Thursday: Lystra and Derbe

The next place Paul and Barnabas visited was Lystra, an obscure village some eighteen miles (about 29 km) southwest of Iconium. Though they spent some time there (Acts 14:6-7Acts 14:15), Luke reports only one story and its developments: the healing of a lame man, probably a beggar, who suffered from that malady from birth.

At Lystra and Derbe

Image © Provident Collection

Read Acts 14:5-19. What did their reaction to Paul reveal about just how steeped in ignorance the people were?

The crowd was so impressed by the miracle that they mistook Paul and Barnabas for gods—Barnabas for Zeus, the supreme god of the Greek pantheon, and Paul for Hermes, Zeus’s attendant and spokesman. In fact, the people wanted to offer them sacrifices.

Latin poet Ovid (43 B.C.-A.D. 17/18) had earlier recorded a legend of these same two gods disguised as humans visiting a town in the same area (“the hills of Phrygia”) and seeking a place to rest. According to the legend, a humble, elderly couple treated them kindly and with hospitality; the rest of the people were indifferent. Because of their kindness and hospitality toward the incognito visitors, the couple had their house transformed into a temple and themselves into priests, while the rest of the town was completely destroyed (Metamorphoses 611-724).

With such a story circulating in this region, the reaction of the people to Paul’s miracle comes as no surprise. The story also helps to explain why the crowd assumed that the missionaries were those two gods, and not Asclepius, for example, the god of healing. Paul and Barnabas, however, were able to stop their false worship of themselves. In the end, some opponents from Antioch and Iconium caused a complete reversal of the situation, and Paul was stoned and taken as dead.

Read Acts 14:20-26. Where did Paul and Barnabas finish their journey? And what did they do on their way back?

Paul said: ”We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22, NKJV). What does that mean? How have you, perhaps, experienced what he is saying there? Most importantly, how can you learn to grow in faith from whatever “tribulations” you are facing?

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Source: Daily Sabbath School Lessons