The Acts of Disciples
Scripture Reading: Acts 14:19-23
Key Verse: Acts 14:19
Then some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowd over. They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead.
Today’s Scripture Reading reminds us of the hatred that some Jews had for the Gospel. These Jews held to their traditional belief that the Law could save them. Their decision to follow Paul and Barnabas to Lystra tells how strong this hatred was. These Jewish troublemakers believed that Paul’s teaching was against their beliefs and convinced the crowd. They picked up stones, stoned Paul, dragged him outside the city, and left him for dead.
We do not know for sure, but the believers probably ran for cover when the crowd started stoning Paul. Once they felt it was safe, they gathered around Paul, thinking he was dead. However, as they were mourning Paul’s death, Paul got up and went back into the city.
Commentators have differing perspectives on Paul’s recovery. Some say that Paul pretended to be dead so they would stop the stoning. Some say that Paul was stunned by the stones, but after a time was able to shake it off and get up. Others think that God brought Paul back to life and that the group of believers saw a great miracle. No matter what happened, Paul continued his ministry to that region, and God continued to bless it:
They preached the gospel in that city and won a large number of disciples… (Acts 14:21a)
The next morning Paul and Barnabas returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch to encourage the believers in those cities. Their message might sound strange to us:
…strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” they said. (Acts 14:22)
Most of us understand the idea of suffering, but few of us in the United States have suffered for talking about the Gospel.
Some say that we Christ-followers do not suffer in the United States because of the blessings of our freedom of speech. That is partially true, but I fear that the bigger reason is because we “sugarcoat” the Gospel to make it acceptable to people. I hope I am wrong about that, but the bottom line is that we must be ready and willing to suffer for the Gospel.
My prayer for myself and all believers is that we will be faithful to God no matter how much future pressure may be put on us to deny Christ.
Father, may Your strength and grace be strong in me if and when I am called upon to suffer for Your sake. Grant me your courage. I pray this in Jesus’s Name, amen.