corner graphic

Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

Acts 14

 

 

Verse 1

They entered together (κατα το αυτο εισελτεινkata to auto eiselthein). Like επι το αυτοepi to auto in Acts 3:1. The infinitive εισελτεινeiselthein is the subject of εγενετοegeneto

So spake that (λαλησαι ουτως ωστεlalēsai houtōs hōste). Infinitive again parallel to εισελτεινeiselthein With the result that, actual result here stated with ωστεhōste and the aorist infinitive πιστευσαιpisteusai (Robertson, Grammar, pp. 999f.) rather than ωστεhōste and the indicative like John 3:16. It was a tremendous first meeting.


Verse 2

That were disobedient (οι απειτησαντεςhoi apeithēsantes). First aorist active articular participle, not the present απειτουντεςapeithountes as the Textus Receptus has it. But the meaning is probably the Jews that disbelieved, rather than that disobeyed. Strictly απειτεωapeitheō does mean to disobey and απιστεωapisteō to disbelieve, but that distinction is not observed in John 3:36 nor in Acts 19:9; Acts 28:24. The word απειτεωapeitheō means to be απειτηςapeithēs to be unwilling to be persuaded or to withhold belief and then also to withhold obedience. The two meanings run into one another. To disbelieve the word of God is to disobey God.

Made them evil affected (εκακωσανekakōsan). First aorist active indicative of κακοωkakoō old verb from κακοςkakos to do evil to, to ill-treat, then in later Greek as here to embitter, to exasperate as in Psalm 105:32 and in Josephus. In this sense only here in the N.T. Evidently Paul preached the same message as in Antioch for it won both Jews and Gentiles, and displeased the rabbis. Codex Bezae adds here that “the chiefs of the synagogue and the rulers” brought persecution upon Paul and Barnabas just as was argued about Antioch. Outside the synagogue the Jews would poison the minds of the Gentiles against Paul and Barnabas. “The story of Thecla suggests a means, and perhaps the apostles were brought before the magistrates on some charge of interference with family life. The magistrates however must have seen at once that there was no legal case against them; and by a sentence of acquittal or in some other way the Lord gave peace” (Rackham). As we have it, the story of Paul and Thecla undoubtedly has apocryphal features, though Thecla may very well be an historical character here at Iconium where the story is located. Certainly the picture of Paul herein drawn cannot be considered authentic though a true tradition may underlie it: “bald, bowlegged, strongly built, small in stature, with large eyes and meeting eyebrows and longish nose; full of grace; sometimes looking like a man, sometimes having the face of an angel.”


Verse 3

Long time therefore (ικανον μεν ουν χρονονhikanon men oun chronon). Accusative of duration of time (possibly six months) and note μεν ουνmen oun There is an antithesis in εσχιστη δεeschisthē de (Acts 13:4) and in Acts 13:5 (εγενετο δεegeneto de). After the persecution and vindication there was a season of great opportunity which Paul and Barnabas used to the full, “speaking boldly” (παρρησιαζομενοιparrēsiazomenoi as in Acts 13:46 at Antioch in Pisidia, “in the Lord” (επι τωι κυριωιepi tōi kuriōi), upon the basis of the Lord Jesus as in Acts 4:17. And the Lord Jesus “bore witness to the word of his grace” as he always does, “granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands” (διδοντι σημεια και τερατα γινεσται δια των χειρων αυτωνdidonti sēmeia kai terata ginesthai dia tōn cheirōn autōn). Present participle (διδοντιdidonti) and present infinitive (γινεσταιginesthai) repetition of both signs and wonders (note both words) just as had happened with Peter and John and the other apostles (Acts 2:43; Acts 4:29.; Acts 5:12; cf. Hebrews 2:4). The time of peace could not last forever with such a work of grace as this. A second explosion of persecution was bound to come and some of the MSS. actually have εκ δευτερουek deuterou (a second time).


