Blaine Robison, M.A.
Published 17 June 2019
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Scripture Text: The Scripture text used in this commentary is prepared by Blaine Robison and based on the Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament. The essentially literal translation seeks to reflect the Jewish character of the author and writing. See my web article The Jewish New Testament. Scripture quotations may be taken from different versions. Click here for abbreviations of Bible versions. Quotations marked with the initials "BR" indicate the translation of the commentary author.
Sources: Bibliographic data for works cited may be found at the end of the chapter commentary. Works without page numbers are cited ad loc. Important Jewish sources include the following:
● DSS: Citations marked as "DSS" are from the Dead Sea Scrolls, a collection of Jewish manuscripts of Scripture and sectarian documents found in the Qumran caves. Most of the Qumran MSS belong to the last two centuries B.C. and the first century A.D. Online DSS Bible and DSS Docs. Click here for DSS abbreviations.
● LXX: The abbreviation "LXX" ("70") stands for the Septuagint, the Jewish translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek, which was in use among Jews by the mid-2nd century B.C. Online.
● Josephus: Citations for Josephus, the first century Jewish historian (Yosef ben Matityahu), are from The Works of Flavius Josephus (c. 75–99 A.D.) trans. William Whiston (1737). Online.
● MT: The Masoretic Text is the authoritative Hebrew text of the Tanakh for Rabbinic Judaism. Work on developing a uniform Hebrew Bible began in the 2nd century under Rabbi Akiva, but completed by Jewish scholars known as the Masoretes between the 7th and 10th centuries A.D. The oldest extant manuscripts date from around the 9th century. Online.
● Talmud: Unless otherwise indicated references to the Talmud are from the Soncino Babylonian Talmud (1948); available online at Halakhah.com. The Jerusalem Talmud, identified with "TJ," may be found here. Click here for Talmud abbreviations.
● Targums: The targums are early Aramaic translations of the Hebrew text with commentary: Targum Jerusalem (1st c. AD), Targum Neofiti (1st c. AD), Targum Onkelos (c. 35–120 AD) and Targum Jonathan (2nd c. AD). See an index of targum texts here.
Syntax: Unless otherwise noted the meaning of Greek words is from F.W. Danker, The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (2009), and the meaning of Hebrew words is from The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (1981), abbreviated as "BDB." See the Greek Guide for the meaning of grammar abbreviations and pronunciation of Greek words. Parsing data for Greek words is from Anthony J. Fisher, Greek New Testament. The numbering system of the Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible is identified with "SH" (Strong's Hebrew number) and "SG" (Strong's Greek number). Strong's Online.
Terminology: In order to emphasize the Jewish nature of the apostolic canon and its central figure I use the terms ADONAI (for 'LORD' when quoting a Tanakh source), Yeshua (Jesus), Messiah (Christ), Tanakh (Old Testament), and Besekh (New Testament).
In Chapter Fourteen Luke recounts the ministry of Paul and Barnabas in the cities of Iconium, Lystra, Derbe, Pisidian Antioch and Perga. They were successful in making many disciples of traditional Jews, Hellenistic Jews and Gentiles. Highlights of the chapter include the miraculous healing of a man crippled from birth, and people of Lystra attempting to worship Paul and Barnabas and the resulting apostolic renunciation and rebuke of idolatrous treatment. The apostles also experienced strong opposition and threatened violence in Iconium and even actual violence when Paul was stoned in Lystra. The chapter closes with the apostles returning to Syrian Antioch to complete their first journey and reporting all that God had accomplished through them.
Ministry in Iconium, 14:1-5
Ministry in Lystra, 14:6-19
Ministry in Derbe and Previous Locations, 14:20-25
Return to Antioch of Syria, 14:26-28
First Diaspora Journey (cont.)
c. A.D. 46–48
Rome: Caesar Claudius (AD 41-54)
Procurator of Judaea: Cuspius Fadus (AD 44-46)
Procurator of Judaea: Tiberius Julius Alexander (AD 46-48)
Jewish High Priest: Joseph, son of Kami (AD 45/46-47)
Ministry in Iconium, 14:1-5
1 Now it happened in Iconium according to the same plan they entered into the synagogue of the traditional Jews, and spoke in this manner so that a large number believed, both traditional Jews and Hellenistic Jews.
Now: Grk. de, conj., used to indicate (1) a contrast to a preceding statement or thought, "but;" (2) a transition in presentation of subject matter, "now, then;" or (3) a connecting particle to continue a thought, "and, also," sometimes with emphasis, "indeed," "moreover" (Thayer). The second meaning applies here. The conjunction continues the narrative from the previous chapter. it happened: Grk. ginomai, aor. mid., to transition from one state or condition to another, to become. The verb is used here to mean something coming to pass or taking place.
in: Grk. en, prep., generally used to mark position, lit. "in" or "within" and may be translated "in, on, at, by, or with." Iconium: Grk. Ikonion, the eastern-most city of Phrygia in southern Galatia, although some ancient authorities considered it a principal city of Lycaonia. Bruce says that local inscriptions show clearly that Phrygian was spoken in Iconium until the end of the second century (272). The city lay about 90 miles east-southeast of Antioch on the road between Antioch and Derbe. Iconium was a very ancient city and like Damascus was one of the oldest continually occupied cities in the world, owing its longevity to being located on the main east-west trade route between Asia and Syria (Polhill 92).
The country round about it was famous for feeding great numbers of sheep (Gill). While Iconium was not a Roman colony as Antioch, the emperor Claudius honored the city, and during his reign it was renamed Claudiconium for him. The city was a prosperous market town and possessed a variety of religions, which recognized the deities of Greece, Rome, Phrygia and Lycaonia. There was a major shrine devoted to the Mother Goddess connected with the copper mines located near Iconium. The city had a population of about 30,000 (PC), including a Jewish quarter evidenced by the mention of a synagogue.
according to: Grk. kata, prep., the root meaning is "down," but with the accusative case of the pronoun following it means "according to, by way of" (DM 107). the same plan: Grk. autos, personal pronoun used to distinguish a person or thing from or contrast it with another, or to give him (it) emphatic prominence. The pronoun may mean (1) self, (2) he, she, it, or (3) the same. The third meaning applies here in the sense of the same manner of approach as in previous synagogue visits. they: 3p-pl. of Grk. autos, used to denote Paul and Barnabas. entered: Grk. eiserchomai, aor. inf., to go or enter into a geographical area, manufactured structure or other place defined in the context.
into: Grk. eis, prep. that focuses on entrance, frequently in relation to direction and limit, and in composition may be translated as "into, in, to, towards, or for" (DM 103). the synagogue: Grk. ho sunagōgē means a gathering-place or place of assembly. In the Besekh the term refers to the place at which Jews gathered for worship and learning. The term does not necessarily mean a manufactured structure as the word "church" can mean (cf. Acts 16:13). In the LXX sunagōgē occurs 225 times and is generally used to translate the Heb. words edah (SH-5712), congregation (Ex 12:3) and qahal (SH-6951), assembly, convocation, or congregation (Ex 16:3) (DNTT 1:292ff).
According to Philo, the Jewish philosopher (20 B.C.─A.D. 50), synagogues were houses of prayer and schools of wisdom (On the Life of Moses II, 39). In the first century synagogues were the central institution of Jewish life as a place where study, worship, celebration, and various other kinds of meetings took place. Besides Sabbath services meetings for prayer were held daily at the same hours as the morning and evening services in the temple. Ceremonies were conducted in full view of the participants, with the masses of people no longer being relegated to outer courtyards, as was the case in the Jerusalem Temple (OCB 722).
of the traditional Jews: pl. of Grk. ho Ioudaios, Jew, Jewish, Jewess or Judean (BAG). Danker notes that the term may be used as an adjective (Judean, Jewish) or a noun (Jew, Judean). For a complete discussion on origin of the term and its particular uses in the Besekh see my article The Apostolic Community. In the Besekh Ioudaios designates a person by belief and practice (cf. John 4:9) and distinguishes "devout" Jews from secular Jews (Acts 2:5). Indeed the noun Ioudaismos, "Judaism," first appears in the Maccabean writings for a way of life devoted to observance of Torah laws (2Macc 2:21; 8:1; 14:38; 4Macc 4:26), and then used by Paul to describe his religion before his life-changing encounter with Yeshua (Gal 1:13-14) (DNTT 2:310).
Moreover, the tenets of their Judaism were determined by the scribes and Pharisees in Jerusalem, whose traditions they followed (cf. Matt 23:2-3; Mark 7:3; Acts 10:28). Traditional Jews spoke Hebrew as their primary language (cf. Acts 6:1), although they could be conversant in Aramaic and Greek. They revered Moses (John 9:28-29; Acts 6:11), and recognized the authority of the written Torah (John 7:23; Acts 21:20) and the traditions of the Sages (Matt 15:2; Gal 1:14; Col 2:8). They faithfully observed the Sabbath, kept God's prescribed festivals, circumcised their children and regarded the Temple in Jerusalem as the only place to worship the God of Israel with sacrifices (John 2:13; 4:20; 5:16; 19:31; Acts 2:5; 16:3; 21:21; 22:3; 24:14).
The same devotion could not be said of other Israelite descendants who were scattered throughout the world. Thus, the term Ioudaios is never used to identify Hellenistic Jews, Samaritan Jews or Qumran Jews. The mention of traditional Jews in connection with the synagogue in Iconium does not mean they were the only group in attendance. While they might have built the synagogue and supervised it, services were open to all who might wish to attend.
and: Grk. kai, conj. that marks a connection or addition. Kai has three basic uses: (1) continuative – and, also, even; (2) adversative – and yet, but, however; or (3) intensive – certainly, indeed, in fact, really, verily, yea (DM 250f). The first use applies here. Kai is used in the LXX to translate the vav (ו) character added to words for conjunctive effect. There are over 50 conjunctions in biblical Greek, but kai is by far the most common in the Besekh, occurring over 9,000 times (BibleHub). The excessive use of conjunctions is evidence of either an original Hebrew text or Jewish Greek. See my note on the significance of conjunctions in the Besekh.
spoke: Grk. laleō, aor. inf., to make an oral statement and to exercise the faculty of speech; assert, proclaim, report, say, speak, talk about, utter. The infinitive (inf.) is a verbal noun, which means it has the voice and tense of a verb, but also the case relations of a noun. As a verb it may express purpose, result, time, cause or command. Here the infinitive expresses result. in this manner: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun signifying a person or thing set forth in narrative that precedes or follows it; this. The apostles presented the good news in the same manner as in Pisidian Antioch. so that: Grk. hōste, conj. which connects cause to necessary effect and emphasizes the result; so that, therefore, so then, so as to.
a great: Grk. polus, adj., extensive in scope, here indicating a high quantity or a high degree, here the former; much, many, great. number: Grk. plēthos, relatively large number of any kind; multitude, great number. believed: Grk. pisteuō, aor. inf., to have confidence or faith in the reliability or trustworthiness of some thing or someone. The infinitive is used here to express result (Rienecker). In the LXX pisteuō renders the Heb. 'aman, which essentially means to confirm or support (BDB 52). The Hebrew verb may mean to be true, reliable or faithful as applied to men (e.g., Moses, Num 12:7;), or to stand firm or trust as Abraham trusted in God's promise (Gen 15:6). The verb is especially used of God who keeps his covenant and gives grace to those who love him (Deut 7:9). The Hebrew concepts of believing, trusting and being faithful are inseparable.
The simple declaration means that many present in the synagogue service that day believed in the reliability of the good news of the Messiah and its application to them. The "great number" probably does not mean a majority of the audience, but of those in attendance it was a significant percentage. Just as significant as the number was the diversity of those who believed. both: Grk. te, conj. used to denote both connection and addition, as well as connect an idea closely to another in a manner that is tighter than with kai; and, also, both. traditional Jews: pl. of Grk. Ioudaios. and: Grk. kai. Hellenistic Jews: pl. of Grk. Hellēn, lit. "Hellenist," a person of Greek language and culture or (2) in the broader sense, all persons who came under the influence of Greek culture (BAG).
My translation of "Hellenistic Jews" is based on history. After Alexander the Great (356−323 BC) conquered the world he and his successors sought to educate and assimilate people in the Greek way of life. All who spoke and understood the Greek language and adopted or accommodated Greek culture in varying degrees were counted as Hellenist (DNTT 2:124). All the lexicons recognize that Hellēn is a cultural term as well as an ethnic term. Jewish culture was not exempt from the Hellenistic influence resulting from Alexander's conquest and the imposition of Hellenism on the world. One only needs to read First and Second Maccabees to understand the seriousness of the culture war in the land of Israel. By the first century thousands of Jews in the Diaspora were Hellenistic.
In spite of the fact that Hellēn is not a term restricted to ethnic Greeks or Gentiles in general, all the lexicons inexplicably exclude Jews from this definition. This omission reflects a major blind spot in Christian scholarship. Most Bible versions translate the plural noun as "Greeks." The pairing of Ioudaios and Hellēn in this verse might give the impression that according to the apostles the world was divided into just two ethnic groups, "Jews and Greeks." The pairing of these terms occurs frequently in the Besekh (Acts 11:19-20; 18:4; 19:10, 17; 20:21; Rom 1:16; 2:9-10; 3:9; 10:12; 1Cor 1:22, 24; 10:32; 12:13; Gal 3:28; Col 3:11). However, there were many nations and people groups as Luke mentions in Acts 2:9-11.
The translation of "Greeks" is unfortunate because the average person reading the text would assume there was a population of expatriates from Greece living in Iconium and they attended synagogue services. Such a hypothetical situation is highly unlikely and there is no evidence from external sources to support such an idea. Given the lexicon definition a better translation of the plural noun would be "Hellenists," which some versions use for the same noun in Acts 11:20 (e.g., ESV, HCSB, LEB, NKJV, NRSV, NTE, TLV, WEB). A few versions have "Gentiles" (CEV, GNB, NEB, PHILLIPS, TLB). Christian commentators generally regard the plural form of Hellēn in this verse as referring to "proselytes of the gate" (Barnes, Bruce, Clarke, Coffman, Ellicott), or simply "Gentiles" (Gill, Longenecker, Stern).
Noteworthy is that Luke did not use any of the words to denote Gentiles that attended synagogue services, such as phobeomai-theos ("God-fearer," Acts 10:2, 22; 13:16, 26), sebō-prosēlutos ("worshipping proselyte," Acts 13:43), or ethnos ("Gentile," Acts 13:48). If Luke had meant any of those terms he would have used them. The hermeneutic Law of First Mention also has relevance to this discussion. The first uses of Hellēn in the Besekh (Mark 7:26; John 7:35 and John 12:20) clearly mark the subjects as Jewish and not Gentile. Hellenistic Jews could be secular, ascetic like the Essenes, or devout worshippers as the Greek-speaking Jews that Luke describes in Acts 6:1 and 9:29. The last category describes the Hellenistic Jews in this verse. For a detailed discussion of the term Hellēn and the arguments for the usage of Hellēn in the Besekh representing "Hellenistic Jews" see my article Hellenism and the Jews.
2 But Jewish leaders, having resisted, stirred up and embittered the souls of the Gentiles against the brothers.
But: Grk. de, conj. Jewish leaders: pl. of Grk. Ioudaios, used here as an adjective. See the previous verse. Viewed in a negative light these traditional Jews were most likely the leaders of the Jewish community. having resisted: Grk. apeitheō, aor. part., to disobey, be rebellious, or resist. HELPS defines the verb literally as 'refuse to be persuaded' by the Lord. The verb denotes a willful unbelief. The contrasting verb emphasizes that believing involves obeying (cf. Rom 2:8). As in Pisidian Antioch some of the traditional Jews were not persuaded by Paul's presentation of the good news. Polhill suggests that the resistance from synagogue leaders resulted in the apostles being no longer welcome to speak to the Jewish congregation (93).
stirred up: Grk. epegeirō, aor., arouse to hostile activity; stir up, excite against. The verb occurs only twice in the Besekh, the other in Acts 13:50 where it is connected with the initiation of persecution. Luke implies the same thing occurred in Iconium. and: Grk. kai, conj. embittered: Grk. Grk. kakoō, aor. inf., may mean (1) to abuse or mistreat; or (2) cause to be bad, corrupt, embitter. The second meaning applies here. Many versions have "poisoned," perhaps considering the effect of slander, but according to the lexicons the verb does not have this meaning.
the souls: pl. of Grk. ho psuchē may mean life or breath, but is generally used to mean the seat of affections and will, the inner self. In the LXX psuchē occurs over 900 times and most often translates Heb. nephesh (SH-53-15), which represents the inner self and the seat of desires, passions, appetites, and emotion (first in Gen 1:20). The noun also translates Heb. lebab (SH-3824), inner man, mind, heart, will, especially in the Psalms (13:2; 24:4; 78:18), Chronicles (1Chr 17:2; 22:7, 19; 28:9; 2Chr 1:11; 9:1; 15:12, 15; 31:21), and Isaiah (7:2, 4; 10:7; 13:7; 21:4) (DNTT 3:679). Most versions render the noun with "minds," but Luke did not use any of the Greek words that mean "mind" (e.g., dianoia, nous, phrēn). Considering the preceding verb a better translation might be "emotions."
of the Gentiles: pl. of Grk. ho ethnos, humans belonging to a people group as defined by language and culture; nation, people. In the LXX ethnos generally translates Heb. goy (SH-1471; pl. goyim), "community, nation, people" (DNTT 2:790). The term ethnos is first used in Genesis 10 to describe the list of seventy nations, then of descendants of Abraham (Gen 12:2) and then even more specifically of Israel (Ex 19:6; Deut 4:6; Ps 106:5; Isa 9:1). In the Besekh ethnos in the singular may refer generally to any people distinguished by language and culture (Matt 24:7; Acts 10:35; Rev 5:9). While ethnos is used in Scripture to include Israelite or Jewish people (Luke 23:2; Acts 24:2, 10; 28:19; 1Cor 10:18; Php 3:5), the plural form, like goyim in the Tanakh, is generally used to mean non-Israelite peoples or Gentiles. In this instance the plural noun probably refers to Gentile leaders in the community.
against: Grk kata, prep., the root meaning is "down," and may denote a direction, a position or a relation. Here the preposition denotes a direction of hostility (Thayer). the brothers: pl. of Grk. ho adelphos, lit. "of the same womb," and in secular Greek meant a male sibling; brother. In the Jewish context the term primarily refers to blood siblings or fellow Israelites. In the LXX adelphos renders Heb. ach (SH-251), a male sibling (Gen 4:2; 20:5), a male relative of the same tribe (Gen 13:8; Num 16:10) or the people of Israel (Ex 2:11; 4:18). Here the noun alludes to the traditional and Hellenistic Jews who accepted Yeshua and has the connotation of being both blood and spiritual siblings of Paul and Barnabas, consistent with the definition of Yeshua (Matt 12:50).
3 So they stayed indeed a long time, speaking boldly for the Lord, testifying about the word of His grace, granting signs and wonders to take place by their hands.
With the synagogue being off-limits the apostles continued their ministry in the city, no doubt in the homes of new believers as was done in Jerusalem (Acts 2:46). Now: Grk. oun, an inferential or sequential conj., used here as an indication of taking account of something in the narrative immediately preceding; therefore, now then, accordingly so. The conjunction introduces the actions of the apostles as occurring in spite of the bad treatment they received. they stayed: Grk. diatribō, aor., to spend time, to continue or stay in a place. indeed: Grk. mén, a particle of affirmation; indeed, verily, truly. Many versions do not translate the particle. a long: Grk. hikanos, adj., of a quality or extent that is quite enough, and used here in a quantitative sense.
time: Grk. chronos may mean (1) a span or period of time, or (2) a point or definite moment in time. The first meaning applies here. In the LXX chronos occurs about 100 times and primarily translates Heb. yom, "day, days" (DNTT 3:841). The Hebrews did not conceive of time in the abstract, but used yom overwhelmingly in the sense of ordinary measurable time. The expression "a long time" would denote a period of weeks, rather than days. speaking boldly: Grk. parrēsiazomai, pres. mid. part., speak without sense of constraint; speak openly/boldly/freely. The verb occurs seven times in Acts of apostolic proclamation (9:27-28; 13:46; 18:26; 19:8; 26:26). for: Grk. epi, prep., lit. "upon," used here as a marker of authorization, and equivalent to "in the name of" or "on the authority of."
the Lord: Grk. ho kurios may mean either (1) 'one in control through possession,' and therefore owner or master; or (2) 'one esteemed for authority or high status,' thus lord or master. The first meaning is intended here. In the LXX kurios occurs over 9,000 times, the great majority of times (over 6,000) as a replacement for the Heb. name YHVH ("LORD" in Christian versions). Kurios also occurs a number of times to identify men of higher rank to whom respect is owed (DNTT 2:511f). Disciples called Yeshua kurios to recognize his authority over them, but especially to represent the fulfillment of their Messianic hope and future reign as King.
testifying: Grk. ho martureō, pres. mid. part., to attest or testify to a fact or truth, often in a legal context. The verb points not to relating opinion or hearsay, but what is objective truth. about: Grk. epi. the word: Grk. logos, a vocalized expression of the mind, as communication ranging broadly in extent of content and variety of form; word, discourse, statement, message or speech. The noun is derived from legō, "speaking to a conclusion" (HELPS). In the LXX logos stands principally for Heb. dabar (SH-1697), which has a similar range of meaning (DNTT 3:1087). of His: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. The pronoun refers to Yeshua.
grace: Grk. charis, disposition marked by inclination to generosity, frequently unmotivated by the worth of the recipient; thus, grace, gracefulness, graciousness, favor, thanks or gratitude. In the LXX charis translates Heb. hēn (SH-2580), favor, as in the favor of God extended to man (Gen 6:8), and Heb. racham (SH-7356), compassion, mercy, also granted by God (Gen 43:14) (DNTT 2:116). The term "grace" occurs 157 times in the Besekh, over 60 of which represent an act of God (e.g., Luke 2:40; Acts 11:23; 13:43; 20:24), but grace is also associated almost 50 times with Yeshua (e.g., John 1:14, 17; Acts 15:11; Rom 5:15). The good news is all about grace, the willingness of God to send His Son to take the burden of sacrifice for the redemption of Israel and the world.
As a retrospective narrative Luke emphasizes what Paul will later write at length to the congregations of southern Galatia. Paul's emphasis on grace in that letter (Gal 1:6, 15; 2:9, 21; 5:4) stands in contrast to Pharisaic legalism (Grk. ergōn nomou, "works of law") that he had once embraced. Paul's letter to the Galatians is not a rejection of the Torah, as commonly interpreted by Christian scholars, but of legalism, as Stern translates Galatians 2:21, "if the way in which one attains righteousness is through legalism, then the Messiah's death was pointless" (CJB). For more discussion on this subject see my article Under Law.
granting: Grk. didōmi, pres. part., generally to give something to someone, often with the focus on generosity. In the LXX didōmi generally renders Heb. natan (SH-5414, first in Gen 1:29), to give, put or set, with the same range of meaning (DNTT 2:41). signs: pl. of Grk. sēmeion usually refers to an extraordinary phenomenon, a portent or a miracle (Mounce). In the LXX sēmeion mainly translates Heb. oth (SH-226), "sign, pledge, token, standard or miracle" (DNTT 2:626). Most of the usages of "sign" in the Tanakh are related to extraordinary acts that only the Creator could perform, especially the many miracles for Israel's benefit (Acts 7:36). In the Besekh sēmeion identifies special miracles performed by Yeshua (John 2:11; 6:14; 20:30f; Acts 2:22) and the apostles (Acts 2:43; 4:30; 5:12).
and: Grk. kai, conj. wonders: pl. of Grk. teras, a phenomenon with astounding effect; marvel, wonder, portent. In the Besekh the noun occurs only in the plural and always coupled with "signs." In the LXX teras renders Heb. mopheth (SH-4159), a wonder, sign or portent. The term is used of special displays of God's power, especially the miracles performed through Moses and Aaron in Egypt (Ex 4:21; 11:10). In the Besekh "wonders" are especially associated with the apostles (Acts 2:43; 4:30; 5:12; 15:12). The performance of "signs and wonders" are beyond the gift of miracles given to believers (1Cor 12:9-10) and are the mark of apostleship (2Cor 12:12; Heb 2:4).
to take place: Grk. ginomai, pres. pass. inf. See verse 1 above. by: Grk. dia, prep. used as a prefix to a statement, which may express (1) instrumentality; through, by means of; or (2) causality; on account of, because of. The first usage applies here. their: pl. of Grk. autos. hands: pl. of Grk. cheir, the anatomical limb of the hand. The phrase "by their hands" is an Hebraism that denotes actions accomplished directly by the apostles and not by surrogates. The expression may also denote the actual use of hands, such as in healing miracles. Stern notes that as long as the challenge from unbelievers was nonviolent, Paul and Barnabas stayed to meet it, and the Holy Spirit confirmed the Word with signs following (272). Paul alludes to these miracles in his Galatian letter (Gal 3:5).
4 Now the populace of the city was divided; and some indeed were with the unbelieving Jewish leaders, and some with the apostles.
Now: Grk. de, conj. the populace: Grk. ho plēthos. See verse 1 above. Many versions translate the noun as "the people." of the city: Grk. polis, a population center whose size or number of inhabitants could range broadly, a city or town. was divided: Grk. schizō, aor. pass., cause to be in parts, here to be divided in viewpoint. Luke implies that no one in the city was neutral. A Gallup poll might have determined there was an even split of opinion. and: Grk. kai, conj. some: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a relative pronoun. indeed: Grk. mén, particle of affirmation. See the previous verse. were: Grk. eimi, impf., to be, a function word used primarily to declare a state of existence, whether in the past ('was, were'), present ('are, is') or future ('will be'), often to unite a subject and predicate (BAG).
with: Grk. sun, prep. used to denote association or close identification. the unbelieving Jewish leaders: pl. of Grk. Ioudaios. See verse 1 and 2 above. The translation of "leaders" as a man-made invention seems appropriate as a contrast to the divinely appointed office of Paul and Barnabas. and: Grk. de. some: pl. of Grk. ho. with: Grk. sun. the apostles: pl. of Grk. apostolos, a term used in Greek and Roman culture for a delegate, ambassador, envoy, messenger, emissary or official representative. Apostolos occurs one time in the LXX where it translates shaluach, Qal pass. part. of the verb shalach (SH-7971), "sent," in 1Kings 14:6 of Ahijah the prophet. Josephus also uses apostolos one time of a group of Jewish ambassadors sent to Rome to complain about the appointment of Archelaus (Ant. XVII, 11:1).
Apostolos appears in no other early Jewish literature, but it is grounded in Jewish culture in the office of shaliach. In first century Judaism a shaliach acted as an official messenger or a proxy for and with the full authority of the sender (Ber. 5:5). The shaliach's mission was "limited in scope and duration by definite commission and terminating on its completion" (DNTT 1:128). In the Besekh the term "apostle" is specifically applied to the original Twelve disciples (Matt 10:2), then Mattathias (Acts 1:26), and Jacob, the half-brother of Yeshua (Gal 1:19). All the apostles named in the Besekh were Jewish. The apostles of Yeshua were so named because they had "seen the Lord," i.e., they were witnesses of his resurrected form (John 20:25; Acts 9:27; 1Cor 9:1; 15:5-9; 1Jn 1:1). The term is used here of Paul and Barnabas.
An apostle serving the Messiah and King of Israel was no minor office. The apostles had been personally sent by Yeshua with the authority to proclaim the good news, determine orthodox doctrine, impose requirements based on application of Torah ("bind and loose," Matt 16:19; 18:18), and shepherd the congregations they founded (cf. 1Cor 14:37). The mention of "apostles" in 1Corinthians 12:28 refers to apostles then alive and not to a continuing office of apostle. The office ceased with the death of John. However, the authority of the apostolic canon continues to the present day (Eph 2:20).
Additional Note on Iconium
Opposition to the apostles did not end the congregation Paul and Barnabas established in Iconium. Tryphaena and Tryphosa, two Messianic Jewish sisters Paul mentions (Rom 16:12), are identified in Roman Martyrology as being originally from Iconium. Their move to Rome probably resulted from persecution. Later in the first century, Sosipater, a kinsman of Paul (Rom 16:21), and Tertius are identified by Hippolytus (170-235) in a list of the seventy disciples of Yeshua as overseers of this congregation (On the Seventy Apostles). Sosipater accompanied Paul on his third mission journey (Acts 20:4) and Tertius served as Paul's secretary to write the letter to the congregation in Rome (Rom 16:22).
Iconium was the site of a Christian synod in AD 235, which declared that all heretical baptisms to be invalid (Philip Schaff, The Seven Ecumenical Councils, p. 271). The Christian presence in Iconium lasted well into the 8th century until it was overwhelmed by wars with Arabs and later the Turks.
5 But after an attempt took place of both the unbelieving Gentiles and unbelieving Jews with their rulers, to mistreat and to stone them,
But: Grk. de, conj. after: Grk. hōs, adv. with the primary function of connecting narrative components, used here with a temporal aspect. an attempt: Grk. hormē, impulse, used of potential for trouble as a result of hostility. took place: Grk. ginomai, aor. mid. See verse 1 above. Luke then describes the coalition that opposed the apostles. of both: Grk. te, conj. See verse 1 above. the: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article. The plural article includes both of the following nouns. unbelieving Gentiles: pl. of Grk. ethnos. See verse 2 above. and: Grk. kai, conj. unbelieving Jews: pl. of Grk. Ioudaios. See verse 1, 2 and 4 above. The negative sense of both nouns alludes to adversarial unbelievers. with: Grk. sun, prep. their: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. The plural pronoun takes in both ethnic groups.
rulers: pl. of Grk. archōn, one who has eminence in a ruling capacity or one who has administrative authority. Among Jews the term is used of Gentile rulers (Matt 20:25; Acts 16:19; Rom 13:3), Jewish synagogue officials (Luke 8:41; Acts 14:5), members of the Sanhedrin (Luke 18:18; 23:13, 35; 24:20; Acts 4:5, 8; 23:5), and Beelzebul (Matt 9:34; 12:24). In the LXX archōn translates Heb rôsh (SH-7218), head, leader (Jdg 10:18), and also Heb. sar (SH-8269), prince, ruler (Gen 12:15) (DNTT 1:165). The plural noun includes leaders of both the city and the synagogue. The city rulers were charged with the security and peace of the community and the synagogue rulers, a panel of seven men, were charged with preservation of orthodoxy.
to mistreat: Grk. hubrizō, aor. inf., to subject to abusive and demeaning treatment, thus causing shame to the victim. The infinitive likely denotes a result. The verb could apply to actions of all three named groups. However, Gentiles that would not normally bother with Jews would have to be given a reason to mistreat two individual Jews in collaboration with the unbelieving Jews. The chief method for destroying a movement that benefits the community is slander. The slander likely began with the synagogue rulers. The Gentiles might have been incited by the slander that Paul was advocating another king to replace Caesar (Acts 17:7) just as Yeshua had been accused (Luke 23:2), or he was blaspheming pagan deities (Acts 19:35). Traditional Jews would have been incited by the claim that Paul taught Jews to abandon circumcision of children and Pharisee customs (Acts 21:21).
and: Grk. kai. to stone: Grk. lithoboleō, aor. inf., throw stones at someone, here as an attempt at killing. The infinitive is used here to denote purpose. Stoning was one of the four methods of capital punishment prescribed under Jewish law (Deut 17:2-7; Sanhedrin 6:1). Stoning was not a method of punishment under Roman law. Stoning was to take place outside the city gates (Lev 24:14), in accordance with a prescribed procedure (Sanhedrin 6:2; 6:3; 6:4). Stoning was specifically prescribed for spiritism (Lev 20:27), blaspheming the name of God (Lev 24:11, 16, 23), violating the Sabbath (Num 15:36), idolatry (Deut 17:2-3), and harlotry (Deut 22:24).
them: pl. of Grk. autos, used of Paul and Barnabas. Bruce says inexplicably that "at last a riot broke out, and the city mob was incited to assault and stone the two men" (271). Luke says nothing of a riot or a mob, as he reports in Chapter 17. Considering the next verse the mistreatment likely lasted some days and when that did not succeed in convincing the apostles to leave the synagogue rulers decided to stone them.
6 having become aware they fled to the cities of Lycaonia, Lystra and Derbe, and the surrounding region;
having become aware: Grk. sunoraō, pl. aor. pass., to have a full insightful grasp, to see or comprehend with others. The apostles probably learned of the plot by loyal disciples in the fledgling Messianic congregation and decided that it was time to leave. they fled: Grk. katapheugō, pl. aor., 3p-pl., to flee for refuge, implying having reached the destination. to: Grk. eis, prep. the cities: pl. of Grk. ho polis. See verse 4 above. of Lycaonia: Grk. Lukaonia, a region in the southern part of the province of Galatia. The noun occurs only here in the Besekh. Lycaonia included two noteworthy cities, which are mentioned here. The narrative of apostolic ministry in this region makes no mention of synagogues.
Lystra: Grk. Lustra, a prominent city of Lycaonia about 18 miles south-southwest of Iconium. The site of Lystra was uncertain until 1885 when an archaeologist discovered a monument commemorating the establishment of Lystra as a colony by Caesar Augustus in 6 BC (Polhill 93). Lystra served as a base for the more effective suppression of marauders from the Taurus mountains who threatened the Roman peace (Bruce). Lystra was about 100 miles from Pisidian Antioch and the two colonies were connected by a military road that did not pass through Iconium. The mention of Lystra anticipates the narrative of verses 8-20a below.
Polhill notes that since Timothy originated from Lystra (Acts 16:1-2), then Paul must have searched for a Jewish presence in accordance with Yeshua's instruction (Matt 10:11) and located one Jewish family in the city (94). The apostles likely received hospitality from the family. The city is mentioned five times in Acts and once in Paul's second letter to Timothy in which he recalls the persecutions suffered there (2Tim 3:11). The fact that nothing remains of the ancient city likely owes to a judgment of God for the idolatry Luke reported (verses 11-12 below).
and: Grk. kai, conj. Derbe: Grk. Derbē, a city in southeastern Lycaonia, some 60 miles southeast of Lystra. The city lay on the eastern frontier of the province of Galatia near to the western border of Cappadocia and on the northern border of Cilicia Trachea. According to the lexicographer Stephen of Byzantium, its name in the Lycaonian dialect meant "juniper tree" (Longenecker). In 25 B.C. Augustus incorporated it into the province of Galatia. The town had apparently been honored by Caesar Claudius because a few coins have been found inscribed to Claudio-Derbe (Polhill 96). The mention of Derbe anticipates the narrative of verses 20-23 below. and: Grk. kai. the surrounding region: Grk. perichōros, neighboring country. This last geographical reference probably takes in the locations mentioned in verses 24-25 below.
7 and there they were proclaiming the good news.
and there: Grk. kakei, a combination of kai, 'and,' with ekei, 'in that place, there;' serving as a simple connective. The conjunction alludes to the geographical areas mentioned in the previous verse. they were: Grk. eimi, impf., 3p-pl. See verse 4 above. proclaiming the good news: Grk. euangelizō, pres. mid. part., to announce the good message, and is used to mean (1) pass on information that provides good news to the recipient, and (2) spread good news of God's beneficial concern, specifically of a proclamation with focus on God's saving action in connection with Yeshua. The second meaning applies here. In the LXX euangelizō stands for Heb. basar, to publish or bring news or a report, whether good or bad (DNTT 2:108-109).
The content of "the good news" from its first use in the nativity narratives was the arrival of the Messiah in the person of Yeshua who would sit on the throne of David and rule over the house of Jacob forever (Luke 1:32, 55; 2:10-11). The Messiah would also provide salvation to Israel, both from their sins and from their enemies (Matt 1:21; Luke 1:71, 77; 2:11). These actions would fulfill promises made to the patriarchs and the people of Israel. Previously in Acts this message was the good news proclaimed by the apostles to Jewish audiences and this message Paul would have shared with the household of Timothy. (For the specific content of the "Jewish gospel" see the comment on Acts 5:42.)
With no synagogues the location of Paul's preaching was likely near the city gates, in the marketplace or some other public venue whether people gathered. The people of this region were idol-worshipping uncircumcised Gentiles and not God-fearers like Cornelius. Skarsaune calls them "raw Gentiles" (172). These Gentiles would be aware of Jews but would have had no interest in them. Yet, God intended that the good news of salvation through Yeshua be a light to the nations (Luke 2:32; Acts 9:15; 13:47). What would be the good news for these people with no knowledge of Scripture and the history of Israel?
Luke does not provide a transcript of Paul's preaching in Lycaonia as he does for apostolic ministry in Pisidian Antioch, but he does distill the basic message for "raw Gentiles" in verses 15-17 below. We should note that Paul never engages in a debate with ignorant Gentiles about the existence of God or the merits of monotheism over polytheism. Unlike modern atheists the Gentile culture of the first century was strongly influenced by Hellenistic philosophy which did accept the existence of supra-natural beings and an afterlife. Paul could speak the truth into this philosophical framework and with the convicting power of the Holy Spirit gain a positive response. It's the ministry of the Holy Spirit to "convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment" (John 16:8 NASB).
The essential elements of the good news for ignorant Gentiles, as set forth in verses 15-17 below and 17:24-31 are these:
● The God who made the heavens and the earth and all things in them does not dwell in temples made with hands.
● The living God made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation.
● The living God has given to all people life and breath and all good things, including rains from heaven and fruitful seasons.
● The living God has always desired for people to seek Him, since He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and exist.
● The living God overlooked the past times of ignorance, but is now declaring that all people everywhere should repent.
● The living God has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a man, Yeshua of Nazareth, whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.
For those who believed this message and wanted to know more the apostles would then provide background information on Yeshua as proclaimed to Jews and God-fearing Gentiles Acts 10:34-43.
8 And in Lystra a certain man was sitting with useless feet, lame from the womb of his mother, who had never walked.
And: Grk. kai, conj. in: Grk. en, prep. Lystra: See verse 6 above. a certain: Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun, a certain one, someone, anyone, anything. This pronoun is often used to distinguish someone in a class or in contrast to others. man: Grk. anēr, an adult man without regard to marital status. In the LXX anēr renders several Heb. words, primarily Heb. ish (SH-376), man (Gen 2:23) (DNTT 2:562). Some versions do not translate the pronoun-noun construction (CJB, CSB, NASB, NIV, NLT). The construction tis anēr is first used in Acts of the crippled man at the Beautiful Gate in the Jerusalem temple whom Peter healed (3:2). This account is a remarkable serendipity for Paul to minister as Peter had.
was sitting: Grk. kathēmai, impf. mid., be at rest on the haunches, to sit down or to take a seat. Luke does not name the location of the man, but it was likely in a public place that would provide the opportunity for begging alms. with useless: Grk. adunatos, adj., lacking in capability; crippled, impotent, useless, weak. feet: pl. of Grk. ho pous, the body part that is used for walking or running; the foot. lame: Grk. chōlos, adj., crippled in the feet, limping, halting, lame (Mounce). The adjective covers a variety of structural problems that could limit or prevent mobility. from: Grk. ek, prep. used to denote exit or separation from something with which there has been a close association, lit. "out of, from within."
the womb: Grk. koilia, abdomen, here the female reproductive organ. of his: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. mother: Grk. mētēr (=Heb. ima), refers to a biological female parent. who: Grk. hos, relative pronoun used to give significance to the mention of a person, thing, or piece of information that precedes; who, which, what, that. had never: Grk. oudepote, adv., denying absolutely and objectively; not ever, never. walked: Grk. peripateō, aor., to engage in pedestrian activity; go about; walk about, walk around, walk. The description of "lame from the womb" suggests a congenital defect rather than a trauma after birth. In addition, the muscles of his legs were likely atrophied due to lack of use, thereby making it impossible for the man to walk.
9 This man heard Paul speaking, who, having fixed his gaze on him and having seen that he had faith to be saved,
This man: Grk. houtos, masc. demonstrative pronoun, lit. "this one." heard: Grk. akouō, aor., to hear in the aural sense, but likely with the focus on willingness to listen or to heed the substance of what was said. In the LXX akouō consistently stands for Heb. shama, which not only means to apprehend, but also to accept and to act upon what has been apprehended (DNTT 2:173). The verb alludes to hearing the proclamation of the good news with a measure of comprehension (verse 7 above).
Paul: Grk. Paulos, from the Latin Paulus, meaning small or humble. He no doubt engages in a word play on this meaning of his name when he said, "I am the least of the apostles" (1Cor 15:9). When he acquired the name of Paulus is not mentioned, but as a Roman citizen (Acts 22:28) it likely occurred at birth. Roman citizens had three names. The praenomen (first name) was little more than a formality. The nomen (second name) denoted the Roman tribe to which one belonged. The third name was the cognomen, the family name. Paulus was most likely his cognomen, or last name, probably taken from the patron who freed Paul's ancestors from slavery (Polhill 16). Thus, his full name would have been Sha'ul Paulus. For a biography of Paul see my web article The Apostle from Tarsus.
speaking: Grk. laleō, pres. part. See verse 1 above. By God's providence Paul proclaimed the good news in a place where the lame beggar was sitting. The man's attention was diverted and a spark of wonder and belief was ignited. who: Grk. hos, relative pronoun, i.e., Paul. having fixed his gaze: Grk. atenizō, aor. part., look intently; to observe with great interest and a fastened or fixed gaze (HELPS). Metaphorically the verb means to fix the mind on something. on him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun, i.e., the lame man. and: Grk. kai, conj. having seen: Grk. horaō, aor. part., to perceive physically with the eye, or in a fig. sense to experience something or to have extraordinary mental or inward perception. Paul noticed that the lame man had been listening and something in his countenance indicated a readiness to accept the good news.
that: Grk. hoti, conj. that serves as a link between two sets of data, whether (1) defining a demonstrative pronoun; that; (2) introducing a subordinate clause as complementary of a preceding verb; (3) introducing a direct quotation and functioning as quotation marks; or (4) indicating causality with an inferential aspect; for, because, inasmuch as. The second usage applies here. he had: Grk. echō, pres., to have, hold or possess. faith: Grk. pistis has two facets of meaning: (1) that which causes trust and faith, i.e., faithfulness or reliability, and (2) trust or confidence in an active sense (BAG). The noun signifies a confident reliance on God, as opposed to mere mental assent.
In the LXX pistis translates four Heb. nouns: (1) emun, 'faithfulness' (SH-529; Deut 32:20); (2) emunah (SH-530), fidelity or faithfulness, whether of men (1Sam 26:23), or God (Ps 33:4); (3) amanah (SH-548), fixed support (Neh 9:38); and (4) emet (SH-571), faithfulness or truth (Prov 14:22). The LXX usage emphasizes that the intended meaning of pistis is faithfulness. The lame man not only had confidence in the faithfulness of God, but he also had a readiness to trust and obey. The MSG appropriately translates "Paul, looking him in the eye, saw that he was ripe for God’s work, ready to believe."
to be saved: Grk. sōzō, aor. pass. inf., to deliver, or rescue from a hazardous condition; save, rescue. The verb is used in reference to rescue from bodily peril, to deliver a suffering one, to make well, heal, or restore to health (Matt 9:21-22; Mark 5:23, 28, 34; 6:56; 10:52; Luke 7:50; 8:36, 48, 50; 17:19; Acts 4:9). However, the verb is used in the Besekh primarily of rescue from spiritual peril (Matt 1:21; Luke 13:23; 19:10; Acts 4:12; 11:12), frequently in relation to the Messianic judgment and the day of God's wrath (Joel 2:32; Matt 24:13; Rom 5:9; 1Cor 5:5, 10). In the LXX sōzō translates no less than 15 different Hebrew verbs to describe rescue from death and deliverance from external evils, especially enemies (DNTT 3:206). God is consistently given the credit as the true source of deliverance (Deut 33:29; 1Sam 7:8; 14:6; 2Sam 22:4; Ps 34:6; 107:13).
The great majority of versions translate the verb as "to be healed," and a few have "to be cured" (Goodspeed, NEB, NJB, Weymouth). However, some have "to be made whole" (ASV, HNV, MW, NMB, RV, REV, WEB), which hints at something more comprehensive than a bodily cure. YLT is the only version with "to be saved." Bible versions have likely opted for the translation of "healing" because of Paul's response in the next verse. However, it is unlikely that Paul had been saying anything about healing. The lame man had no experience of using his legs, so he would have had no expectation of healing. Rather his soul and spirit responded to the message of hope of eternal life and in a moment he received the new birth. He was a new man in his spirit. He was about to become a new man in his body.
10 said in a loud voice, "Stand upright on your feet." And he leaped up and began walking.
said: Grk. legō, aor., to make a statement or utterance, whether oral or in written form; say, tell, declare. In the LXX legō renders Heb. amar (SH-559), to utter, say, shew, command or think. The Greek verb "say" also functions to introduce quoted material since ancient writings did not contain punctuation. in a loud: Grk. megas, adj., large or great in extent, used here of volume. voice: Grk. phōnē, an auditory sound, here of the voice coming from Paul's mouth. In the LXX phōnē generally renders Heb. qôl (SH-6963), sound, voice; first of God's voice (Gen 3:8), and second the human voice (Gen 3:17) (DNTT 3:113). Paul might have been small in stature, but he could project with the voice of authority when he needed to. A loud voice would capture the man's attention, as well as bystanders. The loud voice also conveyed the very power of God as in the creation narrative, "let there be" (Gen 1:3, 6, 14).
Stand: Grk. anistēmi, aor. imp., to rise, stand up or get up and in its ordinary use refers to the physical motion of transition from a sitting or prone position or simply standing. In the LXX anistēmi renders Heb. qum (SH-6965), to arise, stand up, or stand, first in Genesis 4:8. The imperative mood of the verb would mean "do it right now." upright: Grk. orthos, an uprightness of bodily posture. on: Grk. epi, prep. your: Grk. su, pronoun of the second person. feet: pl. of Grk. ho pous. See verse 8 above. Paul's entreaty was likely inspired by the Holy Spirit in the moment. It wasn't as if Paul had been thinking, "That man looks like he believes he can be healed, so I think I'll help him." No, he looked at the man and the words flew out of his mouth. That is the nature of divine inspiration.
And: Grk. kai, conj. he leaped up: Grk. hallomai, aor. mid., to move or surge upward quickly; leap, spring up. The verb is a simple statement of observation. The action of leaping fulfilled the Messianic promise of Isaiah 35:6, "Then the lame will leap like a deer." and: Grk. kai. began walking: Grk. peripateō, impf. See verse 8 above. The lame man's sudden cure was an unmistakable creation miracle, a sign and wonder that gave immediate proof of the apostolic message. The man's obedience to Paul's entreaty was evidence of his faith in the God of Israel, but overcoming physical atrophy and standing could only have occurred by divine enablement. He was probably shocked that his legs could support him and for the first time in his life he walked. Praise the Lord!!
11 Also the crowds having seen what Paul had done, they raised their voice, saying in Lycaonian, "The gods having become like men have come down to us."
Also: Grk. te, conj. See verse 1 above. the crowds: pl. of Grk. ho ochlos, an aggregate of people or an assembled company of people; crowd, multitude, great number. In many passages the term denotes common people in contrast to the ruling classes and religious elite. having seen: Grk. horaō, aor. pass. part. See verse 9 above. what: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. Paul: See verse 9 above. had done: Grk. poieō, aor., a verb of physical action, which in this verse refers to being active in bringing about a state of condition; do, act, perform, work. In the LXX poieō renders chiefly Heb. asah (SH-6213), accomplish, do, make, work (first in Gen 1:7), and used of a wide range of human and divine activity.
they raised: Grk. epairō, aor., 3p-pl., to raise up over, usually referring to physical action and here of increasing vocal volume so as to be heard. their: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. voice: Grk. phōnē. See the previous verse. saying: Grk. legō, pres. part. See the previous verse. in Lycaonian: Grk. Lukaonisti, adv., the language of Lycaonia, a dialect unique to this region. The adverb occurs only here in the Besekh. Bruce says inexplicably that the apostles did not understand what was spoken based on their slow reaction to oppose the divine honors being paid to them. However, if they did not understand the words, how is it possible that Luke provides a translation? (Duh!) While Paul proclaimed the good news in Greek, it makes sense that the apostles were given the gift of interpretation of languages to comprehend what was being said (cf. 1Cor 12:10; 14:18).
The gods: pl. of Grk. ho theos, God or god, which must be determined from the context. In the LXX theos primarily renders Heb. El and Elohim ("God or god" over 2500 times) (DNTT 2:67-70). Here the plural noun alludes to the pantheon of deities or divinities recognized and worshipped by ancient cultures. Ancient cultures believed in polytheism ("many gods") and thus they did not accept theos as one omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, Creator and ruler of the universe as described in Scripture. The term "pantheon" in this context means the gods of a particular mythology considered collectively. See the historical note below on the origin of the pantheon.
having become like: Grk. homoioō, aor. pass. part., cause to be like, to become. men: pl. of Grk. anthrōpos, human being, man or mankind, used here of an adult male. In the LXX anthrōpos renders three Hebrew words: (1) adam, SH-444, used for a human male or generically for man and woman and as a contrast to animals (e.g., Gen 1:26-27); (2) ish, SH-376, adult male or husband (Gen 2:23-24) and (3) enosh, SH-582, man or mankind, often signifying the aspect of weakness and mortality (Ps 8:4-5) (DNTT 2:564). Deities of the pantheon were normally depicted in anthropomorphic form. That is, the gods were created in the image of man, complete with human emotions and character. In ancient mythologies deities at times assumed a visible human form.
have come down: Grk. katabainō, aor., 3p-pl., to proceed in a direction that is down; go down, come down, descend. Many of the Greek gods were thought to live at the top of Mount Olympus, a high mountain in northern Greece. The deities of other cultures were also associated with "high places." Some deities lived high up in the heavens and were associated with the planetary bodies and constellations visible at night. to: Grk. pros, prep., lit. "near or facing" and conveys motion toward (DM 110); to, toward, with. us: Grk. hēmeis, pl. pronoun of the first person, used here of the population of Lystra.
The surprising reaction of the bystanders, who probably had been listening to Paul's message, underscores the reality of the miracle. The residents of Lystra would have known the lame man and his physical condition. They were aware of how many years he had begged alms. So, in their polytheistic theology such a miracle could only have happened if the gods had intervened in the natural order. One application of this story in the modern context is that disciples must be careful not to put preachers on pedestals.
Historical Note: The Origin of the Pantheon
After the global flood described in Genesis 7–8, God gave a mandate to Noah that his descendants were to multiply and fill the earth, exercise stewardship over their environment and establish governments that would assure justice (Gen 9:1-7). Instead, Noah's grandson Cush began a rebellion, which was brought to fruition by his son Nimrod (Ninus in ancient literature), effectively halting the fulfillment of God's will for mankind (Gen 10:8-14). Nimrod established a dictatorship in Shinar (Gen 10:10). With the aid of his wife, Semiramus, and inspired by Satan, Nimrod founded the first priestly oligarchy and a religious system devoted to worship of the heavenly bodies.
The people spoke only one language at that time (Gen 11:1-4) and because of their unity believed they could do anything without God. The pinnacle of Nimrod’s success was manifested in the building of a "tower of power" to heaven, but in sudden judgment God created languages and the population was forced to divide and then disperse "over the face of the whole earth" (Gen 11:9). When the people dispersed they took the idolatrous system created by Nimrod and Semiramus with them. Thus, every ancient culture and empire recognized the same pantheon of deities, only under different names.
Over the following centuries ancient civilizations on every continent constructed elaborate mythologies concerning the origin, family, and offspring of gods and goddesses, as well as melodramas of their accomplishments, feats and conflicts. Some were credited with bringing the world into existence. Others were called upon in times of trouble, or to pray to for good harvests, or to support the people in wars. Some deities ignored humanity and others meddled in human affairs just to cause trouble. None of them reflected the power, goodness, love, mercy and justice of the God of Israel. As Paul said, "They exchanged the truth of God for a lie" (Rom 1:25).
For more information on the development of the pagan pantheon, confirmed in ancient sources, see Alexander Hislop, The Two Babylons (1959); Henry Morris, The Genesis Record, Chapter 10 (1976); and Henry Morris, The Long War Against God, Chapter Five (1989).
12 Also they were calling Barnabas, Zeus, but Paul, Hermes, because he was the leading speaker.
Also: Grk. te, conj. they were calling: Grk. kaleō, impf., to identify by name or give a term to; call. The verbal phrase "also they were calling" indicates a concurrent activity with the quotation in the previous verse. Barnabas: Grk. ho Barnabas, a transliteration of Heb. Bar (רבּ)-Naba (נָבָא) (Thayer), which means "Son of Exhortation," a name having been given to him by the apostles (Acts 4:36). Scholars assume the name is Aramaic, because of the Aramaic prefix "bar," but Jews often used this prefix in Hebrew names. The Hebrew prefix "ben" also occurs in Aramaic names (Hamp 19). Naba is derived from the Heb. word for prophet, nabi.
Barnabas was a relative of John Mark, probably a cousin (Col 4:10). He was a Levite and native of Cyprus, named Joseph, before the disciples called him Barnabas. He is first noted for having sold his property and giving the proceeds to the apostles (Acts 4:37), perhaps as an act of Torah obedience since Levites were forbidden to own property. Luke characterized Barnabas as "a good man, and full of the Holy Spirit and of faithfulness" (11:24). Little considered by commentators is that Barnabas is included in the list of the seventy along with Luke whom Yeshua sent out in Luke 10:1: Hippolytus (170-235), On the Seventy Apostles) and Dorotheus (c. 255-362), Acts of the Seventy Apostles. According to these records Barnabas eventually became the overseer of Milan. This information is not likely to be legend, as some suppose, because the lists are too detailed and the names would have been known.
Zeus: Grk. Zeus, corresponding to the Roman deity Jupiter. In the Greek pantheon Zeus was the supreme divinity and the father of gods and men. He was considered the god of the sky, lightning, thunder, law, order and justice. The worship of Zeus was very prevalent throughout the Roman Empire during the first century. but: Grk. de, conj. Paul: See verse 9 above. Hermes: Grk. Hermēs, a son of Zeus and considered to be the inventor of language, the messenger and herald of the Greek gods, corresponding to the Roman deity Mercury. Hermes was associated with eloquence. An inscription found near the site of Lystra is dedicated to Zeus and Hermes and testifies to the importance of that particular pair of gods in the area (Polhill 94). Luke essentially translates the Lycaonian names for these deities into the corresponding Greek names.
Bruce suggests that the adoration of the apostles happened because the people viewed the instantaneous cure of the lame man as evidence of being favored with a divine visitation. A legend that Zeus and Hermes had visited this region in human form was preserved in a Latin poem by Ovid (Marshall). According to that story the gods were entertained by a couple (Philemon and Baucis) who were unaware of the identity of their guests but were rewarded for their hospitality. However, their inhospitable neighbors were destroyed by a flood. Polhill suggests that the people of Lystra were not about to let a visit from the gods pass by without recognition and thereby avoid the consequences people suffered on the prior visit (95).
since: Grk. epeidē, conj. that may express time or cause, here the latter; since, seeing that, forasmuch as. The conjunction introduces the cause for the name. he: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. was: Grk. eimi, impf. See verse 4 above. the one leading: Grk. ho hēgeomai, pres. mid. part., may mean either (1) to function in a leadership capacity, to lead; or (2) 'deem to be,' to think, consider or deduce. The first usage applies here. Many versions translate the verb as an adjective with either "chief" or "main." The participle being a verbal noun indicates both the action and character of Paul. the speaking: Grk. ho logos. See verse 3 above. The noun is used here of the act of speaking or speech. Most versions have "the speaker." Since Paul had the leading role of proclaiming the good news, the people of Lystra apparently thought Paul was speaking on behalf of Barnabas.
13 Also, the priest of Zeus, being before the city, having brought oxen and garlands to the gates, was desiring to offer sacrifice with the crowds.
Also: Grk. te, conj. The conjunction introduces another concurrent activity with the actions described in the two previous verses. the priest: Grk. hiereus, a person in charge of sacrifice and offering at worship places. of Zeus: See the previous verse. The great majority of versions insert "the temple" before or after "of Zeus," even though the word for "temple" is not in the Greek text. Marshall notes that a temple of Zeus at Lystra has not been discovered, but a similar temple in front of the city (i.e. outside the city) existed in Claudiopolis, not far away from Lystra (251). A stone altar, the remains of a worship site, was discovered in 1926 near Lystra dedicated to the "Hearer of Prayer" (presumably Zeus) and Hermes (Bruce 275).
being: Grk. eimi, pres. part. See verse 4 above. before: Grk. pro, prep. indicating precedence, either (1) spatially, 'ahead, before, in front of' (2) temporally, 'earlier than, before' or (3) in rank, before or above. The first meaning is probably intended. Some versions translate the preposition as "just outside" (CEB, CJB, CSB, GNB, ISV, LEB, NASB, NIV, NLT, NRSV). TLV has "before the front gate." the city: Grk. polis. See verse 4 above. having brought: Grk. pherō, aor. part., to bear, to move an entity from one position to another by physical transport or guidance. oxen: pl. of Grk. tauros, a bull or ox. In the LXX tauros translates Heb. shor (SH-7794), bullock or ox (Gen 32:5). The bull or ox was a sacrificial animal in all ancient cultures (e.g., Ex 32:4; Lev 4:3; Num 23:1; 1Kgs 18:26; Hos 8:5-6). and: Grk. kai, conj. garlands: pl. of Grk. stemma, a festive intertwined decoration, wreath or garland. The noun occurs only here in the Besekh.
to: Grk. epi, prep. the gates: pl. of Grk. pulōn, a manufactured structure that affords passage from one area into another. Bruce favors the gates of the city and Polhill favors the gates of the temple, the usual place for offerings (95). was desiring: Grk. thelō, impf., to have a desire for something or have a purpose for something; will, wish, desire. to offer sacrifice: Grk. thuō, pres. inf., to kill, used here in the sense of conducting ritual sacrifice by slaughter of animals. In the LXX thuō renders the Heb. zabach (SH-2076), to slaughter for sacrifice (Gen 31:54; Ex 3:18; Lev 17:5; Num 22:40; Deut 12:15). The oxen, decorated with garlands, were led out of the city, ready to be slain and offered on the local altar in sacrifice (Marshall). with: Grk. sun, prep. the crowds: pl. of Grk. ochlos. See verse 11 above. The people followed the priest to share in the ceremony.
14 But the apostles Barnabas and Paul, having heard and having torn their garments, rushed out into the crowd, shouting,
But: Grk. de, conj. the apostles: pl. of Grk. apostolos. See verse 4 above. Luke probably used the title to emphasize their true authority as messengers of the God of Israel and Yeshua the King of Israel in contrast to the priest of a non-existent deity. Barnabas: See verse 12 above. and: Grk. kai, conj. Paul: See verse 9 above. having heard: Grk. akouō, aor. part. See verse 9 above. Luke does not explain the location of Paul and Barnabas in relation to the boisterous activity. There seems to be a delayed reaction from the narrative of verse 11 to the point of the priest of Zeus organizing a sacrificial offering. But once the apostles realized what was happening they reacted instantly.
and having torn: Grk. diarrēssō, aor. part., forceful separation into parts, tear asunder. their: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. garments: pl. of Grk. himation, a covering for the body, generally refers to clothing or apparel, but in this context it means an outer garment without reference to its quality. In the LXX himation rendered the Heb. beged, meaning both the outer garment and the clothes as a whole (DNTT 1:316). For the average Jewish man the beged was a simple rectangular cloak or robe, typically made of wool, with openings for the head and arms, and worn loosely over the under-tunic.
Tearing one's garment is an ancient custom that conveyed shock, heartache, misery or lamentation (cf. Job 1:20; 2:12; Gen 37:29, 34; 44:13; Num 14:6; Josh 7:6; Jdg 11:35; 2Sam 1:11; 13:19, 31; 1Kgs 21:27; 2Kgs 5:7; 6:30; 19:1; 22:11; Esth 4:1; Ezra 9:3; Matt 26:65). In this instance the tearing conveyed both shock and disapproval to the people and a message to God that they rejected divine honors. The apostles recognized the inherent lie of the serpent that man can be as God (Gen 3:5). As all the ancient Bible heroes the apostles walked humbly before their God (e.g., Gen 5:22, 24; 6:9; 17:1; 26:5; Num 12:3; Mic 6:8).
rushed out: Grk. ekpēdaō, aor., make a rapid movement, leap forth, rush out. The apostles reacted with chutzpah to stop the sacrifice rather than be critical after the fact. into: Grk. eis, prep. the crowd: Grk. ho ochlos. See verse 11 above. shouting: Grk. krazō, pres. part., may mean (1) to utter a loud cry; scream, cry out, or (2) express something with a vigorous voice; call out, which fits this situation. In the LXX krazō renders five different Hebrew verbs with variations of meaning from a shout of war, the cry of childbirth, the wild call of a bird or cries of individuals to God in distress (DNTT 1:409). Here the verb appropriately depicts both apostles raising their voices to break through the clamor of the crowd and get their attention.
15 and saying, "Men, why are you doing these things? We are also men of like nature to you, proclaiming the good news to you, to turn from these vain things to the living God, who made the heavens and the earth and the sea and all the things in them.
and: Grk. kai, conj. saying: Grk. legō, pres. part. See verse 10 above. Paul appeals to logic with a rhetorical question. Men: pl. of Grk. anēr, voc. See verse 8 above. why: Grk. tís, interrogative pronoun indicating interest in establishing something definite; who, which, what, why. are you doing: Grk. poieō, pres. See verse 11 above. these things: pl. of Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. The question is not really intended to elicit a logical answer that justifies the idolatrous actions. Rather, Paul was hoping to prompt critical thinking and self-evaluation. We: Grk. hēmeis, pl. pronoun of the first person. are: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 4 above. also: Grk. kai. men: pl. of Grk. anthrōpos. See verse 11 above.
of like nature: Grk. homoiopathēs, adj., sharing feeling or circumstance; with the same nature as, like. to you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. The declaration of the apostles stands in stark contrast to the narrative of Chapter Twelve in which Herod Agrippa failed to rebuke the divine honors accorded to him and as a result suffered the judgment of God (12:22-23). The description of "like nature" points to the creation of mankind in the image of God, male and female (Gen 1:27). Gender can only be determined by biology. When Adam was "formed" (Heb. vayyitzer, Gen 2:7), that divine image included soul and spirit. The spelling of vayyitzer is unusual: it uses two consecutive Yods instead of the one that would be expected.
The Sages inferred that these Yods stand for the word yetzer (SH-3336), which means inclination, intent, impulse, or purpose. The word yetzer first appears in Genesis 6:5 where it refer to an inclination to do evil (cf. Gen 8:21; Deut 31:21; 1Chr 29:9). The existence of two Yods thus indicated that Adam was formed with two opposing impulses: a good impulse (the yetzer tov) and an evil impulse (the yetzer ra) (Berachot 61a). The yetzer tov is the conscience, the inner voice that reminds you of God's law when you consider doing something forbidden. The yetzer tov is the impulse to do good for others. To the Jewish mind the yetzer ra is not a desire to do evil, such as a desire to commit a capital crime. Rather, it is usually conceived as the self-oriented impulse, the desire to satisfy personal needs (food, shelter, sex, etc.).
So, in simple terms the yetzer tov is the God-oriented inclination and the yetzer ra is the Self-oriented inclination. The yetzer ra is not viewed as a bad thing. It was created by God, and all things created by God are good. The Talmud notes that without the yetzer ra (the desire to satisfy personal needs), man would not build a house, marry a wife, beget children or conduct business affairs. This understanding of the yetzer ra may be seen in Matthew 7:11, where Yeshua says, "If you being evil know to give good gifts to your children…" Yeshua was not implying that his disciples were wicked. He simply meant that their basic inclination was toward self-interest, but they had an altruistic response to the needs of their children. However, the yetzer ra can lead to wrongdoing when it is not controlled by the yetzer tov.
The yetzer ra is generally seen as something internal to a person, not as an external force acting on a person. The idea that "the devil made me do it" (cf. Gen 3:13) is not an acceptable excuse in Judaism. People have the ability to choose which impulse to follow: the yetzer tov or the yetzer ra. That is the heart of the Jewish understanding of free will. The Talmud notes that all people are descended from Adam, so no one can blame his own wickedness on his ancestry. On the contrary, we all have the ability to make our own choices, and we will all be held responsible for the choices we make. In saying "we are men of like nature" Paul was not implying that he was a sinner like his hearers, but that he was no god. He was just an ordinary human being with an important mission.
proclaiming the good news: Grk. euangelizō, pres. mid. part. See verse 7 above. to you: Grk. humeis. Paul's statement alludes to the narrative above in verses 6-8. He then specifies some key elements of his preaching to the "raw Gentiles." to turn: Grk. epistrephō, aor. inf., to turn or return, and is used here to mark a definitive change in thinking and behavior in relation to God. In the LXX epistrephō translates Heb. shuv (SH-7725), bring back to mind, to return, turn back, turn around, first in Genesis 8:12 (DNTT 1:354). When used for repentance shuv means to turn away from sinful conduct, and to turn toward God, purposing to live according to His will (TWOT 2:909). The use of the verb implies that Paul pleaded with his audience to repent of their wickedness in order to receive forgiveness of sins.
from: Grk. apo, prep., used generally as a marker of separation; from, away from. these: pl. of Grk. houtos. vain things: pl. of Grk. mataios, adj., futile, without purpose, unproductive, useless. In the LXX mataios translates various Hebrew words that denote different aspects of nothingness (Ex 20:7; 23:1; Deut 5:11) (DNTT 1:550). The adjective is especially applied in the LXX to non-existent gods that backslidden Israelites worshipped (Lev 17:7; 1Kgs 16:2, 13, 26; 2Kgs 17:15; 2Chr 11:15; Isa 2:20; 44:9; 59:4; Jer 2:5; 8:19; 10:15; 51:18; Amos 2:4). Paul alludes to the worship of non-existent deities. Relevant to Paul's point is the LXX wording of the third commandment, which literally says, "You shall not take the name of the LORD your God upon vanity" (Ex 20:7; Deut 5:11). The LXX translation indicates that the prohibition is not strictly about speech, but about religious syncretism.
to: Grk. epi, prep. the living: Grk. zaō, pres. part., be in the state of being alive; living. God: See verse 11 above. The noun refers to the God of Israel. The "living God" is a term that occurs in the Tanakh for the God of Israel in contrast with the deities of other nations that have no actual life (1Sam 17:26, 36; 2Kgs 19:4, 16; Ps 42:2; 84:2; Isa 37:4, 17; Jer 10:10; 23:36; Dan 6:20, 26; Hos 1:10). Scripture lauds the superiority of ADONAI over useless idols (Ps 31:6; Isa 40:18-26; 45:20). The call of the "Gentile gospel" is to turn from idols to the God of Israel, the only true God (cf. Acts 17:29-31; 19:26).
