Home > Uncategorized > Acts 14: Paul faces persecution, gets a headache

Acts 14: Paul faces persecution, gets a headache

Acts 14 represents the latest tale of what turned out to be some of the misadventures of the Apostle Paul. Last time we visited, he had led many to the Lord but, naturally, made many enemies. At Iconium, those Jews who chose not to believe decided to infiltrate the Gentiles there and get them to reject Paul.

Understand that Paul’s preaching was an extension of Jesus’ preaching. It wasn’t just the following of a new faith, but in many ways a completely new way of thinking. After all, Jesus had preached once that while adultery is wrong, a man is committing adultery in his own heart just by lusting after a woman (something that’s very applicable in our own culture where even in the summers in Michigan, it’s still easy to see women showing off their bodies).

He and his friends stayed a while, but the city then became divided: half sided with the unbelieving Jews (by the way, that is NOT a redundant term despite what any anti-Semite will tell you) and the other half supported Paul. Perhaps much of the hatred was because Paul, who had been the Angry Saul who persecuted the church, was now preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They then fled to Lystra and Derbe to avoid death by stoning (getting heavy rocks thrown onto you rather than being forced to smoke marijuana).

Paul then healed a crippled man, which led people to mistakenly think the two were Greek gods: they considered Barnabas Zeus and Paul–due to his being the chief speaker–Hermes. The two then had to explain to the people they were not gods but that they served the true, living God. It proved to be a witnessing opportunity.

Things seemed to be going well until some of the angry Jews from Antioch and Iconium reached the city and stoned Paul.

I cannot imagine the agony of being stoned as heavy rocks are thrown onto your head, torso, shins and other sensitive parts of the body; a heavy stone dropped or thrown with enough leverage could easily crush the skull or ribcage.

However, God had other plans and Paul miraculously survived (our atheist friends would insist the angry Jews just suffered from lousy aim or, if that failed, the Bible itself is just a collection of fables and nothing more).

Paul then told other Christians about the trials they must face when preaching the Gospel. They preached, prayed and fasted. Paul then concluded that his suffering allowed God to open the doors to share the Christian faith with the Gentiles.

Richard Zowie is a Christian writer. Post comments here or drop a line to richardstwoshekels@gmail.com.

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