Verse 4

But the multitude of the city was divided (εσχιστη δε το πλητος της πολεωςeschisthē de to plēthos tēs poleōs). First aorist passive indicative of σχιζωschizō old verb to split, to make a schism or factions as Sadducees and Pharisees (Acts 23:7). This division was within the Gentile populace. Part held (οι μεν ησανhoi men ēsan), literally “some were with the Jews” (συν τοις Ιουδαιοιςsun tois Ioudaiois), part with the apostles (οι δε συν τοις αποστολοιςhoi de sun tois apostolois). Common demonstrative of contrast (οι μεν οι δεhoi menhoi de Robertson, Grammar, p. 694). The Jewish leaders made some impression on the Gentiles as at Antioch in Pisidia and later at Thessalonica (Acts 17:4.). This is the first time in the Acts that Paul and Barnabas are termed “apostles” (see also Acts 13:14). Elsewhere in the Acts the word is restricted to the twelve. Certainly Luke does not here employ it in that technical sense. To have followed Jesus in his ministry and to have seen the Risen Christ was essential to the technical use (Acts 1:22.). Whether Barnabas had seen the Risen Christ we do not know, but certainly Paul had (1 Corinthians 9:1.; 1 Corinthians 15:8). Paul claimed to be an apostle on a par with the twelve (Galatians 1:1, Galatians 1:16-18). The word originally means simply one sent (John 13:16) like messengers of the churches with the collection (2 Corinthians 8:23). The Jews used it of those sent from Jerusalem to collect the temple tribute. Paul applies the word to James the Lord‘s brother (Galatians 1:19), to Epaphroditus (Philemon 2:25) as the messenger of the church in Philippi, to Silvanus and Timothy (1 Thessalonians 2:6; Acts 18:5), apparently to Apollos (1 Corinthians 4:9), and to Andronicus and Junias (Romans 16:6.). He even calls the Judaizers “false apostles” (2 Corinthians 11:13).


Verse 5

An onset (ορμηhormē). A rush or impulse as in James 3:4. Old word, but only twice in the N.T. (here and James). It probably denotes not an actual attack so much as the open start, the co-operation of both Jews and Gentiles (the disaffected portion), “with their rulers” (συν τοις αρχουσιν αυτωνsun tois archousin autōn), that is the rulers of the Jewish synagogue (Acts 13:27). The city officials would hardly join in a mob like this, though Hackett and Rackham think that the city magistrates were also involved as in Antioch in Pisidia (Acts 13:50).

To entreat them shamefully (υβρισαιhubrisai). First aorist active infinitive of υβριζωhubrizō old verb to insult insolently. See Matthew 22:6; Luke 18:32.

To stone (λιτοβολησαιlithobolēsai). First aorist active infinitive of λιτοβολεωlithoboleō late verb from λιτοβολοςlithobolos (λιτοςlithos stone, βαλλωballō to throw) to pelt with stones, the verb used of the stoning of Stephen (Acts 7:58). See Matthew 21:35. The plan to stone them shows that the Jews were in the lead and followed by the Gentile rabble. “Legal proceedings having failed the only resource left for the Jews was illegal violence” (Rackham).


Verse 6

They became aware of it (συνιδοντεςsunidontes). Second aorist (ingressive) active participle of συνοραωsunoraō (συνειδονsuneidon), old word to see together, to become conscious of as already in Acts 12:12. In the N.T. only by Luke and Paul.

Fled (κατεπυγονkatephugon). Second aorist (effective) active indicative of καταπευγωkatapheugō old verb, but in the N.T. only here and Hebrews 6:18. Paul and Barnabas had no idea of remaining to be stoned (lynched) by this mob. It is a wise preacher who always knows when to stand his ground and when to leave for the glory of God. Paul and Barnabas were following the directions of the Lord Jesus given to the twelve on their special tour of Galilee (Matthew 10:23). Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia (still part of the Province of Galatia, though in another Regio), not far from the base of the Black Mountain. Professor Sterrett has apparently identified Lystra by an inscription about six hours (18 miles) south-southwest from Iconium near the village Khatyn Serai and Derbe probably near the village Losta or Zosta though its location is really not known. Lystra had been made a colony in b.c. 6 and Derbe was the frontier city of the Roman empire in the southeast. These are the only cities mentioned, but they were of importance and show that Paul kept to his plan of going to centres of influence. The new imperial road from Antioch and Iconium reached these cities.

The region round about (την περιχωρονtēn perichōron) was “a high table land, ill-watered, bleak, but suited for sheep pasture” (Page).


Verse 7

And there they preached the gospel (κακει ευαγγελιζομενοι ησανkakei euaggelizomenoi ēsan). Periphrastic imperfect middle. We are to think of extensive evangelistic work perhaps with the assistance of disciples from Antioch and Iconium since Paul and Barnabas could not speak Lycaonian. ΚακειKakei is crasis for και εκειkai ekei f0).


Verse 8

At Lystra (εν Λυστροιςen Lustrois). Neuter plural as in Acts 16:2; 2 Timothy 3:11 while feminine singular in Acts 14:6, Acts 14:21; Acts 16:1. There was apparently no synagogue in Lystra and so not many Jews. Paul and Barnabas had to do open-air preaching and probably had difficulty in being understood by the natives though both Greek and Latin inscriptions were discovered here by Professor Sterrett in 1885. The incident narrated here (Acts 13:8-18) shows how they got a real hearing among these rude heathen.

There sat (εκατητοekathēto). Imperfect middle of κατημαιkathēmai Was sitting. This case is very much like that in Acts 3:1-11, healed by Peter. Possibly outside the gate (Acts 13:13) or some public place.

Impotent in his feet (αδυνατος τοις ποσινadunatos tois posin). Old verbal, but only here in the N.T. in this sense except figuratively in Romans 15:1. Elsewhere it means “impossible” (Matthew 19:26). Locative case. Common in medical writers in the sense of “impotent.” So Tobit 2:10; 5:9.

Had walked (περιεπατησενperiepatēsen). So best MSS., first aorist active indicative “walked,” not περιεπεπατηκειperiepepatēkei “had walked” (past perfect active).


Verse 9

The same (ουτοςhoutos). Just “this one.”

Heard (ηκουενēkouen). Imperfect active, was listening to Paul speaking (λαλουντοςlalountos). Either at the gate or in the market place (Acts 17:17) Paul was preaching to such as would listen or could understand his Greek (Koiné). Ramsay (St. Paul the Traveller, pp. 114, 116) thinks that the cripple was a proselyte. At any rate he may have heard of the miracles wrought at Iconium (Acts 14:3) and Paul may have spoken of the work of healing wrought by Jesus. This man was “no mendicant pretender,” for his history was known from his birth.

Fastening his eyes upon him (ατενισας αυτωιatenisas autōi). Just as in Acts 13:9 of Paul and Acts 1:10 which see. Paul saw a new hope in the man‘s eyes and face.

He had faith (εχει πιστινechei pistin). Present active indicative retained in indirect discourse.

To be made whole (του σωτηναιtou sōthēnai). Genitive of articular first aorist passive infinitive (purpose and result combined) of σωζωsōzō to make sound and also to save. Here clearly to make whole or well as in Luke 7:50 (cf. Acts 3:16; Acts 4:10).


Verse 10

Upright (ορτοςorthos). Predicate adjective. In this sense Galen and Hippocrates frequently use ορτοςorthos (erect, straight). Paul spoke in a loud (μεγαληιmegalēi) voice so that all could hear and know.

He leaped up and walked (ηλατο και περιεπατειhēlato kai periepatei). Rather, He leaped up with a single bound and began to walk. The second aorist middle indicative (with first aorist vowel αa) of αλλομαιhallomai (late verb, in papyri) and inchoative imperfect active of περιπατεωperipateō common verb to walk around. This graphic picture is concealed by the usual English rendering. It is possible that Luke obtained the vivid report of this incident from Timothy who may have witnessed it and who was probably converted during Paul‘s stay here (Acts 16:3). His father was a prominent Greek and his mother Eunice, possibly a widow, may have lived here with her mother Lois (2 Timothy 1:5).


Verse 11

Lifted up their voice (επηραν την πωνην αυτωνepēran tēn phōnēn autōn). First aorist active of επαιρωepairō In their excitement they elevated their voices.

In the speech of Lycaonia (ΛυκαονιστιLukaonisti). Adverb from verb λυκαονιζωlukaoniz to use the language of Lycaonia found here alone, but formed regularly like ΕβραιστιEbraisti (John 5:2), ελληνιστιHellēnisti (Acts 21:37), ωμαιστιRōmaisti (John 19:20). Paul was speaking in Greek, of course, but the excitement of the crowd over the miracle made them cry out in their native tongue which Paul and Barnabas did not understand. Hence it was not till preparations for offering sacrifice to them had begun that Paul understood the new role in which he and Barnabas were held.

In the likeness of men (ομοιωτεντες αντρωποιςhomoiōthentes anthrōpois). First aorist passive participle of ομοιωhomoiō to liken, with the associative instrumental case. In this primitive state the people hold to the old Graeco-Roman mythology. The story of Baucis and Philemon tells how Jupiter (Zeus) and Mercury (Hermes) visited in human form the neighbouring region of Phrygia (Ovid, Meta. VIII. 626). Jupiter (Zeus) had a temple in Lystra.


