Acts 14
Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
And it came to pass in Iconium, that they went both together into the synagogue of the Jews, and so spake, that a great multitude both of the Jews and also of the Greeks believed.

CHAPTER 14:1–28

§ I. Their successful labors in Iconium, until ill-treatment compels them to flee from the city; they proceed to Lycaonia

CHAPTER. 14:1–7

1And [But] it came to pass in Iconium, that they went both [om. both] together into the synagogue of the Jews, and so spake, that a great multitude both of the Jews and also of the Greeks believed. 2But the unbelieving1 Jews stirred up the Gentiles, and made their minds evil affected [Jews excited and imbittered the souls of the Gentiles] against the brethren. 3Long time therefore abode they [Now they abode there a considerable time,] speaking boldly [openly with confidence] in the Lord, which [who] gave testimony unto the word of his grace, and2 granted signs and wonders to be done by their hands. 4But the multitude of the city was divided: and part [some, οί μέν] held with the Jews, and part [others, οί δὲ] with the apostles. 5And when there was an assault [a movement] made [on the part] both of the Gentiles, and also of the Jews with their rulers, to use them despitefully, and to stone them, 6They were ware [became aware] of it, and fled unto Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and unto theregion that lieth round about: 7And there they preached the gospel.


ACTS 14:1–3. And it came to pass.—Κατὰ τὸ αὐτό, that is, simul [as in Vulg.; ὁμοῦ, Hesych.; comp. ἐπὶ τ. α. Acts 3:1. (de Wette).—TR.]. They so spake (οὕτως), that is, in such a manner, and with such success, that large numbers of the Jews and of the Greeks became believers; the latter are to be supposed as also being present in the synagogue and are, therefore, proselytes, in the wider sense of the term. But those Jews who, at that time, remained unbelievers, and were disobedient (ἀπειθήσαντες) to the saving will of God, endeavored to excite the animosity of the pagans against the brethren, that is, not merely against the two missionaries, but also against the newly converted Christians in the city. They did not, however, immediately succeed, but Paul and Barnabas were, on the contrary, enabled during a comparatively long period, to continue their labors in Iconium without interruption. [“The μὲν οὖν, as usual (see Acts 11:19) takes up the narrative which had been interrupted.” (Alf.)—TR.]. They boldly proclaimed the Gospel ἐπὶ τῷ κυρίῳ, sustained by the Lord, that is, by the protection and blessing of Christ [boldly in the Lord, “which boldness was grounded on confidence in the Lord” (Alf.). For ἐπί with the dat., see WINER: Gram. N. T. § 48 c.—TR.]. They thus spake, in so far as the Lord bore witness by acts to the word of his grace which they proclaimed, and enabled them to perform both miracles of healing and also other signs.

ACTS 14:4–7. But the multitude of the city was divided.—That seed of distrust and malice, however, which the Jews had sown, had germinated in the mean time, and begun to bear fruit. It led to the formation of parties in the populous city, and while some of the inhabitants adopted the views of the imbittered and hostile Jews, others attached themselves to the apostles. The opposition of the Jewish party assumed a distinct character, and, at length, its members united with the rulers and those Gentiles whose passions they had excited, in secretly devising violent measures against the two strangers who had preached to them. (Ὁρμή cannot here signify an assault actually made, for, according to Acts 14:6, the two men retired before the storm burst forth; the interpretation of the word, on the other hand, as a plot, is not sustained by the usus loquendi, whereas ὁρμή, in the sense of impetus, explained as a strong impulse, very frequently occurs). [“Dicitur etiam de impetu animi, consilio, proposito.” (Kuinoel). Numerous references to passages in the classic writers, are furnished by Kuinoel and Meyer. See also James 3:4.—TR.]. The ἄρχοντες αὐτῶν cannot be the civil authorities of the city (EWALD: Ap. Zeitalt., p. 425), for they would not have sanctioned tumultuary proceedings (ὑβρίσαι κ. λιθοβολῆσαι), but would have adopted legal measures, such as banishment, etc. But λιθοβολῆσαι perfectly accords with the Jewish mode of thought [rather than with that of pagan magistrates.—TR.], and would therefore conform to the views of the rulers and elders of the synagogue. The apostles fortunately obtained intelligence of the purpose of their enemies, and deemed it proper to flee before an outbreak occurred. They took refuge in the cities of Lycaonia, which constitutes a whole only in an ethnographical, and not in a political aspect. [“The district of Lycaonia extends from the ridges of Mount Taurus and the borders of Cilicia, on the south, to the Cappadocian hills, on the north.” (CONYB. AND H., I. 199.—TR.]. These cities were Lystra, in a south-easterly direction from Iconium, and Derbe, which was still further to the south-east. The latter was a small town at the foot of the Isaurian range. Both lay north of Mount Taurus, and to them the apostles retired, with the intention of preaching the Gospel at those points and in the vicinity.


1. Paul and Barnabas were not deterred by the circumstance that the malice and intrigues of the Jews had driven them from Antioch, from proceeding to another spot and again entering a synagogue immediately, in order to preach the Gospel to the children of Israel. For the divine necessity (Acts 13:46) is not brought to naught by the opposition of men. God “abideth faithful; he cannot deny himself.” 2 Tim. 2:13; Rom. 3:3; 11:29.

2. Here, too, we see that it is really the exalted Redeemer who performs all things. Paul and Barnabas are his messengers and instruments; they convey his Gospel; they speak the word of his grace (ὁ λόγος τῆς χάριτος αὐτοῦ, præclara definitio evangelii (Bengel); and it is he who gives testimony to their words, as a faithful witness, by signs and wonders. Even as Jesus himself taught and imparted life, so, too, he enables his messengers to infuse life into others, and perform miracles of healing: it is the Lord—the word is the Lord’s word. These miracles are wrought διὰ τῶν χειρῶν αὐτῶν, by their hands. They impose their hands, and the sick are restored to health, but they are not the authors of these works, and this miraculous, healing, and life-giving power, does not reside in them. It is He who performs the works; they are simply his instruments.


ACTS 14:1. And it came to pass in Iconium, etc.—The persecution which the apostles suffered in Antioch, effected simply a change of place, not of purpose. The same work which they commenced in that city, they resume in Iconium. The sentiments and the labors which occasioned them so much suffering in Antioch, continue to be precisely the same. (Ap. Past.).—Nor do they now refrain from visiting the synagogues; neither their love to their people, nor their courage, has been diminished by their painful experiences among the Jews.

ACTS 14:2. But the unbelieving Jews, etc.—He who is not willing to obey the truth himself, is easily tempted to seduce others from it. The words: “Ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered,” [Lu. 11:52], were ever afterwards applicable to the envious Jews. (Rieger).—Pilate and Herod, Jews and Gentiles, soon come to an understanding, when the object is—to persecute Jesus and his truth. (Starke).—Against the brethren. Luke here applies this endearing name of “brethren” to the Christians, because nothing was more hateful to the unbelieving Jews, than that believing Jews, and believing Gentiles, should constitute one holy brotherhood in Christ. (Besser).

ACTS 14:3. Long time … by their hands.—When the servants of God honor Him by boldly bearing witness to His truth, God often honors them in return, by extraordinary manifestations of His divine protection and blessing. 1 Sam. 2:30. (Starke).—The Lord always possesses the means to put his enemies to silence. Even if the Jews succeeded in casting suspicion on the words of the apostles, all men now beheld works—signs and wonders—which were wrought in public, and which powerfully appealed to the judgment and the hearts of the Gentiles whom the Jews had stirred up. (Williger).—The apostles were not eager to work miracles, for we see that the blessings which their office conferred on the people of Iconium, proceeded simply from the preaching of the Gospel; a large number had been converted, before any miracle was performed. They continued to preach, and God wrought the miracles in order to affix a sign to the preached word of his grace. (Ap. Past.).—The Book of THE ACTS is not a chronicle of miracles, but a mirror of grace. (Besser).

ACTS 14:4. But the multitude … was divided.—Such a division is by no means wholly unacceptable to a faithful teacher; the Lord Jesus, indeed, says that he came into the world in order to produce such a division [Lu. 12:51]. The Lord fulfils that saying, whenever he convulses the kingdom of darkness through the agency of his servants, creates a salutary disturbance, and teaches men to depart from iniquity. He will hereafter, on the day of judgment, exercise his awful authority, and make that division complete. (Ap. Past.).

ACTS 14:5. And when there was an assault made, etc.—After sufficient time had been granted to the apostles for scattering the seed in Iconium, God permitted a storm of persecution to burst forth, doubtless with the design that the seed should be carried further, and be wafted to Lystra and Derbe. (Ap. Past.).—How wonderful are the ways of God, both when his people conquer, and when they succumb! Even when they seem to succumb, they are not defeated. Here, the apostles regard the intelligence concerning the plan devised by their enemies, simply as a divine passport that enables them to continue their journey. (Williger).

ACTS 14:6. And fled.—We should not always quietly submit to shame and disgrace; still, we must learn to distinguish which course will most of all promote the honor of God. (Quesnel).

ACTS 14:7. And there they preached the gospel.—The apostles did not spend their time in uttering complaints respecting the wrong which they had suffered, but, with a cheerful spirit, resumed at once the work which God had assigned to them.(Rieger).

ON ACTS 14:1–7. The word of God does not return unto him void [Isai. 55:11]: for, I. It is always received by many in faith, Acts 14:1, when it is proclaimed with boldness and in purity, Acts 14:3, and is accompanied by the signs of a holy walk and of self-denying love, on the part of its heralds, Acts 14:3; even if, II. All men do not receive it, Acts 14:4, since the malice of some restrains others from believing, Acts 14:2, and all men of an ungodly spirit combine in opposing the Gospel, Acts 14:5; but, III. Even such hostility becomes the means of extending the word more widely, Acts 14:6, 7. (Lisco).—When they persecute you in one city, flee ye into another [Matt. 10:23]: I. Those who preach the Gospel to pagans, should not obstinately continue their work, when the word is persecuted (that is, when renewed efforts would be equivalent to tempting God); II. Persecution should not deter them from making new attempts (id.).—Genuine martyrdom: I. In what does it consist? (a) Not in the great extent of external sufferings which man endures for the sake of faith, but in the measure of fidelity which he exhibits for Christ’s sake. (b) The apostles discharge the duties of their office with perseverance and joyful courage, Acts 14:1, 3, and thus demonstrate their fidelity. (c) They retire from the post which they had learned to love, as soon as they understand that the Lord no longer called for their services there, Acts 14:5, 6. II. Why is it so painful to endure? (a) Because it exhibits no features which can gratify a carnal self-love. It lacks a halo in the eyes of the world, since fidelity assumes an ordinary and unostentatious garment. (b) Because it completely crushes man’s own will. The apostles would possibly have preferred to die rather than to flee, even as John the Baptist might have found it easier to engage in self-sacrificing labors of the most painful kind, for Christ, than to pine away in inaction-in the prison. III. Wherein does the blessing which attends it consist? (a) Through its means the will of God, and not that of man, is done. (b) Hence, it produces the richest fruits of every kind; thus, the preaching of the apostles produces faith, Acts 14:1; the Lord gives testimony to them, Acts 14:3; their flight is a source of blessing—they carry the word to a wider field of labor, Acts 14:6. (Lisco).—Divisions in the church which are salutary in their influence, Acts 14:4: I. The cause that leads to them—the faithful and fearless preaching of the divine word, which is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword. [Hebr. 4:12]. II. Their results—the church undergoes a sifting process; the real sentiments of the heart are manifested; it is during the struggle that truth demonstrates its value, that faith reveals its power, that love exhibits new energy, and that the church is edified.—Under what circumstances is the flight of a servant of God allowable? I. After the contest, as in the case of Paul and Barnabas (Acts 14:1–4), but not previously, as in the case of Jonah; II. In obedience to the Lord, but not in consequence of the fear of man, or of a carnal love of ease; III. With weapons in the hand; (so the apostles continued to preach, with faith and boldness, and never dropped their weapons). IV. In order to enter a new battle-field (Lystra and Derbe), but not to seek a place of rest.—The servants of God conquerors, even when they succumb: I. Internally (their faith and courage are firmly maintained, in the midst of external afflictions and shame); II. Externally (the righteous cause cannot be ruined; when oppressed in one place, it finds a refuge elsewhere; even when prostrated, it arises with augmented power;) III. Eternally (to faithful soldiers of the cross, a heavenly crown of victory is promised.)


[1]Acts 14:2. ἀπειθήσαντες is far better sustained [by A. B. C. Cod. Sin., and adopted by Lach., Tisch., Born., Alf.] than ἀπειθοῦνιες [of text. rec., from E. G.—TR.]

[2]Acts 14:3. [καὶ before διδόντι, found in C. G. and inserted in text. rec., is omitted by Griesb., Lach., Tisch., Alf., in accordance with A. B. D. E., Vulg., thus making the clause which begins with διδ. epexegetical of the preceding, i. e., by granting, etc.; Cod. Sin. omits καὶ but reads διδόντος, as if αὑτοῦ expressed its subject, and the two words were in the gen. absolute.—TR.]

And there sat a certain man at Lystra, impotent in his feet, being a cripple from his mother's womb, who never had walked:
§ II. The healing of a cripple in Lystra induces the people to offer idolatrous worship, which Paul and Barnabas with difficulty repress; nevertheless, Paul is afterwards, at the instigation of Jews who came from Antioch and Iconium, nearly slain

CHAPTER 14:8–20

8And there sat a certain man at Lystra, impotent [powerless] in his feet, being3 [om. being] a cripple from his mother’s womb, who never had walked4: 9The same [This man] heard5 Paul speak: who steadfastly beholding [looking at] him, and perceiving that he had faith to be healed, 10Said with a loud voice, Stand upright on thy feet.And he leaped6 [sprang up] and walked. 11And when the people [But when the multitudes (ὄχλοι)] saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices [voice (φωνὴν)], saying in the speech of Lycaonia [in (the) Lycaonic (speech)], The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men [The gods have become like unto men, and have come down to us]. 12And they called Barnabas, Jupiter [Zeus]; and Paul, Mercurius [Hermes], because he was the chief speaker. 13Then [But] the priest of Jupiter [Zeus], which [who (i.e., Zeus, Δίὸς τιῦ ὄντος)] was before their city, brought oxen and garlands unto the gates [before the gate], and would have done [intended (ἤθελε) to offer] sacrifice with the people. 14Which [But] when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of [heard this], they rent their clothes, and ran in [rushed forth]7 among the people, crying out, 15And saying, Sirs [Ye men (Ἄνδρες),] why do ye these things? We also [We, too,] are men of like passions [are human beings (ἄνθρωποι), of like condition] with you, and [you, who] preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities [these unreal ones] unto the living God, which [who] made heaven, andearth, and the sea, and all things that are therein: 16Who in times [ages] past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways. 17Nevertheless [Although]8 he left not himself without witness [himself unattested], in that he did good,9 and [from heaven] gave as rain from heaven, [om. here: from heaven,] and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts withfood [nourishment] and gladness. 18And with these sayings [words] scarce restrained they [they were scarcely able to restrain] the people [multitude], that they had not done sacrifice [from sacrificing] unto them. 19And [But] there came thither certain [om. certain] Jews from Antioch and Iconium, who persuaded the people [the multitude], and, having stoned Paul, drew [and they stoned Paul, and dragged] him, out of the city, supposing10 he had been dead11 [that he had died]. 20Howbeit, as [But (δὲ) while] the disciples stood round about [encircled] him, he rose up, and came [went] into the city: and the next day he departed [went out] with Barnabas to Derbe.


ACTS 14:8–10. A certain man, at Lystra.—[Εν Λύστροις, but, in Acts 14:7, Λύστραν; the name occurs both as a fem. sing., ἡ Λ., and as a neut. pl., τα Λ. (Meyer, and ROB. Lex.).—TR.]. Luke has here furnished several details: (a) the healing of a cripple by Paul, Acts 14:8–10; (b) the attempt, in consequence of the miracle, on the part of the population, to offer sacrifice to the two missionaries, as to gods, which was repressed only by the most resolute acts of the latter, and by the witness which they bore, Acts 14:11–18; (c) the ill-treatment which Paul subsequently experienced, of which foreign Jews were the instigators, and which very nearly cost him his life, Acts 14:19, 20.—The healing of the cripple resembles the miracle wrought by Peter, Acts 3:2 ff. The unhappy man in Lystra, like the one in Jerusalem, had been lame from his birth, had never learned to walk, and was compelled to sit; (ἐκάθητο, that is, sat there, not: dwelt in Lystra (Kuinoel; [ROB. Lex.]). He listened to Paul, whenever the latter spoke; (the imperfect, ἤκονε, which, on critical grounds, claims the preference [see note 3, appended to the text, above.—TR.], expresses continued action, and, consequently, here, persevering and attentive listening.). Paul, whose attention was arrested by this circumstance, gazed intently upon him (ἀτενίσας), in order to ascertain his spiritual state, as far as possible, and to form an opinion of the processes which were occurring in his soul. He now perceived that the man had faith to be healed; (τον͂ σωθῆναι is the complement of πίστις, and expresses the object to which his reliance and faith referred. [“The infinitive depends on πίστιν; see WINER: Gr. § 44. 4.” (de Wette).—TR.]. It is probable that the discourse of Paul, as well as his general bearing, had gained the confidence of the sufferer, and induced him to believe that the apostle possessed both the ability and the will to relieve him. His general appearance taught the apostle that such were his sentiments. The cripple drew an inference respecting external matters from the spirit in which the apostle spoke, and accordingly hoped with confidence that his bodily infirmity would be healed. The apostle, on the other hand, formed a judgment respecting the spiritual state of the cripple, from certain external manifestations, and became convinced that the man’s soul was filled with faith. [“Dum claudus verbum audit, vim sentit in anima: unde intus movetur, ut ad corpus concludat.” (Bengel).—TR.]. And here a difference is perceptible between the present occurrence, and the one which took place at the gate of the temple, Acts 3:2 ff. The lame man, in the latter case, merely desired and hoped to receive alms, even after Peter had bidden him to “look on” him and John, Acts 3:3–5. But the cripple of Lystra had already been an attentive hearer of Paul, had desired to be saved, and had hoped and believed that the apostle would afford him relief. Paul speaks to him aloud, and directs him to arise and stand upright on his feet. He does not, like Peter, Acts 3:6, pronounce the name of Jesus by whose authority he issues the command, and in whose power the miracle is to be wrought, since the cripple had already been taught by the preaching to which he had listened, to receive Jesus as the Saviour; and in this respect also, the two occurrences differ. [Lachmann alone inserts between φωνῇ and ἀνάστηθι the words: Σοὶ λέγω ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι τοῦ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, but the manuscripts which furnish this reading (C. D. E.), do not precisely agree; no traces of it appear in the other uncial MSS. (A. B. G. H. Cod. Sin.); and hence other editors and commentators agree in pronouncing the whole an interpolation from Acts 3:6.—TR.]. As soon as the man was addressed in this manner, he at once sprang up (ἥλατο, aor), and walked about (περιεπάτει imperfect). [See above, note 4, appended to the text.—TR.]. A third difference between the two cases is found in the circumstance, that while Peter took the lame beggar by the hand, and raised him, the cripple of Lystra was able to spring up without assistance.

