Jesus' Parables for Disciples
3. Paul in Cyprus, Antioch of Pisidia, and Galatia (Acts 13-14, 47-49 AD)by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson
Jacob Jordaens, detail of 'Apostles Paul and Barnabas in Lystra' (1645), oil on canvas, Akademie der bildenden Künste, Vienna.
The time of preparation is over. Paul and Barnabas have gained valuable experience in reaching the ancient Greek city of Antioch in Syria with the gospel. Now the Holy Spirit has called them and the church has commissioned them to extend their ministry "to the ends of the earth" (Acts 1:8b).
3.1. The Apostolic Team (Acts 13:4-5)
"The two of them, sent on their way by the Holy Spirit, went down to Seleucia and sailed from there to Cyprus." (Acts 13:4)
The mission team consists of "the two of them" (Acts 13:4a), and "John was with them as their helper" (Acts 13:5).
John Mark first appears in Acts when a prayer meeting to seek the release of Peter from prison is held at his mother's house in Jerusalem (Acts 12:12). When Paul and Barnabas return from their mission to carry financial gifts to Jerusalem, they bring Mark with them back to Antioch (Acts 12:25). He is Barnabas's cousin (Colossians 4:10). As we'll see, however, Mark doesn't complete this journey with them (Acts 13:13) and becomes a point of contention between Paul and Barnabas when they plan a Second Missionary Journey (Acts 15:39). Later, Mark is restored to Paul's favor (Colossians 4:10) and helps him in his ministry and final Roman imprisonment (2 Timothy 4:11). Papias tells us that Mark was a close associate of Peter while in Rome (1 Peter 5:13) and wrote down Peter's teaching about Jesus, forming the Gospel of Mark. (Peter was martyred in Rome about the same time as Paul.)
3.2. Cyprus (Acts 13:4-12)
Barnabas and Saul, with their helper Mark, travel west from Antioch to Seleucia, the port city for Antioch. Then they catch a boat bound for Cyprus. They've been sent out by the Holy Spirit. Now they seek the Spirit's guidance on where to proceed on their mission.
We're used to thinking of Paul as the leader, but we forget that he is the junior member of the team on this trip we call his First Missionary Journey. Barnabas is the leader, at least for now. So they begin by traveling through Barnabas's native Isle of Cyprus, rather than through Paul's hometown of Tarsus, on their way into central Asia Minor. Later, Barnabas and Mark travel again to Cyprus (Acts 15:39), while Paul and Silas team up for Paul's Second Missionary Journey.
Cyprus is a good place to begin, since Barnabas has family connections here. And it's likely that there is a growing Christian community here, since those who initially brought the gospel to Antioch were from Cyprus and Cyrene. (An early tradition states that Barnabas was martyred in Salamis, Cyprus in 61 AD.)
Map: Paul and Barnabas in Cyprus (Acts 13:4-13, 47 AD) (larger map)
They land at Salamis, the most important city in Cyprus during this era, and the location of a considerable Jewish community. Barnabas and Paul are Grecian Jews, so they begin in the Grecian Jewish synagogue at Salamis. We're not told of the results.
As we'll see, going first to the Jewish community is a strategy used consistently in Paul's ministry. If Paul had first preached to the Gentiles in an area, the Jews would have rejected him out of hand. But by preaching first in the synagogue, he has a chance to win a few key Jews, but especially the devout, but uncircumcised, Gentile "God-fearers" who attend the synagogue and are attracted to monotheism. These God-fearers emerge as the most receptive people in the entire Roman Empire to the preaching of the gospel of Christ. And, when they come to Christ, they form a bridge and network of contacts to reaching the much-larger Gentile communities in a city, when the Jews eventually expel Paul from their synagogue. This is a "Jew first, then Gentile" mission. Paul states at the beginning of Romans:
Cyprus in this era is known for its wine, oil, and its forests, as well as its silver and copper mines. The apostolic team gradually travels west across the whole island preaching as they go (Acts 13:6). Though Salamis is Cyprus's largest city in this era, Paphros, on the west end of the island is its administrative center. By this time, Cyprus is a Roman senatorial province under a proconsul. Since Paphos is the government seat, it is the residence of Sergius Paulus, the Roman proconsul.
In Paphos, the team meets "a Jewish sorcerer and false prophet named Bar-Jesus, who was an attendant of the proconsul, Sergius Paulus." (Acts 13:6b-7a). He is also known as Elymas.  Bar-Jesus is a "sorcerer" (Greek magos), "magician." He is probably one who uses magical healing remedies, such as amulets and incantations, astrology, and general "quackery," and by them gains power and access as a member of the proconsul's entourage as court magician. Elymas is also termed a "false prophet," that is, one who doesn't seek the true God for his words and actions, but makes up things in his own mind to manipulate others.
Elymas doesn't want to allow these apostles -- whom he senses are powerful in the Spirit realm -- to ruin his status with the island's ruler. Paul confronts him directly, "filled with the Holy Spirit," in the presence of the awed proconsul. As a result, the proconsul believes. Paul declares:
"10 'You are a child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is right! You are full of all kinds of deceit and trickery. Will you never stop perverting the right ways of the Lord? 11 Now the hand of the Lord is against you. You are going to be blind, and for a time you will be unable to see the light of the sun.' Immediately mist and darkness came over him, and he groped about, seeking someone to lead him by the hand. 12 When the proconsul saw what had happened, he believed, for he was amazed at the teaching about the Lord." (Acts 13:10-12)
Notice the phrase, "filled with the Holy Spirit" (also found in Acts 2:4; 4:8, 31; 7:55). Of course, Christians are continually imbued with the Spirit, but this describes a particularly powerful working of the Holy Spirit.
Power Encounters (Luke 11:20-23)
Lincoln Cathedral in Lincoln, England, is an amazing frieze (c. 1150 AD, restored in 2009) known as 'The Harrowing (or Plundering) of Hell,' that shows the conflict with Satan in graphic terms. The man with the crown is, of course, Christ. The man to the right seems to be John the Baptist. Both have their feet on the devil, bound hand and foot. Christ is grasping those enslaved souls who are reaching out for his help.
The sorcerer is struck blind in what is known technically as a "power encounter," a contest between good and evil, between God's Spirit and evil spirits, a clashing of the Kingdom of God with the dominion of Satan. These were common in Jesus' ministry, and in the ministry of the Apostle Paul. We see them especially in exorcisms.
