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Acts 14:1-28 – Iconium and Lystra: healing a lame man and persecution

Previously Paul identified himself as the servant of the Lord who once was blind but now having been healed of his blindness he now sees the work of the Lord and proclaims it to the nations that the nations might turn from idolatry to worship the true and living God. This servant in Isaiah is also a suffering servant and Paul suffers for the gospel as he is opposed and is often driven out of towns.

At Lystra, Paul proclaims Jesus. Listening and believing is a man crippled from birth and had never walked. Paul looked intently at him and said in a loud voice, “Stand upright on your feet.” The lame man sprang up and began walking. Much of the above language was used in the account of Peter’s healing of a lame man. What is the point? The point is that the gospel proclaimed first by Peter among the Jews in Jerusalem is the same powerful word that is proclaimed by Paul among the Gentiles as the gospel goes to the ends of the earth. We have already seen how both Peter and Paul had victory over those practicing sorcery and how they both preached the same gospel – now we see the same effects on the proclamation in the raising of the lame as a pointer to Jesus who raises the dead.

Paul’s message as the servant of the Lord proclaiming God’s salvation to the nations is as follows:

  • We bring you good news
  • that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them.
  • In past generations he allowed all the nations to walk in their own ways.
  • Yet he did not leave himself without witness, for he did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.

While some will believe, others oppose the message and Paul is stoned and then dragged out of the city presumed dead. Astonishingly when the disciples come to recover his body, he rises up and travels to the next town to continue gospel proclamation.

I wonder if Paul thought of Stephen in this moment.

Notice also that Paul strengthened the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God and appointed elders in each town with prayer and fasting. Just as prayer and fasting had led to the Holy Spirit setting apart Barnabas and Saul now the circle has come full around.