John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible
And it came to pass in Iconium,.... When the apostles were got thither, and as soon as they were there; at least the first opportunity they had:
that they went both together into the synagogue of the Jews; which was in Iconium; hither Paul and Barnabas went together, in like manner as they had done at Antioch:
and so spoke; such words, and doctrines of grace, with so much power, authority, and demonstration of the Spirit, with so much plainness, clearness, and evidence, as well as with so much boldness and courage:
that a great multitude, both of the Jews, and also of the Greeks, believed: the doctrines they preached, and in Christ the sum and substance of them; and these were not a few, but a great multitude; and not of one sort, of the Jews only, who expected the Messiah, but of the Greeks, or Gentiles also, who never heard of any; for by Greeks here are meant, not Jews born in Greece, speaking the Greek tongue, and using the Greek Bible, for these were called Hellenists, and not Greeks, but Heathens. These converts laid the foundation of a Gospel church state in this place; for that there was a church here, is certain from Acts 14:21 In the "first" century, Sosipater is said to be bishop, or pastor of this church, and also Tertius, who are both reckoned among the "seventy" disciples of Christ; See Gill on Luke 10:1. In the "third" century, Celsus was bishop of this church; and in the same century, several synods were held here, about the error of Novatus; and in the same century, Nicomes bishop of this place, assisted at the council at Antioch, which condemned the heresy of Samosatenus
But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles,.... That part of the Jews, which continued in unbelief, and rejected the doctrine of the apostles, concerning Jesus of Nazareth being the Messiah; these stirred up the Gentiles, who had no knowledge of, nor faith in this matter:
and made their minds evil affected against the brethren; either in general against all those that embraced the Gospel of Christ; who being of the same faith and family, having the same God to be their Father, and equally related to, and interested in Christ Jesus, are called brethren; or in particular against the Apostles Paul and Barnabas, by representing them as seditious persons, and of bad designs.
Long time therefore abode they,.... At Iconium, undaunted and not discouraged, at the treatment they met with: but continued,
speaking boldly in the Lord; using great freedom of speech, and showing great courage and intrepidity of mind; speaking out, without fear, the doctrines of the Gospel, in the name of the Lord, and depending upon strength, assistance, and support, from him:
which gave testimony unto the word of his grace; the Gospel, so called, because it is a publication of the grace and favour of God to the sons of men; in the choice of some of them to everlasting life, in the mission of his Son to redeem them, in the justification of them by his righteousness, and in the forgiveness of them through his blood, in the regeneration of them by his Spirit, in adopting them into his family, and making them heirs of eternal life; and because it is a means of implanting his grace in their souls; to this he bore witness, by giving it success, notwithstanding the opposition made against it, and by miracles wrought in confirmation of it, as follows:
and granted signs and wonders to be done by their hands; such as healing the sick, curing the lame, casting out devils; and the like, whereby a testimony was given to the truth of the doctrine they preached: and it may be observed, that these miraculous works were not wrought by the power of the apostles, but by the power of God; they were only instruments by whom they were done; it was owing to a grant from the Lord, and to his power, that they were performed.
But the multitude of the city was divided,.... In their sentiments, about the apostles, their doctrines, and miracles; some approving them, others condemning their doctrines as false, and their miracles as delusions:
and part held with the Jews; that did not believe, but rejected the apostles, despised their doctrines, and disparaged their miracles:
and part with the apostles; these were the Jews and Greeks, that believed; which divisions in families, towns, and cities, though the common consequence of the preaching of the Gospel, are not owing to any fault in that, but to the depravity and corruption of human nature; and are what our Lord declared was, and foretold would be the case, Luke 12:51.
And when there was an assault made,.... Or a strong bias and inclination were in the minds,
both of the Gentiles, and also of the Jews, with their rulers; who encouraged them in it:
to use them despitefully, and to stone them; not only to give them reproachful language, but to smite, buffet, and scourge them, and to stone them for blasphemy, which was a punishment among the Jews for such causes.