When Jesus is accused by his opponents of casting out demons by the power of the devil, he dissects their flawed logic and then says:
"20 If it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. 21 When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are safe; 22 but when one stronger than he attacks him and overcomes him, he takes away his armor in which he trusted and divides his spoil. 23 Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters." (Luke 11:20-23)
The "strong man" in this parable is, of course, Satan. Jesus is the "one stronger than he," who binds Satan, and then plunders -- and sets free -- those whom Satan "has taken ... captive to do his will" (2 Timothy 2:26b).
When Paul defends his ministry to his critics at the Corinthian Church, he explains that he doesn't rely on skilled oratory to win people to Christ, but on the power of the word or message itself and on signs and wonders.
"4 My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, 5 so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power." (1 Corinthians 2:4-5)
"Our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction." (1 Thessalonians 1:5)
There are some, of course, who insist that the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit died out with the apostles, since we now have the New Testament canon to instruct us. But church history tells of many instances of what John Wimber called "power evangelism." St. Patrick's evangelization of Northern Ireland, for example, was accompanied by many power encounters with the druid priests. Patrick's demonstration of the power of the Spirit brought the feudal Irish kings, one by one, to faith in Christ, and a place for the gospel in their realms.
We don't have examples of Paul doing miracles with the purpose of attracting a hearing -- any more than Jesus did. But often, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, Paul speaks and acts with power, resulting in many conversions. This is alongside his faithful preaching and teaching, as we'll see shortly. As in Jesus' ministry, faith inspired by miracles alone tends to be shallow, but it does open up many people to seek further and come to saving faith (John 3:1-2).
3.3. Antioch of Pisidia (Acts 13:14-58, 47 AD)
Map: Paul's Mission to South Galatia, First Missionary Journey, Acts 13:13-14-25, 47-48 AD (larger map)
"From Paphos, Paul and his companions sailed to Perga in Pamphylia, where John left them to return to Jerusalem." (Acts 13:13)
From Cyprus, the team sails, probably to the port city of Attalia, then travels inland a few miles to the ancient and important city of Perga in Pamphylia, the modern village of Murtana. From Perga, lies a direct route north, up the Cestrus River valley into Pisidia and the Anatolian plateau of central Asia Minor.
The national cult of this city is the Queen of Perga, probably a pre-Hellenic nature-goddess (identified with Artemis at Ephesus). The Romans began to settle in Perga in the second century BC. The city boasted a Bronze Age acropolis (fortified citadel built on a hill). At least three aqueducts served the city, and its amphitheater seated at least 12,000, making it one of the largest in the ancient world. About nine miles to the southwest was the port of Attalia (present-day Attalya).
The apostolic team's visit seems brief, marked only by John Mark leaving them to return to Jerusalem -- a departure that Paul looks at as a desertion! We'll see more about this in Lesson 5.1 (Acts 15:37-39).
At the conclusion of the First Missionary Journey, Paul and Barnabas preach in Perga on their way home (Acts 14:25), but we're not told of a church being established here. Centuries later, however, Perga becomes an important center for Christianity in the region.
The next leg of the apostles' journey from Perga to Antioch of Pisidia involves climbing from sea level up to about 3,600 feet (1,100 meters). The apostles probably take the safest route, the Via Sebaste, the "Imperial Road," built by the Romans beginning in 6 BC, and extending from Perga through Antioch of Pisidia, to the Roman settlements at Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe. Archaeological remains show that it was a highway between 20 and 26 feet (6 and 8 meters) broad, which could carry wheeled traffic along its entire length. From Perga the Via Sebaste crosses the Taurus Mountains and goes through the Lake District on its way to Antioch of Pisidia.
Antioch of Pisidia was founded by Antiochus I Soter (281-261 BC), king of the Greek Seleucid Empire, as a military base to control Galatian attacks near this border region between Pisidia and Phrygia. It is built on a large, high acropolis, which makes it defensible from attack. In Roman times it had a population of perhaps 50,000.
There were several Antiochs in the ancient world, since they were built by various Seleucid kings, who shared the family name of Antiochus. So you have, for example:
- Antioch on the Orontes (Syrian Antioch), where Paul and Barnabas began their ministry together.
- Antioch of Pisidia, where Paul and Barnabas preach on their First Missionary Journey.
- Antioch on the Meander, east of Ephesus (not mentioned in the Bible).
- Antiochia ad Cragum, known as "Little Antiochia," overlooking the Mediterranean coast in Cilicia (not mentioned in the Bible).
- Antioch on the Cydnus, later called Tarsus, Paul's hometown.
Antioch of Pisidia, near the modern town of Yalvaç, is surrounded by a fertile plain plentifully watered by rainfall on the Sultan Mountains, and attracted retired army veterans to this Roman colony. Since it lay along the east-west Via Sebaste highway, it benefited from commercial trade. It also had a synagogue that served a sizable Jewish population.
As they had done in Salamis, Cyprus, the apostles begin their ministry in the Jewish synagogue.
"14b On the Sabbath they entered the synagogue and sat down. 15 After the reading from the Law and the Prophets, the synagogue rulers sent word to them, saying, 'Brothers, if you have a message of encouragement for the people, please speak.'" (Acts 13:14b-15)
The account of Paul's preaching in the synagogue of Antioch of Pisidia is lengthy, probably because it is the first of Paul's recorded sermons in Acts, and is given because it is typical of his approach in the synagogues.
Notice the audience -- Jews and God-fearers. "Men of Israel, and you who fear God" (Acts 13:15, ESV). The NIV's, "you Gentiles who worship God," catches the sense. "Fear" is used here in the sense of reverence for, respect of, fear of offending, not in the sense of being terrorized. These are the uncircumcised Gentiles (mentioned in Lesson 3.2) who are attracted to Jewish monotheism and high moral teaching, but who haven't taken the step of being circumcised and becoming full Jews. As explained above, these God-fearers form Paul's bridge into the Gentile world in various cities in the Roman Empire.
Here is a synopsis of Paul's preaching in the synagogue.
1. Jesus Is the Promised Messiah Descended from David (Acts 13:16-23). Paul recounts the standard Hebrew history to establish rapport and common ground with the Jews. He mentions captivity in Egypt, the Exodus, the Wilderness, and entry into Canaan. Now he introduces Samuel and the king he anoints: David.
"From this man's descendants God has brought to Israel the Savior Jesus, as he promised." (Acts 13:23)
Paul points to the Messianic promise that a descendant of David will sit upon the throne of David, and restore Israel.
2. John the Baptist Points to Jesus (Acts 13:24-25). The fame of John the Baptist -- his preaching and martyrdom -- seems to have been widely known among the Jewish Diaspora (e.g., Acts 18:25; 19:3). Paul notes that this John clearly points to Jesus.
3. Jesus Is Rejected, Crucified, Raised from the Dead (Acts 13:26-31). Now Paul explains that Jesus was rejected by the Jewish rulers in Jerusalem who pushed for his execution. Then he proclaims the astounding fact of the resurrection:
"30 But God raised him from the dead, 31 and for many days he was seen by those who had traveled with him from Galilee to Jerusalem. They are now his witnesses to our people." (Acts 13:30-31)
4. Resurrection Is Supported from Old Testament Scriptures (Acts 13:32-37). The Jews are people of the Book, so Paul supports his declaration of Jesus' resurrection from Messianic passages in Psalm 2:7; Isaiah 55:10; and Psalm 16:10. David died and his body decayed, Paul argues, but God's Holy One (Psalm 16:10), "the one whom God raised from the dead did not see decay" (Acts 13:37). We'll study Paul's teaching on the resurrection further in Lesson 6.4.
5. Through Jesus Comes Forgiveness of Sins for Those Who Believe (Acts 13:38-39)
"38 Therefore, my brothers, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. 39 Through him everyone who believes is justified from everything you could not be justified from by the law of Moses." (Acts 13:38-39)
Here it is clearly: salvation comes not through the Law, but through faith in Messiah Jesus -- justification by faith -- that Paul learned so powerfully at his conversion (Lesson 1.3).
6. Beware of Rejection, Scoffing, and Unbelief (Acts 13:40-41). Now Paul quotes Habakkuk 1:5 as a promise that God would do amazing, unbelievable things and warns against scoffing and unbelief. When we hear the truth, we are responsible to act on it. If we reject it or put it aside -- or, even worse, attack it -- we put ourselves under greater condemnation.
In a nutshell, Paul proclaims this simple gospel for those with a background in the Jewish faith and Old Testament Scriptures. (He tailors it differently for an audience without this background in Athens.) Here it is again:
- Jesus is the promised messiah descended from David (Acts 13:16-23)
- John the Baptist points to Jesus (Acts 13:24-25)
- Jesus is rejected, crucified, raised from the dead (Acts 13:26-31)
- Resurrection is supported from Old Testament Scriptures (Acts 13:32-37)
- Through Jesus comes forgiveness of sins for those who believe in Him (Acts 13:38-39)
- Beware of rejection, scoffing and unbelief (Acts 13:40-41)
That's the basic outline.
To the Corinthians, Paul sums it up this way:
"3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures." (1 Corinthians 15:3-4)
Stripped to its essentials, Paul summarizes the gospel for Timothy:
"Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners -- of whom I am the worst." (1 Timothy 1:15)
We'll look more deeply at the Message of the Cross in Lesson 5.4. Paul's initial gospel presentation to rank pagans, however, is quite different. We'll explore that further in this lesson, as we see that one's gospel presentation must be contextualized to be effective.
Q1. (Acts 13:14-41) What "common ground" does the gospel
of Jesus have with Judaism? How does Paul's approach in the synagogues reflect
building on this common ground? What is the essence of the gospel? (1
During the following week, those who are drawn to the apostles' message spend time with them.
"Followed" is akoloutheō, "come after." Here, it probably takes on the figurative meaning that we commonly see in the Gospels: "to follow someone as a disciple, be a disciple, follow." Paul and Barnabas are making disciples and teaching them, both Jews and "devout converts to Judaism," or proselytes (Greek prosēlytos). Since Paul uses the phrase "devout converts," rather than just "converts" alone, this may be the same group as the "God-fearers," whom Paul addresses in Acts 13:16, 26. It isn't clear whether or not they were circumcised, though the term prosēlytos would normally suggest they were.
Their exhortations, "continue in the grace of God" (Acts 13:43), and "the word of his grace" (Acts 14:3) suggest that the apostles are teaching forgiveness through the grace of God through faith in Jesus the Messiah, rather than through obedience to the Law, which is what the Jews taught. Grace, of course, means simply "favor," referring to the favor God shows to us unilaterally, not based on what we deserve, but what he freely grants to us. We'll look more deeply at salvation by grace in Lesson 4.3.
"Paul and Barnabas ... urged them to continue in the grace of God." (Acts 13:43b)
But along with grace we see the phrase "continue in" (prosmenō) from the same word family as Jesus' admonition, "Remain/continue/abide (menō) in me and I in you" (John 15:4). Our connection with God is not transactional -- you believe, pray the sinner's prayer, and you're "in" (as some teach). It is, rather, dynamic, continuous, relational. Yes, salvation comes instantaneously and completely; we "pass from death to life" (John 5:24). Yet, faith is a relationship. We are "kept by the power of God through faith" (1 Peter 1:5). If we say we are disciples, but don't "continue in the grace of God," we deceive ourselves and others.
Some teach that grace is "irresistible." And there is a sense that it is! Yet numerous times the apostles exhort or command disciples to:
- "Continue (prosmenō) in the grace of God." (Acts 13:43)
- "Remain true (prosmenō) to the Lord." (Acts 11:23)
- "Continue (emmenō) in the faith." (Acts 14:22)
- "Continue (menō) in him." (1 John 2:28)
- "If you continue (menō) in my word, you are truly my disciples." (John 8:31)
- "If you continue in (epimenō) your faith." (Colossians 1:23)
So part of Paul's message to disciples is "continue in the grace of God" (Acts 13:43). The doctrine of the Perseverance of the Saints indicates that true disciples do continue.
"44 On the next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord. 45 When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and talked abusively against what Paul was saying." (Acts 13:44-45)
The Jewish community in Antioch of Pisidia have maintained their faith for a long time without widespread response from the Gentiles. But now, some things have become clear:
- Salvation, forgiveness from sin is available to all who believe, not just Jews who observe the Torah, and
- Paul and Barnabas have brought a huge crowd of Gentiles, whom the Jews realize are attracted to Jesus, not to Judaism.
The Jews' response flows directly from their "jealousy" (NIV, ESV, NRSV) or "envy." Of course, this rejection (and often persecution) is Satan's response to spiritual defeats as the gospel is received. So the Jewish leaders loudly reject the apostles and their teaching, probably right in front of the huge crowd that has gathered at the synagogue doors.
"Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: 'We had to speak the word of God to you first.'" (Acts 13:46a)
Here again is the principle of "to the Jews first, then to the Gentiles" (Romans 1:17), which we saw first in Cyprus.
