This page is a verse by verse study of Acts 14:19-28. These verses describe how Paul was stoned by opponents in Lystra..
Paul stoned by opponents in Lystra
¶ "A group of Jews from Antioch and Iconium came to Lystra and won over the crowds. Then they stoned Paul, and dragged him out of the city, supposing he was dead. But as the disciples stood around him, he rose up, and entered into the city. On the next day he left with Barnabas for Derbe"(Acts 14:19-20).
They stoned Paul. Having narrowly averted being treated as a god, Paul now faces the lesser evil of being stoned to death. He was indeed stoned; and dragged outside the city; and left for dead; the victim of misdirected religious zeal. Paul’s fellow disciples gather round Paul’s body, Barnabas probably among them, expecting perhaps to bury Paul. But Paul is alive and able to walk; even to go to Derbe next day; apparently with no concussion or broken bones. This is remarkable, because the Jews were quite skilled at killing people with stones. Perhaps unseen angels were catching the stones just before they hit Paul’s body!
¶ "When Paul and Barnabas had preached the gospel to Derbe, and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch. They confirmed the souls of the disciples, urging them to continue in the faith. They taught that through much tribulation we must enter into the Kingdom of God"(Acts 14:21-22).
Confirming the souls of the disciples. Paul and Barnabas preached at Derbe, the next town south of Lystra (see map on this page). They then bravely retraced their steps back to the cities where they were persecuted. However they went discreetly, and instead of preaching to the populace, they quietly spent time with the converts, encouraging and teaching them, drawing no attention to themselves.
Continue in the faith. Some people believe that once you are saved you cannot possibly become lost again. Yet it must be possible to stop continuing in the faith, otherwise why would Paul and Barnabas urge people to continue doing something that they cannot stop doing? Now if you stop continuing in the faith, how can you continue to be saved by faith?
Through much tribulation. Paul and Barnabas’s theme is appropriate. They show the disciples that being a Christian is a hard road and that's something the Christian must accept and endure.
Enter the kingdom of God. Paul and Barnabas were not suggesting that the disciples were not yet in the kingdom of God. However, the kingdom of God is the kingdom of heaven, and the disciples had not yet entered heaven itself. Christ’s disciples enter the kingdom as citizens from the day they become disciples (Colossians 1:12-14,Philippians 1:20). However they do not dwell in heaven yet. They are heirs of the eternal kingdom, so it certainly belongs to them, and they to it (Romans 8:16-18). But they have not yet entered into their heavenly inheritance, but wait for it patiently, enduring sufferings meanwhile.
¶ "Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for the disciples in every church. With prayer and fasting Paul and Barnabas committed these congregations to the Lord, on whom they had believed"(Acts 14:23).
Appointed elders for the disciples. This does not mean that Paul and Barnabas chose and appointed elders without the churches themselves having any say in the matter. When deacons were chosen in Jerusalem, the congregation was involved in the selection (Acts 6:1-6). The appointment of elders would follow the same pattern. However, by having Paul and Barnabas direct and assist the appointment, and probably lay their hands on the selected men, the credentials and authority of the men would be greatly strengthened.
In every church. We notice also the words, "in every church"(Acts 14:23). It was the norm for churches of the first century each to have elders. It is a shame that in Australia today some churches of Christ have substituted that scriptural form of government with a different one, invented by men.
Prayer and fasting. At certain times, we may wish to temporarily suspend normal physical activities such as eating "that you may devote yourselves to prayer"(1Corinthians 7:5) and other spiritual activity. This is not a habititual or normal manner of life for the Christian. But in some circumstances it may be appropriate (Other examples: Esther 9:28,31;Acts 13:3; Luke 10:38-42). The appointment of elders is a serious matter, made more serious in this case, since Paul and Barnabas had to move on and leave these new churches, with their new elders, in the hands of the Lord. Hence not only did they engage in prayer, but with fasting also.
¶ "Paul and Barnabas next passed through Pisidia, and came to Pamphylia. When they had spoken the word in Perga, they went down to Attalia. From there they sailed to Antioch, whence they had been committed to the grace of God for the work which they had completed"(Acts 14:24-26).
First journey ends. Luke here briefly records the end of Paul’s first missionary journey between the two Antiochs. He and Barnabas come back to Antioch Syria, where the first journey started.
¶ "When Paul and Barnabas arrived in Antioch, they gathered the church together. They reported all that God had done with them, and how he had opened a door of faith to the Gentile nations. Paul and Barnabas stayed for a long time with the disciples in Antioch"(Acts 14:27-28).
An amazing story. In the days of Paul, there were no telephones or emails, and the mail service was probably not so good in the area they had been. Besides, Paul and Barnabas didn't seem to have much time to be writing long letters describing their adventures. So the church at Syrian Antioch probably had only a sketchy knowledge, if any, of what Paul and Barnabas had done. So as soon as they got back to Antioch, Paul and Barnabas got the church together and told them all the news. And what a story! Conversions among the Jews; unprecedented outreach to the Gentiles; miracles; adventures and narrow escapes. After such an exhausting journey and a long absence, Paul and Barnabas settled down for a time with the now well-established church in Antioch Syria.