Acts 14:19-28 - Geography of the Gospel

Acts 14:19-28 – Geography of the Gospel – A Rocky Road
Diving Deeper Lesson Outline for Acts 14:19-28

The title is drawn from, not only the lengths that Paul went to for sake of the Gospel (9 cities cited in the 10 verses of our text), but also the suffering he endured on the Gospel’s account.
We learned from our lesson in Acts 14:1-7 that God bears witness to the Gospel by signs and wonders.
I think it can be said that Paul bore witness to the truth of a risen Christ by the lengths he went to and trials he endured.


Acts 1:8, Jesus says, “…Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
In our text, Paul has demonstrated his obedience to Jesus & taken quite a bite out of his known “end of the earth.”

Paul’s end of the earth from todays text (there are more than this):
Lystra, Derbe, Iconium, Antioch (of Galatia), Pisidia, Pamphylia, Perga, Attalia & Antioch (of Syria).
Reference ESV Study Bible Map of Paul’s first journey.
Paul’s 1st journey is estimated to have been just under 2 years – 46 to 47 AD.
On his journey, he traveled approximately 1400 miles.


In our text, we encounter essentially 3 types of people associated with the Gospel aside from the apostles themselves.
The first are the opposition as represented by the Jews.
The second are the disciples; they are those that have responded to the Gospel and have believed.
The third are the disciples appointed to be elders by Paul and Barnabas.
We will focus on the elders.

Acts 14:23 matter of factly tells us that Paul & Barnabas appointed elders in every church they started on their 1st trip.
The greek word for elders is presbuteros and is sometimes translated overseer, bishop or presbyter.
Keep in mind that in our text and others, elders is always plural, as in more than one elder at each new church.

Additional evidence of elders as a Biblical norm:
Acts 15:22, “Then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole church to choose men and to send them to Antioch.” – church in Jerusalem
Acts 20:17, “And from Miletus [Paul] sent to Ephesus and called to him the elders of the church.” – Church in Ephesus
Titus 1:5, “This is why I [Paul] left you in Crete, that you might amend what was defective, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you.” – Towns of Crete
“To the twelve tribes of the dispersion”: James 5:14, “Is any among you sick? Let him call the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.” – assumes elders were in these churches.
1 Peter 5:1, “So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ as well as a partaker in the glory that is to be revealed.” - the churches in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia

From the Acts 14:23 appointments, we can infer a number of things:
The most obvious is that the Gospel was preached and embraced.
It is also clear that the disciples in the new churches needed teachers/leaders.
And to be elder worthy, some disciples must have been voracious in their appetites to learn the Gospel and teach it.

What did these elders do:
Titus 1:9 says that the elder “must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it.”
Or in the words of John Piper, “The elders are the trustees of the truth in the life of the church.”
1 Peter 5:1-2 says to shepherd the flock and exercise oversight.
Elders must know the word of God and be bold in its teaching and purity.
Elders would understand the subtle danger of mixing Scripture with hints of worldliness.

In our church, do our deacons or pastor fill the elder role?
Would a different structure work better – deacons, pastor and elders?
Any pastor, in general, may not be aware of the Scriptural inconsistencies at work in various arms of the church.
Deacons may not be well versed in Scripture or equipped to teach it.
When Paul & Barnabas appointed elders, how did they know who was qualified?

POI – Concerning “The People” part of this lesson, curiously, Timothy was from Lystra.
Acts 16:1-2 tells us Timothy was a believer from Lystra with a good reputation.
Some Sanctified Speculation:
Timothy obviously heard the Gospel, and it may very well be that he heard it from Paul.
He may have known the cripple that Paul healed and seen the healing with his own eyes.
Paul saw Stephen stoned and was impacted by it, perhaps Timothy saw Paul stoned and was equally impacted by it.


Paul’s stoning and suffering during his Gospel journey:
Acts 14:22, Paul tells us that “through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.”
I think Paul was well aware that suffering would be part of the Gospel message.
After all, Jesus said in John 15:20 that those who persecuted Him would surely persecute his followers.
And in Acts 9:14-16, Jesus told Ananias that he would show Paul how much he must suffer.
And Paul did witness Stephen’s stoning before he was saved on the road to Damascus.
But I would speculate that nothing made this truth more plain and real than his stoning in our text.
And by the time he wrote 2 Corinthians 11:23-28, he obviously experienced much, much more suffering.

