I can always benefit from the habit of going to the place where believers meet. It was the habit of Jesus and I see here it is the habit of Paul. The message of Jesus is for all and the best place to deliver it is in the meeting place of the faithful.
I must be aware though, the good news message may not be received so well. What, you say? How can that be? The good news message of Jesus can split believers, fakers and even families. Jesus warns us that is true.
The important issue is that the good news message of Jesus must be delivered. Not everyone sitting in a pew is really a follower of Jesus. Trouble may follow.
When they got to Iconium they went, as they always did, to the meeting place of the Jews and gave their message. The Message convinced both Jews and non-Jews — and not just a few, either. But the unbelieving Jews worked up a whispering campaign against Paul and Barnabas, sowing mistrust and suspicion in the minds of the people in the street. The two apostles were there a long time, speaking freely, openly, and confidently as they presented the clear evidence of God’s gifts, God corroborating their work with miracles and wonders.
But then there was 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 escaped as best they could to the next towns—Lyconia, Lystra, Derbe, and that neighborhood—but then were right back at it again, getting out the Message. | Acts 14:1-7
This city, more Greek than Roman, was in the Roman province of Galatia. Paul’s ministry in the synagogue was singularly blessed and a multitude of Jews and Gentiles believed. Once again, the unbelieving Jews stirred up hatred and opposition, but the missionaries stayed on and witnessed boldly for the Messiah Jesus.
God also enabled the men to perform signs and wonders as their “credentials” that they were indeed the servants of the true God. Faith is not based on miracles, but faith can be bolstered by miracles. The important thing is “the word of His grace” that performs the work of His grace.
The result? The city was divided, and the Christians were threatened with public disgrace and stoning. Obedient to their Master’s counsel, they fled from that area into a different Roman district and continued to minister the Word of God.
A multitudinous multitude” brings out Luke’s emphasis on successful evangelism. “A multitude” would have sufficed for this emphasis. But “a multitudinous multitude” ratchets up the emphasis with a word playing use of an adjective and a noun stemming from the same root.
“Of both Jews and Greeks” heightens the emphasis yet another notch. Rather than stalling the engine of evangelism, then, the driving of Paul and Barnabas out of Pisidian Antioch revved it up. The Greeks were Greek-speaking Gentiles who attended synagogue services.
“Stirred up and damaged the souls of the Gentiles against the brothers” means incitement to think badly of the believers and mistreat them. Luke calls them “the brothers” to portray the Christian community as a close-knit family that a person should like to join.
“Therefore” indicates that the prejudicing of unbelieving Gentiles against the Jewish and Gentile converts led Paul and Barnabas to stay longer than they might otherwise have stayed. Their converts needed support.
“Speaking out boldly” draws admiration for courage in the face of concerted opposition. The opposition sparked such speaking rather than stifling it. And its boldness set an example for the converts not to wilt under the heat of prejudicial mistreatment.
“[In reliance] on the Lord” describes the boldness as deriving from piety, not from self-generated bravado.
The Lord added his stamp of approval “by granting signs and wonders to take place through their hands.”
“Signs” calls attention to the miracles’ significance as supporting the truthfulness of the spoken message about the Master’s grace.
“Wonders” calls attention to the miracles’ stupendousness.
“Through their hands” indicates that the Lord was using Paul and Barnabas as his agents. They weren’t acting on their own or under their own power.
Ordinarily, “the apostles” refers to the Twelve, who had to have accompanied Jesus from the time of John the baptizer up through Jesus’ ascension. But “apostle,” which means “sent one,” came to refer also to other traveling evangelists. This wider meaning of “apostle” applies here.
The opposition in Iconium looks more dangerous than that in Pisidian Antioch, so that Paul and Barnabas fled for their lives rather than being expelled (as they were from Antioch). Again, though, departure results in wider propagation of the good news message. It can’t be muted.
The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson
Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 1, p. 459). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
Gundry, R. H. (2010). Commentary on the New Testament: Verse-by-Verse Explanations with a Literal Translation (p. 519). Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers.