Acts 14:20

Getting gas after capitol visit. This guy did the pumping. First time in most of my life someone did it for me.

Tuesday, 21 February 2023

However, when the disciples gathered around him, he rose up and went into the city. And the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe. Acts 14:20

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).

Note: The NKJV does not accurately translate the verbs, so the sense of action is lost. It should read, “However, the disciples having surrounded him, having arisen he entered into the city. And on the morrow, he departed with Barnabas to Derbe” (CG). This will be used to evaluate the verse.

The previous verse told of the Jews from Antioch and Iconium coming to Lystra. They got the crowd to side against Paul, and they stoned him and dragged him out of the city, supposing he was dead. Now, Luke continues with, “However.”

Despite having been stoned, something that would be considered a curse in Israel, the disciples decided to go out to Paul, maybe planning to have a funeral and bury him. Once there, it says, “the disciples having surrounded him.”

It is of note that Barnabas is not mentioned at this time. Because of the nature of the situation, he was probably secreted away in the house of one of the disciples.

As for their surrounding him, this seems to indicate just what was supposed. They probably went forth from the city to pray over his dead body and then give him a decent burial. It was a kind gesture demonstrating that they really were converted and cared about the one who had brought them the message of life found in Christ. And yet, despite their certain grief, Luke continues with, “having arisen he entered into the city.”

The lack of detail from Luke surely indicates that Paul was not dead. He may have been knocked out, but Luke seems to purposefully shy away from any supernatural explanation for Paul’s ability to stand. Nothing is said of the disciples praying over him, helping him stand, praising God for a miracle, or any other such thing that Luke is normally so meticulous to include.

If anything, the miracle is in the fact that Paul hadn’t died, that he didn’t need help up, that he could walk into the city, etc. It was as if the rocks that came at him were entirely ineffective in bringing harm upon him. Nothing is said of broken teeth, lumpy bumps on his head, sore muscles, or the like.

It is such a rare thing for Luke to overlook details like this that it causes the mind to wonder what type of force field was set up to protect him. Whatever happened, Paul obviously was fine and was able to sleep soundly in the very city whose occupants had just stoned him hours before. With that noted, the narrative continues with, “And on the morrow, he departed with Barnabas to Derbe.”

Because of the fickle nature of the people, the animosity stirred up by the Jews, and the resulting lack of evangelistic opportunities at that time, heading out of the city seemed to be the prudent thing to do. It will not be long, however, before they return to Lystra.

As for the name Derbe, its meaning is not known. This is the second of three times the city is mentioned. The last will be in Acts 16:1.

Life application: What occurred with Paul was obviously not unexpected. If it was, he and Barnabas would probably have said, “This is getting a bit too rough, let’s head back home.” Instead, they seem to accept that the opposition, even to the point of a stoning, was part of what was to be expected. And more, they saw it as being worth the cost.

To this day, missionaries suffer such calamities in their mission fields. It may be as a direct result of their teaching, or it may be that they are in an area so poor or wild that they are targets simply for the goods they have carried with them. And yet, they press on with their work, considering all such things as loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Jesus Christ their Lord. They are willing to suffer the loss of all things, counting them as rubbish, for the mere chance to bring others to Christ as well.

Such people are to be commended, treated well when they are on home visit, and prayed for as they continue their work sharing the most important news ever published.

Lord God, thank You for our missionaries who have gone forth to share the word of Christ with a world that is still living in darkness. Bless their efforts, and may their lives be used for Your glory. Through life or death, they are Yours. So be with them and give them resolve in their hearts and comfort in their minds. Amen.