Acts 14a

And it came to pass that they spoke so well in Iconium and in the Spirit that a great number of Jews and Greeks came to Christ that day.” Paul and Barnabas, probably including Luke, were in southern Turkey of today and anointed in the Spirit. They were drawing large crowds of “wanna learn” people in this melting pot territory. Yes, the venue was again the synagogue. These people were hungry for actuality, not someone’s personal reality or perception of actuality.

melting pot

The Melting Pot

 

At our Bible School, Cadillac Community Bible School, a junior college for bible studies, we have a motto take from Romans 10:14…

How can one call upon the Lord if not aware of God? How can they learn unless someone will teach? How can one understand that which s/he does not know?

We Teach – You Decide

This is the purpose of missionary work be it in one’s own backyard or across the great seas. Recall in an earlier Acts study article of Barnabas and Paul were set aside by the Holy Spirit even though at that time they were not bible school graduates; never attended a seminary. This raises a question MOST who say or claim to be Christian do not wish to address. Why do we sometimes invite a person to church to get the message of Christ when that is supposed to be our own nature?

The Acts 14 the synagogue leaders couldn’t stand idly by and watch their financial sources move away from Judaism to Christianity (The Way). It was more than just tithers they were losing, but power over them. So what do they do? These Jewish leaders within the synagogue did what is one of Satan’s more powerful tools of deception…planting doubt in the minds of the new believers who were still ignorant of their new found faith. So many in the past and present have tried to find faith but are left up to their own initiatives to become learned, remaining milk of the word believers.

This takes us back to the Pyramid of Learning once again. Skip a step and the nose of the “iceberg” sinks lower into the water. Let’s explain for those who have not or are not familiar with this learning principle.LEARNKNG

This same principle is the basis of Romans 14:10 which already is mentioned in this article. Let’s put it in today’s terminology. How can one be aware of anything unless someone tells him or her? How can one gain knowledge or begin to take root, unless someone teaches then nurtures and feeds them? How can one gain understanding without knowledge of the subject? How weak must be one’s (faith) without these key steps: awareness, knowledge, and understanding? Removing each step in this learning pyramid simply drops the level above the water line of confidence and evidence.

This is what the synagogue leaders knew well. Strike quickly or plant questions in the minds of those who have little knowledge and even less understanding of their new found faith. Satan planted a question of assurance in the minds of Eve, Adam, Judas, Cain, Peter, the kings of the Kingdom of Israel (northern ten tribes), and so on.

This was quick to happen. In verse 5 of Acts 14 the rogue unbelieving Jews and Gentiles designed to stone Barnabas and Paul but verse 2 tells us it was already in their mind. They had to flee for their lives. They ended up in Lycaonia, a district in the Roman province of Galatia. Lystra was about 18 miles from Lycaonia, and was the home of Lois, Eunice and Timothy (16:1; 2 Tim. 1:5).

JIV NOTE: Keep in mind that but one chapter back (Acts 13:50) Paul and company had been ruthlessly kicked out of Antioch, *Pisidian. *This is in what we today call Turkey. This is not the Antioch just north of Jerusalem.

So what do Paul and Barnabas do after fleeing a place for the second time? They go right back into the den of opposition at the local synagogues in Galatia and Lycaonia.

NOTE: 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.

In 1852, age 5, William Ramsey began his education at Mr. Stark’s Preparatory School in Glasgow, Scotland. In about 1863, age 10, William began attending Glasgow Academy. William entered the University of Glasgow in October 1866, age 14. One might say, he had a great mind and became known as a top scientist and researcher in his lifetime.

Please note: Mr. Stark’s Preparatory School is not Dr. Jstark; but a distant family member who lived in Scotland. One of mine and Mr. Stark’s relative was the Admiral in charge of the Pacific Fleet when Japan attacked Hawaii. It was a group of Israeli Tribe of Gad family that went to the British Isles. 

In Acts we find Paul and a man who was known by the entire community as crippled from birth; a beggar of alms. He overheard when Paul and Barnabas shared their testimonies and gospel message. We find this episode in Acts 14:8 – 10. However, the crowd calls out that they must be gods; Zeus (Paul) and Hermes (Barnabas). They had to stop them from offering sacrifices to them.

We can easily overlook what Acts 14:16 is telling us about man’s free will. ”In past generations he allowed all the nations to walk in their own ways.” “He,” meaning God; “all nations” meaning mankind. Paul and Barnabas tried diligently to persuade them that they were not Zeus and Hermes. What did the trick? The evil doers from Antioch and Iconium who followed them. They did the same thing as was done in Antioch and Iconium. They planted doubt in their ignorant minds of limited knowledge. Recall that earlier these evil doers (most likely Jews) wanted to stone them. They still had this on their minds after catching up with Paul and Barnabas. This time they did stone Paul after dragging him out of the city.

Probably thinking their evil mission accomplished, these bad guys left the city and returned home because in v19 we read they supposed Paul to be dead. Some of the disciples (learners) gathered around Paul’s body probably to bury him. But, he gets up, walks back into the city where he was just stoned and continues his mission.

Rev. Dr. Jstark
October, 2018

PS; “And when they arrived and gathered the church together, they declared all that God had done with them, and how he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles.” This was very likely the very first Missionary Conference in Christendom history.

 

Acts 13

Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a lifelong friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.

What a mix of persons who are believers in one location; Antioch, Syria (not Turkey). This is the continental divide of Acts; a time when Luke switches discussion from Peter to Saul/Paul. In a sense the water shed of Luke’s focus in the Book of Acts. Peter was to the Jews (Acts 1 – 12) what Paul became to the Greeks/Gentiles (Acts 13 to 28).  If this was quiz time as in a bible school, college or university, here is a set of Questions very likely to appear as an Acts 13 student challenge sometimes called a quiz or a test.

quiz time

Who separated Barnabus and Saul for the work of God’s ministry?
Acts 13:1-4.

