Acts 14
Vincent's Word Studies
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.
But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles, and made their minds evil affected against the brethren.
Long time therefore abode they speaking boldly in the Lord, which gave testimony unto the word of his grace, and granted signs and wonders to be done by their hands.
Long (ἱκανὸν)

See on Luke 7:6.


See on Acts 12:19.

In the Lord

Lit., upon (ἐπί) the Lord: in reliance on him.

But the multitude of the city was divided: and part held with the Jews, and part with the apostles.
And when there was an assault made both of the Gentiles, and also of the Jews with their rulers, to use them despitefully, and to stone them,
Assault (ὁρμὴ)

Too strong, as is also the Rev., onset. In case an actual assault had been made, it would have been absurd for Luke to tell us that "they were ware of it." It is rather the purpose and intention of assault beginning to assume the character of a movement. See on James 3:4.

To stone

Paul says he was stoned once (2 Corinthians 11:25). This took place at Lystra (see Acts 14:19).

They were ware of it, and fled unto Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and unto the region that lieth round about:
Were ware (συνιδόντες)

Rev., became aware. See on considered, Acts 12:12.

And there they preached the gospel.
They preached the gospel (ἧσαν εὐαγγελιζόμενοι)

The finite verb with the participle, denoting continuance. They prolonged their preaching for some time.

And there sat a certain man at Lystra, impotent in his feet, being a cripple from his mother's womb, who never had walked:
Impotent (ἀδύνατος)

The almost universal meaning of the word in the New Testament is impossible (see Matthew 19:26; Hebrews 6:4, etc.). The sense of weak or impotent occurs only here and Romans 15:1.

The same heard Paul speak: who stedfastly beholding him, and perceiving that he had faith to be healed,
Heard (ἤκουε)

The force of the imperfect should be given here. He was hearing while Paul preached.

Said with a loud voice, Stand upright on thy feet. And he leaped and walked.
Upright (ὀρθός)

Only here and Hebrews 12:13. Compare made straight, Luke 13:13, and see note there.

Leaped (ἥλατο)

Better, as Rev., leaped up. Note the aorist tense, indicating a single act, while the imperfect, walked, denotes continuous action.

And when the people saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in the speech of Lycaonia, The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men.
In the speech of Lycaonia

The apostles had been conversing with them in Greek. The fact that the people now spoke in their native tongue explains why Paul and Barnabas did not interfere until they saw the preparations for sacrifice. They did not understand what was being said by the people about their divine character. It was natural that the surprise of the Lystrans should express itself in their own language rather than in a foreign tongue.

In the likeness of men (ὁμοιωθέντες ἀνθρώποις)

Lit., having become like to men. A remnant of the earlier pagan belief that the gods visited the earth in human form. Homer, for example, is full of such incidents. Thus, when Ulysses lands upon his native shore, Pallas meets him

"in the shape

Of a young shepherd delicately formed,

As are the sons of kings. A mantle lay

Upon her shoulder in rich folds; her feet

Shone in their sandals; in her hands she bore

A javelin."

Odyssey, xiii., 221-225.

Again, one rebukes a suitor for maltreating Ulysses:

"Madman! what if he

Came down from heaven and were a god! The gods

Put on the form of strangers from afar,

And walk our towns in many different shapes,

To mark the good and evil deeds of men."

Odyssey, xvii., 485 sq.

And they called Barnabas, Jupiter; and Paul, Mercurius, because he was the chief speaker.
Barnabas Jupiter, and Paul Mercury

The Greek names of these deities were Zeus and Hermes. As the herald of the gods, Mercury is the god of skill in the use of speech and of eloquence in general, for the heralds are the public speakers in the assemblies and on other occasions. Hence he is sent on messages where persuasion or argument are required, as to Calypso to secure the release of Ulysses from Ogygia ("Odyssey," i., 84:); and to Priam to warn him of danger and to escort him to the Grecian fleet ("Iliad," xxiv., 390). Horace addresses him as the "eloquent" grandson of Atlas, who artfully formed by oratory the savage manners of a primitive race ("Odes," i., 10). Hence the tongues of sacrificial animals were offered to him. As the god of ready and artful speech, his office naturally extended to business negotiations. He was the god of prudence and skill in all the relations of social intercourse, and the patron of business and gain. A merchant-guild at Rome was established under his protection. And as, from its nature, commerce is prone to degenerate into fraud, so he appears as the god of thievery, exhibiting cunning, fraud, and perjury. "He represents, so to speak, the utilitarian side of the human mind....In the limitation of his faculties and powers, in the low standard of his moral habits, in the abundant activity of his appetites, in his indifference, his ease, his good-nature, in the full-blown exhibition of what Christian theology would call conformity to the world, he is, as strictly as the nature of the case admits, a product of the invention of man. He is the god of intercourse on earth" (Gladstone, "Homer and the Homeric Age").