They were ware of it,.... They understood it, were apprised of it, and well weighed it, and considered it in their minds, and what was best to be done at this juncture:
and fled unto Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia; according to the orders and command of Christ, Matthew 10:23 not so much to save their lives, as to spread the Gospel in other parts. Lycaonia was a province in the lesser Asia, near Phrygia, separated from it by the mountains; on the east it bordered on Galatia, and had on the west Pamphylia and Pisidia, and on the south Cilicia, unto Mount Taurus. Some say it had its name from Lycaon, the son of Pelasgus; others, seeing it was not a Greek colony, chose to fetch the name of the country from the Syrians, who used to call their neighbour's country Leikonia, or in the Greek pronunciation Lycaonia; that is, the country of Iconium, which city was the metropolis of Lycaonia
and unto the region that lieth round about; the said cities.
And there they preached the Gospel. They did not sit still, nor hide themselves in these places; but, as in others, they preached the Gospel, the good news and glad tidings of the incarnation of Christ, of redemption, peace, and pardon, through his blood, justification by his righteousness, and spiritual and eternal salvation through him: in Beza's most ancient copy, and in one of Stephens's, these words are added, and which Bede also says were in the Greek copies in his time, "and the whole multitude were moved at their doctrines, and Paul and Barnabas continued at Lystra"; which agrees with what follows. It is very likely that many were converted in each of these cities, and in the adjacent country, and that churches were raised in these places; this seems manifest, from Acts 14:20 Artemas, of whom mention is made in Titus 3:12 and is said to be one of the seventy disciples, is reported to be bishop of Lystra; See Gill on Luke 10:1, though we meet with nothing in ecclesiastical history, concerning the churches in either of these places, until the "sixth" century; when in the fifth Roman synod under Symmachus, there were present the bishops of Lystra and Derbe, as also of Iconium and Larandas, which were likewise cities in Lycaonia
And there sat a certain man at Lystra,.... Where the apostle was preaching; and perhaps he sat there to beg, where there was a great concourse of people, and which might be in the open street: this man was
impotent in his feet; so weak, as not to be able to walk, and even to stand on them, and therefore is said to sit:
being a cripple from his mother's womb; he was born lame, as was the man cured by Peter, Acts 3:2
who never had walked; these circumstances are mentioned, to show that his case was incurable by any human art, and to illustrate the following miracle.
The same heard Paul speak,.... That is, preach the Gospel; he was one of his hearers, and faith came to hint by hearing; the Arabic version adds, "he cried unto him"; that is, to Paul, whom he heard:
who steadfastly beholding him; not the lame man beholding Paul, but Paul beholding the lame man, as the Syriac and Ethiopic versions both express it, as also Beza's ancient copy and others; so Peter looked on the man he cured, Acts 3:4.
And perceiving that he had faith to be healed; as he might by his looks, his gestures, his attention in hearing, and it may be by somewhat that he said, as well as by revelation, or a spirit of discerning, which he had.
Said with a loud voice,.... Not only that the man, but that all might hear and attend to the miracle about to be wrought:
stand upright on thy feet; in five of Beza's manuscripts, and in other copies, and in the Complutensian edition, and in the Syriac version, this clause is introduced with these words, "I say unto thee, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ"; which is much such a form that Peter used, Acts 3:6 whereby the virtue of the miracle is ascribed to Christ, and not assumed by the apostle:
and he leaped and walked; he sprung up directly from his seat, and leaped about for joy, and walked as well as any other man could.
And when the people saw what Paul had done,.... In curing the lame man in so marvellous a manner, and concluding it to be a divine work, and what a mere creature could never perform:
they lift up their voices; not in indignation and wrath, but as persons astonished:
saying in the speech of Lycaonia; by which it should seem that Lystra was a city of Lycaonia, since the Lycaonian language was spoken in it; the Arabic version reads, "in their own tongue"; and the Syriac version, "in the dialect of the country"; very likely a dialect of the Greek tongue;
the gods are come down to us in the likeness of men; they had a notion of deity, though a very wrong one; they thought there were more gods than one, and they imagined heaven to be the habitation of the gods; and that they sometimes descended on earth in human shape, as they supposed they now did.
