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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible

Acts 14

 

 

Verses 1-7

Acts 14:1-7. Iconium.—From Antioch to Iconium was a journey of about thirty hours, mostly on a new Roman road. It was the frontier city of Phrygia, but was now incorporated in the Roman province of Galatia. Its magistrates are local, not Roman.

Acts 14:1. The mission proceeds in Iconium just as at Antioch; the synagogue, with its mixture of elements, is the scene, and the result is the attachment to the cause of many of each nationality.

Acts 14:2. disobedient: AV unbelieving; either will do: cf. Romans 1:5, "obedience of faith."

Acts 14:3. the word of his grace: cf. Acts 20:32.—signs and wonders: cf. Mark 16:20.

Acts 14:4 f. Society in the town is divided. The native authorities declare against the incomers, and a hostile movement causes the apostles to leave the town. 2 Corinthians 11:25 speaks of one stoning only in Paul's experience, and it may be identified with that of Acts 14:19. They go south, cross the border into Lycaonia, and carry on their activity in Lystra and Derbe, though they know that the same thing will happen to them there. Nothing daunts them.


Verses 8-20

Acts 14:8-20. Lystra.—Lystra, 25 miles SW. of Iconium, 10 miles off the trade route, in a secluded glen. Lystra and Derbe were the two cities of the Lycaonian region of Galatia; Roman influence was strong there, and Lystra was a Roman colony.

The cure of a lame man in connexion with the preaching leads to serious consequences. The incident reminds us forcibly of Acts 3:2-8; in both cases the lameness is congenital, and the man leaps. In this case, however, faith plays the part it does in the Gospels; it is awakened apparently by Paul's preaching. Of the language of Lycaonia nothing is now known; the mention of it is like a mist over the whole story. It is not asserted that Paul and Barnabas understood that language; but we know that Greek was currently spoken in the district. The recognition of the missionaries as divine beings (cf. Acts 28:6) and the preparations for sacrifice could, it is true, be understood apart from the language, but not the identification of them with special deities.[*] Barnabas appears to have been the more imposing figure, Paul to have been the speaker of the party. For a description of Paul, see the Acts of Paul and Thecla, which perhaps originated at Iconium (cf. p. 768).

[*] The association of the two gods Zeus and Hermes was familiar in the region around Lystra, see Ramsay, The Bearing of Recent Discovery, pp. 47ff.—A. J. G.1

Acts 14:13. Jupiter . . . before the city: it was usual for the temple of Jupiter to be outside the town; discovery has not yet found such a temple at Lystra. The priest prepares a sacrifice, and brings forward the victims with their wreaths, probably at the gates of the temple, where the crowd follows. The apostles are in the town, but on hearing what is on foot they rush out to hinder the sacrilege. The speech which follows contains the germ of the speech before the Areopagus (Acts 17:22 ff.), in which the main ideas of it are further worked out. It is (in the words of Paul, 1 Thessalonians 1:9) an appeal to abandon idolatry, and turn to the living God. This is the message with which the preachers, evidently human beings (James 5:17), have come to Lystra. The idea of God's longsuffering (Acts 14:16) is found in Romans 2:4; Romans 3:25, and is in Paul's speech at Athens, as is the idea that God leaves not Himself without a witness, though the witness here is found, as in OT and in Stoic thought, in the unfailing liberality of nature, not in the human desire for God.

Acts 14:18. The sacrifice is stopped, but the stay of the missionaries at Lystra soon comes to an end. The Jews of Antioch and Iconium grudge them their success and wreak their hatred on Paul, not apparently on Barnabas, by the Jewish method of stoning (cf. 2 Corinthians 11:25), a case of mob law in the streets of a Roman military colony. The changes of popular mood at Lystra are sudden, and the whole section (Acts 14:8-18) is not free from suspicion; Acts 14:19 reads quite well after Acts 14:7; and Acts 14:8-18 is possibly from a Barnabas source.

Acts 14:20. Derbe: a few miles from Lystra, Lycaonian by population, and belonging to the province of Galatia. No persecution takes place here.


Verses 21-28

Acts 14:21-28. Close of the First Tour.—The places already visited are now taken in the reverse order, but no further information is given about them.

Acts 14:23. An appointment of elders is made (cf. Titus 1:5) in each church; the institution takes place in each case with prayer and fasting. The word translated "appointed" (AV "ordained") denotes strictly a popular election by voting (cf. 2 Corinthians 8:19; Didach, xv. 1), though it may also be used of cases where there is no popular vote. The elder is in Titus also called bishop: he is a local functionary, with no duties except to his own church. In Acts 11:30 the elders at Jerusalem are those presiding over the church there.

Acts 14:24. The journey is retraced but Cyprus is not visited again: from Attalia, the port of Perga, they sail to Antioch or rather to Seleucia, its port.

Acts 14:27. The importance of the journey is that it proves that the gate of faith is opened by God to the Gentiles.

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Acts 14:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/acts-14.html. 1919.

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