From Worship to Stoning

Acts 14


Paul and Barnabas went to a city called Iconium and preached the message of Christ at the Jewish synagogue. The reactions were extreme. A great number of Jews and Gentiles put their faith in Jesus. But others were offended and eventually stirred up the population against the Christians. Soon the entire city was in an uproar.

City officials decided that the only way to solve the problem was to kill Paul and Barnabas. The apostles found out about this and were able to escape.

They went to a town called Lystra, and Paul preached the gospel of Christ. A man was sitting nearby who had been crippled since birth. He listened carefully to everything that was being said. Paul looked at the man and realized that God had put faith in his heart. So he said to him, “Stand up!” Immediately the man got up and started walking.

The people saw this and were amazed. They started yelling, “The gods have come to visit us!” People crowded around to see the gods who looked like men. Soon a pagan priest ran up with some animals. He and the people started sacrificing to Paul and Barnabas.

The apostles were horrified and ran out among the people, “What are you doing? We are men just like you. We’re here to bring you good news. God wants you to leave such foolishness and turn to him. He created all things, and he’s the one who provides for your daily needs.” Still the people wanted to sacrifice animals to them.

During this commotion, Jews arrived from the other cities where Paul and Barnabas had been. It didn’t take them long to turn the crowd into an angry mob. They picked up large rocks to kill Paul. Surrounding him, they threw the stones until he fell beneath the blows. This continued until they thought he was dead. His body was dragged out of the city and thrown onto a trash heap.

The believers of Christ gathered around the body of Paul to mourn his death. Suddenly he stood up—and walked back into the city!

The next day he and Barnabas went to another city, where many people put their faith in Christ. At this point, they revisited the various places they had been. They encouraged the believers and appointed elders for the churches. All of these towns were in a region called Galatia.

Finally they sailed back to Antioch to visit the church that had sent them out. When they arrived, the people gathered to hear all that had happened on their trip. Paul and Barnabas told what God had done, and how he opened doors so Gentiles could put their faith in Christ.


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