And they called Barnabas Jupiter,.... The supreme God; it may be because that Barnabas was the oldest man, of the tallest stature, and largest bulk, and made the best figure; whereas Paul was younger, of a low stature, and mean appearance:
and Paul Mercurius, because he was the chief speaker; Mercury was the god of eloquence, and the messenger of the gods, and the interpreter of their will
Then the priest of Jupiter, which was before their city,.... Not that the priest was before the city, but Jupiter; and the phrase denotes either his presidency over the city, and so the Arabic version renders it, "who was the chief god of their city"; or the place where his image stood, which was out of the city, and so may be said to be before it; accordingly the Syriac version renders it, "who was without the city"; he who officiated as priest to him:
brought oxen and garlands unto the gates; either "of the city", as the Arabic and Ethiopic versions add, where was the statue of Jupiter; or else, and which is most likely, he brought them to the gates of the house, where Paul and Barnabas were; and to this sense the Syriac version renders it, "to the door of the dwelling place where they abode": what the oxen were brought for is easy to conceive, had it not been expressed; but for what should garlands or crowns be brought? These were used in sacrifices, for different purposes; sometimes they crowned the gods
"they that were nearest (to Jerusalem) brought green figs and grapes; and they that were more remote brought dried figs and raisins; and an ox went before them, whose horns were covered with gold, ועטרת של זית, "and a crown of olives" on his head; a pipe sounded before them, till they came near to Jerusalem, and then they sent some before them, who "crowned" their first fruits.'
And would have done sacrifice with the people; that is, the priest and the people with him, would have offered sacrifice to Paul and Barnabas, as to two deities; and the Syriac and Ethiopic versions add, "to them"; to both the apostles, with which agrees the Arabic version.
Which when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of,.... As they quickly did, such a multitude being about the doors of the house, where they were: it may be observed, that Barnabas is here called an apostle, as in Acts 14:4 and is placed before Paul, not as being greater than he, but because of the opinion these Heathens had of him: they rent their clothes; as the Jews did, and were obliged to do, when they heard any blasphemy; See Gill on Matthew 26:65.
And ran in among the people; in great haste, showing great concern of mind, and much indignation and resentment, at what they were about to do:
crying out; aloud, and with great vehemence, that all might hear, and to express the greater dislike of the action.
And saying, Sirs, why do ye these things?.... That is, bring these oxen and garlands, and attempt to offer sacrifice; this they said, not as arguing with them calmly and mildly, but with a mixture of indignation, heat, and zeal, as displeased with, and detesting and abhorring what they were about to do:
we also are men of like passions with you; men, and not gods; of the same human nature, and that as corrupted, alike sinful men, and need a sacrifice better than these; frail mortal men, subject to frailty, imperfection, afflictions, troubles, diseases, and death itself; and so very improper objects of worship:
and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities; from these deities, Jupiter and Mercury, and the rest of them; which were vain, useless, and unprofitable, and could do their votaries no manner of service; and from the worshipping of them, which were so many acts of vanity, folly, and weakness, yea, of sin and wickedness: the apostles were so far from being these gods, that their business was to show men the sin and folly of adhering to them; and to persuade them to relinquish the worship of them, and turn
to the living God; who has life in himself, and is the fountain of life to others; whereas these deities were dead men, and the lifeless images of them; who neither lived themselves, nor could give life to others, or do them any service of any kind: but the living God is he,
which hath made heaven and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein; which comprehends all created beings, the whole universe, and all that is in it, angels, men, beasts, fowls, fish, and whatever exists; and therefore is only deserving of religious worship.
Who in times past,.... For many hundred years past; even ever since God chose and separated the people of Israel from the rest of the nations, to be a peculiar people to himself: from that time he
suffered all nations to walk in their own ways; of ignorance, superstition, and idolatry; which they devised, and chose, and delighted in: not that he gave them any licence to walk in these ways, without being chargeable with sin, or with impunity; but he left them to themselves, to the dim light and law of nature, and gave them no written law, nor any external revelation of his mind and will; nor did he send any prophets or ministers of his unto them, to show them the evil of their ways, and turn them from them, and direct them to the true God, and the right way of worshipping him; but left them to take their own methods, and pursue the imagination of their own hearts: but the apostle suggests, that the case was now altered, and God had sent them and other ministers of his, among all nations of the world, to protest against their superstition and idolatry; and to reclaim them from their evil ways, and to direct them to the true and living God, and his worship, and to preach salvation by his Son Jesus Christ.