Paul links suffering and authentic belief together:
Paul’s statement in Acts 14:22 begs the question, does salvation exist without suffering on account of the Gospel?
Romans 8:16-18, Paul explains that we are glorified with Christ “because” or “inasmuch” “we suffer with Him.”
We are identified (heirs) with Christ through His righteousness by the seal of the Holy Spirit on our hearts and through His sufferings by the suffering we experience on His account.
Philippians 1:29-30, Paul tells the Church at Philippi during his “to live is Christ” message that it has been granted to them for the sake of Christ not only to believe in Him but also to “suffer for His sake.”
2 Timothy 1:8, tells us that we are not to be ashamed and we are to “share in the suffering for the Gospel.”
2 Timothy 3:12 after referencing his stoning at Lystra, Paul declares, “all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”

The suffering we should expect to experience if we are authentic:
Again, in 2 Corinthians 11:23-38, Paul gives us a thorough list.
PHYSICAL SUFFERING – forty lashes, beaten with rods, stoned
MENTAL SUFFERING – danger from false brothers (theologically/physically), daily pressure, anxiety
INCONVENIENCED SUFFERING – frequent journeys, sleepless nights (also mental), shipwrecked (also physical)
COMFORT SUFFERING – hunger and thirst, no food, cold and exposure, people, Gentiles, cities, wilderness
CIVIL SUFFERING – king was guarding city in order to seize Paul

Many of these were out of his hands and many he knew full well would happen, but in any case obedience and boldness for the Gospel prevailed on Paul’s Journey.
Paul was fully identified with Jesus Christ through suffering on account of the Gospel.

The question today is are you?
Is your relationship with Christ authenticated by suffering for His sake?
It seems to me that the relationship between faith and works that James deals with is very similar to faith and suffering on account of the Gospel.

I think it can also be said that when we identify with Christ through suffering, our faith will have substantially more power and presence in our life.


Acts 14:8-18 - Mistaken Identity - The Objective is Subjective

Acts 14:8-18 – Mistaken Identity - The Objective is Subjective to the Heart
Diving Deeper Lesson Outline for Acts 14:8-18

The title comes from the previous lesson on the subjective/objective ways God gives “witness to the word”.
But, as it applies to Acts 14:8-18, where the signs & wonders are misinterpreted by the Lystran gentiles.
They witnessed a healing (objective) with their own eyes, but credited it (subjective interpretation) to Zeus and Hermes.


In our text today, the S&W were misinterpreted by the Lystrans.
If they can be misinterpreted/misunderstood, this begs the question, “what is their purpose”?
Here is a Biblical perspective of the purpose behind signs and wonders.

To demonstrate God’s many roles in the historical redemption of the Hebrew people from Egypt:
It must be noted that S&W, in relation to the Egyptian redemption and Exodus, are highlighted in at least 9 books of the OT – Exodus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Nehemiah, Psalm, Isaiah, and Jeremiah.
This conveys the importance of these S&W in revealing & confirming the historical relationship between God & Israel.

Exodus 3:20 God says he will strike with wonders and Pharaoh will let you go – to motivate.
Deuteronomy 4:34 Moses declares that God’s S&W in the history of a nation are w/o precedent – to show uniqueness.
Deuteronomy 6:22 Moses reminds Hebrews that S&W were before their eyes – to witness to God.
Joshua 24:17 it was the Lord our God in our sight who preserved us – again, a witness to God in Israel’s history.
Jeremiah 32:20-21 we learn that God used S&W as a strong hand and with great terror – to make a name for Himself.
Psalm 135:9 illustrates Egypt’s first hand knowledge of the S&W of God as “foreign” – to show authority and power.

POI - God’s S&W in Egypt and the entire Exodus story are foundational to the authenticity of our faith.
That God was physically involved in the history of Israel is evident by its birth and development.
Israel’s history is real and its birth and development must be accounted for.
The Lord God is the best explanation.
As Deut 4:34 says, a nation was called out of a nation and was done so by God.
This verse is remarkable to me; repeatedly, God promised Abraham a nation, people and land.
In the first chapter of Exodus, we see the Hebrew people growing greatly in number.
And then, as this verse states, God calls them out as a nation (via S&W) and brings them to the promise land.
This is fufillment of the Abrahamic Covenant and, in my mind, verfiable evidence of God at work in the history of Israel!

To bear witness to Gospel:
Acts 14:3 from last weeks lesson.
Hebrews 2:3-4 tells us that “a great salvation” was witness to by S&W.

POI – Hebrews 2:3-4 also distinguishes between S&W and gifts of the Holy Spirit

To authenticate a true apostle:
Acts 15:12 shows the Gospel to the Gentiles was God’s will because, through S&W, Paul’s ministry to them was validated.
2 Corinthians 12:11-12 Paul is forced to argue his apostleship is real and S&W are one reason why.

To authenticate Jesus:
John 10:37-38 Jesus says the S&W are legit and show that He is legit (He and the Father are one).
Acts 2:22 Jesus is “a man attested to you” by S&W.

To fuel the preaching of the Gospel:
Romans 15:18-19 “by power of S&W” fulfilled ministry of Gospel to Gentiles.

To lead astray:
Jesus gives us a warning about prophets of the last days.
Matthew 24:21-25 Jesus warns us that S&W will used to lead astray.