Verse 12

They called (εκαλουνekaloun). Inchoative imperfect began to call.

Barnabas, Jupiter (τον αρναβαν Διαton Barnaban Dia). Because Barnabas was the older and the more imposing in appearance. Paul admits that he was not impressive in looks (2 Corinthians 10:10).

And Paul, Mercury (τον δε Παυλον ερμηνton de Paulon Hermēn). Mercury (ερμηςHermēs) was the messenger of the gods, and the spokesman of Zeus. ερμηςHermēs was of beautiful appearance and eloquent in speech, the inventor of speech in legend. Our word hermeneutics or science of interpretation comes from this word (Hebrews 7:2; John 1:38).

Because he was the chief speaker (επειδη αυτος ην ο ηγουμενος του λογουepeidē autos ēn ho hēgoumenos tou logou). Paul was clearly “the leader of the talk.” So it seemed a clear case to the natives. If preachers always knew what people really think of them! Whether Paul was alluding to his experience in Lystra or not in Galatians 4:14, certainly they did receive him as an angel of God, as if “Mercury” in reality.


Verse 13

Whose temple was before the city (του οντος προ της πωλεωςtou ontos pro tēs pōleōs). The god (Zeus) is identified with his temple. He had a statue and temple there.

Oxen and garlands (ταυρους και στεμματαtaurous kai stemmata). Probably garlands to put on the oxen before they were slain. It was common to sacrifice bullocks to Jupiter and Mercury.

Would have done sacrifice (ητελεν τυεινēthelen thuein). Imperfect indicative, wanted to offer sacrifice. He was planning to do it, and his purpose now became plain to Paul and Barnabas.


Verse 14

Having heard (ακουσαντεςakousantes). Such elaborate preparation “with the multitudes” (συν τοις οχλοιςsun tois ochlois) spread rumours and some who spoke Greek told Paul and Barnabas. It is possible that the priest of Jupiter may have sent a formal request that the visiting “gods” might come out to the statue by the temple gates to make it a grand occasion. They rent their garments (διαρρηχαντεςdiarrēxantes). First aorist active participle from διαρρηγνυμιdiarrēgnumi old verb to rend in two. Like the high priest in Matthew 26:65 as if an act of sacrilege was about to be committed. It was strange conduct for the supposed gods!

Sprang forth (εχεπηδησανexepēdēsan). First aorist (ingressive) active indicative of εκπηδαωekpēdaō (note εκek), old verb, here only in the N.T. It was all a sign of grief and horror with loud outcries (κραζοντεςkrazontes).


Verse 15

Sirs (ανδρεςandres). Literally, Men. Abrupt, but courteous.

We also are men of like passions with you (και ημεις ομοιοπατεις εσμεν υμιν αντρωποιkai hēmeis homoiopatheis esōmen humin anthrōpoi). Old adjective from ομοιοςhomoios (like) and πασχωpaschō to experience. In the N.T. only here and James 5:17. It means “of like nature” more exactly and affected by like sensations, not “gods” at all. Their conduct was more serious than the obeisance of Cornelius to Peter (Acts 10:25.). υμινHumin is associative instrumental case.

And bring you good tidings (ευαγγελιζομενοιeuaggelizomenoi). No “and” in the Greek, just the present middle participle, “gospelizing you.” They are not gods, but evangelists. Here we have Paul‘s message to a pagan audience without the Jewish environment and he makes the same line of argument seen in Acts 17:21-32; Romans 1:18-23. At Antioch in Pisidia we saw Paul‘s line of approach to Jews and proselytes (Acts 13:16-41).

That ye should turn from these vain things (απο τουτων των ματαιων επιστρεπεινapo toutōn tōn mataiōn epistrephein). He boldly calls the worship of Jupiter and Mercury and all idols “vain” or empty things, pointing to the statues and the temple.

Unto the living God (επι τεον ζωνταepi theon zōnta). They must go the whole way. Our God is a live God, not a dead statue. Paul is fond of this phrase (2 Corinthians 6:16; Romans 9:26).

Who made (ος εποιησενhos epoiēsen). The one God is alive and is the Creator of the Universe just as Paul will argue in Athens (Acts 17:24). Paul here quotes Psalm 146:6 and has Genesis 1:1 in mind. See also 1 Thessalonians 1:9 where a new allegiance is also claimed as here.