The chief speaker (ὁ ἡγούμενος τοῦ λόγου)

Lit., the leader in discourse. Barnabas was called Jupiter, possibly because his personal appearance was more imposing than Paul's (see 2 Corinthians 10:1, 2 Corinthians 10:10), and also because Jupiter and Mercury were commonly represented as companions in their visits to earth.

Then the priest of Jupiter, which was before their city, brought oxen and garlands unto the gates, and would have done sacrifice with the people.
Of Jupiter (τοῦ Διὸς)

Properly, the Jupiter, the tutelary deity of Lystra. It is unnecessary to supply temple, as Rev. The god himself was regarded as present in his temple.

The gates (πυλῶνας)

What gates are intended is uncertain. Some say, the city gates; others, the temple gates; and others, the doors of the house in which Paul and Barnabas were residing. See on Acts 12:13.

Which when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of, they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out,
Ran in (εἰσεπήδησαν)

A feeble translation, even if this reading is retained. The verb means to leap or spring. The best texts read ἐξεπήδησαν, sprang forth, probably from the gate of their house, or from the city gate, if the sacrifice was prepared in front of it.

Crying out (κράζοντες)

Inarticulate shouts to attract attention.

And saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein:
Of like passions (ὁμοιοπαθεῖς)

Only here and James 5:17, on which see note. Better, of like nature.

Turn (ἐπιστρέφειν)

Compare 1 Thessalonians 1:9, where the same verb is used.

Who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways.
Times (γενεαῖς)

More correctly, generations, as Rev.

Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.

Jupiter was lord of the air. He dispensed the thunder and lightning, the rain and the hail, the rivers and tempests. "All signs and portents whatever, that appear in the air, belong primarily to him, as does the genial sign of the rainbow" (Gladstone, "Homer and the Homeric Age"). The mention of rain is appropriate, as there was a scarcity of water in Lycaonia.


Mercury, as the god of merchandise, was also the dispenser of food.

"No one can read the speech without once more perceiving its subtle and inimitable coincidence with his (Paul's) thoughts and expressions. The rhythmic conclusion is not unaccordant with the style of his most elevated moods; and besides the appropriate appeal to God's natural gifts in a town not in itself unhappily situated, but surrounded by a waterless and treeless plain, we may naturally suppose that the 'filling our hearts with food and gladness' was suggested by the garlands and festive pomp which accompanied the bulls on which the people would afterward have made their common banquet" (Farrar, "Life and Work of Paul"). For the coincidences between this discourse and other utterances of Paul, compare Acts 14:15, and 1 Thessalonians 1:9; Acts 14:16, and Romans 3:25; Acts 17:30; Acts 14:17, and Romans 1:19, Romans 1:20.

And with these sayings scarce restrained they the people, that they had not done sacrifice unto them.
And there came thither certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium, who persuaded the people, and, having stoned Paul, drew him out of the city, supposing he had been dead.

See on Acts 14:5.

Howbeit, as the disciples stood round about him, he rose up, and came into the city: and the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe.
To Derbe

A journey of only a few hours.

And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch,
Taught (μαθητεύσαντες)

More correctly, made disciples of, as Rev. See on Matthew 13:52.


See on Luke 7:6.

Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.

See on stablish, 1 Peter 5:10.

And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.
Ordained (χειροτονήσαντες)

Only here and 2 Corinthians 8:19. Rev., more correctly, appointed. The meaning ordain is later. See on Acts 10:41.

Elders (πρεσβυτέρους)

For the general superintendence of the church. The word is synonymous with ἐπίσκοποι, overseers or bishops (see on visitation, 1 Peter 2:12). Those who are called elders, in speaking of Jewish communities, are called bishops, in speaking of Gentile communities. Hence the latter term prevails in Paul's epistles.

Commended (παρέθεντο)

See on set before, Luke 9:16; and commit, 1 Peter 4:19.

And after they had passed throughout Pisidia, they came to Pamphylia.
And when they had preached the word in Perga, they went down into Attalia:
And thence sailed to Antioch, from whence they had been recommended to the grace of God for the work which they fulfilled.
And when they were come, and had gathered the church together, they rehearsed all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles.
With them (μετ' αὐτῶν)

In connection with them; assisting them.

And how (καὶ ὅτι)

Better, that. The and has an incressive and particularizing force: "and in particular, above all."

And there they abode long time with the disciples.
Vincent's Word Studies, by Marvin R. Vincent [1886].
Text Courtesy of Internet Sacred Texts Archive.

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