Bible Class
Discussion Guide
by Edward Thomason

Overcoming obstacles
Acts 14:1-28

warm up

If you were doing something good and someone criticized and humiliated you before others, what would be your response? Would you think twice about continuing to do good if you were treated that way? 
If you were doing something good and someone made a big deal about it by flattering you and praising you, what would be your response? Would it go to your head? 
Which in your mind is the most difficult to handle: Rejection and criticism or hero worship
wise up

    Shaking the dust off their feet as they left Antioch, Paul and Barnabas were heading for more treacherous waters. It would take great courage and faith to face the challenges that lay ahead.

I. Rejected Vs. 1-5
At the city of Iconium, a great multitude of both Jews and Gentiles believed after Paul and Barnabas "so spake." (Rom. 10:17 teaches that faith comes by hearing.) But what did the non-believing Jews begin to do that hindered the work?  Discuss some ways that the minds and hearts of others might be poisoned and prejudiced today by those who don't believe. How easily are people swayed by rumors and accusations? How should a Christian respond when or if such happens today?

2. The apostles took their stand "in the Lord" and continued to boldly speak. How was their word confirmed as being true? Notice that the gospel is referred to as the "word of his grace" in this text. Faith is man's part and grace is God's part in the scheme of redemption but it is the "word" that connects the two. (Cf., Titus 2:11-12.) 
3. Note that those on the evil side of this division became radical. Why is it that when an opponent cannot refute an argument, he or she will often resort to mud slinging, slander, and back stabbing? How effective is that kind of manipulation today? Although religious freedom as practiced in our nation was unknown at that time, it was wrong to assault and murder someone. An illegal attempt was made to shamefully mistreat and to "stone" (kill) these good men at Iconium.

II. Flattered Vs. 6-18
Fleeing for safety at Lystra and Derbe, Paul and Barnabas found an new opportunity to preach the gospel. List the things that Luke tells us about the man who listened intently to Paul? What was the response of the people when they had seen this miracle? They called Barnabas Jupiter (the king of the gods) and Paul was called Mercuius (the messenger of the gods) probably because he was the main speaker. What were the pagan priests planning to do with the oxen and garlands? How did Paul and Barnabas respond to all this praise and flattery? (Cf., vs. 14ff.) Tearing their clothing was an outward sign of intense grief in those days. How was their response different than that of Herod's when he was called a god? (Cf., Acts 12:21-23).

    2. If slander and humiliation will not stop the preaching of God's word, how about flattery and popularity? Many good people have fallen by the wayside because of a desire for popularity. (Many today still want the chief seats, titles, praises of men - rather than the praise of God.) How should we handle flattery. 
    3. Note that in vs. 4 and 14, both Paul and Barnabas were called "apostles." The term apostle simply means: "one sent out." It was used in reference to the exclusive office of the twelve and Paul (Gal. 1:1) but also in a broader way to include any sent out on a mission. It is this broader and secondary meaning that we read of others referred to as apostles including: Barnabas (Acts 14:14); possibly Andonicus and Junia (Rom. 16:7); Timothy and Silas are included (I Thess. 2:6); James, the Lord's brother (Gal. 1:19) and even Christ (Heb 3:1).

III. Stoned Vs. 19-28
Imagine the hatred that must have been in the hearts of those who traveled over 130 miles from Antioch and 40 miles from Iconium just to persuade the people of Lydia to stone Paul! Imagine the sorrow in the hearts of the brethren who stood around the crumpled and bleeding body of Paul who was left for dead. Imagine their joy as he rose up!

    2. These cities were in the region known as Southern Galatia. Paul would later write his first epistle back to these brethren (Galatians.) Read Gal. 6:17. What "marks" in his body would these brethren have known about? Also what was his physical condition when he preached to these people according to Gal. 4:13-16?
    3. Rejected, flattered, stoned.... this would be enough to make one want to quit and never return to these cities. But what did Paul and Barnabas do according to vs. 21. How much courage and faith did that take? Why did they revisit these cities? (vs. 22.) What kind of "tribulation" would these new Christians face? What can we do today to encourage new Christians?
    4. What group of officers were ordained or appointed in every church (congregation)? (vs. 23.) Notice that there were a plurality of elders in each church (Two or more.). When you stop and think about the responsibility of these officers, you can see the wisdom of having at least two in each congregation.
5. After they completed this first missionary journey, Paul and Barnabas returned to what might be called their home congregation at Antioch of Syria. There they gave a report about what God had done (not what they had done.)

wrap up

   1.  Satan has many strategies to stop the Lord's work and destroy souls. Our generation can chose to cower to rejection  or stumble over popularity. Either way, Satan wins. Let us be "bold" when rejected and stand "in the Lord" (vs. 3) and humble when praised for that which really belongs to God (vs. 14.)


  Please read Acts 15 for next week    copyright 2001