Verse 16

In the generations gone by (εν ταις παρωιχημεναις γενεαιςen tais parōichēmenais geneais). Perfect middle participle from παροιχομαιparoichomai to go by, old verb, here alone in the N.T.

Suffered (ειασενeiasen). Constative aorist active indicative of εαωeaō (note syllabic augment). Paul here touches God in history as he did just before in creation. God‘s hand is on the history of all the nations (Gentile and Jew), only with the Gentiles he withdrew the restraints of his grace in large measure (Acts 17:30; Romans 1:24, Romans 1:26, Romans 1:28), judgment enough for their sins.

To walk in their ways (πορευεσται ταις οδοις αυτωνporeuesthai tais hodois autōn). Present middle infinitive, to go on walking, with locative case without ενen This philosophy of history does not mean that God was ignorant or unconcerned. He was biding his time in patience.


Verse 17

And yet (καιτοιkaitoi). Old Greek compound particle (και τοιkai toi). In the N.T. twice only, once with finite verb as here, once with the participle (Hebrews 4:3).

Without witness (αμαρτυρονamarturon). Old adjective (αa privative and μαρτυςmartus witness), only here in the N.T.

Left (απηκενaphēken). First aorist active (κk aorist indicative of απιημιaphiēmi).

In that he did good (αγατουργωνagathourgōn). Present active causal participle of αγατουργεωagathourgeō late and rare verb (also αγατοεργεωagathoergeō 1 Timothy 6:18), reading of the oldest MSS. here for αγατοποιεωagathopoieō to do good. Note two other causal participles here parallel with αγατουργωνagathourgōn viz., διδουςdidous (“giving you”) present active of διδωμι εμπιπλωνdidōmiεμπιμπλαωempiplōn (“filling”) present active of εμπιμπλημιempimplaō (late form of καρποπορουσ καρποςempimplēmi). This witness to God (his doing good, giving rains and fruitful seasons, filling your hearts with food and gladness) they could receive without the help of the Old Testament revelation (Romans 1:20). Zeus was regarded as the god of rain (Jupiter Pluvius) and Paul claims the rain and the fruitful (περωkarpophorousευπροσυνηςkarpos and ευπρωνpherō fruit bearing, old word, here alone in N.T.) seasons as coming from God. Lycaonia was often dry and it would be an appropriate item. “Mercury, as the God of merchandise, was also the dispenser of food” (Vincent). Paul does not talk about laws of nature as if they governed themselves, but he sees the living God “behind the drama of the physical world” (Furneaux). These simple country people could grasp his ideas as he claims everything for the one true God.

Gladness (ευeuphrosunēs). Old word from πρηνeuphrōn (eu and phrēn), good cheer. In the N.T. only Acts 2:28 and here. Cheerfulness should be our normal attitude when we consider God‘s goodness. Paul does not here mention Christ because he had the single definite purpose to dissuade them from worshipping Barnabas and himself.


Verse 18

Scarce (μολιςmolis). Adverb in same sense as old μογιςmogis from μολοςmolos toil.

Restrained (κατεπαυσανkatepausan). Effective first aorist active indicative of καταπαυωkatapauō old verb in causative sense to make abstain from.

From doing sacrifice unto them (του μη τυειν αυτοιςtou mē thuein autois). Ablative case of the articular infinitive with redundant negative after κατεπαυσανkatepausan regular Greek idiom (Robertson, Grammar, pp. 1094,1171). It had been a harrowing and well-nigh a horrible ordeal, but finally Paul had won. If only nobody else had interposed!


Verse 19

But there came thither Jews from Antioch and Iconium (Επηλταν δε απο Αντιοχειας και Ικονιου ΙουδαιοιEpēlthan de apo Antiocheias kai Ikoniou Ioudaioi). Came to or upon them, επηλτανepēlthan second aorist (ingressive) indicative of επερχομαιeperchomai Whether news of the miracle had reached those cities we do not know. These may have been travelling grain merchants. At any rate there was an interval in which Paul and Barnabas won some disciples (Acts 14:22). There would be a natural reaction, even revulsion, in the minds of many who had come so near to worshipping Paul and Barnabas. The pendulum swings easily from one extreme to the other. The hostile Jews from Antioch and Iconium may even have followed Paul and Barnabas along the fine Roman road on purpose to keep them on the run. They had driven them out of Antioch and out of Iconium and now appear at Lystra at an opportune moment for their work.

Having persuaded the multitudes (πεισαντες τους οχλουςpeisantes tous ochlous). First aorist (effective) active participle of πειτωpeithō They had complete success with many and struck at the psychological moment.