Now Paul says before the huge crowd of Gentiles:
"Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles." (Acts 13:46b)
I imagine a big cheer going up!
"48 When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed. 49 The word of the Lord spread through the whole region." (Acts 13:48-49)
Think about this public shaming from a Gentile point of view. They observe Jews, whom they've always thought to act towards them as "holier than thou," rejecting Paul and Barnabas. Paul then turns to the Gentiles with openness and acceptance. Wonder of wonders! A Jew favors Gentiles over Jews. The irony is that the Jews' insults result in greater openness to the gospel from the Gentiles.
Notice the phrase, "appointed for eternal life." We'll discuss it later in this lesson under the heading, "Predestination and Evangelism."
Part of Paul's missionary strategy is to target major cities that influence many surrounding smaller towns and villages in the region. These cities would draw thousands to the city center on market days and religious holidays. Thus, a strong ministry in a major city such as Antioch of Pisidia could have a profound effect on the whole area -- as it did here.
"The word of the Lord spread through the whole region." (Acts 13:49)
In a similar way, Paul's later ministry in the provincial capital of Ephesus affects the entire Roman province of Asia (Acts 19:10, 26).
In our day, Christians (when they are able) sometimes flee crime and demographic change happening in inner cities and retreat to the comfort of the suburbs. But it is in the great cities that evangelism must come to bring revival to our world. Yes, cities can be secular strongholds. But these cities often include people from other countries who have left their own cultures to find jobs. The people here are often the most open to the gospel. We can't give up on our cities!
Because of the success of the apostles' ministry, Satan incites a reaction among people of influence. Paul knows about this kind of reaction to the gospel; he had been an angry persecutor himself!
"50 But the Jews incited the God-fearing women of high standing and the leading men of the city. They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region. 51 So they shook the dust from their feet in protest against them and went to Iconium." (Acts 13:50-51)
Paul and Barnabas are not physically attacked, but Jewish influence with the governing officials has its effect. The officials make it clear that the apostles are no longer welcome. Enthusiasm continues, however, among the disciples they have won to the Lord. They leave behind the beginnings of a strong church.
We sometimes avoid persecution at any cost. But if we understand that persecution is a natural reaction to successful spiritual warfare, we -- as Paul -- will come to expect it, not avoid it. If Paul had systematically avoided persecution, you and I wouldn't have heard the gospel. (See more on persecution and spiritual warfare in Lesson 7.4 and Lesson 8.2).
3.4. Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe (Acts 14:1-21, 48 AD)
Map: Paul's Mission to South Galatia, First Missionary Journey, Acts 13:13-14-25, 47-48 AD (larger map)
God is at work, and, as it had in Jerusalem, Satan's persecution only serves to spread the gospel (Acts 8:4). In this case, Paul and Barnabas travel east from Antioch of Pisidia along the Via Sebaste to the cities of Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe.
Iconium was a prosperous center for agriculture and commerce on a well-watered fertile plain, with the Taurus mountain range to its south. It lay along the Via Sebaste, a major trade route between Ephesus and Syria. Five roads radiate from Iconium to other cities. In later times Iconium (now Konya) was known for its beautiful buildings. Its people were of Phrygian descent, worshipping the goddess Cybele, mother of the gods. In the Roman period, Iconium retained its later Hellenistic character and lay in the Roman province of Galatia.
Characteristically, Paul and Barnabas begin their ministry in Iconium at the synagogue.
"At Iconium Paul and Barnabas went as usual into the Jewish synagogue. There they spoke so effectively that a great number of Jews and Gentiles believed." (Acts 14:1)
The huge response in Iconium isn't from just the Gentile God-fearers, but from pagan Gentiles as well. This brought a reaction from the unbelieving Jews who "stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers" (Acts 14:2).
There is resistance, but not yet outright persecution. So the apostles stay for many months, with amazing results.
"So Paul and Barnabas spent considerable time there, speaking boldly for the Lord, who confirmed the message of his grace by enabling them to do miraculous signs and wonders." (Acts 14:3)
Their preaching is summarized by the words, "the message of his grace." They preach God's grace, not some kind of harsh message condemning people. They preach the unearned, undeserved, but amazing grace of God through Jesus Christ! (For more on grace, see Lesson 4.3.)
The apostles are bold in their speaking, and God brings significant miracles that demonstrate the truth of their message. This sounds similar to the longer ending of the Gospel of Mark, which concludes:
"Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it." (Mark 16:20)
We first saw an example of "power encounters" in Paphos, Cyprus earlier in Lesson 3.3). The phrase "signs and wonders" (or its equivalent) is also found throughout the New Testament, but especially in Acts. Luke also speaks of "extraordinary miracles" through Paul at Ephesus (Acts 19:11-12).
Signs and wonders are indications that God is present.
- "Signs" is the plural of sēmeion, "sign, token, indication," then, "an event that is an indication or confirmation of intervention by transcendent powers, miracle, portent."
- "Wonders" is the plural of teras, "something that astounds because of transcendent association, prodigy, portent, omen, wonder."
You may recall that the Jews want Jesus to perform signs. The Gospel of John lists a number of "signs" that Jesus performs to indicate who he is.
But it's important to recognize that Paul is not always performing signs and wonders, though his preaching might occasionally be accompanied by a flurry of the supernatural. Here, God is "enabling" (NIV) or "granting" (NRSV, ESV, KJV) signs and wonders. They are not present by man's action so much as by God's grace.
Q2. In evangelizing people, how does God use power
encounters (in Paphos, Crete, Acts 13:6-12) and signs and wonders (Acts 14:3 in
Iconium)? Are miracles enough to produce saving faith on their own? If not, what
else is needed? Have you seen signs and wonders with evangelism? If not, why do
you think that is?
Lystra is another of those places where we see signs and wonders. Paul and Barnabas finally decide to leave Iconium, but not before an extremely fruitful ministry.
"5 There was a plot afoot among the Gentiles and Jews, together with their leaders, to mistreat them and stone them. 6 But they found out about it and fled to the Lycaonian cities of Lystra and Derbe and to the surrounding country, 7 where they continued to preach the good news." (Acts 14:5-7)
Though Lystra is in the Roman province of Galatia, it is ethnically Lycaonian. In 6 AD, Augustus Caesar designated Lystra (along with Antioch of Pisidia) as a Roman colony and garrison, so that the Roman Via Sebaste was built through this once back-water town. The location is believed to be about 19 miles (30 km) south of Iconium, just north of the modern village of Hatun Sarai.