How should we get involved in the ministry today? (essay question)

Is an academic qualification essential for ministry? (essay question)

Would you say Paul’s judgement on the sorcerer was harsh?
Acts 13:6-12

Do you think Paul’s own experience influenced his action in Acts 13:11?

How are we as Christians to discern the time to call for God’s judgement and the time for his mercy? (essay question)

When is Saul referred to as Paul? (essay question; see end of this article)

Was any reason given for John Mark’s departure? Acts 13:5, Acts 13:13, Acts 15:36-38

Paul’s sermon in Acts 13:13-41 shows his understanding and knowledge of the scriptures. Is the Old Testament still relevant to us today? (essay question)

What was the outcome of Paul’s preaching?- Acts 13:42-52

Back to this article: The above questions are offered for one purpose…to stimulate thinking. One aside note that may be of interest per political correctness is the one mentioned as either a prophet or teacher in Act 13:1 and in perspective of today’s social norms would be (ASV) “…Symeon that was called Niger,…” [many Bible translation spell Symion as Simeon]. It is almost too obvious. Niger means black. Simeon is not the same Simon mentioned often in the bible. He also may have been the one who carried the cross of Jesus when Jesus no longer had the strength to carry it up Calvary’s Hill of the Skull.

Some commentaries want to make a point that a black man in this gathering for prayer must have been from Africa. How shallow is this thinking! Back when God created Adam and Eve, we have no clue what skin color was given to both or either of them. In Middle East culture, race has little to do with society at-large. As Malcom X discovered when he went to the Middle East to pursue his Muslim learning, he discovered that race was not an issue. Why? Because the DNA can appear in anyone and the original man and woman carried all of the DNA components of the “races” we see today.

Another very interesting component of Acts 13:1 is a man named Manaen…”the fosterHerod the Great brother” of Herod the Tetrarch. This is one of four Herods mentioned in scripture. We know this guy as Herod Antipas. To help us understand, see the chart to the right.

This Herod was partly responsible for the trial and crucifixion of Jesus; it was Augustus Caesar who appointed him ruler over one-fourth of his father, Herod the Great’s kingdom; he was the one who had John the Baptizer’s head removed; he feared the powers of the Jewish Sanhedrin leaders. Again see the above chart. To keep the time line of bible events in order… “When Jesus hears that John has been killed, “he withdrew from there in a boat to a lonely place,” (Matthew 14:13).

This is the chapter where Barnabas and Saul (Paul) are separated out as missionaries; going synagogue to synagogue. It would be remiss to not mention that Mark (John Mark), a young man at the time, accompanied them for a short while but eventually returned home. Saul (Paul) saw this as desertion on behalf of John Mark, later refusing to take him along again. This all changed when Paul ended up in Rome to be tried and executed.

When Paul and Barnabas traveled through the island of Paphos, they met Sergius Paulas, Island Proconsul appointed by Rome. He was a devout man of great intellect. Elymas the sorcerer who had the attention of Sergius tried to keep Paul and Barnabas apart from him. Why? Elymas had the attention and possibly the support of Serguis and KNEW (yadda) the Spirit in Paul and Barnabas. Paul calls him the “son of the devil” (ASV) which suggests he was magical with the support of Satan; i.e. possessed. Paul calls upon the Spirit to blind Elymas “for a season.”stone

JIV NOTE: Do these names align with secular history? The above stone marker was found with the Greek name of Sesguis Paulas inscribed on it.

In verse 15, they find themselves in Antioch of Pisidia (Turkey). They again go directly to the Synagogue where they find their usual audience of worshipers. Verse 15 tells us that they are called upon to speak of any word of exhortation if they have one. That is all Paul needed. He stands and delivers the message of his calling and of Jesus Christ. Paul addresses them in a two-fold manner… “Men of Israel and those that fear God.” He distinguishes between those who attend the Synagogue out of routine and those who respect and worship God (Judaism style).

JIV NOTE: Paul says “MEN OF ISRAEL.” This means he is talking to a mixed crowd of Israelis that were dispersed from their Kingdom of Israel by the Assyrians hundreds of years earlier (720 B.C.). Essentially he said: “Men of Israel” which is all inclusive and “those of the same heritage” who still followed God plus Gentile proselytes.

Paul proceeds to discuss the lineage and history of those called “God’s People.” He goes from Egypt, through the Wilderness experience, time of the Judges (400 + years), setting up of Kings beginning with King Saul, John the Baptizer of repentance, the birth of Jesus in the line of Judah (David), the prophets, and the calling for the crucifixion of Jesus Christ BY THE JEWS OF JERUSALEM, his resurrection, all from the Old Testament teachings as this was before the written New Testament was even committed to a scroll or parchment. It was also a book with which his audience was familiar.

The fascinating but often missed portion of Acts 13 is the how Paul began his audience transition from the Jews to the Gentiles…the Jews left the Synagogue (v42) but the “nations” (people of Gentile background) remained asking to hear more. The next Sabbath almost the entire city (v44) showed up at the Synagogue to hear more of this one time Christian killer. This chapter ends with those of “devout” Judaism forcing Paul and Barnabas to leave the city. They shook off the dust of their feet leaving the unbelievers to their eternal destiny.

JIV: Saul is a Jewish name; Paul is a Gentile name. Some historians suggest that Saul took the last name of Lucius Sergius Paulis as his own Greek name: Paul. This is probably little more than speculation but We Teach – You Decide.

we teach

Rev. Dr. Jstark
October 2018