They stoned Paul (λιτασαντες τον Παυλονlithasantes ton Paulon). First aorist active participle of λιταζωlithazō late verb from λιτοςlithos for throwing stones (used by Paul referring to this one incident when alone he was stoned, 2 Corinthians 11:25). The wounds inflicted may have left some of the scars (στιγματαstigmata) mentioned in Galatians 6:17. They stoned Paul as the chief speaker (Mercury) and passed by Barnabas (Jupiter). It was a Jewish mode of punishment as against Stephen and these Jews knew that Paul was the man that they had to deal with. Hackett notes that the Jews with two exceptions incited the persecutions which Paul endured. The exceptions were in Philippi (16:16-40) and Ephesus (19:23-41).

Dragged him out of the city (εσυρον εχω της πολεωςesuron exō tēs poleōs). They hurled Stephen outside of the city before stoning him (Acts 7:58). It was a hurried and irregular proceeding, but they were dragging (imperfect active of surō old verb) Paul out now.

Supposing that he were dead (συρωnomizontes auton tethnēkenai). Present active participle with infinitive (second perfect active of νομιζοντες αυτον τετνηκεναιthnēskō) in indirect discourse with accusative of general reference. The Jews are jubilant this time with memories of Paul‘s escape at Antioch and Iconium. The pagan mob feel that they have settled accounts for their narrow escape from worshipping two Jewish renegade preachers. It was a good day‘s work for them all. Luke does not say that Paul was actually dead.


Verse 20

Stood round about him (κυκλωσαντων αυτονkuklōsantōn auton). Genitive absolute with first aorist active participle of κυκλοωkukloō old verb from κυκλοςkuklos (circle, cycle) to make a circle round, to encircle. The would-be murderers left and a group of disciples gathered round to see if Paul was dead or alive and, if dead, to bury him. In that group Timothy may very well have been along with Eunice and Barnabas. Timothy, a lad of about fifteen, would not soon forget that solemn scene (2 Timothy 3:11). But Paul suddenly (apparently a miraculous recovery) rose up (ανασταςanastas) and entered the city to the surprise and joy of the disciples who were willing to brave persecution with Paul.

With Barnabas (συν τωι αρναβαιsun tōi Barnabāi). With the assistance of Barnabas. It was plainly unwise to continue in Lystra so that they set out on the next day (τηι επαυριονtēi epaurion ten times in Acts), shaken and bruised as Paul was. Derbe was some forty miles distant, near the pass to the Cilician Gates.


Verse 21

When they had preached the gospel to that city (ευαγγελισαμενοι την πολιν εκεινηνeuaggelisamenoi tēn polin ekeinēn). Having evangelized (first aorist middle participle) that city, a smaller city and apparently with no trouble from the Jews.

Had made many disciples (ματητευσαντες ικανουςmathēteusantes hikanous). First aorist active participle of ματητευωmathēteuō from ματητηςmathētēs a learner or disciple. Late verb in Plutarch, to be a disciple (Matthew 27:57 like John 19:38) and then to disciple (old English, Spenser), to make a disciple as in Matthew 28:19 and here. Paul and Barnabas were literally here obeying the command of Jesus in discipling people in this heathen city.

They returned to Lystra and to Iconium, and to Antioch (υπεστρεπσαν εις την Λυστραν και εις Ικονιον και εις Αντιοχειανhupestrepsan eis tēn Lustran kai eis Ikonion kai eis Antiocheian). Derbe was the frontier city of the Roman empire. The quickest way to return to Antioch in Syria would have been by the Cilician Gates or by the pass over Matthew. Taurus by which Paul and Silas will come to Derbe in the second tour (Acts 15:41-16:1), but difficult to travel in winter. But it was necessary to revisit the churches in Lystra, Iconium, Antioch in Pisidia and to see that they were able to withstand persecution. Paul was a Roman citizen though he had not made use of this privilege as yet for his own protection. Against mob violence it would count for little, but he did not hesitate. Paul had been stoned in Lystra, threatened in Iconium, expelled in Antioch. He shows his wisdom in conserving his work.


Verse 22

Confirming (επιστηριζοντεςepistērizontes). Late verb (in lxx), in N.T. only in Acts 14:22; Acts 15:32, Acts 15:41, to make more firm, to give additional (επιepi) strength. Each time in Acts the word is used concerning these churches.