Nevertheless, he left not himself without witness,.... Of his kindness and goodness to them, during this long interval and period of time; for they had not the written law, yet they were not destitute of the law of nature; and had, besides, many instances of providential goodness, by which they might have known God: and should have been thankful to him, and glorified him as God, and not have worshipped the idols of their own hands; the goodness of God should have led them to repentance, and not have been abused to so many wicked purposes as it had been:
in that he did good; in a providential way, to persons very undeserving of it, of which some particular instances follow:
and gave us rain from heaven, which none of the gods of the Gentiles could, do, Jeremiah 14:22. So מפתח גשמים, "the key of rains", is by the Jews
and fruitful seasons; spring, summer, harvest, and autumn, at which several times, different fruits of the earth appear:
filling our hearts with food and gladness; giving a sufficiency of food, and even an abundance of it, and that for pleasure and delight, as well as for support and refreshment: the Syriac version reads, "their hearts"; some copies read, "your hearts".
And with these sayings,.... Concerning themselves, and concerning the living God, his creation of all things, and his providential goodness:
scarce restrained they the people, that they had not done sacrifice unto them; so resolute were they upon it, that it was with great difficulty that they persuaded them from it: in four of Beza's manuscripts, and in some other copies, it is added, "but everyone went to his own house", &c.
And there came thither certain Jews,.... Either just at the same time, or however whilst the apostles were in this city: in four manuscripts of Beza's, and in some other copies, it is read, "as they abode there, and taught, there came", &c. These Jews were inveterate enemies of the apostles, and seemed to have followed them from place to place, on purpose to oppose them, and to stir up the people against them, and to hinder the success of their ministry all they could: for these came
from Antioch; not Antioch in Syria, but in Pisidia: where they had contradicted and blasphemed the word of God, and was the reason why the apostles turned to the Gentiles, Acts 13:45.
And Iconium: where also the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles against the apostles, and both of them made an assault upon them, to use them ill, Acts 14:2
who persuaded the people; in the above manuscripts of Beza's, and in some other copies, are these words,
"and they disputing confidently, persuaded the people to depart from them, saying, that they said nothing true, but in all things lied;'
which though they may not be considered as the text, are a good gloss upon it: they persuaded the people not to hearken to them, told them that they were deceivers and jugglers, and instead of having honours conferred upon them, they ought to be severely punished; and to these Jews they hearkened, as appears by what follows:
and having stoned Paul; even the same persons that just before were for sacrificing to him as a god; which shows the fickleness and inconstancy of the populace, and how little they are to be depended on; for they were the Gentiles that stoned Paul, at the instigation of the Jews; though the latter might probably join with them in it: a like instance we have in the conduct of the Jews towards Christ, who cried "Hosanna" to him one day, and on another, very quickly after, with great importunity say, Crucify him, Crucify him; of this stoning, the apostle makes mention, 2 Corinthians 11:25 When they had stoned him,
they drew him out of the city, supposing he had been dead; which is an addition to their barbarity and inhumanity; for they not only stoned him until he was dead, as they supposed, but they dragged his body through the streets of their city, in contempt of him, and indignation against him, and cast him out of it, where they left him as unworthy of a burial.
Howbeit as the disciples stood round about him,.... Weeping over him, and lamenting for him, and it may be praying to God, that he would restore him to life: however, they got about him, in order to take care of him, and provide for his interment: these were the young converts at Lystra, who, under the ministry of the apostles, were now brought to the faith of Christ; unless it can be thought, that they were such who followed them from other places, and attended them in their travels; but the former seems most probable, and which shows their affection to their spiritual Father, and their constancy in the faith of Christ, notwithstanding this ill treatment of his servant:
he rose up and came into the city; which was no less than a miracle, and was no doubt the effect of the mighty power of God, put forth upon him; for though he was not really dead, yet he was left as such, and thought to be so by both friends and foes: and when it is considered what wounds and bruises he must receive by stoning, and his being dragged through the streets of the city, and left in such a miserable condition without it, that he should at once rise up in the midst of the disciples, and walk into the city as one in perfect health and strength, has something extraordinary and miraculous in it; and it shows great resolution, courage, and strength of mind, to go into the same city again, where he had been so ill used; though he did not choose to continue there, nor were the inhabitants worthy of such a favour:
and the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe; where they had been before, and had preached the Gospel, and whither they fled from Iconium, when in great danger, Acts 14:6.