ACTS 14:11–14. And when the people saw, etc.—The impression which the miracle made on the pagans who were assembled, apparently in large numbers, was peculiar, and, indeed, unparalleled. The healing of the cripple was so wonderful, and so exclusively a divine act in their eyes, that the thought occurred to them that the men who taught this heavenly doctrine, and exercised these supernatural powers, could themselves be nothing less than gods in human form. Hence, after such a conjecture had been expressed, possibly by a few individuals, it was at once adopted as an established truth, and the multitude exclaimed aloud: “The gods have become like unto men, and have come down to us.” To Barnabas they gave the name of Zeus, and to Paul, that of Hermes [the Greek names of Jupiter and Mercury.—TR.]; the latter was so named, because he was ὁ ἡγον́μενος τον͂ λόγον, the chief speaker, Hermes being regarded as the active messenger, and the eloquent herald and interpreter of the gods. Luke does not state the reason for which Barnabas received the name of Zeus; he had, doubtless, remained in a state of calm repose, and may, on this account, (perhaps as the elder of the two,) as well as on account of his dignified presence (Chrysostom says: ἀπὸ τῆς ὄφεως ἀξιοπρεπής), have appeared to be the superior god. The cause which led the people to assume that the two men were precisely Zeus and Hermes, and not two others of the gods, was furnished by the worship which was offered in that spot specially to these two; thus, Zeus had a temple before the city, Acts 14:13, and the legend was widely spread, especially in those Phrygian regions, respecting appearances of Zeus and Hermes in human form; they were, for instance, said to have been there entertained, on a certain occasion, by Philemon and Baucis (OVID: Met. VIII. 621–726). [The explanation of τοῦ όντος π. τ. πολ., i.e., τον͂ Διὸς, may be found in the pagan conception that the god himself was present in this temple, which stood in front of the city gates. (Meyer).—TR.]. Ewald expresses the happy conjecture (Ap. Zeitalt. 416, n. 1) that this legend was annually recited at the festival of Zeus in this temple, and that thus the people could the more readily form such an opinion respecting Barnabas and Paul. Luke remarks, Acts 14:11, that the people uttered the words aloud, which deified the two men, but spoke λνκαονιστί, in their Lycaonic mother tongue. This notice is intended to explain the cause on account of which the apostles did not at once object to the procedure, but almost allowed the people to reach the point of offering a sacrifice. They did not understand the intentions of the Lycaonians, who spoke, not in Greek, but in a provincial language, which was unknown to the apostles. [This suggestion, which appears to have been first made by Chrysostom, Hom. 30, is here fully adopted by Lechler, and, apparently, also by Alexander and Hackett, as well as by others; but it derives no support whatever from the language employed by Luke. After the healing of the man, Acts 14:10, the apostles withdrew from the spot, for the oxen and garlands were afterwards “brought” to the place to which the apostles had retired, Acts 14:13, 14. The cripple and others had remained behind, and were soon surrounded by larger numbers, who gazed with wonder on the man that had been healed. The statement that a theophany had occurred, began to circulate, and then the shouts arose, and the priest commenced to make his arrangements. All this consumed time. It was the absence of the apostles, not their ignorance of a certain language, which prevented them from ascertaining the intentions of the people at an earlier moment. Had they received the gift of tongues to such little advantage, and was the gift of inspiration of so little avail at a critical moment, when idolatry was gathering its forces anew, that they could witness all the previous scenes, and not suspect the purpose? Why did they “rush forth” (see note 5, appended to the text), if they had been present during the whole time, (as Lechler here seems to assume), and had heard the supposed unintelligible shouts?—TR.].—It is no longer possible to determine to which family of languages the Lycaonian belonged. The conjectures that it was a corrupt Greek, or, that it had grown out of the ancient Assyrian, etc., are entirely destitute of foundation. Although the attempt has been recently made, to represent the present notice respecting the language, as involving a fiction (Zeller), the circumstance is, in reality, very natural, since both experience and psychological investigations show, that in moments of excitement the individual’s mother-tongue usually supersedes a language that had been acquired at a later period of life.—The priest of Zeus, whose temple and statue were before the city, now brought before the gates (of the city) the animals which were intended for sacrifice, as well as wreaths, which were to serve as decorations of the victims and the altar, and, with the multitude, was on the point of offering solemn sacrifices and adoration to the supposed gods who had blessed the city with their appearance. At this moment the apostles ascertained the circumstance; in the grief and indignation which were awakened in them by the sin of idolatry that was about to be committed, they rent their clothes, ran out with the utmost haste before the gate (ἐξεπήδησαν) among the people who were assembled in order to perform the sacrificial act, and, deeply moved and full of zeal, cried to them to desist. [But a different conclusion, with respect to the precise spot, is reached by Conyb. and Howson, (Life, etc. of St. Paul, I. 206. n. 4.): “ΙΙυλῶνες does not mean the gate of the city (which would be πύλη), but the vestibule or gate which gave admission from the public street into the court of the Atrium (the procession moved to the residence of the Apostles.). So the word is used, Mt. 26:71, for the vestibule of the high priest’s palace; Lu. 16:20, for that of Dives; Acts 10:17, of the house where Peter lodged at Joppa; Acts 12:13, of the house of Mary. … It is nowhere used for the gate of a city except in the Apocalypse. Moreover, it seems obvious that if the priest had only brought the victims to sacrifice them at the city gates, it would have been no offering to Paul and Barnabas.”—TR.]

ACTS 14:15–18. a. Sirs [Ye men], why do ye these things?—The loud and impassioned exclamations of the apostles are immediately followed by an address (λέγοντες).—Ὁμοιοπαθεῖς ὑμῖν ἀνθρ., that is: ‘We are human beings, subject, like yourselves, to all manner of sufferings, disease, and even to death.’ The pagans regarded the gods as ἀπαθεῖς, blessed; immortal, incapable of suffering want.—The words εὐαγγελιζόμενοι ὑμᾶς indicate the object of the coming of the missionaries, thus: ‘We come, not to receive divine honor, but to convey the good tidings to you that ye should turn from these unreal gods to the living God.’ (Τούτων, suggesting that the speaker pointed to the temple of Zeus with his statue, is masculine, and not neuter; [comp. 1 Thes. 1:9; 1 Cor. 8:4]). This language grants a certain permission, and gives a gracious invitation, thus cheering and elevating the soul; hence εὐαγγελ. The living God, as contradistinguished from the lifeless images and the imaginary forms of the gods, is also the Creator of heaven, of the earth, and of the sea—the three divisions of the universe, to each of which the pagans assigned particular gods.

b. The demand that the people should turn (ἐπιοτρέφειν) to the living God, assumed that the ways in which they had hitherto walked, were wrong ways. What is the sense? Paul says, with great forbearance: ‘God has hitherto permitted all nations [πάντα τὰ ἔθνη, i.e., all the Gentiles.—TR.] to walk in their own ways.’ He does not expressly declare that these were wrong ways, but this truth is indicated with sufficient distinctness for those who are willing to understand. Nevertheless, God did not leave himself unattested during this period. [De Wette thus explains the force of καίτοι, (for which see note 6, appended to the text): ‘Although (the nations were, at the same time, not guiltless, since) he left, etc.’—TR.]. The testimonies which God gave of himself consisted altogether in benefits (ἀλαθοποιῶν) in the natural world and in the sphere of physical life (ὑετον́ς, καιρ. καρπ.); but he gave all these οὐρανόθεν, in order to draw men towards heaven, which is, indeed, the habitation of God. Man’s gladness, expressed in the language of gratitude, was intended to draw his heart heavenward. The statement that God had filled men’s hearts with nourishment, assumes that the corporeal and spiritual are interwoven with each other; the heart, as the seat of all the perceptions and movements peculiar to man’s psychical life, is unquestionably filled with gladness, in consequence of the contentment which an adequate supply of nourishment affords. [“Hearts…(that is) minds or souls, as the only real seat of all enjoyment, even when afforded by the body.” (Alex.).—TR.]