This weeks text, among other things, illustrates why S&W have limitations.
It shows us that if the heart of the observer is lost or in rebellion, he will misinterpret or disregard the S&W.

Other Biblical examples of S&W limitations:
Psalm 78:32 In spite of all this, they still sinned; despite his wonders, they did not believe
Nehemiah 9:17 about stiffened neck in spite of wonders.
Judges 6:13 Gideon suggests God has fallen down on the job since Egypt because of subjugation to Midian – to despair.
Acts 14:8-18 this weeks text.

POI – These responses reveal exactly why we interpret experience based on Scripture and not the other way around!


There seems to a pattern of 2 proper responses in the Scriptures we have explored:
First, if you are saved – GIVE THE GOD OF THE BIBLE CREDIT.
The “The Miracle on the Hudson” is a perfect example.
When someone says about this that “god” or “someone” was looking out for that plane, what would Paul say?
Acts 14:15-17 gives us an idea of exactly what he would say and therefore of what we should say.

Second, if you are not saved and God is calling you and you recognize Him in the S&W – SURRENDER TO HIM.

POI - Concerning Christopher Hitchen’s challenge discussed last week:
The S&W of God himself, Jesus & the apostles have limitations due to the heart of the observer.
It follows that “statements or actions” (including S&W if they are still present) of men today have similar limitations.
So for Hitchens to look to “statements or actions” to reveal a difference between a believer and an atheist, assumes that he has the heart to recognize the difference to begin with.
This weeks text demonstrates that an inability to recognize God in the S&W is an indictment of the observer not of God.
Of course, Hitchens would say that the fact we believe that a God performed S&W through himself, Jesus and the apostles, demonstrates that we have the inability to see the truth and it indicts us.
But it is not a moot point to concede that our position is based on Scripture that is, in some cases, almost 3000 years old.
And that there exist manuscripts of some of that Scripture that are as much as 2200 years old.
And that our position is rooted in the real history of the nation of Israel.


Acts 14:1-7 - Witness to the Word

Acts 14:1-7 – Bore Witness to the Word
Diving Deeper Lesson Outline for Acts 14:1-7
The title comes from Acts 14:3 and is an exploration of how God bears witness to His Word

In Acts 20:32 the phrase "word of His grace" is also used.
There, Paul says that it can build up and give inheritance.
Here, in Acts 14:3, the "word of His grace" is witnessed to by the signs and wonders.
We must never loose sight of the fact that the Gospel is the main thing, not the signs and wonders.
For example, Paul’s OT Gospel Sermon in Acts 13 emphasizes Jesus not signs and wonders.

As a result of preaching the Gospel a number of curious things occur.

Speaking Boldly
Learned of it & Fled
Continued To Preach
Stirred Up
A Great Number Believed
Bore Witness To

It is Important to realize that these things occur because of the power of the Gospel.
In fact, when the Gospel is presented biblically you should expect much of the same response.
But the "poison" responses should not occur because of a smug or self-righteous attitude.
It is neither our Gospel nor our Salvation it is Jesus Christ’s!
Interestingly, it was from within the synagogue that the poisoning arises.
Acts 20:29-30 Paul warns that “from your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things.”
Does the poison today come from within the Church?
How have you ever been poison?

Martureo – to commend, attest, confirm, testify or bear record of something – in this case the Word of Grace.

Examples of similar witnessing through signs & wonders:
Mark 16:20 God confirmed the truthfulness of the Gospel message by accompanying signs.
Acts 2:22 tells us that Jesus Christ himself was attested to by His works, wonders and signs.

How God testified to the Gospel was done, generally, in 2 ways:
It can be subjective as in a person’s experience of a personal spiritual encounter.
Acts 1:24-26 Matthias is chosen by God by casting lots.
Acts 7:54-56 Stephen has a vision of Jesus before his death.
Acts 10:9-11, Peter has a vision
Acts 12:6-10, Peter is rescued by an Angel and even he thought at first it was a dream.
It can be objective as in demonstrating a physical cause and effect process that can be seen and verified by others.
Acts 5:12 tells us that signs and wonders were regularly done by the apostles.
Acts 3:11-12, Peter and John heal the cripple beggar.
Acts 8:4-8 is Philip heals many who were lame or paralyzed.
Acts 9:32-35, Peter heals Aeneas.
Acts 20:9-10 Paul brings a dead man to life.

Which of the 2 styles of witnessing, subjective/objective, is done in Acts 14:3?
Of the 2 styles, is one more convincing that the other?
How does God give witness to his word today?

Christopher Hitchens Challenge:
“Name me an ethical statement made or an action performed by a believer that could not have been made or performed by a non-believer.”
The signs and wonders of the Apostles, Stephen and Philip in Acts are examples of this but what about now?
What presupposition does this statement make concerning “statements or actions” as they relate to the truth of the Gospel?

We will cover much more on signs and wonders as a witness to the word next week.