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Bible Commentaries

William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament

Acts 14

 

 

Verses 1-7

1-7. Arriving in Iconium, they enter the Jewish synagogue, preach with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven, and a great multitude of both Jews and Greeks are converted to the Christhood of Jesus; meanwhile “the disciples continued to be filled with joy and the Holy Ghost.” As usual, the unbelieving Jews raise a row, stirring up an awful persecution against the apostles. Acts 14:5 reads incorrectly in E. V. The assault had not been made. It was only a conspiracy to seize the apostles and first abuse them in a Sodomitish, brutal manner, and then stone them to death.


Verse 6-7

6, 7. “Recognizing, they fled down into the cities of Lycaonia, i. e., Lystra and Derbe, and the surrounding country; and there they were preaching the gospel.”


Verses 8-10

HEALING OF THE CRIPPLE AT LYSTRA

8-10. The imperfect tense here shows that they had been preaching some time at Lystra. Meanwhile this poor cripple, who, the Greek says, had no power to use his feet, and consequently had never walked, though now quite up in mature manhood, fortunately had friends to carry him every day to the preaching places, where he sat unnoticed by the multitude, who all knew him well; but at the same time he was a most appreciative auditor. Doubtless he was a pious Jew, already enjoying the saving grace of God in his heart, felicitously fortified against the vulgar vices all his life by his physical decrepitude. Day by day he listens to the apostles spell-bound, delectably drinking in the sweet messages of gospel grace and rejoicing in the glorious fulfillment of the Messianic promises in the advent of Jesus the Christ, whom the apostles preached. Witnessing the miracles of physical healing ever and anon wrought through the Apostolic ministry, ere long faith enters into his heart and he begins actually to take hold of Jesus, whom they were constantly preaching as the Omnipotent Healer of the body as well as the soul. Meanwhile the attention of Paul is directed to the cripple. He sees his countenance radiant with a supernatural glow and his eyes sparkling and flashing out the victories of faith wrought in his heart by the Holy Spirit through the truth to which he had listened day after day.

Paul, enjoying “the discernment of spirits” (1 Corinthians 12:10), perceives that the cripple has faith to be healed, at the same time adding inspiration and intensification to his faith by exclaiming to the top of his voice: “Stand upright on thy feet.” “He leaped and continued to walk round and round.” The poor fellow, sitting squat like a toad, having never stood on his feet nor walked a step, under the inspiration of Paul’s stentorian voice leaps out of his nest like a frog, lighting upright on his feet, discovers at once that he is healed and all right; beginning to run round and round, he does not know when to quit. It was very inspiring to me to see the stacks of crutches and staffs in Brother Simpson’s Berachah Home in New York, and the cripples who had come there on them leaping, skipping and praising the Omnipotent Healer. I am glad the days of miracles are not past. All do not get healed, neither did they in the Apostolic age. Paul himself left Trophimus at Miletum sick; yet many were healed through his ministry on the island of Malta. Perhaps quite as large a proportion who receive the ministry of healing get actually healed as get saved under the preaching of the glorious gospel, which offers salvation free and full to every soul.