ACTS 14:19, 20. And there came thither.—The arrival of certain Jews from the Pisidian Antioch and Iconium, (ἐπῆλθον, they came to the inhabitants of the city) was, undoubtedly, not an accidental circumstance, but was occasioned by the tidings which they had received of the success that attended the labors of the apostles in Lystra; here, too, they fully intended to cross the path of the missionaries. And it is a striking proof of the fickleness of the multitude (οἱ ὄχλοι both in Acts 14:18 and Acts 14:19), that they allowed the insinuations and representations (πείθειν) of the Jews, to produce such an amazing change in their sentiments. [“The Lycaonians were proverbially fickle and faithless. (The Schol. on Il. IV. 88, 92, says: Ἄπιστοι γὰρ Λυκάονες, ὡς καὶ Ἀριστοτέλης μαρτυρεῖ).” Conyb. and Hows. I. 208.—TR.]. They now hurl stones with a murderous purpose at those to whom they had so recently intended to offer divine honors and sacrifices. That the project of stoning the two men was devised by the Jews, may be readily conjectured, and the grammatical construction leads to this interpretation, although it is obviously the sense of the passage, that the people of Lystra, had been excited by these Jews, and had coöperated with them. The disciples, Acts 14:20, that is, the recently converted inhabitants of Lystra, surrounded Paul, who was supposed to be dead, probably not for the purpose of burying him (Bengel), or, of protecting him (Ewald), but in order to ascertain whether he still lived, and was capable of receiving aid. Then Paul arose, and returned to the city, but left it on the following, day, and proceeded to Derbe. (For Derbe, see EXEG. note on Acts 14:4–7). [“We have now reached the eastern limit of the present expedition.” (Hackett).—TR.].


1. When Paul gazed on the lame man, it became apparent to him that the latter believed that he would obtain relief. The whole occurrence hinges on this peculiar frame of mind of the cripple. Faith comes by the hearing of the word; and as faith, or the confident expectation of obtaining aid and deliverance, proceeded, in this instance, from the hearing of the word, so, too, faith, in every case in which it exists, is wrought by the preaching of the Gospel, Rom. 10:14, 17. Even when redemption, or that which constitutes its central point, namely, the spiritual welfare or salvation of the soul, is not the direct object of faith—when faith is fixed rather on less central objects, or even on those which belong to the material world, still, if it is founded on the Saviour [comp. cases like Mt. 8:10; 9:22. 15:28, etc.—TR.], it is an acceptance of salvation which meets with divine favor. For σωτηρία is not solely spiritual, as contradistinguished from that which is corporeal—it embraces the body, soul and spirit. If redemption can extend its influence from the spirit even to the body, penetrating, sanctifying, glorifying and redeeming the latter, even so this σωθῆναι, Acts 14:9, may begin with the body, until, in its continual advance, it extends to the soul and the spirit.

2. The act of deifying the apostles originated in a combination of heathen superstition with truth. The latter consisted in the impression that divine omnipotence and grace interposed in the affairs of men; such was, in reality, the case at that time; the healing of the cripple was a miraculous and gracious act of God. But with this truth the people immediately combined their superstitious and polytheistic delusions respecting Zeus and Hermes, and appearances of their gods in human form (after the manner of the Docetæ). Their purpose to offer sacrifice at once to the supposed gods, was the natural result of such conceptions. In what other manner could they offer thanks, divine honor, and adoration? This occurrence enables us to form a clearer view of the mode in which paganism itself originated. We are not authorized to declare that the latter is altogether a delusion, unmixed error, and sin. Pagan errors always cling to a truth for support. A pure and genuine feeling, accurate observation, or an indistinct consciousness of the existence of that which is divine, lies at the foundation. But the pagan thence draws a hasty and false inference: that which is natural and a created object, but in which the might, the goodness, the punitive power, etc. of God are revealed, is at once deified, and thus natural religion—polytheism—or paganism in its various forms, is ushered into life.

3. The peculiar character of the apostles is well sustained on this occasion. Their conduct is precisely the opposite of that of Herod Antipas in a similar case. The latter did not utter a single word for the purpose of restraining the people, when they deified him, Acts 12:22 f. The apostles instantly protested, with grief and indignation, and as energetically as possible, in order to avert the sin of idolatry alike from themselves, to whom divine honor was to be paid, and from those who designed to offer such worship. And yet, they were exposed to a temptation of no ordinary kind. They might have thus reasoned:—‘These pagan prejudices should be treated with gentleness, for a spark of truth may be discerned in them; the honor paid to us personally might subserve the cause of the Gospel; indeed, the delusion respecting the appearances of gods on earth, might render services to the doctrine concerning Christ, the incarnate Son of God.’ But they would, in that case, have really premised that the end sanctifies the means. How often such views have been carried out in practice! And, nevertheless, in place of promoting, they have always injured, the cause of truth, and impaired the honor of God. The apostles act promptly and with decision; they tear asunder the web which idolaters are weaving, in place of aiding in the construction of it, and with fidelity and success maintain the honor of God.

4. The apostles gained their object—the prevention of sin in the form of an idolatrous act—by imparting instructions of the utmost importance. As an error cannot be successfully combated, unless we oppose to it the corresponding positive truth, Paul does not confine himself to a denial of the former. (We are, probably, not in error, if we suppose that it was he especially, who expressed the thoughts here recorded by Luke). He at once proceeds to state the truths, for a distinct declaration of which, the occasion called. They are the following: (a) The conception of the living God, as contradistinguished from the μάταια; he doubtless here insisted on such characteristic features as reality, a real existence, an absolute power of life, and self-determination; the singular number, ὁ θεός, as contradistinguished from the plural, τὰ μάταια ταῦτα, bears testimony to the unity of God, or to monotheism. [But the author had said above, EXEG. notes, Acts 14:15–18 a., that τούτων was masculine; hence—οἱ μάταιοι οὖτοιTR.]. (b) The conception of the creation of the world, as a free and independent act of God, by which all things that exist, were, without exception, called into being. This declaration, Acts 14:15, also involves a protest against the deification of a creature. (c) God’s revelation of Himself, granted at all times, and to all men, namely, through the medium of benefits connected with the world of nature, Acts 14:17. (d) The division of the times, in the history of the human race, into two periods, namely, the ante-Christian, and the Christian; the message of the Gospel, which commands men to turn, Acts 14:15, (εὐαγγελιζ. etc.) belongs to the latter. The ante-Christian period, on the other hand, is characterized by the liberty which God had permitted all nations to enjoy, of walking in their own ways, Acts 14:16.—It is obvious that the wordsεἴασε πορεύεσθαι, cannot be reconciled with the predestinarian view, that the aberrations of the pagans resulted from a divine and unconditional arrangement; they testify, on the contrary, with sufficient distinctness, to the freedom of man’s self-determination and development, which God had permitted and conceded, in order that men might learn from experience, how far they could advance by their own efforts.

5. It is evident that all these thoughts bear a Pauline impress. That view of history, especially, which distinguishes between the period that preceded the appearance of Christ and the period of Christian revelation, is peculiar to the apostle Paul. The witness which he bears to the one living God, and to the creation of all things by Him, (which was so urgently demanded by the circumstances), does not, it is true, belong to the doctrinal points which distinguish Paul’s preaching from that of the other apostles; still, the truth which he here inculcates, is one of those which he continually represents as essential and fundamental truths of the Gospel.


ACTS 14:8. A cripple, etc.—Two miracles of a similar nature had been already recorded in THE ACTS, Acts 3, and Acts 9:33 ff. The healing of precisely such sufferers is specially significant; it affords an image of the change which must take place in man’s spiritual state. When his eyes are open, when he hears the Gospel with his ears, and when his heart is touched, the whole work is not accomplished. The awakened sinner must learn to walk in the light (1 John 1:7), to “lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees.” (Hebr. 12:12). (Williger).

ACTS 14:9. Who steadfastly beholding him … faith to be healed.—If the apostle looked so steadfastly at the feeble spark of faith in the cripple’s heart, how much more distinctly will the all-seeing eye of the Lord observe that spark in us! “O Lord, are not thine eyes upon the truth [upon faith, (Jerem. 5:3) as לֶאֱמוּנָה is translated by Sept. Vulg. and Luther.—TR.]?” (Ap. Past.).—The desire that we might obtain help, and the confident expectation of obtaining it, essentially belong to genuine faith; and these features distinguish it alike from mere knowledge possessed by the mind, and from highly excited feelings of the heart, (id.).

ACTS 14:10. Said … Stand upright on thy feet. And he leaped and walked.—It was only necessary that the apostle should say: “Stand upright on thy feet.” The words: ‘in the name of Jesus Christ’ (Acts 3:6), were no longer required. Christ was already present (in consequence of the discourse of the apostle, and the faith of the cripple), and had exhibited his power in the soul and the body of the sufferer. It was only necessary that the latter should furnish, by his movements, the evidence of all that the Lord had done for him. (Williger).

ACTS 14:11–13. The gods are come down to us, in the likeness of men.—If pagans recognize God as the author of universal benefits and works, what shall we think of those Christians who blaspheme that which they neither recognize nor understand? (Starke).—These heathen fables of the appearances of gods, exhibit a presentiment of the truth; they indicate an obscure remembrance of the happiness of Paradise, when God walked with men, and they point, in a manner not understood by pagans themselves, to a restoration of the fallen and miserable creature, through the incarnation of God in Christ. (Langbein).—The people observed that there was something divine in the apostles; but, in place of discerning the divine character of their doctrine and their office, they deify the apostles personally, in order to harmonize the miraculous powers of the latter with their own superstition. Such is the course of the benighted world, when it forms an opinion of divine things. (Ap. Past.). —Carnal reason might have deemed it expedient to employ this prejudice as a means of opening an avenue for the Gospel, and of establishing the doctrine of the incarnation of the Son of God upon it. But the holy mind of the apostles contemns such vain means and foolish artifices. The Gospel can extend its influence, without walking in crooked paths. The apostles preached not only with divine power, but also with divine purity, (id.).—They could have easily taken the place of the gods whom they had overthrown, but they preferred to confess that God had deposited his treasure in earthen vessels [2 Cor. 4:7]. There is danger, even in our own day, that many may be converted to their pastor, as to a new idol. The modern world can offer its honors with more delicacy than these people, who brought oxen and garlands, but the incense of the praise which the former offers, contains a far more virulent poison. When we cannot secure honor for the Lord Jesus, we should be content to remain also ourselves without distinction and influence. (Rieger).—The deification of the creature constitutes the fundamental principle of heathenism, both in ancient and in modern times. For it is the disgrace and the curse of all who despise the incarnate Son of God, that, in their opinions, their knowledge and their labors, they slavishly follow human guides, as if these were gods who had descended from heaven; they offer to lofty minds, to heroes, and to imaginative poets, an unchristian “worship of genius,” as if these were the saviours, and the original and divine types of the human race. (Leonh. and Sp.).

