Acts, Lesson 15: Paul’s First Missionary Journey, Part 2

Philemon and Baucis by Jeffrey Ackerman (610x351)Last week, we finished with Paul and Barnabas in Asia Minor on a missionary journey. Today, we continue to learn about the second half of that missionary trip.

At Iconium

Iconium was the capitol of Lycaonia. In a 2nd-century account, Acts of Paul, an Onesiphorus described what Paul looked like when he met him in Iconium. It describes Paul as being “a small man in size with a bald head and bowed legs, strongly built, with meeting eyebrows and a rather large nose.” 

Read Acts 14:1-3

  • As their usual custom, where did Paul and Barnabas first go to tell of Jesus Christ?


The “Jewish Synagogue”: In his first letter, Luke never used the word “synagogue” with a modifier. The synagogue was the place where Jews went to worship if they could not go to the Temple. The word “Jewish” to describe a synagogue was not needed–it was obvious.

But in Acts, we begin to see Luke use the word “Jewish” to describe the synagogue as the Christian Church grows and spreads (Acts 13:5; 14:1; 17:1, 10). Luke’s use of “Jewish synagogue” was out of character up to this point–unless there were synagogues comprised of people who were not Jewish? Synagogue is the Jewish word for “congregation.” Could this imply that Christian synagogues, that is, congregations were now becoming part of the landscape in some places? We can’t say for certain, but Luke’s usage of “Jewish synagogue” does give us food for thought.

  • Who was in the synagogue? What was the reaction?


Apeitho: Luke described the Jews who took offense at the Gospel with the word apeitheo. What’s interesting with Luke’s choice of wording is that apeitheo not only carries with it the idea of disbelieving, but also of disobeying. By choosing this word, Luke shows that faith and the living out of that faith (works) are connected and may not be separated, just as disbelieving and disobeying God are connected.

  • What actions took place after Paul and Barnabas met resistance?


Signs and Wonders: The text is clear: God was doing the signs and wonder through Paul and Barnabas. These works of God served to testify to the truth of what they proclaimed (see Acts 2:19, 22, 43; 4:16, 22, 30; 5:12; 6:8; 7:36; 8:6, 13). In other words, it was the proclaimed Word that was most important.


A Map of Paul’s First Missionary Journey

 Lesson 14, Pauls first missionary journey


Read Acts 14:4-7

Barnabas an Apostle?: For the first time, Luke refers to both Paul and Barnabas as “Apostles.” The Twelve were Apostles, men who had been with Jesus during His ministry, whom Jesus directly called to serve as His Apostles. Paul was an Apostle who saw the risen Christ on the road outside Damascus, whom Jesus also directly called to serve as an Apostle. But why Barnabas?

Barnabas was not an Apostle in the truest sense. He was not directly called by Jesus but, instead, called to serve through Christ’s Church. Yet, by Luke using the word “Apostle” to describe Barnabas, Luke testifies that what Jesus had given the Apostles to do will continue in His Church through those whom the Church calls to serve as pastors.

  • What were some of the townspeople planning to do with Paul and Barnabas?


  • What happened next?


At Lystra

Read Acts 14:8-10

  • Whom do Paul and Barnabas meet?


  • What does Paul do, or better yet, what does God do through Paul?


  • In verse 9, “made well” is also the word for “saved” (sozo). Thus, what does the physical healing testify of?


Read Acts 14:11-13

  • How did the Lycaonians interpret what Paul did?


Excursus: Why the Lycaonians Reacted as They Did

Astonished by the miracle, the Lycaonians react based on a local legend that was part of their worldview, preserved for us by the Roman poet, Ovid. It was said that Greek gods once visit their region, but they were in disguise, appearing to be ordinary mortals. Not knowing, the locals treated them rudely and sent them away from town. But an impoverished, older couple outside of town, Baucis and Philemon, welcomed them into their humble home. In thanksgiving, the gods turned their home into a temple for Zeus, where they were made priests. However, the opposite took place with the townspeople. In anger, the gods destroyed their homes by a flood.

Amazed by the healing of the man crippled from birth, the crowd thought the gods were visiting them again, disguised as Paul and Barnabas. They hoped to avoid the tragic mistake of their ancestors.

But why was Barnabas “Zeus” and Paul “Hermes”? In Greek mythology, Zeus was the ruler of the gods. Earlier, we heard Paul described as “a small man in size.” Barnabas, was more than likely the larger of the two, so he looked more like what people expected “Zeus” to be. Further, Hermes was the chief messenger of the gods. Since Paul was the main speaker, seeing him as “Hermes” was also a natural conclusion for them.


Read Acts 14:14-8

  • How did Paul and Barnabas react when they figured out what was taking place?


Tearing of Garments: In Scripture, we find someone tearing his garments to express mourning or horror (Genesis 37:29, Esther 4:1, and Judith 14:16, 19), distress (Joshua 7:6), or to protest some perceived blasphemy taking place (Mark 14:63). Here, Paul and Barnabas tear their clothing in protest, hoping to stop the planned sacrifice.

  • In this setting, Paul was preaching to people with a different world view than the Jews or Gentile “God-fearers” had.  How did this change how he preached?


  • Before Paul could get very far into his sermon, what happened?


On the Move Again to Derbe

Read Acts 14:19

  • Who now colludes with the Lycaonians to do harm to Paul?


  • What does this show about the resistance forming by many Jews against Christianity?


Read Acts 14:20-23

  • Who gathers around Paul to protect and help him?


  • In verse 21, where does Paul and Barnabas not go in Derbe (at least it’s not mentioned) to proclaim Jesus as has been their usual custom?


  • Discuss:
    • Strengthening the souls of the disciples
    • Encouraging them to continue in the faith
    • Through many tribulations we enter the kingdom of heaven


  • What did Paul and Barnabas do so those new churches were not left without pastors?


Cheirotoneo, “appointed”: The Greek word denotes something done by the stretching out of the hands. Earlier in Acts, we saw the laying on of hands accompanied with praying and fasting. Since prayer and fasting also took place in this verse (vs. 23), the most natural conclusion is that so also did the laying on of hands, especially since cheirotoneo has in its root meaning “the stretching out of the hands.”

But why would Luke use cheirotoneo as a synonym for the laying on of hands (see Acts 6:6, 8:17, 9:17, and 13:3) instead of just saying that they laid hands on them. In this verse, the focus is different. Luke focuses, not on how one was placed to serve in the Church (by explicating stating “the laying on of hands”), but what was done. Luke used a word that had in its meaning “being appointed.” They were appointed to serve.

Again, we find no “lone rangers” in Christ’s Church or an individual inwardly being “called” and setting up his own church. We find, instead, men being placed to serve through the Church.

Read Acts 14:24-28

  • Where do Paul and Barnabas return?


  • What do they do?


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