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Acts Bible Study

Acts: Paul and Barnabas go to Syria

Acts 14:14-20

v14 The apostles heard about what had happened. They tore their clothes and they ran out into the crowd. They shouted, v15 ‘Men, you must not do this. We are human, like you. We are here to tell you the good news. Do not give attention to these foolish things any longer! Start to trust the God who is alive. He is the God who made the sky, the earth and the sea. And he made everything that is in them. v16 In the past, God allowed all nations to do things in their own way. v17 But he did good things. In this way, he showed that he was there. God gives to you rain from heaven. Your crops grow at the right time. He gives to you plenty of food. He makes you very happy.’ v18 However, the people still wanted to offer a sacrifice to Paul and Barnabas. It was difficult for Paul and Barnabas to stop them. v19 But some Jewish leaders came from Antioch and Iconium. And they persuaded the crowds to oppose Paul. The Jews threw rocks at him. Then they dragged him out of the city. They thought that he was dead. v20 But when the disciples had gathered round him, he stood up. And he went back into the city. The next day, Paul and Barnabas went to Derbe.

Verse 14 The people thought that Paul and Barnabas were gods. Before, Paul and Barnabas had not realized that the people thought this. Paul and Barnabas had not understood the Lycaonian language. But now, they did realize what was happening! It seems that the people had brought animals for sacrifice to Paul and Barnabas. (Look at verse 13.)

Paul and Barnabas were very upset. They tore their clothes. Jews usually did this to show disgust. They did it when people insulted God. Now, these people were insulting God. They were worshipping Paul and Barnabas as idols.

Verses 15-18 Paul and Barnabas quickly explained that they were not gods. They were human. But they had a special message from God.

Then Paul started to preach. His audience were all pagans. They did not know anything about the prophets in the Old Testament. So, Paul did not talk about the prophets. Instead, he spoke about the real God, who had made everything.

Paul told them not to worship false gods (‘these foolish things’) any longer (verse 15). God had let people choose to do things in their own way. But God always cared about them. He showed that he was there. He provided everything that they needed for their lives. He gave to them happiness, too.

It is still the same today. God allows people to reject him. He allows them not to believe in him. But he still shows that he cares about them. He provides food for them. He is the reason that they are happy. There is so much proof that God is there! But even then, they do not know it. They do not believe that God does those things.

The people wanted to offer a sacrifice to Paul and Barnabas. Paul and Barnabas managed to stop them. But it was not easy. Paul’s message was very new to them.

Verse 19 Perhaps some time had passed when the Jewish leaders arrived. The Jewish leaders may have followed Paul and Barnabas. They may have planned to stop them. Or they may have come to buy corn for their cities. Much corn grew round Lystra.

The Jewish leaders would have been very angry that Paul continued to preach there. They persuaded the crowd to oppose him. The Jews threw rocks at him. Then they were afraid. They thought that he was dead. They could get into trouble for murder. So, they dragged his body out of Lystra.

Verse 20 Paul was very brave. When he recovered, he did not leave the region. Instead, he went straight back to Lystra! When Christians suffer because of their faith, God gives them great courage. Often, people ask why Christians are so brave. They want to know more about God because of this.

Paul stayed in Lystra for one night. Then, he went to Derbe with Barnabas. Derbe was 70 miles away. Paul had a very strong body. He also had a very strong mind. He wanted to tell as many people as possible about Jesus. Nothing could stop him.

Paul and Barnabas return to Antioch in Syria, 14:21-28

v21 Paul and Barnabas preached the good news in Derbe. They persuaded many people to believe. And those people became disciples. Paul and Barnabas returned to Lystra. Then, they went back to Iconium and they went on to Pisidian Antioch. v22 They encouraged believers. And they urged the believers to stay true to the faith. They told the believers, ‘We must suffer a lot before we can enter God’s kingdom.’ v23 Paul and Barnabas chose leaders in each church. Paul and Barnabas fasted and they prayed. They trusted the Lord. They prayed that he would look after those leaders. v24 Paul and Barnabas traveled through Pisidia to Pamphylia. v25 There, they preached in the town called Perga. Then, they went to Attalia. v26 And they sailed to Antioch in Syria. There, the believers had put Paul and Barnabas into God’s care for this work. Now, Paul and Barnabas had finished work. v27 When they arrived in Antioch, they called the church together. They told the people everything that God had helped them to do. They told the people how God had made it possible for the Gentiles to believe. v28 They stayed there with the believers for a long time.

Verses 21-23 Paul and Barnabas returned to Lystra again. Not everyone there opposed them. A church had started there. Churches had also started in Iconium and Pisidian Antioch. So, Paul and Barnabas went back to encourage the new Christians.

The new Christians needed to learn more about the gospel. Then they would recognize when false teachers came. Then the people in those churches would only believe what was true. They also needed good leaders to guide them.

Paul and Barnabas also warned them that they must expect to suffer. The Jews who had opposed Paul were probably persecuting them.

When we follow Jesus Christ, we too must expect to suffer in some way. People may insult us or they may laugh at us. They may hurt us or they may even kill us. But God gives to us his grace by means of the Holy Spirit. His grace helps us. We are not alone. Jesus is with us always. He promised that (Matthew 28:20). After we have suffered, we will enter God’s kingdom. This is worth more than anything!

Verses 24-26 Luke gives a very short report about the journey back. Paul and Barnabas preached wherever they went. They went from the region called Phrygia into Pisidia. Then they went into Pamphylia. They returned to Perga. (Look at Acts 13:13.) Then they went to Attalia, which was the chief port in Pamphylia.

Finally, they sailed to Syria and they returned to Antioch there. They had made a circular journey.

Verses 27-28 The members of their own church wanted to hear all about their trip. Paul and Barnabas told exciting news to them. The Gentiles were becoming Christians! It was God who had made all this possible. It was not Paul and Barnabas. They ‘stayed there with the believers for a long time’ (verse 28). They needed to rest after their journey, which had been dangerous and difficult.

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