ACTS 14:14. Which when the apostles … heard, they rent their clothes.—When the apostles suffer and are persecuted, they are tranquil, and, as sheep before their shearers, open not their mouth; but when a carnal superstition attempts to overwhelm them with undue honors, they resist these snares of Satan with all their strength. “This is the holy indignation which should be enkindled in the souls of God’s servants, whenever He is robbed of the honor which is due to Him. That man will not readily serve God with an upright heart, who is not animated by the ‘godly jealousy,’ of which Paul speaks (2 Cor. 11:2), and who does not watch over the honor of his Lord with as much perseverance and diligence, as a husband,, watches over the fidelity of his wife.” (Calvin).—But what would these apostles do, if they should witness the honor which is now paid to their bones, the adoration of their images, and the idolatry which is at present connected with their names? Leonh. and Sp.).

ACTS 14:15. We also are men of like passions [condition] with you.—A very salutary influence is exerted by pastors who minister about holy things [1 Cor. 9:13], when they class themselves with the chief of sinners, and testify that they are poor, miserable creatures, even as others, and are sustained solely by the grace of the Lord. Thus they awaken the desire and the hope of deliverance in unconverted men, and prevent the awakened, who may observe human infirmities in them, from being offended. (Ap. Past.).—The Christian is never benefited by receiving the tribute of praise; Paul was even pained when a certain damsel followed him, exclaiming aloud: ‘These men are the servants, etc. [Acts 16:17]. The Christian never forgets that he is a mere flower of the field, a shadow—in truth, nothing at all without the grace of God. When others extol him—his good qualities, his alms, his deeds, his merits—he says: ‘I, too, am a dying creature!’ (Leupold).—And preach unto you, that ye should turn, etc.—When the apostles proclaimed such doctrines, they engaged in a direct conflict with paganism; its idols are simply the powers of nature, the adoration of which can produce no other result than that of a still wider and more mournful departure from the truth. But the Gospel, even within the pale of Christendom, is not yet delivered from its early contests with the worship of nature. The deification of it is sometimes veiled; at other times, unrestrained and bold. Nature, creation, and heaven, are lauded a thousand times, while the personal, thrice holy God, is scarcely named. The second article [of the Apostle’s Creed] is first of all set aside; the first article [“I believe in God the Father, Almighty, etc.”] can then no longer be retained; for he that honoreth not the Son, honoreth not the Father which hath sent him [John 5:23]. (Langbein).

ACTS 14:16, 17. Who … suffered all nations to walk in their own ways. Nevertheless he left not himself without witness.—When God suffered the Gentiles to walk in their own ways—the ways of pride and disobedience, and, consequently, the ways of death and destruction—his punitive justice was primarily revealed; but his love and his compassion, which, although veiled, were not less active, sought by this course, which compelled men to taste the bitter fruits of sin, to awaken in their hearts an earnest desire after salvation, and to open an avenue for his grace. And even this course of ‘suffering them to walk in their own ways’, by no means implies that God ceased to observe these ways. While the Jews were appointed to make the effort to obey the will of God consciously and with success, the task was assigned to the Gentiles of endeavoring, by their own wisdom, to know God in his wisdom. And even as God often aided the Israelites in their feeble efforts, both by chastisements and by benefits, so, too, he permitted some rays of light to penetrate the gloom of heathenism. The blessings which God bestowed in the sphere of nature, were voices that spoke with sufficient loudness to awaken the slumbering thoughts of men; and direct their attention to the One true God, at least in the case of reflecting pagans. [Rom. 1:20.] (Williger).—Filling our hearts with food and gladness.—God gives us rain and fruitful seasons, not merely in order that the wants of our bodies might be supplied, but also that our hearts might be cheered by such temporal blessings, and that we might gratefully praise the Lord and confide in his goodness. (Leonh. and Sp.).

ACTS 14:18. And with these sayings scarce restrained, etc—To what severe labors and pains men submit in the service of false gods, while they do not willingly dedicate even one hour in the week to the true and living God! And how difficult it is to free them from the obvious folly of their superstition, while the senseless words of a deceiver can often shake, and even destroy their faith! The reason is plain: our natural heart loves darkness rather than light. (Leonh. and Sp.).

ACTS 14:19. Having stoned Paul.—How fickle the world is! They first bring garlands—then, stones! (Starke).—Every generation ultimately stones its own gods; the only difference is found in the manner in which the stones are cast. (Ahlfeld).—Those who are the most courageous in assailing the kingdom of darkness, are surrounded by the most numerous foes; it is Paul, not Barnabas, who is stoned. (id.).—The retributive justice of God extends even to His children. Paul was pleased with the stoning of Stephen—he is now stoned himself. (id.).—God had, unquestionably, wise reasons for preserving Paul from being stoned in Iconium, while he suffered that affliction to overwhelm him here in Lystra. May it not have been one of his purposes to condemn the more emphatically the divine worship which the people had intended to offer to the apostles? Thus, too, when pastors have attained undue influence, and have been inordinately honored, the afflictions with which they are visited, are often the more severe and humiliating. For the Lord does not intend to train his servants to be idols, but to be bearers of his cross. (Ap. Past.).

ACTS 14:20. As the disciples stood round about him, he rose up.—When the world passes its sentence on the kingdom of Jesus, and on the sad lot of his people, it often deceives itself. Enemies rejoice, and exclaim: “Rase it, rase it [Hebr. Make bare, make bare (margin)], even to the foundation thereof [Ps. 137:7]; let him never arise; let his remembrance perish from the earth [Job 18:17].” But the oppressed rejoice, and say: “Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: when I fall, I shall arise. (Micah 7:8). For they that wait upon the Lord, etc. [Isai. 40:31].”—The Lord delivered the martyr Numidicus in Carthage, in the time of Cyprian, in a similar manner [during the Decian persecution, A. D. 249, and subsequently; CYPR. Ep. 18.—TR.]. He had been severely burned, and then overwhelmed by a shower of stones, so that he was supposed to be dead. But when his daughter came to bury him, he arose and went with her to the city.—And came into the city.—Did he then return to the city in which he had nearly been killed? Was not such a step too hazardous to be taken? The apostles had indeed fled once before, Acts 14:5, 6; but such a course is not expedient at all times. Circumstances may occur, which require us to return to a spot whence we had been ignominiously expelled. It was necessary to show the discouraged heathen converts, that Paul was still alive. (Gossner).


Acts 14:8–20. How does the Christian deal with those who offer him honors that belong to God alone? I. He testifies that their blindness grieves and pains him; II. He humbly confesses his own infirmities; III. He boldly proclaims the majesty of God. (Leupold).—The idolatry practised in our day: I. Its objects; II. Its source; III. Its fruits. (Leonh. and Sp.).—Our God, demonstrated as the LIVING God: I. By the creation and preservation of the world, Acts 14:15, 16; II. By the redemption of the world in Christ Jesus, Acts 14:15 [εὐαγγελ.]; III. By his judgments, in the case of entire nations, as well as of individuals, Acts 14:16. (ib.).—The sinfulness of the adoration of the saints in the Romish church: I. The mode in which it is offered; II. Its sinfulness. (Lisco).—The conflict between Christianity and Heathenism: I. Christianity contends against the deification of men, while it proclaims the incarnation of God; II. It contends against the worship of nature, while it proclaims the living God as the Lord of creation; III. It contends against man’s inclination to walk in his own ways, while it commands him to walk in the way of God’s commandments. (Langbein).

