1. THE RESULT OF FAITH
a. After the disciples of Christ were compelled to flee Iconium from persecution for their faith, what did they encounter in Lystra? Acts 14:8.
“We should always be ready to relieve suffering and to help those in need.”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, p. 360.
b. As the man listened to Paul speak, what did the apostle perceive about him—and what happened as a result? Acts 14:9, 10.
“While Paul was telling the people of Christ’s work as a healer of the sick and afflicted, he saw among his hearers a cripple whose eyes were fastened on him and who received and believed his words. Paul’s heart went out in sympathy toward the afflicted man, in whom he discerned one who ‘had faith to be healed.’ In the presence of the idolatrous assembly Paul commanded the cripple to stand upright on his feet. Heretofore the sufferer had been able to take a sitting posture only, but now he instantly obeyed Paul’s command and for the first time in his life stood on his feet. Strength came with this effort of faith.”—The Acts of the Apostles, p. 181.
2. ALL GLORY TO GOD
a. How did the Lystrians react to the miracle they saw? Acts 14:11–13.
“ ‘When the people saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in the speech of Lycaonia, The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men.’ This statement was in harmony with a tradition of theirs that the gods occasionally visited the earth. Barnabas they called Jupiter, the father of gods, because of his venerable appearance, his dignified bearing, and the mildness and benevolence expressed in his countenance. Paul they believe to be Mercury, ‘because he was the chief speaker,’ earnest and active, and eloquent with words of warning and exhortation.”—The Acts of the Apostles, p. 181.
b. What reveals that the apostles were firm to render all glory to Christ? Acts 14:14–18.
“The Lystrians, eager to show their gratitude, prevailed upon the priest of Jupiter to do the apostles honor, and he ‘brought oxen and garlands unto the gates, and would have done sacrifice with the people.’ Paul and Barnabas, who had sought retirement and rest, were not aware of these preparations. Soon, however, their attention was attracted by the sound of music and the enthusiastic shouting of a large crowd who had come to the house where they were staying.
“When the apostles ascertained the cause of this visit and its attendant excitement, ‘they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people’ in the hope of preventing further proceedings. . . .
“Notwithstanding the positive denial of the apostles that they were divine, and notwithstanding Paul’s endeavors to direct the minds of the people to the true God as the only object worthy of adoration, it was almost impossible to turn the heathen from their intention to offer sacrifice. So firm had been their belief that these men were indeed gods, and so great their enthusiasm, that they were loath to acknowledge their error. . . .
“It was only after much persuasion on the part of Paul, and careful explanation regarding the mission of himself and Barnabas as representatives of the God of heaven and of His Son, the great Healer, that the people were persuaded to give up their purpose.”—Ibid., pp. 181–183.
3. SWEPT AWAY BY MALICIOUS RUMORS
a. Explain what hindered the minds of the people of Lystra from accepting the gospel, and how their attitude changed. Acts 14:19.
“The opposing Jews of Antioch, through whose influence the apostles were driven from that district, united with certain Jews of Iconium, and followed upon the track of the apostles. The miracle wrought upon the cripple, and its effect upon those who witnessed it, stirred up their envy, and led them to go to the scene of the apostles’ labor, and put their false version upon the work. They denied that God had any part in it, and claimed that it was accomplished through the demons whom these men served.
“The same class had formerly accused the Saviour of casting out devils through the power of the prince of devils; they had denounced Him as a deceiver; and they now visited the same unreasoning wrath upon His apostles. By means of falsehoods they inspired the people of Lystra with the bitterness of spirit by which they were themselves actuated. They claimed to be thoroughly acquainted with the history and faith of Paul and Barnabas, and so misrepresented their characters and work that these heathen, who had been ready to worship the apostles as divine beings, now considered them worse than murderers, and that whoever should put them out of the world would do God and mankind good service.”—Sketches From the Life of Paul, p. 59.
