Jesus Creed

Paul.jpgThe cycle continues but this time with a new twist in Lystra — Paul’s miracles evoke an attempt to worship him and Barnabas, a stock response in the ancient world (see Beverly Gaventa’s The Acts of the Apostles (Abingdon New Testament Commentaries)

14:8 In Lystra sat a man who could not use his feet, lame from birth, who had never walked. 14:9 This man was listening to Paul as he was speaking. When Paul stared intently at him and saw he had faith to be healed, 14:10 he said with a loud voice, “Stand upright on your feet.” And the man leaped up and began walking. 14:11 So when the crowds saw what Paul had done, they shouted in the Lycaonian language, “The gods have come down to us in human form!” 14:12 They began to call Barnabas Zeus and Paul Hermes, because he was the chief speaker. 14:13 The priest of the temple of Zeus, located just outside the city, brought bulls and garlands to the city gates; he and the crowds wanted to offer sacrifices to them. 14:14 But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard about it, they tore their clothes and rushed out into the crowd, shouting, 14:15 “Men, why are you doing these things? We too are men, with human natures just like you! We are proclaiming the good news to you, so that you should turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made the heaven, the earth, the sea, and everything that is in them. 14:16 In past generations he allowed all the nations to go their own ways, 14:17yet he did not leave himself without a witness by doing good, by giving you rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying you with food and your hearts with joy.” 14:18Even by saying these things, they scarcely persuaded the crowds not to offer sacrifice to them.

14:19 But Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and after winning the crowds over, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, presuming him to be dead. 14:20 But after the disciples had surrounded him, he got up and went back into the city. On the next day he left with Barnabas for Derbe.

Paul preaches the gospel; some respond; opposition arises, Paul and Barnabas have to leave. But this story has something new and different:

First, it appears to be more Gentile in orientation. Paul begins with a miracle, the miracle prompts an exalted view of Paul and Barnabas, they want to offer sacrifices, Paul protests that they are humans, Paul explains the gospel — God is creator, their worship practices and religion are ineffective, he calls them to turn to the living God, and tells the time to turn is now.

Second, Paul’s touchstone is that creation itself — think of Romans 1 — witnesses to God, and what he has in mind is the generosity of God in providing food for humans and providing rains — this sounds like the scene in Genesis 1.
Third, Paul is trailed by those who opposed Paul’s gospel in Iconium. They stir up strife, Paul and Barnabas must move on.
Missional work entails creative adaptation of the gospel to context and it entails opposition by those whose worldview is turned upside down.
They thought they had killed Paul; he survived to gospel ever onwards.
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