ACTS 14:21. The gods are come down, etc.—I. These words, when pronounced by heathens, proceed from folly and self-delusion: (a) they express, indeed, the indistinct longing of the heart of man, who seeks a condescending and compassionate God; but (b) they also betray man’s ignorance of the unapproachable majesty of Him who alone is holy, and who is invisible; nevertheless, these words, II. Involve a precious truth relating to the kingdom of Christ: (a) they direct attention to the mystery of the incarnation of God in Christ; (b) illustrate the blessedness of the human race, when it is reconciled to God.—Turn from these vanities unto the living God.—These words, considered as a solemn warning addressed to idolaters among us: I. What are your gods? Mammon? The belly [Phil. 3:19]? Mortals? Your own self? Nature? Art? etc. II. What aid can these afford? Can they secure your happiness in this world, or in the world to come? Therefore, III. While it is said, To-day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts [Hebr. 3:15]; turn from these vanities unto the living God! He exhibits in the visible and fleeting world a reflection of his glory, through the medium of his gifts, Acts 14:15–17; but it is in the Gospel of Jesus Christ that his divine majesty and his condescending grace are fully revealed.—God revealed in nature (Acts 14:15–17): I. As the almighty Creator, Acts 14:15; II. As the gracious Preserver, Acts 14:17; III. As the holy Ruler of the world, Acts 14:16.—The book of the world (nature and history), viewed as an introduction to the Book of books: I. By its revelations, all of which conduct to the living God of the Bible; II. By its mysteries (sin and death), the solution of which is found in the Gospel alone.—The sacrifices with which God is well pleased [Hebr. 13:16], Acts 14:14–18: I. Offered, not to dumb idols, or to mortal men, but to the living God, the Giver of every good gift; II. Consisting, not of the fruits of the field, or of animals adorned with garlands, that is, not of any external gifts or works, but of penitent, believing, and obedient hearts.—Paul in Lystra, or, The steady progress of a servant of God through this fickle and perverse world: I. Its garlands do not deceive him (worldly prosperity, and popular favor do not fill him with pride; he always ascribes, with an humble spirit, all the glory to God alone, Acts 14:8 ff.); II. Its stones do not crush him (the hatred of men, and insults offered by the world, cannot cast him down; he walks with a firm step amid all his afflictions, sustained by the power of his Lord, Acts 14:19 ff.).


[3]Acts 14:8. a. [ὑπάρχων, after αὑτοῦ, in text. rec., from G. H. etc., is omitted in A. B. C. D. E., Cod. Sin., and by Lach., Tisch., and Alf. The latter, with de Wette and Meyer, regards the word as an interpolation from Acts 3:2.—TR.]

[4]Acts 14:8. b. In place of the pluperfect περιπεπατήκει [found in D. E. G. H., without the augment (WINER: GR. § 12. 9), while the text. rec. exhibits it, περιεπ], Lach. and Tisch. [and Alf.] have adopted the aorist περιεπάτησεν [from A. B. C.; found also in Cod. Sin.]. The aorist conforms to the usual mode of expression in constructions with the relative, and was therefore substituted by copyists for the [original] pluperfect. [This is also the opinion of de Wette and Meyer.—TR.]

[5]Acts 14:9. ἤκουε occurs, indeed, only in B [e sil]. and C. [adopted by text. rec.]., and Lach. and Tisch. therefore prefer the aorist ἤκουσε, which is found in most of the manuscripts [A. D. E. G. H. Cod. Sin.]. As the aorist, however, is constantly employed elsewhere in the narrative, the imperfect, if original, could have more easily been converted into an aorist by copyists than vice versâ; the imperfect may, therefore, be assumed to be the genuine reading. [Alford, with de Wette and Meyer, concurs, and translates in the imperfect: he was listening: see EXEG. note, Acts 8:15–17. ult.—TR.]

[6]Acts 14:10. [The text. rec. reads ἥλλετο, with G. H., but Lach. Tisch. and Alf. adopt ἥλατο, which is found in A. B. C. Cod. Sin. The aorist was changed into the imperfect to suit περιεπάτει (Mey.), See WINER: Gr. § 15.—TR.]

[7]Acts 14:14. ἐξεπήδησαν [found in A. B. C (original). D. E., Cod. Sin. Syr. Vulg., (exilierunt) and adopted by recent editors.—TR.], is, unquestionably, preferable to the reading ἐιςεπ. [of text. rec.]. The latter is found only in a few of the later manuscripts [in C (corrected). G. H.—TR.]

[8]Acts 14:17. a. καίτοιγε [of text. rec. from C (second correction). G. H.] must be regarded as the genuine reading; those that deviate from it drop either τοι orγε [καίτοι in A. B. C.; adopted by Lach. and Tisch., but not by Alf.; καίγε in D. E.—Cod. Sin. (original) had καιτοίγε; a later hand attempted to erase γε.—TR.]

[9]Acts 14:17. b. [For ἀγαθοποιῶν, (of text. rec. from D. E. G. H.) Lach., Tisch., and Alf. substitute ἀγαθουργῶν (from A. B. C. Cod. Sin.,) as the less usual word.—For ἡμῶν after καρίας, of text. rec., from A. B (e sil). G. H. Vulg. (nostra), Lach. Tisch. and Alf. substitute ὑμῶν from C. D. E., fathers. The Cod. Amiatinus of the Vulg. reads vestra; the reading in ed. Sixtina was eorum, indicating αὐτῶν,which conforms to the Syr. version. ’Ημῖν after ον̓ρανόθεν, is omitted by Tisch. and Alf.; C. D. E. G. H. read ὑμῖν, which is adopted by Lach. The pronoun appears to have been altered in Cod. Sin. to the second person.—TR.]

[10]Acts 14:19. a. νομίζοντες, part. pres. is more strongly supported [by A. B. D. Cod. Sin., and adopted by Lach. and Tisch.] than νομίσαντες [of text. rec., from C. E. G. H.; Alf. prefers the latter, and regards the former as a correction by a later hand.—TR.]

[11]Acts 14:19. b. [Lach. Tisch. and Alf. read τεθνηκέναι, in accordance with A. B. C. Cod. Sin., instead of τεθνάναι of text. rec. from D. E. G. H., the latter being the more usual form, and hence more readily adopted by copyists than the other.—TR.]

And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch,
§ III. Paul and Barnabas, on returning to Antioch [in Syria], pass through Lystra, Iconium and the Pisidian Antioch, strengthening and encouraging the newly-formed congregations in those places, and completing their organization

CHAPTER 14:21–28

21And when [after] they had preached the gospel12 to that city, and had taught many [gained numerous disciples]13, they returned again [om. again] to Lystra, and to Iconium, and14 Antioch, 22Confirming [Strengthening] the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and [teaching them] that we must through much tribulation [many afflictions] enter into the kingdom of God. 23And when they had ordained [chosen] them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them [congregation, they commended them with prayer and fasting] to the Lord, on whom they [plup. had] believed. 24And after they had passed throughout Pisidia, they came to Pamphylia. 25And when they had preached [spoken] the word in Perga, they went down into Attalia: 26And thence sailed [away] to Antioch, from whence they had been recommended [commended] to the grace of God for the work which they [had now] fulfilled. 27And when they were come [But after they had arrived here], and had gathered the church [congregation] together, they rehearsed15 [announced] all that [how much] God had done with them, and how [that ὅτι] he had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles. 28And there16 they abode long [not a little] time [in intercourse] with the disciples.


ACTS 14:21–23. a. And when they had preached the gospel in that city, etc.—The preaching of the Gospel in Derbe seems to have been followed by the happiest results; the statement that the apostles had made ἱκανούς disciples, permits us to assume that the converts were quite numerous. [And as Derbe is not “enumerated, 2 Tim. 3:11, with Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra, as the scene of any of Paul’s sufferings, we may perhaps infer that none befell him there.” (Alf.).—TR.]. It is, besides, not probable that the two missionaries hastened to depart from this city, where their labors met with no opposition.—From this point they returned to Syria, without, however, taking the road which was, geographically, the nearest, namely, through the province of Cilicia, which bordered on Lycaonia on the south-east; their course at first conducted them further from Syria, through the same cities which they visited on their approach to Derbe. They can have had no other motive in proceeding in such a direction than that of visiting all the congregations which had been gathered on this missionary journey, and, of establishing them more firmly, both in their external and their internal affairs. As the circumstances seemed to impose this duty on them, they revisited, after leaving Derbe, the three cities of Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch in Pisidia, in which they had successfully founded congregations.

