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Paul and Barnabas in Iconium


The same thing occurred in Iconium, where Paul and Barnabas went into the Jewish synagogue and spoke in such a way that a great number of both Jews and Greeks became believers. 2But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers. 3So they remained for a long time, speaking boldly for the Lord, who testified to the word of his grace by granting signs and wonders to be done through them. 4But the residents of the city were divided; some sided with the Jews, and some with the apostles. 5And when an attempt was made by both Gentiles and Jews, with their rulers, to mistreat them and to stone them, 6the apostles learned of it and fled to Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and to the surrounding country; 7and there they continued proclaiming the good news.

Paul and Barnabas in Lystra and Derbe

8 In Lystra there was a man sitting who could not use his feet and had never walked, for he had been crippled from birth. 9He listened to Paul as he was speaking. And Paul, looking at him intently and seeing that he had faith to be healed, 10said in a loud voice, “Stand upright on your feet.” And the man sprang up and began to walk. 11When the crowds saw what Paul had done, they shouted in the Lycaonian language, “The gods have come down to us in human form!” 12Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul they called Hermes, because he was the chief speaker. 13The priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates; he and the crowds wanted to offer sacrifice. 14When the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they tore their clothes and rushed out into the crowd, shouting, 15“Friends, why are you doing this? We are mortals just like you, and we bring you good news, that you should turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them. 16In past generations he allowed all the nations to follow their own ways; 17yet he has not left himself without a witness in doing good—giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, and filling you with food and your hearts with joy.” 18Even with these words, they scarcely restrained the crowds from offering sacrifice to them.

19 But Jews came there from Antioch and Iconium and won over the crowds. Then they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead. 20But when the disciples surrounded him, he got up and went into the city. The next day he went on with Barnabas to Derbe.

The Return to Antioch in Syria

21 After they had proclaimed the good news to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, then on to Iconium and Antioch. 22There they strengthened the souls of the disciples and encouraged them to continue in the faith, saying, “It is through many persecutions that we must enter the kingdom of God.” 23And after they had appointed elders for them in each church, with prayer and fasting they entrusted them to the Lord in whom they had come to believe.

24 Then they passed through Pisidia and came to Pamphylia. 25When they had spoken the word in Perga, they went down to Attalia. 26From there they sailed back to Antioch, where they had been commended to the grace of God for the work that they had completed. 27When they arrived, they called the church together and related all that God had done with them, and how he had opened a door of faith for the Gentiles. 28And they stayed there with the disciples for some time.

16. In times past. Because the men of Lystra might object that that God was unknown hitherto, Paul and Barnabas prevent them and say, that all men wandered indeed in darkness, and that all mankind was stricken with blindness, but that they deny that any prejudice must be made 3434     “Debere praejudicium fieri,” that any thing should be prejudged, (any judgment should be founded on.) according to the perverse ignorance of the world. These were two no small lets for the unbelievers, long antiquity of time, and the consent almost of all nations. Paul and Barnabas remove both in this place, If, say they, men have erred many years, [ages,] and if the world have wandered without reason and judgment, let not, therefore, the truth of God, when it appeareth, be less precious to you. For seeing that it is eternal, and is not changed, it is an unmeet thing that the long prescription of years should be set against it. They prove that there is no more aid or patronage to be found in the number of men. There is no cause (say they) why the conspiracy of all the whole world should keep you from coming to the right way. Blindness hath got the upper hand among all people; but God doth now (appear and) give light to you. Therefore, your eyes must be open, and you must not slumber and sleep in darkness, though all people have been drowned therein hitherto.

Their ways. If he had only said that men were deceived until that time through God’s sufferance, we might easily gather thereby that all men can do nothing else but err, so long as they be not governed of God. Yet he speaketh far more plainly when he calleth errors the ways of men. For we are plainly taught by this what the wisdom and understanding of man’s mind can do in beholding and keeping the way of salvation. All people [nations] (saith he) have walked in their own ways; that is, they have wandered in darkness and death. It is all one as if he should say, that there is no sparkle of true reason in all the whole world.

Therefore, there is but one rule of true godliness, that is, that the faithful, casting from them all confidence in their own wit, do submit themselves to God. For the ways of men are now as they were in times past; and the examples of all times teach how miserably blind those men be who have not the word of God to give them light, though they think they can pass other men in quickness of sight. Immediately after the beginning of the world, the more part fell away unto diverse superstitions and wicked worshippings. Whence came that, save only because it pleased them to follow their own imaginations? When it might have seemed that the world was purged with the flood, it fell again [relapsed] straightway to the same vices. Therefore, there is nothing more deadly than to lean to our own wisdom.

But Paul and Barnabas show no cause here why the Lord suffered the world to err so long; and assuredly we must count the will of God alone the chiefest law of equity. God hath always a good reason for his worlds; but because it is oftentimes hid from us, it is our duty reverently to wonder at his secret counsel. We must, indeed, confess that the world was worthy of [deserved] such destruction; but there can no other reason be brought why the Lord had mercy rather on one age than on another, save only because it seemed good to him that it should be so. Therefore, Paul calleth that time which was appointed of God for preaching the gospel, the time of fullness, (Galatians 4:4,) lest any other opportunity be sought. And we must remember that which we had in the first chapter, that it is not for us to know the times and seasons which the Father hath placed in his own power. So that the cavil of the Papists is refuted, who say that it cannot be that God suffered his Church to err so long. For whence, I pray you, came the Gentiles but from the ark of Noah, when there was a certain singular purity of the Church? (Genesis 9:9.) Also, the posterity of holy Shem, together with others, did degenerate. Yea, Israel, the peculiar people of the Lord, was also left for a long time. Wherefore, it is no marvel if God did punish the contempt of his word with the same blindness under the reign of his Son as he did in times past.

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