“The first conception of faith in the true God, and of the worship and honor due to Him, was being formed in their minds; and as they were listening to Paul, Satan was urging on the unbelieving Jews of other cities to follow after Paul to destroy the good work wrought through him. . . . The wonder and admiration of the people now changed to hate.”—Early Writings, p. 203.
“The disappointment that the Lystrians had suffered in being refused the privilege of offering sacrifice to the apostles, prepared them to turn against Paul and Barnabas with an enthusiasm approaching that with which they had hailed them as gods. Incited by the Jews, they planned to attack the apostles by force. The Jews charged them not to allow Paul an opportunity to speak, alleging that if they were to grant him this privilege, he would bewitch the people.
“Soon the murderous designs of the enemies of the gospel were carried out. Yielding to the influence of evil, the Lystrians became possessed with a satanic fury and, seizing Paul, mercilessly stoned him.”—The Acts of the Apostles, pp. 183, 184.
4. MIRACULOUSLY STRENGTHENED
a. As shown by the way the Lystrians turned against Paul, what has Jesus foretold His people in advance? John 16:1–3, 4 (first part).
“Those who believe and teach the truths of God’s word in these last days, meet with similar opposition [as did Paul in Lystra] from unprincipled persons who will not accept the truth, and who do not hesitate to prevaricate, and even to circulate the most glaring falsehoods in order to destroy the influence and hedge up the way of those whom God has sent with a message of warning to the world. While one class make the falsehoods and circulate them, another class are so blinded by the delusions of Satan as to receive them as the words of truth. They are in the toils of the archenemy, while they flatter themselves that they are the children of God. ‘For this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie; that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.’ ”—Sketches From the Life of Paul, p. 60.
b. How did the Lord miraculously strengthen Paul physically and spiritually in his extremely painful ordeal at Lystra? Acts 14:20, 21 (first part). How did He also use the apostle to strengthen the new believers there?
“In this dark and trying hour the company of Lystrian believers, who through the ministry of Paul and Barnabas had been converted to the faith of Jesus, remained loyal and true. The unreasoning opposition and cruel persecution by their enemies served only to confirm the faith of these devoted brethren; and now, in the face of danger and scorn, they showed their loyalty by gathering sorrowfully about the form of him whom they believed to be dead.
“What was their surprise when in the midst of their lamentations the apostle suddenly lifted up his head and rose to his feet with the praise of God upon his lips. To the believers this unexpected restoration of God’s servant was regarded as a miracle of divine power and seemed to set the signet of Heaven upon their change of belief. They rejoiced with inexpressible gladness and praised God with renewed faith.”—The Acts of the Apostles, p. 184.
5. CARING FOR THE BELIEVERS
a. What reveals Paul’s forgiving spirit? Acts 14:21 (last part), 22.
“Neither Paul nor Barnabas was content to take up work elsewhere without confirming the faith of the converts whom they had been compelled to leave alone for a time in the places where they had recently labored. And so, undaunted by danger, ‘they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch, confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith.’ ”—The Acts of the Apostles, p. 185.
b. What can we learn from the apostles’ method of labor? Acts 14:23–28.
“Those who in any place were by [Paul’s] labor led to accept Christ as the Saviour were at the proper time organized into a church. Even when the believers were but few in number, this was done. The Christians were thus taught to help one another, remembering the promise, ‘Where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them.’ Matthew 18:20.
“And Paul did not forget the churches thus established. The care of these churches rested on his mind as an ever-increasing burden. However small a company might be, it was nevertheless the object of his constant solicitude. He watched over the smaller churches tenderly, realizing that they were in need of special care in order that the members might be thoroughly established in the truth and taught to put forth earnest, unselfish efforts for those around them.”—Ibid., pp. 185, 186.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. Why was the man impotent in his feet enabled to walk?
2. How did the disciples respond when the Lystrians wanted to honor them?
3. Describe the tactic the enemy used to try to stop God’s work in Lystra.
4. Why can I be encouraged by how Paul handled his trials at Lystra?
5. Explain the value of small churches in the sight of God.