Acts 14:8-11 & 19-23
(Acts 14:8) In Lystra there sat a man who was lame. He had been that way from birth and had never walked.
After Paul and Barnabas finished their missionary work on Cyprus, they went to Perga in Pamphylia (where John left them and returned to Jerusalem). Then they traveled to Antioch in Pisidia (not the Antioch in Syria), where after leading many to believe in Jesus, they were driven out of the city and went to Iconium. In Iconium, many believed the gospel, but they had to flee the city and went to Lystra in Lycaonia.
This lame man was similar to the lame man that Peter healed in the temple; all the people knew that this lame man had never walked. None of their gods, priests, or sorcerers had been able to help him.
(Acts 14:9) He listened to Paul as he was speaking. Paul looked directly at him, saw that he had faith to be healed
In the temple, Peter’s faith in Jesus healed the lame man. In Lystra, this lame man had listened carefully to Paul, and the word of God created faith in the man as he recognized and believed the truths he heard proclaimed. Luke implies that Paul had told about the miracles of Jesus, and this and other truths led the man to have faith in Jesus.
(Acts 14:10) and called out, “Stand up on your feet!” At that, the man jumped up and began to walk.
Paul did not touch the man. He gave a simple command and the man’s faith in Jesus and Jesus’ power moved him to obey Paul’s command. True faith in God always leads to obeying God. Immediately, the man began to walk.
(Acts 14:11) When the crowd saw what Paul had done, they shouted in the Lycaonian language, “The gods have come down to us in human form!”
God created the world with the spoken word. God healed the man through Paul’s spoken word. The idolatrous pagans assumed that some of their gods had come down to earth looking like them in human form, but not in real human bodies. In Greek thought the body was considered evil and to their mind a god would never take on a real human body; that is why they thought two gods had come down “in human form.”
(Acts 14:19) Then some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowd over. They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead.
After Paul and Barnabas proved they were not gods, they preached about the true Son of God, who came into the world in a real human body and died and rose again for the forgiveness of sins. Many of these pagans came to believe in Jesus according to the Scriptures and became disciples. Some Jews who had rejected the gospel where Paul had preached earlier came and pressured a large crowd to stone Paul to death (the penalty for blasphemy). In this case, the Holy Spirit did not temporarily blind the crowd. God could have blinded the whole crowd as the angels did to save Lot from the crowd in Sodom. These Jews hated Paul and the gospel so much that they would have made sure he was dead before they dragged him outside the city. Paul demonstrated that the Christian faith was worth suffering and dying for, even as Jesus had suffered and died to save us from our sins before God raised Him from the dead.
(Acts 14:20) But after the disciples had gathered around him, he got up and went back into the city. The next day he and Barnabas left for Derbe.
The disciples no doubt prayed around Paul. God miraculously resuscitated Paul and healed his bleeding, broken, and bruised body. He walked back into the city as God empowered him. The next day he was strong enough to walk with Barnabas to Derbe: this too was a miracle.
(Acts 14:21) They preached the gospel in that city and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch,
Probably some disciples from the cities they had preached in accompanied Paul and Barnabas from Lystra to Derbe. They could reaffirm what Paul preached and what had happened to Paul when he was stoned and then healed by Jesus. Therefore, a large number became disciples. Rather than return the short way home to Antioch in Syria, Paul chose to return to the cities where he had preached in order to create new churches and appoint elders, so the work of the gospel could continue in these cities in his absence. Disciples are followers and students, and the new disciples of Jesus would have followed Paul and Barnabas as far as possible to learn as much as they could because they would form and lead churches in the cities Paul had visited.
(Acts 14:22) strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” they said.
Even though Paul faced more persecution by returning to the cities he had been forced to leave, Paul was faithful to his task of explaining the gospel thoroughly and insisting on the importance of faithful obedience to the teachings of Jesus. He taught by both word and example, and his new disciples concluded, “we must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.” Disciples faced hardships if they were rejected by family and friends for their faith in Jesus and obedience as citizens in the Kingdom of God where Jesus was their newfound King. As followers of the King, they began living in a new kingdom that would prepare them for further training in heaven and their great eventual reign with Jesus on the new earth when they returned with Him.
(Acts 14:23) Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust.
From spending much time with these new Christians, they knew who to appoint as church leaders in their absence. After prayer and fasting the Holy Spirit through Paul appointed those of the Lord’s choice. Everyone put their trust in the Lord knowing Paul would need to continue in his missionary work elsewhere.
Questions for Discussion and Thinking Further
How Do We Enter the Kingdom of God?
“Paul strengthened and encouraged the disciples to remain true to the faith, and they responded, ‘We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.’” (Acts 14:22).
The miracles by the apostles showed that Jesus, the King of the universe, was alive, could heal, and reigned over the world. Following the example of his King, who had suffered and died for him, Paul was willing to suffer and die to help establish the Kingdom of God on earth and in the hearts of the new disciples of Jesus who believed the good news about Him. Some of the Christians Paul strengthened and encouraged in the faith had seen Paul stoned, dragged out of the city of Lystra, and left for dead. To stamp out the influence of the message Paul preached, his enemies and the enemies of the gospel would have made certain that Paul was dead. But the disciples gathered around Paul and prayed, so the Lord raised him, healed his broken and bleeding body, and gave Paul the strength to walk back into the city. The next day, the Lord empowered Paul to continue his ministry in the town of Derbe, where he won a large number of disciples to the Lord. Before Paul completed his missionary journey, some of the new disciples who had followed Paul had also seen his suffering as a consequence of his preaching. They learned from observation and experience that Christians must go through many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God. The Holy Spirit trains and prepares Christians to be leaders in the Kingdom of God through their obedience to the Christian faith while enduring many hardships and persecutions; then, when Jesus returns to reign upon Earth, they will rule with Him. – LG Parkhurst Jr.