Verses 11-18

PAUL AND BARNABAS ARE TAKEN FOR GRECIAN GODS

11-18. All nations at the time of our Savior’s advent were on tiptoe expecting a divine messenger from heaven to teach them the way of salvation. Hence the heathens were on the constant lookout for their gods to come among them in human form. When a student in college I read a myth from a Grecian poet giving an account of Jupiter, the king of heaven and chief of all the gods, coming down in this very country, and walking in human form among the people. While we have no way of ascertaining the portraits of our Savior and the apostles, we certainly must make an exception of Barnabas and Paul, as here we have a clear index to their personal physique and character. They called Barnabas Jupiter. From this fact we know that he was a large, intelligent, fine-looking man, because such was the familiar and well-known statue of Jupiter, of which we have often seen the picture. His great temple at Athens, Greece, is still standing. We were not astonished when we saw it, though in ruins, that twenty-five hundred years ago it ranked among the seven wonders of the world, along with the Pyramids of Egypt, the Walls of Babylon, the Colossus at Rhodes, the Temple of Diana at Ephesus, the Coliseum at Rome, and the Sphinx in Egypt. They called Paul Mercury because he was so fluent of speech, and Mercury was the god of eloquence, inspiring all the orators, and giving them the power to hold the multitude spell-bound. The statue of Mercury always represented him with a small, light body, a very large head, stooping shoulders, projecting neck and exceedingly prominent though sharp and ugly physiognomy. From this fact we have a clear index to the physique of Paul, a small, ugly man, with a head so large as to appear out of proportion to his body, though chock full of well-balanced brain, flashing from his homely face preternatural intelligence. The gates of ancient cities were the great public resorts. Hence the temple of Jupiter stood immediately in front of the gate, when the multitude all leaped to the conclusion that Paul and Barnabas are gods because of the miraculous healing. The priest of Jupiter proceeds at once to bring oxen for sacrifices and bouquets to adorn the apostles, like nowadays they still bring them into the churches for the preachers. [Lord, save us from idolatry. I always have them removed from the pulpit lest I knock them off and break the vessel containing them.] Paul and Barnabas have all they can possibly do to restrain them from offering sacrifices to them and worshipping, them in the name of Jupiter and Mercury.


Verse 19-20

PAUL’S MARTYRDOM

19, 20. Behold the fickle caprice of frail mortality, which has been verified in all ages and nations! Now they are all clamorous to worship the apostles for gods. In one short hour they are all clamorous for their blood, and actually stone Paul! Millions, besides Paul, have passed through this same ordeal. The very people who applaud you to the skies and worship you for a god, will cast you away and leave you to die without a friend to soothe your dying brow; yea, they will sign your death-warrant, and then will kill you. Vain is human patronage! You are a king to-day and a beggar to-morrow, without a friend beneath the skies. Take heed and fly to God, who never changes. He is your Friend, “the same yesterday, to-day, and forever!” While Paul’s mangled and bleeding body lies under the rock-pile, his spirit enjoys a visit to Paradise (2 Corinthians 12), there seeing and hearing things too glorious for mortal utterance, not as E. V. says, “unlawful to tell,” but impossible. We need heavenly language to describe heavenly glories.


Verse 20-21

20, 21. Now the sorrowing Nazarenes gather around their murdered brother to bury him. To their joyful surprise, he jumps out of the rock-pile with a big shout, and walks with Barnabas to his next appointment at Derbe. Cheered with God’s blessing on their labors, and witnessing many conversions, they come right back to Lystra, where they had killed Paul. Do you think you could have come back and give them a chance to kill you again?


Verse 22

22. “Establishing the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to abide in the faith, and that through many tribulations it behooveth us to enter into the kingdom of God.” Many of Paul’s meetings were entirely on the sanctification line, making no converts, but establishing the saints. “Kingdom of God” here has its final sense of the heavenly state.


Verse 23

23. “Electing unto them elders in every church.” Here is another case where the E. V. inserts “ordaining” in order to sustain the authority of the Episcopal Church, of which the translators were members, there being no such a revelation in the Greek. The word translated “ordain” is cheirotoneoo, from cheir, “the hand,” and toneoo, “reach forth”; hence it simply means that they elected the elders by a vote in reaching up the hand. Doubtless they did gather around them, lay hands on them, and pray for them, thus commending them to God to use them in their offices as conservators of the general interest of the church, but there is no mention of it. The ecclesiastical ordination, of which so much is made in the popular churches, is utterly unknown in the New Testament. When the Holy Ghost had called out the saints for some special work, they fasted and prayed for them with the imposition of hands, thus consecrating them to their work, and that is all you can find in the New Testament having the similitude of ordination, which has been so woefully corrupted and perverted by the fallen ecclesiasticisms.


Verses 24-28

24-28. Now the apostles take a circuitous route through Pisidia, Pamphylia and Italia, arriving back at Syrian Antioch, whence they set out on this great evangelistic tour. Convening the church, they are received with delight by all the saints, who are spellbound and electrified by their rehearsals of the mighty works of God through their humble instrumentality in the various heathen lands of their long and perilous peregrinations.

 


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Bibliography Information
Godbey, William. "Commentary on Acts 14:4". "William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ges/acts-14.html.

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