeus and Hermes had visited that area before but the people had not welcomed them into their homes, and as a result the two gods had destroyed the entire population, except for one elderly couple.

Tuesday: Acts 14:11, 12
vs11-12 (continued): The Roman poet Ovid “tells the story of an aged and pious couple of that region, Philemon and Baucis by name, who entertained Jupiter and Mercury (the Roman equivalents of Zeus and Hermes) unawares, and were rewarded for their hospitality (Metamorphoses viii, 626ff)” (F.F. Bruce, Acts, Eerdmans, 1974, p.291. Also: Vander Laan, see above). So when Barnabas, the Levite, who may well have looked like Zeus, and Paul who spoke so eloquently, ministered with miraculous power, the people assumed the gods had come to test them again.

Wednesday: Acts 14:13-15
vs13-15: The priest of Zeus, whose temple was located in front of the city gates, brought bulls to the area around the gates where the crowd was gathered. The animals were decorated for sacrifice, covered in garlands of leaves, flowers or wool. The crowd fully intended to worship the apostles by sacrificing the bulls to them, so when this Levite and former Pharisee realized what was taking place they instinctively grabbed their outer robes, at the area around the neck, and tore them in half, from top to bottom. This was a Hebrew way of expressing intense grief. At that moment they were horrified that God was being blasphemed (Lev 10:6; Nu 14:6; Mt 26:65; Mk 14:63, 64). They rushed out into the crowd crying out in a loud voice, “Men, why are you doing these things? We are men, fellow-sufferers with you, preaching to turn you from these meaningless things to a living God, who made the heavens and earth and the sea and all the things in them” (literal). With these words they emphatically declared their humanity, and pointed everyone’s attention to the Creator, the one true God.

Thursday: Acts 14:16, 17
vs16-17: They openly acknowledged to the people of Lystra that in past generations God had allowed their ancestors to worship other gods and live in ways that violated His standards of holiness, but they warned them He would not withhold His judgment forever. Someday, each one of them would stand before Him, and they would not be able to claim that they had been unaware. He existed because He had not left Himself “unwitnessed.” If they were honest with themselves they would have to admit that it was evident from nature that a kind Creator had sent rain to them and given them fruit-bearing seasons. Though God had allowed them to ignore Him, He continued to lovingly care for them year after year. In other words, they would be without excuse on the day of judgment (Ro 1:19, 20).

Friday: Acts 14:18, 19
vs18-19: Even after saying such things it was only with great difficulty that they were able to restrain the people from sacrificing to them. Yet, in that very moment, as this scene was taking place, Jews from Pisidian Antioch and Iconium arrived and began turning the crowd against them. Luke does not record what they said, but it is remarkable that they were able to turn the public opinion so drastically from one extreme to the other, from worship to execution. The focus of their fury was Paul. Barnabas seems to have been left untouched. We can only guess what they said, but they probably claimed that Paul performed this miracle using demonic powers.

Saturday: Acts 14:18-20
vs18-19 (continued): The miracle itself could not be denied (Ac 4:16), so it seems the only option available to them would be to convince the crowd that the apostles used evil magic. Whatever line of reasoning they used, it worked. The worshiping throng became a mob. Since stoning was a Jewish form of execution, the crowd must have allowed the visiting Jewish leaders to perform the execution. Later Rabbinical laws, which may or may not have been observed here, carefully controlled how a stoning was done. Paul’s hands and feet would have been bound and two accusers would have first pushed him off a ledge 15-18 feet high. Then each accuser would throw one stone down on his body as he lay on the pavement below (Vander Laan, see above). Their bitter hatred of Paul can be seen from the fact that they even denied him a proper burial. When they felt he was dead they dragged his body out of the city and left it exposed for the dogs and wild beasts to consume. This was the ultimate form of disrespect. v20: Luke only tells us that “the disciples surrounded him,” but surely this means they prayed, with Barnabas there to guide them. And their prayers were answered because Paul “stood up and went back into the city.” It’s possible to assume that he had only been knocked unconscious and then recovered, but the fact that the next day he was strong enough to walk to Derbe, about 60 miles away, seems to point to a stunning miracle, possibly even that Paul was raised from the dead.

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