b. The statements in Acts 14:21–23 refer, summarily, to the three cities, or, rather, to The four; for, before the apostles departed from Derbe, they doubtless adopted the same course there, which seems, it is true, according to the grammatical construction, to be described only in the case of Lystra, Iconium and Antioch. Their labors assumed, partly, a direct form—words and acts; partly, an indirect form—prayer to God. In the former case, they endeavored strengthen the souls of individuals by the word of doctrine and exhortation, urging them to adhere with fidelity to the faith which they had received, and to remain steadfast. They also represented to the believers (for ὅτι implies that παρακαλεῖν here includes λαλεῖν or διδάσκειν), that the way to the kingdom of God, would necessarily (δεῖ) conduct them through many trials. Such instructions and representations, which tended, to strengthen their souls, were the more appropriate and necessary, as persecution and affliction might have otherwise perplexed their minds, and induced them to renounce their faith.—Paul and Barnabas sought, moreover, to strengthen the congregations, as such, by adopting a certain measure of a practical character: they supplied the latter with elders, who might lead and direct them—πρεσβυτέρονς κατ̓ ἐκκλησιαν, i.e., not one elder, but several elders, in each congregation; the customs of the Israelitic authorities alone, without referring to other considerations, show that no other view can be entertained [comp. also Acts 20:17; Tit. 1:5.—TR.].—Some doubt, however, attends the mode of presentation indicated by the words: χειροτονήσαντες αὐτοῖς. Did Paul and Barnabas nominate suitable men solely on their own authority, and in accordance with their own judgment, or did they induce the congregations to elect these officers? Χειροτονεῖν signifies: to raise the hands; to vote, elect, by stretching out the hands. The expression accordingly suggests the thought that the apostles may have appointed and superintended a congregational election. And this view is supported by the circumstances related in Acts 6:2 ff., when the Twelve directed that the election of the Seven should be held. Indeed, the very nature of the case would seem to have required that the apostles should be guided in their decision by public opinion, and by the confidence reposed by the members of the congregation in certain individuals. [The author remarks in his work, to which he refers below, that the word χειροτ, may possibly here bear the sense of: appointing a congregational election. “It is, however, more probable,” he adds, “that the word is here used in the general sense: to elect, so that it neither states directly that the elders were appointed by the authority and according to the judgment (of the apostles), nor does it expressly include any active participation of the congregation. But, in any case, the confidence and the judgment of the members were necessarily taken into consideration.” This explanation would be more appropriate if the participle passive had occurred here, e.g. “elders having been appointed.” See below, DOCTR. No. 2.—TR.].—These congregations of Asia Minor were remote from their mother-church at Antioch in Syria, and the pressure of certain local wants began to be felt. For they were at once severed from the synagogue, and were thus reduced to the necessity of forming a society of their own, and the hostility of the Jewish population which surrounded them, imperatively demanded that they should exhibit a compact and independent organization. As a natural result, it became indispensably necessary that this congregational organization should be placed under the direction of certain officers.—Schrader (Paulus, V. 543) doubts the historical accuracy of the statement in the passage before us, and conjectures that an arrangement of a later date is, without reason, assigned to this early period, and ascribed to the apostles; see my [work, entitled] Apost. und nachapost. Zeitalter [The Apostolic and Post-apostolic Age], 2d ed. p. 358 ff. [The author, among other considerations, here adduces the fact that elders presided over the church in Jerusalem at a period anterior to this journey of Paul, Acts 11:30, etc., etc.—TR.]. On each occasion on which Paul and Barnabas took leave of a congregation, they engaged in solemn religious exercises, and while they-fasted and prayed, commended the new converts to the . Lord, whom these had received in faith; that is, the apostles besought Jesus Christ to grant to these converts his gracious presence, promote their growth in the divine life, and bestow his protection on them. (ΙΙαρατίθεναι is, namely, specially employed, in those cases in which an object, which is to be subsequently returned, is intrusted to the care of another, or deposited with him—fidei alicujus committere, servandum et custodiendum tradere).

ACTS 14:24, 25. Passed throughout Pisidia.—The apostles, on their road to the sea-coast, again visited Perga (Acts 13:13), in the province of Pamphylia, where they preached the Gospel, although the narrative does not state whether their efforts were successful. They finally reached the coast (κατέβησαν) at Attalia [Attaleia, with the accent on the third syllable.—TR.], a seaport on the south-east of Perga, near the boundary line of Lycia; it received its name from its founder, Attalus Philadelphus, king of Pergamus [who ascended the throne 159 B. C.—TR.]. Here the missionaries took ship, and, after sailing in an eastern direction, towards Seleucia and the Orontes, at length reached Antioch.

ACTS 14:26. Whence they had been recommended, etc.—At the close of this narrative, which constitutes a complete and independent whole, Luke refers to the beginning, Acts 13:2, 3, and connects the completion of the work of the missionaries (ἐπλήρωσαν τὸ ἔργον) with the prayers of the Antiochian congregation (13:3) that the protecting grace of God might attend them (παραδεδ. τῇ χ. τ. θεοῦ). This journey, which may have occupied Paul and Barnabas during a period of two or three years (46–48 A. D.), conducted them not only to the island of Cyprus, but also through an extensive district in the southeastern quarter of Asia Minor. The results, in addition to individual cases of conversion, were, at least, four Christian congregations, (consisting principally of converted pagans) which were organized with a fair prospect that they would continue to flourish.

ACTS 14:27, 28. And when they were come [had arrived], etc.—when Paul and Barnabas reached Antioch, they called together the congregation by which they had been sent forth and commended to the grace of God; they designed to give an account not only of all that they themselves had done, but also, and, indeed, primarily, of all that God had done, who had been with them;(μετʼ αὐτῶν is not equivalent to διʼ αὐτῶν [which occurs in Acts 15:12.—TR.], but signifies: being with them, succoring them [comp. e.g. Acts 7:9; Rom. 16:20.—TR.]).—The θύρα πίστεως which God opened unto the Gentiles, does not refer simply to any external opportunity or any exhortation that they should believe, such as God provided for them through the missionary journey of the two messengers; it also designates an internal opening through the gracious influences of the Holy Ghost—a willingness to believe, which had been awakened in them, and which God had given. [Comp. 1 Cor. 16:9; 2 Cor. 2:12; Col. 4:3, and εἴςοδος, 1 Thess. 1:9.—TR.].—The χρόνος οὐκ ὀλίγος which Paul and Barnabas passed with the disciples, that is, the congregation at Antioch, is an expression which allows us to con jecture that several years were thus spent, doubtless with great benefit alike to the two missionaries and to the congregation itself.


1. The conception of the kingdom of God, as indicated in Acts 14:22, obviously includes something that lies beyond the bounds of this world, and cannot refer exclusively to the latter; we are told that we can enter into the βασιλεία τοῦ θεοῦ only through many θλίφεις. These θλίφεις are the road, not the place of destination—the gate, not the house itself. And yet, those who endure these θλίφεις, are already devout and believing souls, who abide in faith (ἐμμένοντες τῇ πίστει). As long as they are passing through θλίψεις, they have not yet entered into the kingdom of God. That kingdom, therefore, as it is obvious, lies beyond these θλίψεις, and is a kingdom of blessedness. Those who walk through tribulations, already walk in faith, and are members of the church of Christ. Still, they belong to the church militant; after they have entered in, they belong to the reigning and triumphant church, to the βασιλεία τοῦ θεοῦ. “The Church” and “The kingdom of God”, are not equivalent terms: the former is the court; the latter, the sanctuary, or, rather, the Holiest of all [Hebr. 9:2, 3].

2. The wisdom of the course adopted by the apostle of the Gentiles, as a teacher and ruler in the church, and his mode of action, as taught by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, are strikingly illustrated in Acts 14:22, 23, and furnish a type and a model for succeeding times. We can here perceive the happy combination, and the genuine and reciprocal influence, of teaching and ruling—of the action of man and the action of divine grace. It is the firm conviction of the apostles that the congregation which had recently been planted, could be protected and strengthened solely by the presence and grace of Christ. Hence they commend these congregations, with genuine earnestness of spirit, and with fasting and prayer, to the care of the Lord, who is the strong tower and the rock of all believers. But their trust in God is far from assuming a fanatical character; hence they labor personally, by word and deed, to strengthen and establish those newly formed congregations as firmly as their own means admit. They do not, however, primarily resort to human arrangements or plans, as if these constituted a guarantee of success, but, first of all, speak words of exhortation and instruction, of consolation and promise (παρακαλοῦντες)—all founded on the word of God. Nevertheless, the apostles do not agree with those who wish to relinquish all to the influence of the word exclusively, who assign no value whatever to forms, rights, and ordinances of the church, and who dispense with them entirely. On the contrary, they invested certain persons in every congregation with the office of elders, in order that these congregations might acquire that social and independent character, which the circumstances required; the means which they adopted appear to have consisted of an election on the part of each congregation. And yet, these were newly formed societies, whose Christian experience had been comparatively brief, whose Christian character had not yet been subjected to the trial of time, and whose views cannot, at that period, be supposed to have been very profound. But that these elders were exclusively, or even chiefly preachers and teachers, may be confidently denied, already for the reason that the elders of the Israelites were by no means invested with the office of teachers, and the functions of the πρεσβύτεροι who are mentioned in Acts 11:30, are those of rulers and administrators, but not of teachers.

3. The conclusion of this section (Acts 13. and 14.), like other passages with which we have already met, deeply impresses us with the truth, that all the noble acts of the apostles, and all the momentous, glorious and victorious acts of believers, were, in reality, acts of God, and of the Lord Jesus Christ himself. He was with them (μετ̓ αὐτῶν, Acts 14:27)—He opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles. The apostles undoubtedly completed (ἐπλήρωσαν, Acts 14:26) the work, but they succeeded solely through the grace of God to which they had been commended. The blessing and increase, the fruit and result, the honor and glory—all belong to HIM! This is the lesson which the Redeemer teaches; this is the conviction of the apostle Paul himself, 1 Cor. 15:10; this is now, and forever will be, the truth.


ACTS 14:21. And when they had preached … returned to Lystra, etc.—With what ardent love the heart of the apostle must have been inspired, if, after having been stoned, he immediately returned to that city, and, far from surveying his enemies with imbittered feeling, could resume the preaching of the Gospel with meekness and pitying love, firmly resolved not to discontinue his labors, although the result should be his death! Ought not such earnestness of purpose, while it puts us to shame, also cheer and encourage us? (Ap. Past.).—The wounds of the apostle are still bleeding; yet he already resumes the preaching of the cross of Christ; his very wounds preach concerning the power of faith. (Leon. and Sp.).