Not only is the God of Israel "living," but He also the Creator. Paul then repeats the formula of Exodus 20:11 that describes the scope of creation as the basis for observing the Sabbath. The Levites in the time of Ezra also used this formula, although they expanded each part (Neh 9:6). who: Grk. hos, relative pronoun, referring to God. made: Grk. poieō, aor. See verse 11 above. Paul asserts in unison with the rest of Scripture that God constructed the universe by speaking the raw materials into existence and them forming them as He chose (Gen 1:3, 6, 14; Ps 33:6, 9). Scripture denies the possibility of naturalistic evolution.
the heavens: Grk. ho ouranos refers to the area above the earth that encompasses three areas: (1) the atmosphere, (2) interstellar space and (3) the transcendent dwelling-place of God (Ps 148:1-4; cf. 2Cor 12:2). In the LXX ouranos translates the Heb. hashamayim (lit. "the heavens") (DNTT 2:191). While the Greek noun is singular it translates a plural Hebrew word (hashamayim) in the passages quoted. The plural form is preferred because there are three heavens (Ps 148:1-4; 2Cor 12:2) and all three were created on day two of the creation week (Gen 1:6-8).
and: Grk. kai. the earth: Grk. ho gē can mean soil (as in receiving seed), the ground, land as contrasted with the sea, and the earth in contrast to heaven. The LXX uses gē more than 2,000 times and translates the Heb. word erets (DNTT 1:517). In the Tanakh erets designates either (a) the earth in a cosmological sense, or (b) "the land" in the sense of a specific territorial area, primarily the Land of Israel (BDB 75). The term is used here of the planet, which was created on day three of creation week (Gen 1:9-10).
and: Grk. kai. the sea: Grk. ho thalassa (corresponding to Heb. yam) is used of both oceanic bodies of salt water and inland bodies of water, whether salt or fresh. The English language "sea" normally refers to a body of salt water and "lake" to a body of fresh water, although local convention can override this rule. Thalassa (as its Hebrew counterpart) simply refers to a body of water deep enough and wide enough to require a boat to cross it. In the creation narrative a single sea was formed on the third day by the waters being gathered in one place (Gen 1:10). The present configuration of oceans, seas, lakes and rivers came about in the aftermath of the global deluge of Noah's time (cf. Job 12:14-15; 14:11-12; 22:15-16; 26:10; 38:8-11; Ps 29:3-10; 65:5-9).
and: Grk. kai, all: pl. of Grk. pas, adj., comprehensive in scope, but without statistical emphasis; all, every. the things: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article but used here as a relative pronoun. in: Grk. en, prep. them: pl. of Grk. autos. The reference to "all the things" includes inanimate matter (light, stars, planets, water, soil, and plants), living creatures and mankind, both male and female (cf. Gen 1:1; 5:1-2; Isa 40:26; 42:5; 45:12; Eph 3:9; Col 1:16; Rev 4:11). In his sermon in Athens Paul will summarize the Torah declaration with "God made the world and all things that are in it" (Acts 17:24). Paul's declaration is especially important in the origins debate.
Additional Note: The Truth of Creation
The Bible declares, as Paul summarized, that the God of Israel made the heavens and the earth and all that is in them in just six days (Gen 1:1-31; Ex 20:11; 31:17). It did not take God millions or billions of years to speak matter into existence (Ps 33:9; 148:5). At the end of the creation week His masterpiece was complete (Gen 2:1-2). Ancient cultures had their own stories of creation by the actions of their chief deities. In modern times the biblical account of creation has been challenged by a theory of naturalistic evolution proposed by Charles Darwin (1809-1882) and his successors. No deity was involved. Matter created itself.
Various compromise positions proposed by Christian scholars to reconcile the Bible and evolution have utterly failed, being totally inconsistent with the scientific method and Scripture, as well as being devastating to biblical theology. Apparently these scholars are willing to give more credence to atheistic scientists than to the inspired Word of God. No one asks, "Why don't the compromisers want to believe the Bible?" Casting doubt on the veracity of the biblical narrative also provides a basis for questioning the authority of God's commandments. For a concise discussion of the theories of origins and the principles of biblical cosmogony see my web article The Truth of Creation.
16 Who in the generations gone by permitted all the nations to go their ways;
Who: Grk. hos, relative pronoun, used here of the living God. in: Grk. en, prep. the generations: pl. of Grk. genea means family or descent and can mean a clan, race, kind (Luke 16:8), or nation. The noun can refer to an age, a span of generations (Gen 50:53; Ex 13:18; 20:5; Matt 1:17; Luke 1:48) or mean all the people alive at a given time or the present (cf. Matt 23:36). The plural noun alludes to the ages since the time of Noah. gone by: Grk. paroichomai, perf. pass. part., to depart, go by or pass by, used here of the passage of time. The verb occurs only here in the Besekh. permitted: Grk. eaō, aor., to permit or allow. The basic idea is the removal of a real or perceived impediment to a desired action. all: pl. of Grk. pas, adj. See the previous verse. the nations: pl. of Grk. ho ethnos. See verse 2 above.
to go: Grk. poreuomai, aor. inf., may mean (1) to move from one area to another; go, journey, make one's way, transport, travel; or (2) in an ethical sense, to conduct oneself, live, walk. The second meaning is intended here. In the LXX poreuomai renders mainly Heb. halak (SH-1980), to go, come, or walk, with the same range of meaning (DNTT 3:946). their: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. ways: pl. of Grk. ho hodos with the focus on the concept of "going" the word typically has the sense of a route for traveling, hence a way, a road or a highway. It can also refer to the act of traveling; journey, way, trip. Then, hodos is used fig. of conduct or a manner of life (cf. 1Cor 12:31; Jas 1:8), which is the intention here. In the LXX hodos occurs frequently and is used to render 18 Hebrew equivalents, but mostly Heb. derek (SH-1070), a way, road, or journey (Ps 1:6) (DNTT 3:937).
The plural "ways" alludes to the diverse value systems of all the different cultures. Being human-made the values of the nations did not conform to God's value system revealed to Israel. Paul will repeat this observation in his Athens' sermon that God had overlooked the times of ignorance (Acts 17:30). "Permitting" or "overlooking" the ways of the nations does not imply approval or indifference, but rather patience for their sins of ignorance (cf. Eph 4:17-18; 2Pet 3:9). God chose to withhold destructive interventionist judgment as He had performed in the global deluge. The rainbow covenant suspended God's final judgment of the earth (Gen 8:21; 9:11). Such a commitment did not restrict God from exacting retribution for deliberate disobedience of the Noachide covenant, such as idolatry at the Tower of Babel and perversion in Sodom.
17 and yet He has not left Himself without witness, doing good, giving rains to you from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling with food and your hearts with gladness."
and yet: Grk. kaitoi, a concessive particle that combines kai, "and," with toi, "indeed;" although, and yet, though. He has not: Grk. ou, adv., a particle used in an unqualified denial or negation; not. left: Grk. aphiēmi, aor., to release or let go, here with the sense of leaving something behind. Himself: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. without witness: Grk. amarturos, adj., without conclusive evidence, without witness or testimony. While God did not reveal Himself to pagan nations as He did to Israel, He nonetheless left a general revelation of Himself in nature so that all who deny Him are without excuse (Rom 1:20). Paul's argument relies on the principles of cause and effect (cosmology) and design (teleology).
doing good: Grk. agathoergeō, pres. part., do what is good and in a way that is beneficial to another; do good, perform good deeds, render service. Paul then mentions two good effects that God provides the nations that He promised to Israel as part of His covenant:
"If you walk in My statutes and keep My commandments so as to carry them out, 4 then I shall give you rains in their season, so that the land will yield its produce and the trees of the field will bear their fruit." (Lev 26:3-4 NASB)
giving: Grk. didōmi, pres. part. See verse 3 above. rains: pl. of Grk. huetos, liquid precipitation, rain. to you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. from heaven: Grk. ouranothen, adv. marking the sky as a source of something; from heaven, from the sky. The adverb denotes the first heaven or atmosphere, but also alludes to the third heaven from which the provision was made. Yeshua noted that God sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous (Matt 5:45). The provision of rain is part of the hydrological cycle. Water evaporates from the sea, rises into the atmosphere where it condenses, then is released by the atmosphere as precipitation on the land, and finally runs back to the sea to start the cycle again.
and: Grk. kai, conj. fruitful: Grk. karpophoros, adj., fruit-bearing, fruitful, productive. The adjective occurs only here in the Besekh. seasons: pl. of Grk. kairos may refer to (1) an appropriate or set temporal segment of time; or (2) a period, definite or approximate, in which an event takes place; time, period. The first meaning applies here. In the LXX kairos translates Heb. moed (SH-4150), appointed time or season (Gen 1:14); and Heb. eth (SH-6256), time, appointed season, including the climate seasons of the year (Lev 26:4; Deut 11:14; 28:12; Ezra 10:13) (DNTT 3:835). The provision of fruitful seasons alludes to the promise God made to Noah and his descendants after the global deluge,
"While all days of the earth continue, seed-time and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night, shall not cease" (Gen 8:22 BR).
Yeshua noted that God sends sunshine and rain on the righteous and unrighteous, the basic necessities for sustaining life on the earth (Matt 5:45). The mention of fruitful seasons alludes to the annual cycle of four seasons in which there is a time for planting and a time for harvesting (cf. Mark 4:28-29). The manner in which plants grow was a mystery to the ancient farmer. Plant growth is dependent on a variety of factors: soil, sun, water, oxygen, temperature, space and time. Modern science has created labels like photosynthesis and chlorophyll to explain how plants grow, but in the final analysis we know little of that intricate process designed by the Creator.
filling: Grk. empimplēmi, pres. part., to fill, always of something that provides complete satisfaction. The verb implies "your stomachs." with food: Grk. trophē, that which is needed to nourish or sustain physical life; food, victuals. In the covenant with Noah God directed that all the people of the earth add meat to their diet, with the one restriction that they were not to consume meat with its blood (Gen 9:3-4). Paul does not imply that seasons were always fruitful and there was never a scarcity of food, but in general God provided the means for people to feed themselves.
and: Grk. kai. your: Grk. humeis. hearts: pl. of Grk. kardia, the pumplike organ of blood circulation, used fig. of selfhood or the combination of character, emotion, intelligence and the will. In the LXX kardia renders Heb. lebab (SH-3824), inner man, mind, heart, will (DNTT 2:181). with gladness: Grk. euphrosunē, good cheer, joy, gladness, rejoicing. The gladness of which Paul speaks probably alludes to community celebrations after a bountiful harvest.
18 And saying these things, with difficulty they stopped the crowds that they might not sacrifice to them.
And: Grk. kai, conj. Many versions have "even." saying: Grk. legō, pres. part. See verse 10 above. these things: pl. of Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun, which refers to the content of verses 15-17. with difficulty: Grk. molis, adv. used to indicate that an event just barely takes place; hardly, with difficulty, scarcely. they stopped: Grk. katapauō, aor., 3p-pl., cause to cease doing something; restrain, stop. the crowds: pl. of Grk. ochlos. See verse 11 above. that: Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a relative pronoun. they might not: Grk. mē, adv., a particle of qualified and subjective negation, not. The adverb is often used in statements of a tentative nature. sacrifice: Grk. thuō, pres. inf. See verse 13 above. The infinitive expresses purpose. to them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun.
The point of the verse is that the apostles did stop the crowd from offering a sacrifice to them. In their minds the ignorant people thought they were doing a good thing.
19 Now unbelieving Jewish leaders came from Antioch and Iconium, and having persuaded the crowds, and having stoned Paul they dragged him outside the city, supposing him to have died.
Now: Grk. de, conj. The conjunction implies some passage of time in which Paul and Barnabas continued to proclaim the good news and instruct the new Yeshua followers mentioned in the next verse. unbelieving Jewish leaders: pl. of Grk. Ioudaios. See verses 1, 2 and 4 above. came: Grk. eperchomai, aor., to come on or upon, in the sense of moving over a space. Luke does not explain when the adversaries left their points of origin. from: Grk. apo, prep. Antioch: Grk. Antiocheia, the name of two cities: (a) the capital of the Roman province of Syria; (b) a city in Galatian Phrygia, which is intended here. See the description at 13:14. Paul and Barnabas had a very successful ministry there as Luke records in 13:14-51, but were forced to leave because of persecution.
For the Jewish leaders in Antioch to travel such a long distance to do violence suggests that the Yeshua movement had greatly expanded in the city and significant numbers had left the hostile atmosphere of the synagogue. Somehow the synagogue leaders learned of Paul's presence in Lystra, and perhaps after some discussion, decided to pursue the apostles to exact revenge. and: Grk. kai, conj. Iconium: Grk. Ikonion. See verse 1 above. The Jewish leaders from Antioch visited the synagogue leaders in Iconium, and discovering they held the same animosity toward the apostles, they all agreed to set off together to find and punish those who had upset their world and created division in their synagogues (cf. Acts 17:6).
and: Grk. kai. having persuaded: Grk. peithō, aor. part., to bring about a convinced state in regard to something; convince, persuade, urge. the unbelieving crowds: pl. of Grk. ochlos. See verse 11 above. Luke does not explain what the Jewish leaders said to persuade unbelieving Gentiles nor of what these people were persuaded. But, it was probably the same slander spread about the apostles in Pisidian Antioch and Iconium. and: Grk. kai. having stoned: Grk. lithazō, aor. part., to inflict harm or punishment by hitting with stones. Paul: See verse 9 above. The grammatical construction implies the Jewish leaders incited a mob to attack with rocks. Perhaps Paul was taken to a construction site where there were plenty of stones, or pieces of stones, available for ammunition.
