Eyes On The Prize
The same thing happened in Iconium. Paul and Barnabas went to the Jewish synagogue and preached with such power that a great number of both Jews and Greeks became believers. Some of the Jews, however, spurned God’s message and poisoned the minds of the Gentiles against Paul and Barnabas. But the apostles stayed there a long time, preaching boldly about the grace of the Lord. And the Lord proved their message was true by giving them power to do miraculous signs and wonders. But the people of the town were divided in their opinion about them. Some sided with the Jews, and some with the apostles. Then a mob of Gentiles and Jews, along with their leaders, decided to attack and stone them. When the apostles learned of it, they fled to the region of Lycaonia—to the towns of Lystra and Derbe and the surrounding area. And there they preached the Good News. (Acts of the Apostles 14:1-7 NLT)
Originally, Barnabas and Paul had left from Antioch of Syria (third largest city in the Roman Empire). They, then, set sail for Cyprus (third largest island in the Mediterranean). After crossing the entire island with the gospel (approximately 140 miles) they sailed north to Asia Minor (now Turkey) where they entered the Synagogue in Antioch of Pisidia (population about 50,000). When the leaders of the city, including prominent women, were stirred up against them, they were expelled from the city.
Their next travels landed them in the city of Iconium. This city was slightly south and east. Once again, they entered the Synagogue to preach the gospel. Many people, both of Jews and Gentiles, were convinced concerning their proclamation of the Messiah, Jesus. Some of the Jews, however, were not happy about the occurrence. They stirred up some of the Gentiles against Paul and Barnabas. Nevertheless, they stayed there for an extended time and continued to preach the message of salvation through the grace of God in Christ Jesus. God gave verification of their message with miraculous signs and wonders. Still, the people were divided about their opinions of them. In fact, some had made plans to kill them by stoning them (a common practice in that time where someone would literally be pummeled to death by a vicious mob that threw large stones at them). Thankfully, in this instance, word had gotten to Paul and Barnabas that this was the plan. They, then, set off for Lystra and Derbe, which were located just south and east, and there preached the gospel as well (More on that tomorrow).
Everywhere these men went, Satan stirred up some Jewish leaders and townspeople. Opposition lay around every turn, yet these Holy Spirit Filled men kept right on preaching with no thought of looking back. Their eyes were on the prize, Jesus!
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Rev. Curtis Norris