ACTS 14:22. Confirming the souls, etc.—Behold here the work of the ministry, in its whole extent: I. εὐαγγελίζειν, to preach Christ, Acts 14:21; II. μαθητεὐειν, to instruct individuals, and make them disciples, Acts 14:21; III. ἐπιστηρίζειν, to strengthen and establish in faith and sanctification, Acts 14:22; IV. παρακαλεῖν, to exhort and comfort in tribulation, Acts 14:22. (Ap. Past.).—That we must through much tribulation, etc.—This truth should be diligently preached to all Christians; the Church withers away amid scenes of levity; but the more she weeps, the more gloriously she flourishes. The vine which God prunes, grows luxuriantly. (Starke).—The consolation which they left behind, when they took leave of those who had but recently become disciples, was not this: ‘Our tribulation will soon come to an end,’ but rather: ‘Tribulation is coming—it must come; ye must make known by this badge that ye belong to the order of the Cross.’ (Williger).—That word “must” has a gloomy sound, it is true, but the necessity is not imposed by a blind and rigid fate; it proceeds, first, from the appointment of God, so that believers might in this manner be conformed to Christ (Rom. 8:17); secondly, from the enmity which was, at the beginning, put between Christ and Satan (Gen. 3:15), and, lastly, from the urgent need that our corrupt flesh should be crucified (2 Cor. 4:16). (Starke).—Thinkest thou that thou wilt enter into the kingdom of Heaven without the cross and tribulation? But neither Christ, nor any one of his most beloved friends and saints had the power or the will to do so. Ask any one of the triumphant citizens of heaven whom thou wilt; they will all respond: ‘We attained to the glory of God by the cross and chastisements.’ Then, take the yoke of the Lord upon thee, which is light and easy for them that love him. Stand faithfully by the cross which blooms with virtues, and drops with the oil of grace. What else dost thou desire? This is the true, the holy, the perfect way, the way of Christ, the way of the righteous and elect. Carry the cross with a willing heart, and it will carry and guide thee thither, where thy sorrows will end, and where thou wilt find all for which thy soul has longed. (Thom. Aquinas).—If the head was crowned with thorns, the members cannot expect garlands of roses. (Scriver).—O how blessed we Christians are! We have the pledge of the Father’s love in our hearts; we hold in our hands the cup of sorrow, which unites us with the Saviour in the fellowship of the cross. That crown is in our view, which follows after the fellowship of the cross. Who, then, can be dismayed or be sad? (Tholuck).

ACTS 14:23. Ordained [chosen] them elders … prayed with fasting … commended them to the Lord.—The apostles judged that the office of teachers was needed even among believers, and therefore furnished their new congregations with elders; they did not, however, authorize the latter to exercise dominion over the faith [2 Cor. 1:24] of the members, but commended all to the Lord on whom they had believed. This is the just medium between the two extremes of an excessive exaltation of the office of the ministry, on the one hand, and of an entire rejection of it, on the other. (Ap. Past.).—When we can no longer hold intercourse personally with those whom we love, or provide for them, it becomes our duty to offer believing prayer to God in their behalf, and then dismiss all fear. (Starke).—To establish system and order in congregations that have been recently gathered, is not a less important work than that of gathering them through the medium of the Gospel. (Williger).

ACTS 14:27. And when they were come … he had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles.—He that hath the key of David [Rev. 3:7], can open every door. But let no preacher presume to take the key into his own hand, nor let him entertain the vain opinion that he himself can open the hearts of men; let him beseech the Lord to do that work, and then give all the glory to Him. (Gossner).—God opens three doors, when any work that leads to the salvation of men, is performed—the door of the teacher’s mouth—the door of the hearer’s ear—and that of his heart. (Starke).—And the fourth and last door is that of heaven!—We should not observe silence respecting the works and wonders which God has wrought, but, in sincere humility, proclaim them aloud, so that others, besides ourselves, may praise the goodness and almighty power of God. (Starke).—The work which they fulfilled, Acts 14:26.—Such honor attended Jesus, when he went to the Father: “I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do” [John 17:4]. And nothing but such a faithful performance of the work assigned to us, can bear honorable testimony in our behalf, when we depart from the world.

ACTS 14:28. And there they abode, etc.—The repose of faithful servants of God is, as it were, only a change of labor. (Quesnel).


Acts 14:21–28. A description of the labors of the apostles: I. They permit no persecutions to arrest their progress; II. They convey the word to those who are still strangers to it; III. They strengthen the faith of new converts; IV. They organize congregations; V. They deliver an account of their labors. (Lisco).

The blessings which flow from the preaching of the Gospel to heathens: it bestows a blessing, I. On the messengers of the word (their faith is established by their experience of divine support in affliction, Acts 14:20–22); II. On those who are converted (pagan vices are succeeded by a holy life—fables yield to the divine word, Acts 14:23–25); III. On those who send the messengers (increase of faith—deeper love). (From Lisco).

The return of Paul and Barnabas, an image of our return to our heavenly home: it is an image, I. Of the varied experience of believers on the road, Acts 14:20–22; II. Of the great purposes of their journey, Acts 14:23–25; III. Of their arrival at home, Acts 14:26–28. (Lisco).

The consolations derived from the saying: We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God: I. Viewed as, in truth, a prediction of Christ, it deprives tribulation of all its startling features; II. It reveals to us the state of our hearts by nature, and the design of tribulation; III. It imparts clearer views than we would otherwise entertain respecting the relation in which both the kingdom of Christ and we ourselves stand to the world. (Harless).

The way of tribulation: I. Those who walk in it: all true Christians—“we.” (Therefore, be not alarmed). II. The necessity of walking it—“must.” (Therefore, do not draw back). III. Its nature; it is rude and long, but not made by us—“through much tribulation.” (Therefore, do not despond). IV. Its end: salvation—“into the kingdom of God.” (Therefore, do not neglect this great salvation)! (Florey).

The blessings which the cross conveys to us: I. It exposes the vanity of earthly happiness, and thus urges us to seek for heavenly treasures; II. It exhibits the fickleness of human love, and thus urges us to seek our help in the Lord alone; III. It reveals to us our own weakness, and thus urges us to labor that we may be strong in the Lord. (Leon. and Sp.).

How many we, as good soldiers of Christ [2 Tim. 2:3], fight a good fight [2 Tim. 4:7]? (Acts 14:19–23). I. By accepting affliction at once, in a spirit of humility; II. By encouraging one another to hold faith and a good conscience [1 Tim. 1:19]; III. By faithfully and perseveringly leaning on the Lord in prayer. (Langbein).

The office of the evangelical pastor: I. Its sorrows and dangers, Acts 14:19; II. Its duties and labors, Acts 14:20–23; III. Its victories and joys, Acts 14:24–27.

The consolations of a shepherd on taking leave of his flock: I. The good seed, which already begins to grow, Acts 14:21, 22; II. The faithful fellow-servants, to whom he resigns the flock, Acts 14:23; III. The great Shepherd [Hebr. 13:20], to whose care he intrusts the souls of the people, Acts 14:23.

“My word that goeth forth out of my mouth, shall not return unto me void” [Isai 54:11] —illustrated and verified by the results of the first mission among heathens.

“The Lord hath done great things for us” —such is the hymn of praise of all faithful servants of God, when they cast a retrospective glance at their pilgrimage, Acts 14:27. This language expresses, I. The lively joy with which they survey all that the Lord has done for them, and through them; II. The deep humility produced by the conviction that all the honor belongs unto the Lord alone.

[From whence they had been recommended to the grace of God, Acts 14:26. The consciousness that we are walking in the path of duty: I. Its value: (a) in seasons of affliction; (b) when stern duties are imposed; (c) when happiness attends us; II. Its absolute necessity: (a) without it, we are unfaithful to our Creator; (b) ungrateful to our Saviour; (c) unprepared to meet our Judge; III. Means by which it may be acquired and maintained: (a) clear views of our true position on earth; (b) continued self-examination and prayer; (c) conscientious use of the means of grace.—TR.]


[12]Acts 14:21. a. [Lach. and Tisch. insert the participle present, from A. D. E. H., instead of the part. aor. of text. rec., which is found in B (e sil). C. G. and also in Cod. Sin. The latter reading is preferred by Alf., who regards the former as a correction after Acts 14:7.—The original writer of Cod. Sin. omitted all the words intervening in text. rec. between εἰς τὴνπόλιν in Acts 14:20 and ἐκείνην καὶ μαθ. in Acts 14:21. Tischendorf remarks here as follows, in the note, p. LXIX.: “εκεινην: punctis positis rursusque deletis C præposuit και τη επ. εξηλ. συν τω βαρ. εις δερ. εναγγελισαμενοι τε την πολιν.” This reading precisely agrees with that of text. rec.TR.]

[13]Acts 14:21. b. [For the words: had taught many, the margin of the Engl. Bible furnishes the following more literal version of μαθητεύσαντες ἱκ.: had made many disciples. (Wiclif, Tynd., Cranmer, Geneva, Rheims: had taught many.).—Alexander (Commentary) translates: having discipled many.—TR.]

[14]Acts 14:21. c. [Lach. (and latterly, Tisch.), and Alf. with whom de Wette concurs, prefix εἰς both to ʼΙκόν., and to ʼΑντ., with A. C. E. and Cod. Sin. as the original reading; the preposition is omitted by text. rec. in accordance with B (e sil). D. G. H.—TR.]

[15]Acts 14:27. [In place of the aorist of text. rec. from E. G. H. (“a correction to aorist as more usual.” Alf.), Lach. Tisch. and Alf. insert the imperfect from A. B. C; the latter occurs also in Cod. Sin.; the reading of D. is ἀνήγγειλον.—TR.]

[16]Acts 14:28. [ἐκεἰ before χρ., inserted by text. rec., from E. G. H. is omitted by Lach. Tisch. Alf. and other editors, in accordance with A. B. C. D., Vulg. It is omitted in Cod. Sin.—TR.]

Lange, John Peter - Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical

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