Friday, December 15, 2017

An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday December 17, 2017

Over 145,000 readers worldwide

(The power of the Gospel overcomes all opposition)
(Acts 14:8-28)

   After arriving in Lystra, Paul and Barnabas came across a lifelong cripple who had been born with his disability being in his feet. The cripple man was listening as Paul preached JESUS to the crowd who had gathered to hear them.
    Here in this passage we see Paul and Barnabas, preaching JESUS to a crowd of pagans, who lacked any Jewish background whatsoever, that they could appeal to, and yet, even in this atmosphere, Paul was able to take notice of this cripple man and realize he already had enough faith to be healed. And so Paul called out to the cripple man and commanded him to stand up. And the man jumped to his feet and started walking.
    When the crowd saw what Paul had done for the cripple man, they shouted aloud in their own local dialect, (a language that he and Barnabas could not understand), “These men are gods in human bodies!” they said. And so they had foolishly demised that Paul was the Greek god Hermes, because he was the chief speaker, and Barnabas was the Greek god Zeus.
    There was a temple that was already built for Zeus worship, located just outside the city of Lystra, and the priests of that temple, and the people of Lystra  began bringing oxen and wreaths of flowers, and prepared themselves to give sacrifices to Paul and Barnabas at the city gates.
    The worship of the idol gods Zeus and Hermes in that area can be traced back to an age-old legend about the two gods coming to earth in disguise, and none of the residents of Lycaonia were willing to show them any hospitality. Finally, an old peasant couple by the names of Philemon and Baucis took them in. As a result, this couple was made the guardians of the temple of Zeus, and when they died, they were turned into two great trees by the idol god. The rest of the people of Lycaonia were killed for refusing to lend hospitality to the two gods. This time the highly religiously superstitious people were determined not to make the same mistake as their predecessors had.
    When Paul and Barnabas heard about what the people were planning to do, they tore their clothes in dismay, and rushed down to stop them. They explained to the crowd that they were only human, just like them, and that they only came to preach the Gospel of CHRIST so that they might refrain from just such idol worship and worthless things. Even after the pair explained certain facts about GOD to them, they could scarcely restrain the people from trying to sacrifice to them.  
    About that time some Jews arrived from Antioch and Iconium and turned the worshipful crowd into a murderous mob, and they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city and left him for dead. The next day Paul and Barnabas left Lystra for Derbe where they hoped that they could, perhaps, preach to a more rational, less hostile audience.

Acts 14:21-28
   In Acts 14:21-28, we see that, after preaching the Good News about CHRIST to the people of Derbe and making many disciples, Paul and Barnabas return to Antioch of Syria, the missionary branch of the early Christian Movement. It had been a mission that was very successful, despite the severe persecutions and rigors of their travels by land and by sea. And even though Paul had been nearly stoned to death in their initial visit to Lystra, near the end of their journey, they persisted in their charge from the HOLY SPIRIT, and he actually got up and went right back into Lystra, before returning back to their base at Antioch of Syria.
    Barnabas and Paul (Saul) were sent out by the HOLY SPIRIT to serve and to grow the Church of our LORD and SAVIOR, JESUS CHRIST, and it is in that same SPIRIT that we Christians operate today when we commit ourselves to the work of CHRIST. The early church had many struggles and persecutions, and Barnabas and Paul warn of that fact to the Church, at the end of this maiden journey. They also encouraged the believers to continue on in the faith, and reminded them that, in order to enter into the kingdom of GOD, we, like JESUS, must go through many trials tribulations along the way.
    During their maiden missionary journey, Paul and Barnabas appointed many elders, and planted and established many branches of the Christian Church along the way. There was also much praying and fasting done, before turning those men over to GOD, WHO was faithful to empower them in every area of their ministry.
    When Paul and Barnabas had arrived back at Antioch, they called the Church together and told the congregation about all of the things that GOD had done for, and with them on their trip, including how HE had opened the doors of faith also to the Gentiles in every city and town that they visited.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander

LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website

No comments: