Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Acts 14 – Paul and Barnabas, the First Christian Missionaries (part 2 of 2)

(Click to read Acts 14)

PART 2 - (continued directly from previous post on Acts 13)

Paul and Barnabas in Iconium (Acts 14:1-7)

Paul and Barnabas begin their ministry at the synagogue once again, just as they did in the previous two cities. Just as in Cyprus, their message of the Good News of the Kingdom of God is demonstrated with miracles. Many of both the religious faithful and the pagan Gentiles believe the message, and begin to live as free Kingdom Citizens. Others of both groups reject the message, and Paul and Barnabas along with it. As tension rises to potential violence. Paul and Barnabas leave the city and move on to Lystra.

Paul and Barnabas in Lystra (Acts 14:8-23)

Lystra is a Greek city, and does not have a synagogue. This puts Paul and Barnabas completely out of their element as they begin to preach of a Just and Loving God of which the citizens do not know. While he shares the Good News of the upside-down Kingdom, a man unable to walk is healed by the Holy Spirit's power. The demonstration of the Kingdom is misunderstood by the people who see it, and they believe that Paul and Barnabas are gods. The missionaries are distraught, tearing their clothes when they realize what the people are doing. They do all they can to correct them, explaining that it was the power of the Holy Spirit through them, not themselves that could heal a man.

Meanwhile, the agitators from the other cities they left arrive in Lystra to oppose the message. The agitators have Paul stoned, throwing rocks at him until they believe him dead. After being dragged outside the city, he gets back up and reenters Lystra. Later he would write about this and other persecutions as part of the cost of following Jesus.

Paul and Barnabas Travel Back to Antioch (Acts 14:21-28)

After being stoned nearly to death, Paul retreats with Barnabas back to their home church in Antioch. All along the way back, they return to each of the cities they had visited. In each, communities of new Christians have formed new churches, Kingdom Outpost Communities of Love, Justice, and resistance. Paul and Barnabas encourage and teach in each one, and help them organize by choosing elders from among them. Paul also brings another messagee. He tells the young communities that they should expect tribulation as Kingdom citizens. No doubt his scars and bruises testified loudly to these communities that resistance to the spirit of corruption, empire, and control would come at great cost.

Upon returning home to Antioch, the good news they have to share is that the message of Jesus has indeed continued to be received by Gentile and pagan outsiders.

Acts 14:27-28 (ESV)
27 And when they arrived and gathered the church together, they declared all that God had done with them, and how he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles. 28 And they remained no little time with the disciples.


The pattern of this first Christian mission communicates much of the message Paul (Saul) and Barnabas carried.

  1. Respect for the Local Community of Faith - When possible, the missionaries always began in the local synagogue, among people who already knew and had faith in God and scripture. These houses of worship and the communities they represented would be their base of operations, and they encouraged the people of the city to come to these communities.
  2. Bold Proclamation of Jesus – Whether they are received or rejected, the missionaries boldly declare the freedom, love, and justice offered in Jesus. They preach repentance, a complete change of life and practice toward the Kingdom of God. Even when it may mean violent persecution, or misunderstanding, they continue until they have clearly communicated their message.

  1. Demonstration of Holy Spirit Power – When led, the message of the Kingdom is demonstrated through the missionaries by miracles and healing. They are away from home, so the people are unable to see the practice of Kingdom Life as demonstrated by the churches. The Holy Spirit manifest demonstrates the true and practical and immediate nature of the Kingdom. This is not just an idea or philosophy. This is Good News for right now.
  2. No Manipulation or Coercion – When rejected, the missionaries simply move on. They do not intentionally remain to coerce or incite. Their message in given as invitation, not manipulation.

  1. Church Planting – Wherever they go, the missionaries help the new followers organize themselves into local, autonomous communities from which ministry and blessing to their cities will continue.

  1. Submission to their own Local Community – The Missionaries go as ambassadors of Jesus, sent by their local church. They are not rogue travelers or tourists. They are not seeking followers for themselves. Their ministry is an extension of their community, willingly supports the communities they visit, and helps establish the new communities they will leave behind. When they are done, they return to their own community to share the news of their ministry abroad.

v3 – confirmed message with signs
v15 – All glory to God.
v19 – a crowd turned to a mob very quickly
v20 – He went back in. He followed God, whatever the consequence
v27 – Good News

(Click to read Acts 14)

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