Paul Left For Dead
Updated: Jul 3
Series: Pre Pauline Letters
Acts 14:1-5 (in Iconium)
Acts 14:8-11 ESVi
Acts 14:12-18 (the people thought they were gods)
Acts 14:19-20 ESV
Deuteronomy 17:2-6, Leviticus 20 and 24:16-17 (Old Testament Stoning)
Acts 14:21-23 ESV
Acts 14:27-28 ESV
Paul and Barnabas traveled to Iconium and preached boldly there and did signs and wonders, but the people in the city were Jewish and Gentiles. The people were divided and when Paul and Barnabas heard there was talk of stoning them the left and went to Lystra to minister to the people there (Acts 14:1-5).
There was a man in Lystra who was “crippled from birth and had never walked. He listened to Paul speaking. And Paul, looking intently at him and seeing that he had faith to be made well, said in a loud voice, “Stand upright on your feet.” And he sprang up and began walking. And when the crowds saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in Lycaonian, “The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men”” (Acts 14:8-11).
The citizens of Lystra mistook Barnabas and Paul as gods and said they wanted to offer sacrifices. Paul and Barnabas told them they were not gods but they were men and they told them about the God who created heaven and earth but the people barely listened (Acts 14:12-18).
At that same time we know from Acts 14:19-20, “Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and having persuaded the crowds, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead. But when the disciples gathered about him, he rose up and entered the city, and on the next day he went on with Barnabas to Derbe.”
Paul was stoned and left for dead!
Stoning in ancient Israel was common practice for execution for crimes (for examples see Deuteronomy 17:2-6, Leviticus 20 and 24:16-17).
“Stoning was the method of execution chosen by the unbelieving Jews who persecuted the early Christians. Stephen, the church’s first martyr, was stoned to death outside of Jerusalem by the Sanhedrin. On that occasion, a young man named Saul, who later became the apostle Paul, held the coats of those who cast the stones (https://www.gotquestions.org/Bible-stoning.html).
So now we see Saul, now called Paul was stoned and left for dead. By the grace of God, he was surrounded by believers and he rose up.
They preached and made disciples in Derbe, and then “they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God. And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed” (Acts 14:21-23).
For the final stretch of their journey Paul and Barnabas sailed back to Antioch. “And when they arrived and gathered the church together, they declared all that God had done with them, and how he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles. And they remained no little time with the disciples (Acts 14:27-28).
I’m not sure that I can fully grasp or explain the full meaning of what it meant to Paul that the message of the Gospel was preached and received by the Gentiles.
In today’s world we know that “Jews make up roughly 2% of the total population in North America and a similar proportion in the Middle East-North Africa region. In the remaining regions, they comprise less than 1% of the overall population” (https://www.pewresearch.org/religion/2012/12/18/global-religious-landscape-jew/).
A gentile is defined as someone who is not Jewish. So, the remainder of the population in today’s world would be Gentile.
We begin to see why over the course of time reaching the population of Gentiles was important. It changed everything. While we cannot know for certain if Paul had a true concept of how many Gentiles would receive Jesus, we can begin to understand why he (they) had reason to rejoice!
I’ve played a game at various times in my life where I was asked if I could speak with anyone in history, who would it be.
My first choice is my dad. He passed over the bridge to heaven in 1987 when I was 34 years old. Last year I realized that I’ve now lived as many years without my dad as I’ve lived with him. I speak with my Mom every day without fail. She turned 95 years old this year. While I miss my dad, I have the blessing of my Mom every day. It is a blessing that I get to talk to someone who has always known me!
The second person just might be the Apostle Paul.
As I write this I wonder if he had any idea of the magnitude his ministry to the Gentiles would have over the course of time.
I would ask him how he knew it was important.
I would thank him for his ministry to the Gentiles.
I would tell him how much knowing Jesus has impacted my family, past, present and future.
I would tell him thank you for his ministry and I would thank Jesus for meeting Saul on the road to Damascus that day.
Finally, praise be to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit for Saving Grace!
Amen and Amen.
Spiritual Practice: Who?
Who would you choose to talk to and why?
In God, Deborah