Acts 14:8-11, 19-21
Paul, Barnabas and John Mark sailed from Paphos on the island of Cyprus and came to Perga where John Mark separated from the group and returned to Jerusalem.
Paul and Barnabas continued on to Antioch in Pisidia, not the Antioch in Syria where believers were first called Christians. The gospel was well-received by Gentiles, but it was greatly opposed by the Jews who persecuted Paul and Barnabas and drove them out of Antioch.
The two men traveled east to Iconium, a city in the Roman province of Galatia, where they preached in the synagogue, and “a great multitude both of the Jews and also of the Greeks believed.”
Again, the unbelieving Jews stirred opposition against Paul and Barnabas so that both Gentiles and Jews planned to stone them. Hearing this plot against them, the two men fled to Lystra.
The major event that occurred at Lystra was the healing of a man who had been lame all of his life. Paul and Barnabas spoke publicly so that the man, “being a cripple from his mother’s womb,” was able to hear Paul preaching the gospel.
We are not told how Paul became aware that the lame man believed, but it is likely the Holy Spirit revealed this to him. Seeing “he had faith to be healed,” Paul told the lame man, “stand upright on thy feet.” Immediately he “leaped and walked.”
Seeing this miracle, the people of Lystra believed their gods had come to them in the form of Paul and Barnabas. When they were about to offer sacrifices to the two preachers, Paul and Barnabas assured everyone they were just people, not gods.
Turn from worship of false gods and to the “living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein,” they said to the people.
But there were “certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium” who came to Derbe. They stirred up the people against Paul and Barnabas and they stoned Paul. The troublemakers dragged Paul out of the city and left him for dead.
It is here that we see some believers in Lystra had come to be disciples because Luke said they stood by Paul outside the city. Luke said they “stood round about him” and he rose up. We are not told if he was dead or seriously injured by the stoning, but he got to his feet and walked back into the city. On the following day, he and Barnabas departed for Derbe.
When they had preached in Derbe, they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch.
Paul and Barnabas returned to the very places they had earlier fled. Who would do that? Those men listened to the leading of the Holy Spirit and had such a desire to see lost souls saved that they would not give up the work set before them. May they be an inspiration to us that we should persevere in the faith.
“Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee” (1 Timothy 4:16).
The Sunday school lesson is written by Ed Wilcox, pastor of Centerville Baptist Church. He can be reached at email@example.com.