Stoning Paul inside the city without trial in violation of Jewish law and Roman law constituted a grave injustice. Paul later mentioned this stoning (2Cor 11:25). they dragged him: Grk. surō, impf., 3p-pl., cause to move by dragging. The verb depicts forcible removal. The mob probably committed this act at the urging of the Jewish leaders. outside: Grk. exō, adv. of place, outside, used of a position that beyond a limit or boundary. the city: Grk. polis. See verse 4 above. Paul was dragged to a point outside the city wall in order to give the appearance of compliance with Jewish law. supposing: Grk. nomizō, pres. part., to determine on the basis of ordinary reasoning, to conclude or to suppose. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. to have died: Grk. thnēskō, perf. inf., to die, generally used of physical death, whether natural or violent.
The last clause leaves doubt as to whether Paul actually died. If the Jewish leaders had assumed Paul to be dead, they would not have engaged in dragging him to avoid becoming unclean by touching a dead body (Lev 21:1; Num 5:2; 9:6). Moreover, they violated Jewish law by not arranging a burial, but their inaction served Paul's interests. A blow to the head may have knocked Paul unconscious and into a coma. His attackers detected no sign of life as they left him outside of the city. A curious omission is that Barnabas was not stoned, but the Jewish leaders may have based their action on the proverbial saying, "Strike the shepherd and the sheep will be scattered" (Zech 13:7).
Ministry in Derbe and Previous Locations, 14:20-25
20 But the disciples having surrounded him, and having risen up he entered into the city. And the next day he went away with Barnabas to Derbe.
But: Grk. de, conj. the disciples: pl. of Grk. ho mathētēs (from manthanō, to learn), one who learns through instruction from a teacher. In the Besekh the noun occurs only in the apostolic narratives and corresponds to the Heb. talmid (SH-8527), a scholar or pupil of a Jewish Sage or Torah scholar (Heb. rabbi). The term occurs 30 times in Acts and always refers to followers of Yeshua, those who not only believed in Yeshua but sought to imitate his character and conduct. For a full discussion of this term see my article Disciples of Yeshua. The mention of disciples alludes to the core group of devoted believers in Lystra. Paul and Barnabas had not been in the city a long time, but it was long enough to instruct the believers in the commitment, obedience and sacrifice required of disciples, and to confirm their loyalty to the Messiah.
having surrounded: Grk. kukloō, pl. aor. part., assuming a physical position that is around; encircle, surround. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. The disciples took up a protective and respectful stance, perhaps also thinking Paul was dead. and having risen up: Grk. anistēmi, aor. part. See verse 10 above. The narrative does not say for certain that Paul had been killed, but his rising up was nonetheless a divine miracle. He likely had bruises and scars from the stoning (cf. Gal 6:17), but he was physically and mentally ready to resume his ministry. he entered: Grk. eiserchomai, aor. See verse 1 above. into: Grk. eis, prep. the city: Grk. polis. See verse 4 above. Paul no doubt went back into Lystra to prove not only that he survived the stoning, but to demonstrate he would not be intimidated by their unjust treatment. They were lucky that he didn't appeal to the Roman governor.
And: Grk. kai, conj. the next day: Grk. ho epaurion, adv., lit. 'on the morrow,' the next or following day. he went away: Grk. exerchomai, aor., to move away from a place or position, to go or come out. with: Grk. sun, prep. Barnabas: See verse 12 above. to Derbe: See verse 6 above.
21 Having proclaimed the good news also to that city and having made disciples of many, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch,
Having proclaimed the good news: Grk. euangelizō, pl. aor. mid. part. See verse 7 above. also: Grk. te, conj. See verse 1 above. to that: Grk. ekeinos, demonstrative pronoun typically used to refer to a noun (person or thing) immediately preceding in the Greek text; that, that one there. city: Grk. polis. See verse 4 above. As with Lystra there is no mention of a synagogue, but the apostles nonetheless sought out Jewish residents with whom to find hospitality and begin their ministry in the city.
and: Grk. kai, conj. having made disciples: Grk. mathēteuō, aor. part. The verb originally meant to make a disciple or student of a teacher and later in the Yeshua movement to train someone to follow or imitate the example of Yeshua (cf. Matt 10:24-25; Eph 5:1; 1Pet 2:21). In the context the verb depicts the apostles teaching the ignorant Gentile believers the truths of Scripture and the lifestyle expected in biblical halakhah, "the way to walk." The use of the verb likely hints at the Great Commission (Matt 28:19), in which discipling is explained as immersing people into the Kingdom of God and teaching them to obey everything Yeshua commanded.
of many: Grk. hikanos, adj., of a quality or extent that is quite enough, and may mean (1) sufficient, adequate, large enough; (2) large or much of number and quantity; or (3) fit, appropriate, competent, qualified (BAG). The second meaning applies here. Even though Paul was a Pharisee his making of disciples did not include passing on legalistic traditions that he had learned. The essentials of the code of conduct for disciples may be found in the lengthy interpretation and application of the Torah Yeshua gave to his disciples (Matt 5—7; Luke 6:20-49). Luke later mentions one disciple made in Derbe named Gaius, who would join Paul on his last visit to Jerusalem (Acts 20:4).
they returned: Grk. hupostrephō, aor., 3p-pl., to go back to a position, to return or turn back. It is curious that the apostles did not press eastward to Cilicia and Paul's hometown as they had proclaimed the good news in Cyprus, the home of Barnabas. Of course, Paul could have formed a Messianic fellowship in Tarsus during his "silent years." The return trip northwest could have been directed by the Spirit, or simply a prudent leadership choice of Paul and Barnabas. The apostles felt a keen responsibility to conserve the fruit of their labors (cf. Gal 4:19).
to: Grk. eis, prep., lit. "into." Lystra: See verse 6 above. and: Grk. kai. to: Grk. eis. Iconium: See verse 1 above. and: Grk. kai. to: Grk. eis. Antioch: See verse 19 above. One commentator suggested that new magistrates had come into office in these cities, making it safer to return (Bruce 279). Longenecker suggests that perhaps the apostles confined their return visits to meeting with disciples, and avoided the synagogues where they would be met with opposition. Nevertheless, for the apostles to return to the places where they previously experienced persecution took courage, and they were fully invested in the mission to proclaim the good news and make disciples. Paul will later write, "Woe is me if I should not proclaim the good news" (1Cor 9:16 BR).
22 strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in faithfulness, and that, "Through many tribulations it is necessary for us to enter the kingdom of God."
In their return visits the apostles took three important actions to reduce the danger of threats to the continuity of the Messianic presence in each city. strengthening: Grk. epistērizō, pres. part., add support to; firm up, make stronger, support, uphold. The verb occurs only four times in the Besekh, all in Acts. the souls: pl. of Grk. psuchē. See verse 2 above. of the disciples: pl. of Grk. mathētēs. See verse 20 above. The first action was to "strengthen souls," which implies motivating toughness of commitment. Perhaps the disciples were reminded of the dictum of Yeshua, "No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God" (Luke 9:62 NASB). The disciple must be resolute and not waver.
encouraging them: Grk. parakaleō, pres. part. (from para, "beside," and kaleō, "to call"), aor., may mean (1) call to be at one's side or summon to one's aid, with a connotation of urgency; invite, entreat, urge; (2) hearten in time of trouble; comfort, console; or (3) to motivate performance; exhort, encourage. The third meaning applies here. to continue: Grk. emmenō, pres. inf., abide in a fixed place, which may have geographical emphasis or the sense of persistence in something, which is the intention here. in faithfulness: Grk. ho pistis. See verse 9 above. The second action was to encourage faithfulness. A true disciple is someone who trusts and obeys. Someday all will stand before the judgment seat of the Messiah and on that day the disciple will want to hear "well done, good and faithful servant" (cf. Matt 25:21, 23; 1Tim 4:6).
and: Grk. kai, conj. that: Grk. hoti, conj. See verse 9 above. Here the conjunction introduces a direct quotation and functions as quotation marks. Many versions translate the conjunction with the verb "saying." Through: Grk. dia, prep. See verse 3 above. many: pl. of Grk. polus, adj. See verse 1 above. tribulations: pl. of Grk. thlipsis (from thlibō, to compress under a weight), distress that is the result of outward circumstances; distress, affliction, persecution, suffering, trouble, tribulation. In the LXX thlipsis renders several Hebrew words that denote need, distress, affliction, or trouble, from personal hostility to war and exile (e.g., Gen 35:3; Ex 4:31; Ps 4:1; 9:9; Isa 10:3) (DNTT 2:807). Thlipsis refers not only to the negative outward circumstances, but also the spiritual or emotional anguish because of the circumstances. Yeshua warned his disciples that they would experience persecution and tribulation (Matt 24:9; Mark 10:30).
Paul has much to say in his letters about tribulation as a normal and expected experience for God's people (Rom 5:3; 8:35; 12:12; Eph 3:13; 1Th 1:6; 3:3-4; 2Th 1:4-10; 3:1-3; 2Tim 3:12; Heb 10:33). The plural form of the noun emphasizes that tribulation can come in a variety of forms, such as pressure to conform, slander, legal strictures, economic deprivation, physical abuse, expulsion and murder. it is necessary: Grk. dei, pres., impersonal verb from deō ('lack, stand in need of') and thus conveys the idea of something that's necessary, something that must or needs to happen. for us: Grk. hēmeis, pl. pronoun of the first person. to enter: Grk. eiserchomai, aor. inf., to go or enter into a place defined in the context and by extension the Hebraic sense of enjoying divine benefits, which is the intention here.
the kingdom: Grk. ho basileia is used to mean (1) an abstract 'act of ruling' and thus 'kingship, royal power, royal rule, or kingdom; (2) a territory ruled over by a king; kingdom; or (3) the royal reign of God or kingdom of God as a chiefly eschatological concept, appearing in the Hebrew prophets and Jewish apocalyptic literature. The term appears widely in Jewish literature of the time. In the LXX basileia renders Hebrew noun derivatives of the verb malak (SH-4427, become a king; reign), some 400 times (DNTT 2:373). The Hebrew words are used primarily for the reign of earthly rulers and only secondarily of God's kingship.
of God: Grk. ho theos. See verse 11 above. In the Tanakh the concept of God's kingly rule is presented in connection with the Israelite monarchy, particularly in relation to the promise made to David (2Sam 7:12-14). Even in the eschatological kingdom the ruler will be a Jewish descendant of David (Jer 23:5; 33:15; Ezek 34:23-24; 37:24-25; Hos 3:5; Zech 12:7-10). The hope that God would establish his reign as King over all the earth, with all idolatry banished, is expressed frequently in Scripture (e.g., Ex 15:18; Pss 93–99; 103:19; 145:10-13; Isa 34:23; 52:7; Dan 2:44; 4:3; 7:27; Mic 4:7; and Zech 14:9).
When Yeshua began his ministry he made the public announcement, "the kingdom of heaven has drawn near" (Matt 4:17 BR). When Yeshua commissioned his apostles for their first mission experience he instructed them to make the same announcement (Matt 10:7). The kingdom was manifest in the person of Yeshua, who is the king of Israel (John 1:49). The Kingdom of God functions in the present age by God's reign in human hearts (Luke 17:21). Thus, Paul's instruction of the disciples included explaining the kingdom of God from the Messianic viewpoint. The Kingdom of God also has an eschatological emphasis. The fullness of the Kingdom will be accomplished upon the return of Yeshua as explained in the Olivet Discourse (Matt 24–25). In the age to come Yeshua will establish his reign on earth with his capital in Jerusalem.
The third action of the apostles was to provide a reality check. In warning of tribulations, Paul does not attempt to explain the reason for the necessity of such unjust suffering. The rationale is hidden in the sovereign plan of God. By being forewarned the disciples won't interpret tribulations as God abandoning them or punishing them. While the past persecutions had been directed primarily at Paul and Barnabas, they would understand that they could well face opposition as well. The courage of the apostles would then serve as an inspiration when their time of trial came.
23 Now having elected elders for them in every congregation, having prayed with fasting, they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed.
Now: Grk. de, conj. having elected: Grk. cheirotoneō, pl. aor. part., "to stretch out the hand," generally a reference to voting, thus to choose and appoint as a result of group decision-making. Many Bible versions have "appointed" which may give the impression that the apostles arbitrarily selected the men. The process was likely similar to the selection of Mattathias (Acts 1:21-26) and the first deacons (Acts 6:3), in which a criteria was followed for nomination. elders: pl. of Grk. presbuteros, adj., may mean (1) ranked as superior in age, older, older one; or (2) ranked in terms of official responsibility, elder. The second meaning applies here. In first century Jewish culture the term was used for officers in a synagogue (Luke 7:3). The Jewish synagogue had seven elders (Moseley 9) and the Jewish apostles would naturally imitate synagogue organization for Messianic congregations.
for them: 3p-pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. in every: Grk. kata, prep., lit. "according to." See verse 1 above. The prepositional phrase is used here in a distributive sense to indicate a succession of one after the other (Thayer). congregation: Grk. ekklēsia, assembly, gathering, meeting, or congregation, used here to denote a grouping of Yeshua's disciples. In Greek culture ekklēsia referred to a political body or a public meeting of citizens (e.g., Acts 19:32, 39, 41), but it primarily occurs in the Besekh for an assembly of Yeshua followers. In the LXX ekklēsia renders the Heb. qahal (DNTT 1:292-295), which means assembly, convocation, or congregation (BDB 874).