As Paul is preaching in Lystra, he sees that a man lame from birth "had faith to be healed" and commands him to stand. He is instantly healed and begins to walk. The crowd goes wild and assumes that the gods have come down to them. Here's an instance of signs and wonders creating havoc instead of fledgling faith.
"Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul they called Hermes because he was the chief speaker." (Acts 14:12)
Their characterization of Barnabas as Zeus, the supreme deity, shows that Barnabas is in charge of the mission, though Paul is the chief speaker. The people are about to sacrifice to them as gods when Paul and Barnabas dissuade them with a brief, shouted gospel message.
Earlier in this Lesson we outlined Paul's typical presentation of the gospel to Jews and God-fearers in the synagogue. Now let's examine how the message given to Gentiles differs:
"15 We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made heaven and earth and sea and everything in them. 16 In the past, he let all nations go their own way. 17 Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy." (Acts 14:15-17)
Notice carefully this message that is intended for pagans. Paul looks for common ground with them -- the Creator. The cross isn't mentioned here. The hearers must first understand monotheism and that God is invisible, or the cross will not make sense. So he tells them:
- Creator. A living God made everything (verse 15c).
- Idols. In contrast, idols are worthless, lifeless objects (verse 15a).
- Repentance. Therefore you must turn from, repent of, idol worship (verse 15b).
- God's forbearance. In the past he "let all nations go their way." Later, to the Athenians he put it this way: "In the past God overlooked such ignorance" (Acts 17:30a), even though all were still under sin (Romans 1:18-24). I think he is saying that God's focus then was on his own special people, the Jews. Now he is calling the Gentiles to repentance.
- God's goodness. God shows you his goodness with (1) rain, (2) crops, (3) food, and (4) joy.
We see a similar approach when Paul speaks with the Athenians in the Areopagus (Acts 17:16-34), which we'll discuss further in Lesson 6.1. Here is Paul's message to the Athenians.
- Unknown god. I see you are very religious (verse 22), a compliment to establish common ground. I'll tell you about the "unknown god" to whom you have an idol (verse 23) -- again, establishing common ground.
- Creator. This God made heaven and earth, and made you. He doesn't need anything from us; rather he hopes we'll reach out and find him (verses 24-27a). You are God's offspring and he is close by each of us (verses 27b-28a).
- Living God. God is not a stone idol (verse 27b).
- God's forbearance. God overlooked such ignorance in the past, but now he calls all to repent (verses 30-31).
- Judgment. All will be judged justly by the One whom God appoints: Jesus (verses 31a, 18).
- Resurrection as proof. To prove this, he raised Jesus from the dead (verses 31b, 18).
The lesson we should draw from this, is that how we explain the gospel message will depend upon whom we are addressing. To the Jews, he emphasizes one aspect; to the Gentiles, he emphasizes another.
In the 1940s through the 1970s, a number of gospel presentations were popular in the United States: the Roman Road, the Bridge, the Four Spiritual Laws. I and many others effectively led people to Christ using them. But since the mid-1960s, our culture has changed dramatically. Up to the mid-60s, most Americans had a basic understanding of the Bible, God, Jesus, and sin. It was common ground, just as the Old Testament Scriptures and the history of the Hebrew people were the common ground Paul had with Jews around the world.
But now, except for regions of the South, most of America is in a post-Christian era. At least two generations of children haven't attended Sunday School. Among non-Christians there is no basic or common understanding of the Bible, God and Jesus. The gospel hasn't changed, but how we communicate that to unbelievers in our day must change.
As we've seen, Paul's presentation to rank pagans in Lystra and Athens is different from his presentation in a synagogue. Paul talks a bit about how Gentiles might know something about God in Romans 1:19-20 and Romans 2:6-16.
Finding common ground is the task that missionaries face among peoples who are new to the gospel. They look for elements in the culture that they can relate to elements of the gospel, and start there. This is not easy, but necessary!
Having said that, we must understand the basic gospel well, so that our cultural adaptations of it are accurate and essentially complete. We need to be careful not to water down the gospel by leaving out essential elements by the time we've won people to Christ and discipled them. Paul reminds the Ephesian elders at the close of his Third Missionary Journey:
"I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house, testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ." (Acts 20:20-21)
To be faithful, we must teach the full gospel, not just those things easiest to understand and accept. But we start with the common ground.
Q3. How do Paul's gospel presentations to pagans in
Lystra (Acts 14:16-17;) and Athens (Acts 17:16-34) differ from his typical
message in the synagogues? What common ground does Paul build on with pagan
audiences? How will you need to contextualize the gospel in your particular area
to build on common ground?
Okay, back to Lystra. Either when Paul and Barnabas are preventing sacrifices being made to them, or at some subsequent time, Jews from Antioch and Iconium stir up the crowd against them and they stone Paul to death -- or so they think.
"But after the disciples had gathered around him, he got up and went back into the city." (Acts 14:20a)
I'm sure they prayed as they gathered around Paul and he revives, but they leave town the next day. This is Paul's only stoning -- but he receives plenty of other abuse. To the Corinthians he recounts some of it.
"23b I have ... been in prison more frequently [than so-called apostles], been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. 24 Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26 I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers." (2 Corinthians 11:23-26)
A lesser man might have gone home. Not Paul. The next day he goes with Barnabas on to the next mission objective -- Derbe.
Derbe lies about 60 miles to the east of Lystra, perhaps three or four days' journey by walking. The apostles would have travelled east, along the main route from Lystra that leads to the town of Laranda. We don't know too much about Derbe, a city of ancient Lyconia in the Roman province of Galatia. It was identified in 1956 as mound or tell known as Kerti Hüyük, 15 miles (24 kilometers) northeast of the modern Karaman, near the village of Ekinözü. The account in Acts is sparse.
"They preached the good news in that city and won a large number of disciples." (Acts 14:21a)
We don't hear anything about a synagogue, so this may have been an entirely Gentile audience. However the results are excellent. Any time your efforts result in "a large number of disciples," that's a good day! Subsequently, Paul travels through Derbe on his Second and Third Missionary Journeys (Acts 16:1; 18:23). We're also told that Paul has a disciple and companion named Gaius who is from Derbe (Acts 20:4).
3.5. Discipling and Establishing Leadership (Acts 14:21b-23)
They have preached from Perga and Antioch of Pisidia, then in Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe winning disciples to Christ. While their work of evangelism is complete for now, they have another job to do. The next task is to establish the churches with regular leaders. Paul and Barnabas return to the cities in which they were threatened and abused a few months prior. Talk about bravery!
