Astounded

I recently posted on the portion of Acts 14 where Paul and Barnabas, following the healing of a crippled man, can barely stop the astounded crowd from worshipping them as gods.

Speaking of astounded, what happened next astounds me:

But 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. When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, 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 14:19-23 (ESV)

I’m not sure if the chronology and its implications are completely clear on the first reading of this passage, so let me detail it a bit here.

Keep in mind that Paul and Barnabas are still in Lystra, a city that just the other day tried to worship them as gods.

What follows is depressingly familiar. I’m reminded of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, and the adoration of the crowds for their King, and then . . . the way these same crowds turned on him and killed him a few days later. Paul had a similar experience, with a similar result:



“But Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and having persuaded the crowds, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city . . .”

One minute the crowd wanted to celebrate Paul as a god. The next they are throwing rocks at him. Neither is the proper or desired response to the gospel, and both are examples of what a person committed to Christ and living the gospel out in front of others can expect.

But here’s what blows me away. Paul is lying outside the city, no doubt bloody and bruised, so much so that the crowd thought him dead. His fellow missionaries gather around him – I believe personally that they were praying fervently for him – and the brother gets up and goes back into the city!

What the . . ! I think if I were Paul I would have set a direct course as far away from Lystra as possible. But Paul went back into the city, and the next day he and Barnabas set out for Derbe (a 60-mile journey, I’m told). One tough hombre, this Paul.

OK, that blew me away. But this next part astounds me!

“When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, 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.” – Acts 14:21-22

Juxtapose that passage with one from a little earlier . . .

“But Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and having persuaded the crowds, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city” – Acts 14:19



Do you see what I see? No? OK, let me hilight the part that’s jumping off the page at me:

But Jews came from Antioch and Iconium

[Paul and Barnabas] returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch



After getting almost killed by rocks in Lystra, Paul goes back into the city (!), then the next day leaves with Barnabas on a 60 mile hike to Derbe. When they are done preaching the gospel there, he goes back to Lystra, the city that tried to kill him (!!). He then journeys back to Icomium and Antioch, which I’m told are over 100 miles away, and are the homes of the people who tried to kill him (!!!).

Incredible faith and determination! What courage! And it’s completely in line with the promises and provisionings of the Lord, who promised through John that ” perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18).

What astounding love.

And what truth, born out of his own hard-earned experience on this his first missionary journey:

“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.”

Having “tribulated” very little in my own life, I don’t think I’m worthy to wash these guys’ socks.

[Note: I cross-posted this on the HNW GAP Singles Blog]

3 Replies to “Astounded”

  1. WOW. I read the book of acts recently and was similarly astounded. Very little of my actions are so surely faithful. Paul and Barnabas obviously knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that their Lord loved and cared for them, and would go with them everywhere. To them that was more important than preserving their own lives. Parts of acts sort of make me worried. I wish I had this kind of faith, but as it happens, I spend very little time even talking about my faith to anyone. It’s not that I hide it, I just don’t volunteer the info. But not only did they stand up and shout it out, but they held it to be their most important calling. This both inspires and frightens me.

  2. I never looked at it that way before. It really is astounding. Nowadays Christians (and by that I mean ‘me’) look for the easy path, the way of least resistance. Paul went the hard way, the most dangerous way. And God went with him, God was faithful.

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