To continue in the faith (εμμενειν τηι πιστειemmenein tēi pistei). To remain in with locative, old verb. It is possible that πιστιςpistis here has the notion of creed as Paul uses it later (Colossians 1:23 with επιμενωepimenō 1 Timothy 5:8). It seems to be here more than trust or belief. These recent converts from heathenism were ill-informed, were persecuted, had broken family and social ties, greatly needed encouragement if they were to hold out.

We must (δει ημαςdei hēmās). It does not follow from this use of “we” that Luke was present, since it is a general proposition applying to all Christians at all times (2 Timothy 3:12). Luke, of course, approved this principle. Knowling asks why Timothy may not have told Luke about Paul‘s work. It all sounds like quotation of Paul‘s very language. Note the change of construction here after παρακαλουντεςparakalountes (infinitive of indirect command, εμμενεινemmenein but οτι δειhoti dei indirect assertion). They needed the right understanding of persecution as we all do. Paul frankly warned these new converts in this heathen environment of the many tribulations through which they must enter the Kingdom of God (the culmination at last) as he did at Ephesus (Acts 20:20) and as Jesus had done (John 16:33). These saints were already converted.


Verse 23

And when they had appointed for them elders in every church (χειροτονησαντες δε αυτοις κατ εκκλησιαν πρεσβυτερουςcheirotonēsantes de autois kat' ekklēsian presbuterous). They needed also some form of organization, though already churches. Note distributive use of καταkata with εκκλησιανekklēsian (Acts 2:46; Acts 5:42; Titus 1:5). ΧειροτονεωCheirotoneō (from χειροτονοςcheirotonos extending the hand, χειρcheir hand, and τεινωteinō to stretch) is an old verb that originally meant to vote by show of the hands, finally to appoint with the approval of an assembly that chooses as in 2 Corinthians 8:19, and then to appoint without regard to choice as in Josephus (Ant. XIII. 2, 2) of the appointment of Jonathan as high priest by Alexander. So in Acts 10:41 the compound προχειρατονεωprocheiratoneō is used of witnesses appointed by God. But the seven (deacons) were first selected by the Jerusalem church and then appointed (καταστησομενkatastēsōmen) by the apostles. That is probably the plan contemplated by Paul in his directions to Titus (Titus 1:5) about the choice of elders. It is most likely that this plan was the one pursued by Paul and Barnabas with these churches. They selected the elders in each instance and Paul and Barnabas “ordained” them as we say, though the word χειροτονεωcheirotoneō does not mean that. “Elders” were mentioned first in Acts 11:30. Later Paul will give the requirements expected in these “elders” or “bishops” (Philemon 1:1) as in 1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9. It is fairly certain that these elders were chosen to correspond in a general way with the elders in the Jewish synagogue after which the local church was largely copied as to organization and worship. Paul, like Jesus, constantly worshipped and spoke in the synagogues. Already it is plain, as at Antioch in Syria (Acts 11:26), that the Christians can no longer count on the use of the Jewish synagogue. They must have an organization of their own. The use of the plural here implies what was true at Philippi (Philemon 1:1) and Ephesus (Acts 20:17, Acts 20:28) that each church (one in each city) “had its college of elders” (Hackett) as in Jerusalem (Acts 21:18). Elder (πρεσβυτεροςpresbuteros) was the Jewish name and bishop (επισκοποςepiskopos) the Greek name for the same office. “Those who are called elders in speaking of Jewish communities are called bishops in speaking of Gentile communities” (Hackett). Hovey rightly holds against Hackett that teaching was a normal function of these elders, pastors or bishops as they were variously called (1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:9; 1 Corinthians 12:28, 1 Corinthians 12:30; Ephesians 4:11).

Had prayed with fasting (προσευχαμενοι μετα νηστειωνproseuxamenoi meta nēsteiōn). It was a serious matter, this formal setting apart of these “elders” in the churches. So it was done in a public meeting with prayer and fasting as when Paul and Barnabas were sent forth from Antioch in Syria (Acts 13:3) on this mission tour.

They commended them to the Lord (παρετεντο αυτους τωι κυριωιparethento autous tōi kuriōi). Second aorist middle indicative of παρατιτημιparatithēmi Old and solemn word, to entrust, to deposit as in a bank (1 Timothy 1:18; 2 Timothy 2:2). Cf. παρατηκηparathēkē in 1 Timothy 6:20; 2 Timothy 1:12, 2 Timothy 1:14. It was all that they could now do, to commit them to the Lord Jesus. Jesus used this word on the cross (Luke 22:32).