"21b Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, 22 strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. 'We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,' they said." (Acts 14:21b-22)
"We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God." (Acts 14:22b)
It is important to teach these new disciples to remain true in the face of persecution. They have seen Paul and Barnabas model this. Now they need instruction. "Hardships" or "tribulations" are part of the cost of entering the Kingdom. Persecution will come, and the apostles don't want their new disciples to be like seeds in the "rocky soil" in Jesus' Parable of the Sower, that spring up quickly, but wither in the heat of persecution because they have no root (Matthew 13:5-6, 20-21). This follow-up time of teaching, of rooting, is vital. Evangelism without follow-up teaching or discipleship is largely wasted. Evangelists are not always gifted teachers, but I believe they are responsible for finding follow-up teachers and disciplers to help care for their converts.
Paul starts with Jews and God-fearers, but the great bulk of his churches are made up of people who are fresh out of paganism. If you've ever been in a church that wins a lot of non-Christians to Christ, you know that these people come with a lot of problems and sins that they need help to work through and repent of. Just like cleaning up after a baby's soiled diapers is messy, so is working with new converts, but it has to be done. This is the work of discipling.
Paul seems to have a three-fold strategy to disciple new believers:
1. Example. I've never seen this idea in print, but I think Paul's strategy of winning God-fearers to Christ at the onset is important. Because they've been exposed to the Jewish Scriptures and Jewish morality for some time, it is likely that their lives aren't filled with as much gross sin to deal with. The new converts from pagaism don't view them as Jews, but as Greeks. Thus they make great examples of people living out a holy Christian life. Paul calls on people to imitate him (1 Corinthians 4:16; 11:1; 1 Thessalonians 1:6), but he is perceived as a Jew by the converts -- and different. But when they see their own people following Christ (the converted God-fearers), they can see how a holy life works out in their culture. So now they have people to imitate -- and Paul urges his converts:
"Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you." (Philippians 3:17; also Hebrews 13:7)
It wouldn't surprise me if many of the first elders in these Gentile churches were the converted God-fearers from the synagogue. Winning them to Christ is strategic.
2. Teaching. One of Paul's gifts is teaching. He is constantly teaching the new believers. He covers the Old Testament scriptures, who Christ is, how to live by the Spirit, resisting temptation, forgiveness, assurance, and all the things that new Christians need to know. In Ephesus, for example, he teaches the believers for three years, spending part of that time in the rented lecture hall of Tyrannus (Acts 19:9-10). But he also teaches people in their homes, dealing with their particular questions and needs (Acts 20:20). And as Paul taught, the disciples learned to live as Christians.
3. Repeated Exhortation. Finally, Paul employs repeated exhortation about ethical matters. In nearly every letter he writes to churches, he exhorts people how to live, what not to do, and issues strong warnings for those who are living outside Christian norms. For example,
- He urges holiness in sexual matters (1 Corinthians 5:11; 6:12-20; Colossians 3:5; Romans 13:13; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8)
- He warns against worshipping idols, something they had grown up doing (1 Corinthians 10:7, 14; Galatians 5:20; Colossians 3:5)
- He warns against drunkenness and carousing (Romans 13:13; 1 Corinthians 5:11; 6:10; Galatians 5:21; Ephesians 5:18; 1 Timothy 3:3; Titus 1:7)
- He warns against greed, theft, and swindling (1 Corinthians 5:11; 6:10-11; Ephesians 4:28)
I'm not being comprehensive here, but just giving a sampling of Paul's exhortations. He wouldn't mention these sins in his letters if they weren't a problem in the churches he is addressing. Paul is seeking to form disciples who will live as Christians, and he does so by example, teaching, and exhortation.
Q4. (Acts 13:43b) Why is "continuing" or "abiding" in the
faith so important? What does Jesus' Parable of the Sower teach about "continuing" (Matthew 13:5-6, 20-21)? Why do new believers need basic
instruction and discipling before the task of evangelism is complete? (Acts
Paul and Barnabas seek to discern who will be the best leaders for the new churches (Acts 14:23). Much later, Paul outlines guidelines for good elders for Timothy.
"2 Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4 He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. 5 (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God's church?) 6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. 7 He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil's trap." (1 Timothy 3:2-7)
This is the ideal checklist. Sometimes potential leaders fall short. In these churches most or all were recent converts. But you work with what you have and teach the Word to develop their character and help them mature. It is a mistake to appoint leaders who are immature, who haven't left a life of sin. We kid ourselves if we think that a person with lots of abilities -- but without a godly character -- can be anything but an amoral leader. Paul tells Timothy:
"Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, and do not share in the sins of others. Keep yourself pure." (1 Timothy 5:22)
If we "endorse" immature leaders, it hurts our own reputation!
Finally, before they leave the Galatian churches, the apostles set leaders in office officially "with prayer and fasting" (Acts 14:23). "Prayer and fasting" accompany the sending out of Paul and Barnabas from Antioch, as did prophecy (Acts 13:1-3). Later, Paul reminds Timothy of the prophecies and spiritual gifts that accompanied his ordination when he was "ordained" by Paul and the elders of his church through the laying on of hands (1 Timothy 4:14; 2 Timothy 1:6).
Map: Paul's First Missionary Journey (47-48 AD) (larger map)
Now Paul and Barnabas return to their home church by way of Antioch of Pisidia, Pamphylia, Perga, and Attalia.
"They sailed back to Antioch, where they had been committed to the grace of God for the work they had now completed." (Acts 14:26)
An interesting phrase "committed (or commended) to the grace of God...." We can't hold onto people, even our own children. God often calls them elsewhere and we must send them off, trusting in God's grace, his favor, to take care of them.
I expect that the church throws a huge party for the missionaries on their return to Antioch -- and hears lots of stories about the events, miracles, struggles, and all the new believers, especially "how [God] had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles" (Acts 14:27-28).
God had opened the "door of faith," once closed, but now open to millions by the grace of God! The phrase "opening of the door" (thyra) is used figuratively to represent the onset of "something possible or feasible." Paul describes God's blessing on his work using this metaphor several times.
- Ephesus: "A great door for effective work has opened to me." (1 Corinthians 16:9a)
- Troas: "I went to Troas to preach the gospel of Christ and found that the Lord had opened a door for me." (2 Corinthians 2:12)
- In prison: "Pray for us ... that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains." (Colossians 4:3)
Notice that it is God who opens doors of opportunity. Our persistence is good, so long as we are being guided by the Spirit, but we look to God who can bring a mighty Holy Spirit work that suddenly makes it all seem easy. A history of revivals gives you an idea of how tremendous this can be. Learn more by googling "The Great Awakening" (Britain and America, 1730-1750), the "Welsh Revival" (Wales, 1904-1905), the "East Africa Revival" (1929-1950s), the "Azusa Street Revival" (Los Angeles, 1906), etc.