And when they had preached the Gospel to that city,.... To the inhabitants of it, as they did in every place where they came, even the pure Gospel of Christ, the good news, and glad tidings of life and salvation by him:
and had taught many; or made them disciples, their ministry being blessed to bring many to the faith of Christ:
they returned again to Lystra; where Paul had been stoned:
and to Iconium; where both Jews and Gentiles, and the magistrates of the city, had attempted to use them ill, and to stone them:
and Antioch; that is, in Pisidia, as before; where a persecution was raised against them, and from the coasts of which place they were expelled; so fearless were they of danger, and so zealous to promote the interest of Christ, and the good of souls.
Confirming the souls of the disciples,.... Not wicked men in their wickedness, nor self-righteous persons in an opinion of their own righteousness, as sufficient for justification, both being contrary to the nature and tendency of the ministry of the word; the Gospel being a doctrine according to godliness, and a revelation of the righteousness of Christ; but the disciples and followers of Jesus, whom they had already made in those places, these they confirmed in the doctrines of the Gospel, and fortified them against the contradictions and blasphemies of the Jews, and the reproaches, afflictions, and persecutions they met with, by which they might be staggered: they did not confirm the bodies of these disciples, and the health of them, which is the business of the physician to confirm; nor their estates and civil property, to secure and defend which belongs to the civil magistrate; but their souls, their more noble and valuable part, their hearts, which are apt to be unstable; the frames of their hearts, which are precarious, and so as not to be too much depressed when disagreeable, or be too much elated when agreeable, placing too much trust and confidence in them; and also the graces of the Spirit in their hearts, as to act and exercise, as faith, hope, and love; and likewise their judgments and understandings in the truths of the Gospel, in what relates to the love of God; the covenant of grace, the person of Christ, and their interest in them:
and exhorting them to continue in the faith: in the exercise of the grace of faith, and in the doctrine of faith, and in the profession of both, whatever they might meet with on the account thereof, and which they were to expect:
and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God either into a Gospel church state, which is sometimes so called, there being much trouble often attending an entrance into it, both from within, from the corruption and unbelief of the heart, and from without, from the temptations of Satan, and from the revilings and insults of men, and even from friends and relations; or into the heavenly glory, the way to that lying through many tribulations; and which, though a rough, is a right way: so it "must" be, there is a necessity of it, partly on account of the decrees of God, who has appointed afflictions for his people, and them to afflictions; and partly on account of the predictions of Christ, who foretold his disciples, that in the world they should have tribulation; as also, that there might be a conformity to him, that as he the head must, and did suffer many things, and enter into his glory, so must they his members: as well as likewise for the trial and exercise of the several graces of the Spirit, and to make the saints meet for heaven, and to make that the sweeter to them.
And when they had ordained them elders in every church,.... As soon as ever any number of disciples were made, or souls were converted to Christ in any place, they were at once formed, by the apostles, into a church state; and as the gifts, as well as the grace of the Holy Ghost, attended the ministry of the word, so among those that were converted, there were some that were honoured with ministerial gifts, qualifying them to preach the Gospel, and take upon them the care of the churches: these the apostles directed the churches to look out from among themselves, as in the case of deacons, an inferior office, who by joint suffrages declared their choice of them by the stretching out, or lifting up of their hands, as the word here used signifies, and not the imposition of them; and the apostles presiding in this affair, they were installed into the office of bishops, elders, or pastors over them; which expresses the great regard the apostles had to the order, as well as to the doctrine of the Gospel, and the concern they had for the welfare of souls converted under their ministry, by making a provision for them when they were gone.