In the Tanakh qahal denotes the people of God in a corporate sense, often in the context of being gathered for worship or instruction (Deut 4:10; 31:30; Ps 35:18). Christian Bibles almost unanimously translate ekklēsia in this verse as "church." The word "church" is clearly an ecclesiastical term of Christianity. (See my background note on this subject here.) Messianic Jewish versions avoid use of the word "church." Four versions have "congregation" (CJB, JUB, MW, NMB, TPT), which is preferable since this word incorporates both organic and organizational characteristics and is more neutral in tone than "church."
having prayed: Grk. proseuchomai, pl. aor. part., to petition deity for some personal desire. In the LXX proseuchomai renders Heb. palal (SH-6419), to intervene, mediate, intercede or pray. The verb refers to earnestly petitioning God for His help with respect to an urgent need. There is no mention of laying on of hands for the appointment of the elders, but the prayer would be a natural occasion. with: Grk. meta, prep., may be used (1) as a marker of association or accompaniment; with, among; or (2) as a sequential or positional marker; after, behind. The first usage is intended here.
fasting: pl. of Grk. nēsteia, a religious abstinence from food, lit. "fastings." Among early disciples fasting was not done to impress God (Luke 18:12) or to afflict the body (Col 2:23). The denial of food was to make time for more intercessory prayer to accomplish a spiritual goal. For a detailed discussion of the significance of fasting see my article Fasting and Prayer. Before departing the apostles spent a time with the congregation in prayer and fasting in order to seek God's blessing, anointing and protection on the congregation they were about to leave behind. They did not know whether they would see these disciples again.
they commended: Grk. paratithēmi, aor. mid., 3p-pl., may mean (1) to place something beside, set before; or (2) assign for security or safekeeping, entrust, commend. The second meaning applies here. The subject of the verb is the apostles. them: 3p-pl. of Grk. autos, used specifically of the elders and generally of the congregational members. to the Lord: Grk. ho kurios. See verse 3 above. The title is most likely used of Yeshua. The verbal phrase depicts the apostles recognizing that they could not stay and supervise the work.
in: Grk. eis, prep., lit. "into." whom: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. they had believed: Grk. pisteuō, plperf., 3p-pl. See verse 1 above. The pluperfect tense denotes action in the past that is complete and the results of the action in existence at some point in past time are still in existence. The verb hints at the qualification used to nominate men to the ballot. The elders chosen had proven to be faithful men. Luke intends that this practice of the apostles was standard in every city where they planted a congregation. In the immediate context the appointment of elders occurred in Derbe, Lystra, Iconium and Pisidian Antioch.
24 And having passed through Pisidia they came into Pamphylia.
And: Grk. kai, conj. having passed through: Grk. dierchomai, pl. aor. part. (from dia, "through," and erchomai, "to come or go"), to go through, go about. Pisidia: Grk. Pisidia, a region of Asia Minor in the southwestern part of the Roman province of Galatia and west of Lycaonia. See the map here. The verbal clause depicts the departure from Pisidian Antioch and travel south. they came: Grk. erchomai, aor., 3p-pl., 'to come or arrive' with focus on a position from which action or movement takes place.
into: Grk. eis, prep. Pamphylia: Grk. Pamphulia, a Roman province on the south coast of Asia Minor, bounded on the east by Cilicia, on west by Lycia and Phrygia Minor, on the north by Galatia, and on the south by the Mediterranean Sea. See the map here. Pamphylia was a geographically small and economically poor province with a mixed population. The apostles had previously entered Pamphylia from Cyprus (Acts 13:13-14), but conducted no ministry there. Of interest is that some pilgrims who were present for Shavuot in Jerusalem and heard Peter's sermon were from Pamphylia (Acts 2:10).
25 And having spoken the word in Perga, they went down to Attalia.
And: Grk. kai, conj. having spoken: Grk. laleō, aor. part. See verse 1 above. the word: Grk. logos. See verse 3 above where the noun refers to the "the word of His grace." This mention of "the word" is shorthand for the good news of salvation presented in a form appropriate to the audience, whether Jew or Gentile. in: Grk. en, prep. Perga: Grk. Pergē, a principal and capital city of Pamphylia situated on the river Cestrus about 12 miles from the coast. Small boats from the sea were able to reach Perga by the river. On a hill near the town was the temple of Diana (i.e., Artemis). See the map here. No synagogue is mentioned, so there must not have been a strong Jewish presence in the city, but as in Lystra the apostles probably found a Jewish household to provide hospitality.
they went down: Grk. katabainō, aor., 3p-pl. See verse 11 above. The verb graphically illustrates the change in elevation from the higher plateau of Perga to the coastal plain. to: Grk. eis, prep. Attalia: Grk. Attaleia, the port of Perga in Pamphylia. When the apostles first arrived in Pamphylia from Cyprus (Acts 13:13) they would have landed at Attalia.
Return to Antioch of Syria, 14:26-28
26 And from there they sailed to Antioch, where they had been committed to the grace of God for the work that they had completed.
And from there: Grk. kakeithen, adv. (derived from kai, "and," and ekeithen "from there, from that place"), a marker of movement from a position of place or time, here of the former. The adverb alludes to the mention of Attalia in the previous verse. they sailed: Grk. apopleō, aor., 3p-pl., depart by ship, sail away, set sail (Thayer). Departure would have taken place at a time with favorable winds for sailing such as the summer. Ancient merchant ships could be propelled by both oars and sails. The apostles may have booked passage on a coastal ship that facilitated trade between the major ports along the coast.
There were no passenger vessels, only freighters. So the apostles had to scout out a willing captain, strike a deal for passage, bring enough food to last at least a week, and pitch a tent with bedding on the deck. See the article Roman Empire Sailing for more information. Merchant ships traveled in open sea at a speed of about 4–6 knots, but along the coast the speed was reduced to 3–4 knots (Casson).
to: Grk. eis, prep. Antioch: Grk. Antiocheia. See verse 19 above. This Antioch is in Syria where Paul and Barnabas had first worked together to make disciples (Acts 11:26-30), about 345 miles from Attalia. The ship chosen by the apostles bypassed Cyprus and made straight for Antioch. where: Grk. hothen, adv., a marker of derivation, used here in a spatial sense, where, from whence. they had: Grk. eimi, impf., 3p-pl. See verse 4 above. been committed: Grk. paradidōmi, pl. perf. pass. part., to convey from one position to another, in general "to hand over," used here of entrusting someone to another. The verb alludes to the commissioning narrative of Acts 13:1-3.
to the grace: Grk. ho charis, disposition marked by inclination to generosity, frequently unmotivated by the worth of the recipient; thus, grace, gracefulness, graciousness, favor, thanks or gratitude. In the LXX charis occurs about 190 times in the derivative form of charin of which only about 75 have a Hebrew equivalent, of which 61 are for Heb. hēn (SH-2580), favor, first in Gen 6:8 in regards to Noah receiving the favor of God, and the others for Heb. racham (SH-7356), compassion, mercy, first in Gen 43:14 (DNTT 2:116). of God: Grk. theos. See verses 11 and 22 above. The phrase "the grace of God" implies the sovereign guidance for the journey as well as divine protection along the way.
for: Grk. eis. the work: Grk. ho ergon generally means a deed, action or accomplishment, used here to mean the ministry of proclaiming the good news and discipling new believers. that: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. See verse 8 above. they had completed: Grk. plēroō, aor., 3p-pl., may mean (1) cause to abound in content to a maximum, fill; or (2) to bring to fruition or completion, complete, fulfill, fill up, carry out. The second meaning is intended here. Thus, the apostles ended their journey where they began, and concluded a period lasting as much as two years.
27 Now having arrived and having gathered together the congregation, they were reporting how much God had done with them and that He had opened a door of faithfulness to the Gentiles.
Now: Grk. de, conj. having arrived: Grk. paraginomai, pl. aor. mid. part., to make one's way so as to be present; come, arrive, be present. and: Grk. kai, conj. having gathered together: Grk. sunagō, pl. aor. part., to bring together in a collective manner; assemble, gather together. the congregation: Grk. ho ekklēsia. See verse 23 above. The apostles didn't waste any time upon their return to the city and took initiative for gathering the congregation members, as many as were available. The relative size of the congregation is unstated, but they likely met in a large house of a member. they were reporting: Grk. anangellō, impf., may mean (1) report or relay, of persons returning from a place; or (2) provide information, disclose, announce, proclaim, teach. The first meaning applies here.
how much: Grk. hosos, correlative pronoun signifying maximum inclusion; how much, how great, how many. Bible versions diminish the impact of the pronoun with the translation of "all," "all that" or "everything." The pronoun conveys an exclamation of praise. God: Grk. theos. had done: Grk. poieō, aor. See verse 11 above. with: Grk. meta, prep. See verse 23 above. them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. The apostles in giving a detailed account of their mission and adventures appropriately gave glory to God for all the successes and miracles. The "how much" is akin to Paul's later comment "Now to Him who is able to do far beyond all that we ask or imagine, by means of His power that works in us" (Eph 3:20 TLV).
and: Grk. kai. that: Grk. hoti, conj. See verse 9 above. He had opened: Grk. anoigō, aor., to open, often used of doors and gates, but used here in a figurative sense. a door: Grk. thura, (1) a device for opening and closing an entranceway; door, gate; or (2) a passage providing access to a place, entrance. The phrase "opened a door" is an idiomatic expression that indicates providing an opportunity for something or arranging circumstances conducive to fulfilling a goal, here a spiritual goal (cf. 1Cor 16:9; 2Cor 2:12-13; Col 4:3). of faithfulness: Grk. pistis. See verse 9 above. to the Gentiles: pl. of Grk. ho ethnos. See verse 2 above. Bible versions translate the last clause as "a door of faith to the Gentiles," meaning that Gentiles had embraced Yeshua as Messiah and Savior.
Moreover, the Gentiles of whom Paul spoke did not just become believers, they became faithful disciples. However, the grammatical construction, "door of faithfulness," could also be taken to refer to the faithfulness of God to enable Paul in carrying out the commission He received in Damascus (Acts 9:15) and to fulfill the prophetic word of Isaiah (Acts 13:47). The previous call of Peter to take the good news to God-fearing Gentiles was intended to include pagan Gentiles, as well.
28 And they remained not a little time with the disciples.
And: Grk. de, conj. they remained: Grk. diatribō, aor., 3p-pl., to spend time, to continue or stay in a place. not: Grk. ou, adv. See verse 17 above. a little: Grk. oligos, adj., used (1) of extent or degree; little, small; (2) of quantity, few; or (3) adverbially of time. The third meaning is intended here, no doubt understatement. time: Grk. chronos may mean (1) a span or period of time, or (2) a point or definite moment in time. The first meaning applies here. In the LXX chronos occurs about 100 times and translates seven different Hebrew words, mostly yom, "day, days" (DNTT 3:841). The time reference could easily mean several weeks if not several months. with: Grk. sun, prep. See verse 4 above. the disciples: pl. of Grk. mathētēs. See verse 20 above. This verse serves to establish the location of Paul and Barnabas for the narrative of the next chapter.
BAG: Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. trans. W.F. Arndt & F.W. Gingrich. The University of Chicago Press, 1957.
Barclay: William Barclay, The Acts of the Apostles. Rev. ed. The Westminster Press, 1976. Daily Bible Study Series.
Barnes: Albert Barnes (1798-1870), Notes on the Whole Bible (1834). Baker Book House, 1949. Online.
BBMS: Henry Morris, Biblical Basis for Modern Science. Baker Book House, 1984.
BDB: The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon. Oxford University Press, 1907. Reprinted by Associated Publishers and Authors, Inc., 1981.
Bruce: F.F. Bruce, The Book of the Acts. Rev. ed. William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1988. (New International Commentary on the New Testament)
Casson: Lionel Casson, "Speed under Sail of Ancient Ships," Transactions of the American Philological Association, Vol. 82, New York University, 1951. Online.
CJB: David H. Stern, Complete Jewish Bible. Jewish New Testament Publications, 1998.
Clarke: Adam Clarke, Commentary on the Holy Bible. (1826). Ed. Ralph Earle. Baker Book House, 1967. Online.
Coffman: James Burton Coffman (1905-2006), Commentaries on the Bible. Online.
Danker: Frederick William Danker, The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. The University of Chicago Press, 2009.
DM: H.E. Dana & Julius R. Mantey, A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament. The Macmillan Co., 1955.
DNTT: Dictionary of New Testament Theology, 3 vols., ed. Colin Brown. Zondervan Pub. House, 1975.
Ellicott: Charles John Ellicott (1819–1905), Commentary for English Readers (1878). Online.
Hamp: Douglas Hamp, Discovering the Language of Jesus: Hebrew or Aramaic? CreateSpace, 2005.
Longenecker: Richard D. Longenecker, The Acts of the Apostles, Vol. 9, Expositor's Bible Commentary, Software version 2.6. Zondervan Corp, 1989-1999.
Moseley: Ron Moseley, Yeshua: A Guide to the Real Yeshua and the Original Church. Lederer Books, 1996.
Mounce: William D. Mounce, Mounce Concise Greek-English Dictionary of the New Testament. 2011. Online.
OCB: The Oxford Companion to the Bible. ed. Bruce M. Metzger and Michael D. Coogan. Oxford University Press, 1993.
PC: The Pulpit Commentary (1890). 23 vols. Edited by Rev. Joseph S. Exell and Henry Donald Maurice Spence-Jones. Hendrickson Pub., 1985. Online.
Polhill: John B. Polhill, Paul and His Letters. B & H Academic, 1999.
Skarsaune: Oskar Skarsaune, In the Shadow of the Temple: Jewish Influences on Early Christianity. InterVarsity Press, 2002.
Stern: David Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary. Jewish New Testament Publications, 1996.
Thayer: Joseph Henry Thayer, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. Harper Brothers, 1889.
TWOT: R. Laird Harris, ed., Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament. 2 vols. Moody Press, 1980.
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