Last year, when I was in the beach city of Santa Cruz, California, I watched the surfers out in the water. It was raining, but they persisted, paddling, prone on their boards, watching wave after wave for the "right wave." When they saw it, they would get to their feet on the surf-board, and ride it all the way in to the beach. We minister patiently, praying for God to open doors, and when he does, we step through and see his handiwork. Be patient and observant -- and when he starts moving, get ready for a wild ride.
We've covered a lot of ground in this lesson, tracing the entire First Missionary Journey through Cyprus, Perga, Antioch of Pisidia, and the churches of Galatia. We've also examined strategies and practices that become the apostles' normal practice on later missions.
Here are some of the lessons:
- Be clear about your target audience, and look for the most receptive people. Paul and Barnabas seek to reach Gentiles. But, when possible, they go to a Jewish synagogue, proclaim Jesus as Messiah, and form the core of a new church. They find that the most receptive people are the Gentile God-fearers, who are found in the synagogues in each city, so that's where they start. The God-fearers are their bridge into the general Gentile population of an area.
- Power encounters are sometimes necessary when dealing with demonic opposition, as we see with Paul and the sorcerer in Paphos, Crete (Acts 13:6-12). These are demonstrations of the Spirit of God (1 Corinthians 2:4-5).
- Evangelism seeks to establish common ground with the hearers. In synagogues, Paul can assume monotheism and a belief in the God of Abraham, as well as a belief in the Scriptures. So the message, as in the synagogue at Antioch of Pisidia, typically begins with the Old Testament patriarchs or David, then John the Baptist, and then David's descendant Jesus who is crucified and raised from the dead according to the Scripture (Acts 13:14-41; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4).
- The apostles urge the new converts to "continue in the grace of God" (Acts 13:43b), that is, to continue to follow Jesus and trust in him. "Continuing" or "abiding" is taken for granted as the lifestyle of a believer in the New Testament (Acts 11:23; 13:43; 14:22; 1 John 2:28; John 8:31; Colossians 1:23).
- Persecution is Satan's natural response from spiritual victories in ministry. We shouldn't be surprised; sharing the gospel is direct spiritual warfare (Acts 13:50-51; 14:19-20).
- Signs and wonders are a form of power encounter often seen in evangelism, and were often seen in Paul's ministry (Acts 14:3; Mark 16:20; Acts 19:11-12), and in evangelistic ministries today, especially in Third World countries.
- Evangelism seeks common ground with the hearers, which is different with pagans than with Jews. With pagans, Paul usually begins with God as Creator and as a Living God as opposed to idols. God has shown forbearance in the past but has sent Jesus and raised him from the dead -- requiring repentance.
- Paul is seeking to form disciples who will live as Christians, and he does so by example, teaching, and exhortation. After evangelism comes the vital task of discipleship, and, finally, discerning and ordaining official leaders of congregations.
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Jesus, thank you for the power of your Spirit who works within us to bring lost people to Christ. We know you love the lost. We are weak, but you are strong. Help us to trust in your strength, and be open to your Spirit's power and miracles, and no longer minister with bounded belief. In your Name, we pray. Amen.
"I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek." (Romans 1:16, NIV)
"When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are safe; but when one stronger than he attacks him and overcomes him, he takes away his armor in which he trusted and divides his spoil." (Luke 11:21-22, NIV)
"My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power." (1 Corinthians 2:4-5, NIV)
"When the congregation was dismissed, many of the Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who talked with them and urged them to continue in the grace of God." (Acts 13:41, NIV)
"The disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit." (Acts 13:52, NIV)
"So Paul and Barnabas spent considerable time there, speaking boldly for the Lord, who confirmed the message of his grace by enabling them to do miraculous signs and wonders." (Acts 14:3, NIV)
"Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. 'We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,' they said." (Acts 14:21b-22, NIV)
"Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust." (Acts 14:23, NIV)
 "Cousin" is anepsios, "cousin" (BDAG 78), "first cousin," or generally, "cousin" (Liddell-Scott).
 Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, 3.39.
 In Acts 14:12 the residents of Derbe identify Barnabas as Zeus, who, in Greek mythology, is considered the supreme deity, ruler of gods and humanity.
 R.A. Gwinn, "Cyprus," ISBE 4:284.
 "Gentile" (NIV), "Greek" (NRSV, ESV, KJV) is Hellēn, from which we get the English word "Hellenist."
 M.N. Tod and R.A. Gwinn, "Cyprus," ISBE 1:842-844.
 Elymas probably derives from a Semitic word for Greek magos, perhaps akin to Arabic 'alim, "sage" (Bruce, Acts, p. 264, fn. 13).
 D.E. Aune, "Magic," ISBE 3:219.
 Bruce, Acts, p. 264.
 "Persuasive" (NIV), "plausible" (NRSV, ESV), "enticing" (KJV) is peithos, "persuasive" (BDAG 791), from peithō, "to convince, persuade." The word is found only here in Greek literature.
 "Demonstration" is apodeixis, "a pointing away to something for the purpose of demonstration, proof (especially of or for an intervention by a divinity)" (BDAG 109).
 John Wimber and Kevin Springer, Power Evangelism (Chosen Books, 1986, revised 2009).
 E.A. Judge, "Perga," ISBE 3:768.
 Mark Wilson, "The Route of Paul's First Journey to Pisidian Antioch," New Testament Studies 55 (2009), pp. 471-483. The western route along the Via Sebaste is approximately 153 miles. The central route is about 114 miles. The eastern route is about 149 miles. Though scholars have considered three possible routes, Mark Wilson argues that the most likely for this leg of the apostles' journey would be the 156-mile Western route along the Via Sebaste built in 6 BC to enable quick deployment of Roman troops through the area. It began in Perga in the Cestrus River valley, rises from the Pamphilian plain to Climax Pass (Döşeme pass) that cuts through the Taurus Mountain range. Then along the western shore of Lake Ascania. From there it crosses the great Southern Highway that ran west to Apamea, then northeast along the base of Mount Gelincik. From there it traced the the northern shore of Lake Limnae, before climbing into the foothills leading to Pisidian Antioch. Other routes were somewhat shorter, but not nearly as safe as the Via Sebaste.
 Stephen Mitchell, "Via Sebaste," Oxford Classical Dictionary (2012).