And had prayed with fasting; for the elders ordained, that they might have a larger measure of gifts, and might be kept faithful to the trust committed to them, and be succeeded in their ministry; and for the members of the church, that they might abide by the truths of the Gospel, and the ordinances of it, and walk worthy of it in their conversations, and behave aright in their church state, both to their elders, and to one another, and that they might persevere to the end:
they commended them to the Lord; both the elders and the churches, to be blessed by him with fresh supplies of grace, to be kept by his power, and to be preserved by him safe to his kingdom and glory. The Lord Jesus Christ seems to be intended by "the Lord", to whom the apostles commended them; and who is every way qualified, and fully able to answer such a commendation; see Acts 20:32 on whom they believed; meaning Christ, whom they received by faith, in whom they trusted, and on whom they believed with the heart for righteousness, life, and salvation: this was true, both of the apostles, who commended the elders and churches to the Lord, and was the reason why they commended them to him, because they believed on him themselves; and of the churches and elders commended, who could be commended to none better than to him, on whom they had believed.
And after they had passed throughout Pisidia,.... The country where Antioch, the last place mentioned, was; see Acts 13:14 they came to Pamphylia; See Gill on Acts 13:13, Acts 2:10
And when they had preached the word in Perga,.... A city in Pamphylia, Acts 13:13. The Alexandrian copy, and others, and three manuscripts of Beza's, read, "the word of the Lord"; as do the Vulgate Latin and Syriac versions: they went down into "Attalia"; not Italia or Italy, as some Latin copies, and as the Syriac, Arabic, and Ethiopic versions read; but a city in Pamphylia, bordering on the sea, as Ptolomy writes
And thence sailed to Antioch,.... In Syria,
from whence they had been recommended to the grace of God; by the prophets: from this place they first set out on their travels; here they were separated by the order of the Holy Ghost to the work of the ministry, and by them they were sent forth, after they had in prayer commended them to God, and to his grace to assist them, and succeed them, as well as to fit them
for the work which they fulfilled; that is, for the work of the ministry, for the preaching of the Gospel in several places; and which they had now gone through, and finished with great integrity and faithfulness, and with much success, though through many afflictions and persecutions.
And when they were come,.... To Antioch:
and had gathered the church together: which was in that place, and who came together at their request; for as they were sent out by them, they judged it proper to call them together; and give them an account of the issue of their work they were recommended by them to the grace of God to fulfil: and being come together at their usual place of meeting,
they rehearsed all that God had done with them; and by them, as instruments; what grace and strength he had given them to preach the Gospel; what numbers of souls were everywhere converted by it; what miracles were wrought by them for the confirmation of it; and what persecutions and sufferings they had endured for the sake of it; and what deliverances were vouchsafed unto them:
and how he had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles; the phrase, "the door of faith", seems to be Jewish; it is to be met with in Jewish writings: it is said
"there are two women found in the world, that express the praise of God, so as all the men of the world have not; and who are they? Deborah and Hannah: Hannah, according to 1 Samuel 2:2 "there is none holy as the Lord, for there is none beside thee" and all proclaim that she פתחת פתחא דמהימנותא לעלמא, "opens the door of faith to the world", as Acts 14:8 "he raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth the beggar from the dunghill, lo, the door of faith; to set them among princes", lo, the faith that is above.'
The sense here seems to be, that God had given an opportunity to the apostles to preach the doctrine of faith unto the Gentiles, and the Gentiles had had an opportunity of hearing and embracing it; God had opened the mouths of his ministers to preach to them, and he had opened their hearts to attend unto it, and receive it; for it may be understood of his giving of them the grace of faith, by which they received Christ, and his Gospel, into their hearts: so a like phrase is used by the Targumist on Jeremiah 33:6 who paraphrases the words thus;
"behold, I will bring unto them healing and redemption, and I will heal them, and I will reveal, or "open to them", תרע תיובא, "the door of repentance";'
that is, I will give them repentance: so here, when God is said to open the door of faith to the Gentiles, the sense is, that he had given the grace of faith to them, which came by hearing the word of the Gospel, which he sent them; and gave them encouragement to believe in Christ; so the phrase a door of hope is used in Hosea 2:15.
And there they abode long time with the disciples. That is, Paul and Barnabas continued a considerable time at Antioch with the believers there, before they set out on another journey; and what might detain them the longer, might be the disputes they had with some "judaizing" Christians, concerning the observation of the law; of which, and the issue of them, an account is given in the next chapter.
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Gill, John. "Commentary on Acts 14". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://beta.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25