Acts 13:42–14:7 (NKJV)
42 So when the Jews went out of the synagogue, the Gentiles begged that these words might be preached to them the next Sabbath. 43 Now when the congregation had broken up, many of the Jews and devout proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas, who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God.
44 On the next Sabbath almost the whole city came together to hear the word of God. 45 But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy; and contradicting and blaspheming, they opposed the things spoken by Paul. 46 Then Paul and Barnabas grew bold and said, “It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles. 47 For so the Lord has commanded us:
‘I have set you as a light to the Gentiles,
That you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth.’ ”
48 Now when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.Acts 13:42-52
49 And the word of the Lord was being spread throughout all the region. 50 But the Jews stirred up the devout and prominent women and the chief men of the city, raised up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region. 51 But they shook off the dust from their feet against them, and came to Iconium. 52 And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.
As Paul and Barnabus continued to teach at Pisidian Antioch (in modern-day Turkey), Gentiles inquired as to the deeper understanding of the gospel, and wanted to hear more. This was in addition to many of the Jews who were converted and sought for more knowledge of Christ as well. On the next Sabbath, an audience consisting of nearly everyone from Antioch showed up for the teaching of the Word of God. When the unconverted Jews saw it, they were jealous and created a resistance against Paul. Paul, however, reminded them that the Messiah and His followers would be a “light to the Gentiles.” Therefore, the Jews got the first opportunity for hearing of Christ, but now the Gentiles had their turn as well, so that salvation could come to the whole earth! When revival broke out among the Gentiles, the Jews had Paul and Barnabus thrown out of the city. At that point, they shook the unrepentant Jewish dust of Antioch off their feet and moved on to Iconium.
1 Now it happened in Iconium that they went together to the synagogue of the Jews, and so spoke that a great multitude both of the Jews and of the Greeks believed. 2 But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brethren. 3 Therefore they stayed there a long time, speaking boldly in the Lord, who was bearing witness to the word of His grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands.Acts 14:1-7
4 But the multitude of the city was divided: part sided with the Jews, and part with the apostles. 5 And when a violent attempt was made by both the Gentiles and Jews, with their rulers, to abuse and stone them, 6 they became aware of it and fled to Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and to the surrounding region. 7 And they were preaching the gospel there.
A similar reaction occurred in Iconium (also in modern-day Turkey), as Paul saw many converted to Christianity. However, the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles against Paul. They remained there a long time in spite of the opposition, and spoke boldly, being granted signs and wonders by God, but the division eventually necessitated their leaving Iconium and passing on to Lystra and Derbe to preach the gospel.
Although Paul and Barnabus were courageous in the face of physical threats and actions against them, there came a time when they were moved to leave the cities in which they preached and move on to another place. This opposition was at times harsh, and even life-threatening, as evidenced by the fact that their enemies in Iconium sought to stone them. While they stayed a long time in both Antioch and Iconium, they did leave to take the gospel to other cities. This opposition may have been the impetus they needed to continue spreading the gospel. If they had been able to stay indefinitely in Antioch of Pisidia or in Iconium, they may have never moved on to Lystra or Derbe, or myriad other cities that needed the gospel. The converts they made in each city would then establish a church and settle the kingdom of God in that region. When you are opposed, do not lose heart. Do not just quit. But use wisdom, and know when to move on to another great assignment God has given you. If your ministry is apostolic in nature, you may move often. If you ministry is pastoral, you may stay and lead a church. If your ministry is evangelistic, you may preach and witness the gospel in your town or other towns, depending on God’s purpose. Listen for the voice and instruction of God and use His wisdom to carry out His purpose for you!
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