On whom they had believed (εις ον πεπιστευκεισανeis hon pepisteukeisan). Past perfect indicative (without augment) of πιστευωpisteuō They had “trusted” in Jesus (2 Timothy 1:12) and Paul now “entrusts” them to him with confidence. It was a solemn and serious occasion in each instance as it always is to set apart men for the ministry. These men may not have been ideal men for this service, but they were the only ones available and they were chosen from the actual membership in each instance, men who knew local conditions and problems.


Verse 24

When they had spoken the word in Perga (λαλησαντες εν Περγηι τον λογονlalēsantes en Pergēi ton logon). Now they stopped and preached in Perga which they had apparently not done before (See note on Acts 13:13.). After leaving Antioch they passed on through Pisidia, as if Antioch was not strictly in Pisidia (see note on Acts 13:14) and into Pamphylia. They crossed from Perga to Attaleia, the port of Perga, sixteen miles down the Cestus, and capital of Pamphylia, to find a ship for Antioch in Syria. It is now called Adala and for long was the chief harbour of the south coast of Asia Minor. We do not know why they did not revisit Cyprus, perhaps because no permanent Gentile churches were founded there.


Verse 26

They sailed away to Antioch (απεπλευσαν εις Αντιοχειανapepleusan eis Antiocheian). Effective aorist active indicative of αποπλεωapopleō to sail off. They had been gone some eighteen months.

They had been committed (ησαν παραδεδομενοιēsan paradedomenoi). Periphrastic past perfect passive of παραδιδωμιparadidōmi old and common verb. High and serious thoughts filled the hearts of these first returned missionaries as they neared home. The grace of God had been with them. They had fulfilled (επληρωσανeplērōsan) the work to which they had been set apart by the Holy Spirit with the prayers of the Antioch church. They now had a wondrous story to tell.


Verse 27

Gathered the church together (συναγαγοντες την εκκλησιανsunagagontes tēn ekklēsian). Second aorist active participle of συναγωsunagō It “was the first missionary meeting in history” (Furneaux). It was not hard to get the church together when the news spread that Paul and Barnabas had returned. “The suitability of the Gospel to become the religion of the world had not before been put to the test” (Furneaux). Doubtless many “wise-acres” had predicted failure as they did for William Carey and for Adoniram Judson and Luther Rice.

Rehearsed (ανηγγελλονanēggellon). Imperfect active. It was a long story for they had many things to tell of God‘s dealings “with them” (μετ αυτωνmet' autōn) for God had been “with them” all the while as Jesus had said he would be (Matthew 28:20, μετ μωνmeth' hūmōn). Paul could recount some of the details given later in 2 Corinthians 11.

And how (και οτιkai hoti). Or “and that” in particular, as the upshot of it all.

He had opened a door of faith unto the Gentiles (ηνοιχεν τοις ετνεσιν τυραν πιστεωςēnoixen tois ethnesin thuran pisteōs). Three times in Paul‘s Epistles (1 Corinthians 16:9; 2 Corinthians 2:12; Colossians 4:3) he employed the metaphor of “door,” perhaps a reminiscence of the very language of Paul here. This work in Galatia gained a large place in Paul‘s heart (Galatians 4:14.). The Gentiles now, it was plain, could enter the kingdom of God (Acts 14:22) through the door of faith, not by law or by circumcision or by heathen philosophy or mythology.


Verse 28

And they tarried no little time (διετριβον δε χρονον ουκ ολιγονdietribon de chronon ouk oligon). Imperfect active of διατριβωdiatribō old verb to rub hard, to consume, with accusative of extent of time. It was a happy time of fellowship. The experiment entered upon by the church of Antioch was now a pronounced success. It was at the direct command of the Holy Spirit, but they had prayed for the absent missionaries and rejoiced at their signal success. There is no sign of jealousy on the part of Barnabas when Paul returns as the chief hero of the expedition. A new corner has been turned in the history of Christianity. There is a new centre of Christian activity. What will Jerusalem think of the new developments at Antioch? Paul and Barnabas made no report to Jerusalem.

 


Copyright Statement
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)

Bibliography Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Acts 14:4". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/rwp/acts-14.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Commentary Navigator
Search This Commentary
Enter query in the box below
To report dead links, typos, or html errors or suggestions about making these resources more useful use our convenient contact form
Powered by Lightspeed Technology