 In the same way you have a number of towns named Caesarea after the Roman Caesars.
 Actually, the city lay within the ancient province of Phrygia, near its border with Pisidia.
 The participle is phobeō, "to be afraid," here, as in the Old Testament, it means, "to have a profound measure of respect for, (have) reverence, respect, with special reference to fear of offending" (BDAG 1061, 2a).
 2 Samuel 7:14; Psalm 89:35-27; 132:11; Isaiah 11:1, 10; Jeremiah 23:5-6; 33:15-17; Amos 9:11.
 Akoloutheō, BDAG 36, 3.
 Greek sebō, "worship," BDAG 918, 1b.
 The phrase "continue in" is the dative form of the verb prosmenō, "to be steadfast in association, remain/stay with someone or something." It is a form of the word "abide" (menō) (BDAG 883, 1b).
 In our day, some have distorted this by making salvation completely transactional. Charles Stanley's book, Eternal Security: Can You Be Sure? (Oliver Nelson, 1990), has a chapter entitled, "For Those Who Stop Believing" (chapter 8). There he says, "The Bible clearly teaches that God's love for his people is of such magnitude that even those who walk away from the faith have not the slightest chance of slipping from his hand" (p. 74). He supports this from Ephesians 2:8-9, noting that faith itself is a gift, and that God has a "strict no-return policy" (p. 81). He says, "You and I are not saved because we have an enduring faith. We are saved because at a moment in time we expressed faith in our enduring Lord" (p. 80). I understand (but disagree with) Stanley's logic. I have serious problems when I compare Stanley's teaching to Jesus' teaching about abiding in the vine in John 15:1-8, and Paul's teachings.
 This is the "I" in TULIP Calvinism. For more on this, see the Wikipedia article on "Irresistible Grace."
 Emmenō, "to persist in a state or enterprise, persevere in, stand by something" (BDAG 322, 2).
 Epimenō, "to continue in an activity or state, continue, persist (in), persevere" (BDAG 375, 2).
 Zēlos (from which we get "zeal" and "zealous") means here, "intense negative feelings over another's achievements or success, jealousy, envy" (BDAG 427, 2).
 On this occasion Paul publicly chides the Jews for neglecting their role of being "a light for the Gentiles," citing Isaiah 49:69 (cf. Isaiah 42:6; 60:3).
 "Appointed" is tassō, generally, "put in place," but here, of a person put in a specific position, "assign someone to a (certain) classification," passive, " belong to, be classed among those possessing" (BDAG 991, 1b).
 "Region" in verse 49 is chōra, "a portion of land area, district, region, place" (BDAG 1093, 2a).
 "Incited" (NIV, NRSV, ESV), "stirred up" (KJV) is parotrynō, "stir up strong emotion against, arouse, incite" (BDAG 780), from strunō, "rouse, stir up" + para-, "violation, neglect, aberration" (Thayer, p. 478).
 "Stirred up" (NIV, NRSV, ESV), "raised" (KJV) is epegeirō, "to cause an activity to begin through provocation, arouse, excite, stir up something," (BDAG 360), here and in Acts 14:2.
 "Region" (NIV, NRSV), "district" (ESV), "coasts" (KJV) in verse 50 is horion, "marker of division between two areas, boundary mostly, in our literature exclusively, plural, boundaries = region, district" (BDAG 723).
 "Confirmed" (NIV), "testified" (NRSV), "bore witness" (ESV), "gave testimony" (KJV) is martyreō (from which we get our word "martyr"), "to confirm or attest something on the basis of personal knowledge or belief, bear witness, be a witness," here with the idea of "to confirm" (BDAG 617-618, 1b).
 "Confirmed" is bebaioō, "to put something beyond doubt, confirm, establish" (BDAG 172, 1).
 John 4:48, Acts 2:22, 43; 4:30; 6:8; 7:36; 5:12; 14:3; 15:12; Romans 5:19; 2 Corinthians 12:12b; Hebrews 2:4.
 Sēmeion, BDAG 920, 2a.
 Teras, BDAG 999.
 The verb is the common didōmi, "give," here, "to give something out, give, bestow, grant," or perhaps with the sense, "to grant by formal action, grant, allow," provide the ability (BDAG 243, 2 and 13).
 D.A. Hagner, "Lystra," ISBE 3:193.
 In Lystra (Acts 14:15-17); in Athens (Acts 17:22-31).
 H. Porter, "Day's Journey," ISBE 1:879.
 "Won disciples" (NIV), "made disciples" (NRSV, ESV), "taught many" (KJV) is mathēteuō, "to cause one to be a pupil, teach" (BDAG 609, 2). This word "disciple" isn't in the Greek text, but is implied by the verb mathēteuō, the verb found in the Great Commission, "make disciples of all nations" (Matthew 28:19). The verb isn't used much in the New Testament, but the related noun, mathētēs, "disciple, adherent," is common.
 "Strengthening" (NIV, NRSV, ESV), "confirming" (KJV) is epistērizō, "to cause someone to become stronger or more firm, strengthen." You see the word again as Paul begins his Second Missionary Journey: "And he went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches" (Acts 15:41).
 Psychē here refers to "seat and center of the inner human life in its many and varied aspects, soul" (BDAG 1009, 2c).
 "Hardships" (NIV), "tribulations (ESV, KJV), "persecutions" (NRSV) is the plural of thlipsis, "trouble that inflicts distress, oppression, affliction, tribulation" (BDAG 457, 1).
 "Appointed" (NIV, ESV, NRSV), "ordained" (KJV) is cheirotoneō, literally, 'stretch out the hand'' in voting. The word usually means, "to elect or choose someone for definite offices or tasks, choose" (as in 2 Corinthians 8:19), but here, where Paul and Barnabas are doing the choosing, the word means "appoint, install" (BDAG 1083, 2).
 "Committed" (NIV, ESV), "entrusted" (NRSV), "commended" (KJV) is paratithēmi, generally, "place beside," but here, "to entrust for safekeeping, give over, entrust, commend," specifically, "entrust someone to the care or protection of someone" (also in Acts 20:32; Luke 23:46; 1 Peter 4:19) (BDAG 772, 3b).
 "Committed" (NIV), "commended" (ESV, NRSV), "recommended" (KJV) is the common verb paradidōmi, "hand over, give (over), deliver, entrust." Here it has the meaning, "to entrust for care or preservation, give over, commend, commit" (BDAG 762, 2) used in similar way in Acts 15:40 and 1 Peter 2:23.
 Thyra, BDAG 462, 1bγ.
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