Acts 14:19

Parking along the street in front of Vermont Capitol.

Monday, 20 February 2023

Then Jews from Antioch and Iconium came there; and having persuaded the multitudes, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead. Acts 14:19

Note: You can listen to today’s commentary courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen).

You can also read this commentary, with music, courtesy of our friends at “Discern the Bible” on YouTube. (Click Here to listen), or at Rumble (Click Here to listen).

In the previous verse, it was seen that the apostles could scarcely restrain the crowds from sacrificing to them, even after appealing to them concerning who God is and who they were in relation to Him. With that noted, the truly fickle nature of the minds of the people is now revealed. Luke begins with, “Then Jews from Antioch and Iconium came there.”

The meaning of “Antioch” is “Antioch of Pisidia” where they had recently departed. It appears that these Jews had learned that the apostles had left their areas and gone on to Lystra. These people had made a trip there in an attempt to bring the apostle’s message into disrepute. To do this, they had made a journey of about 130 miles for this purpose.

It is rather astonishing to consider, but it is not uncommon. Great pains are commonly taken to destroy the truth of the gospel as is found in Scripture. With the arrival of these Jews noted, it next says, “and having persuaded the multitudes.”

Think of the effectiveness of the lie! Think of the fickleness of the people’s minds! In just the previous verse, the apostles were scarcely able to convince this same multitude that they were not gods, and they were not to be sacrificed to. Now, the false words of the Jews have convinced this same crowd of their own false message.

With that, Luke next records, “they stoned Paul.” Rather, it is an aorist participle, “having stoned Paul.” This action leads to the next. The people were brought to such a frenzy in their thinking by these Jews that they completely rejected the words of the apostles and decided to stone their supposed messenger god Hermes of verse 14:12.

It should be noted that not all of the people were involved in this. As was previously seen, Timothy was from this area. And more, Paul and Silas will return to this area in Acts 16 to visit “the brethren,” demonstrating that there were other converts there as well.

As for the events now, having stoned Paul, they “dragged him out of the city.” The event now became a point of “boasting” by Paul, as is noted in 2 Corinthians 11 –

“Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? So am I. 23 Are they ministers of Christ?—I speak as a fool—I am more: in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. 24 From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep.” 2 Corinthians 11:22-25

Paul wasn’t really boasting in this, but he was making a point about what he had suffered for the gospel, not being inferior to those who would attempt to destroy his gospel message. As for those in Lystra, they dragged Paul out of the city, “supposing him to be dead.”

Dragging him outside of the city was a way of saying, “This man does not deserve a burial, nor will we allow his corpse to rot in our gates, thus infecting and smelling up our city.” It was an expedient way of disposing of a malefactor. He would be left to rot and be eaten by the beasts dwelling outside the city walls.

As for Paul, there is no reason to assume that he died and was restored to life. The word “supposing,” combined with the words of the next verse shows that they simply made an incorrect assumption. If Paul had died, Luke would have carefully chronicled this as he does elsewhere. Rather, he was stoned, and the people assumed they had finished him off without carefully checking. Such an event is not unknown and many people who were supposed dead have continued to live on.

Life application: The Jews of Antioch and Iconium traveled a long way to destroy the message of the apostles. This may seem unlikely or even improbable, but it is not so. Throughout the history of the church, there have been people who have gone across continents and even over the sea to destroy the gospel message.

This continues today. For every teacher of the true gospel, there are people who will follow in their footsteps bringing along a false message. Missionaries will go to the deepest jungles of the Philippines, risking their lives to tell about the freedom that is in Christ. Following closely on their heels are the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons. They see where a fellowship has been established, and they immediately jump in and supposedly “correct” the thinking of these people.

The importance of having the word, properly teaching the word, and having people continue reading and sharing the word cannot be understated. Satan is using real people with twisted messages to destroy whatever hope he can in humanity. The freedom of the grace found in Christ and His gospel will be quickly converted into bondage, works, and legalism unless those who share the message do their part to warn those they evangelize.

Be sure to tell people that you talk to that they need to get into the word. Offer to help them understand it. Be ready to give of yourself to protect the purity of the gospel.

Lord God, what a precious message You have given to us. The gospel is a door into eternal fellowship with You. And yet, there are those who would exchange this freedom and restoration with bondage and legalism. Some will even deny the glory of Jesus in order to bring people into a cult of lies. May we be willing to defend the truth of the word and of our Lord Jesus who is revealed in it. To Your glory, we pray. Amen.