January 07, 2021 – Thursday
Acts 14:1-2 NIV
1 At Iconium Paul and Barnabas went as usual into the Jewish synagogue. There they spoke so effectively that a great number of Jews and Greeks believed.
2 But the Jews who refused to believe stirred up the other Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers.
At the end of chapter thirteen Paul and Barnabas were kicked out of Pisidian Antioch and went to Iconium. Today in chapter fourteen we discover they followed their usual routine and went as usual into the Jewish synagogue. There they spoke so effectively that a great number of Jews and Greeks believed.
If you ever wonder at the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ these short messages of the success of presenting the Gospel should dispel any doubts about its power. The reason it was so powerful then is the same reason it is so powerful today. People today as then want to be reconciled to God and avoid His wrath. Paul would write about this in his epistle to the Romans (5:9-11), Since we have now been justified by His blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through Him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through His life! Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
So, in our first verse for today we read of the great success of Paul and Barnabas was such that a great number of Jews and Greeks believed. As usual though there were Jews who refused to believe. As a result of their refusal to believe they stirred up the other Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers. It was not enough that they refused to believe, but they had to do their best to ensure others would not believe, poisoning the minds of others against the message Paul and Barnabas brought to Iconium.
In spite of this opposition (v3), Paul and Barnabas spent considerable time there, speaking boldly for the Lord, who confirmed the message of his grace by enabling them to perform signs and wonders. Yet, for some reason (v4), The people of the city were divided; some sided with the Jews, others with the apostles. This division grew until (v5), There was a plot afoot among both Gentiles and Jews, together with their leaders, to mistreat them and stone them. However, Paul and Barnabas (v6-7), found out about it and fled to the Lycaonian cities of Lystra and Derbe and to the surrounding country, where they continued to preach the gospel. They spent as much time there as possible in spite of the growing opposition to their bold preaching. Only when it was necessary to leave, due to threats to their lives, did they leave heading into the Lycaonian cities of Lystra and Derbe.
A side note found in Guzik’s commentary: William Ramsay demonstrated that Lystra and Derbe were indeed together in the Roman province of Lycaonia, but only between A.D. 37 and 72, the exact period these events in Acts took place. This kind of accuracy persuaded Ramsay that the Biblical account was true, especially in an age when they were all thought to be fables and made-up stories. This is interesting to me because William Ramsay was an atheist, and the son of atheists, who tried to disprove the Bible. Instead, because of Luke’s accuracy in Acts, Ramsay became a Christian. Read more about him here.
Thus, not only is the message of the Gospel powerful, but so are the details in the writings (Acts, etc.) so accurate as to convince those who initially opposed the message over 1800 years later. To read about the impact of such accuracy on non-believers is a blessing as well.
Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father – Thank You for providing messages with such accuracy in detail atheists are converted to believers in the Grace through Your Son Jesus Christ. – In Jesus name. Amen.