December 09, 2002 Copyright © by United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
- In Iconium they entered the Jewish synagogue together and spoke in such a way that a great number of both Jews and Greeks came to believe,
- although the disbelieving Jews stirred up and poisoned the minds of the Gentiles against the brothers.
- So they stayed for a considerable period, speaking out boldly for the Lord, who confirmed the word about his grace by granting signs and wonders to occur through their hands.
- The people of the city were divided: some were with the Jews; others, with the apostles.
- When there was an attempt by both the Gentiles and the Jews, together with their leaders, to attack and stone them,
- they realized it and fled to the Lycaonian cities of Lystra and Derbe and to the surrounding countryside,
- where they continued to proclaim the good news.
- 1 At Lystra there was a crippled man, lame from birth, who had never walked.
- He listened to Paul speaking, who looked intently at him, saw that he had the faith to be healed,
- and called out in a loud voice, "Stand up straight on your feet." He jumped up and began to walk about.
- When the crowds saw what Paul had done, they cried out in Lycaonian, "The gods have come down to us in human form."
- They called Barnabas "Zeus" 2 and Paul "Hermes," because he was the chief speaker.
- And the priest of Zeus, whose temple was at the entrance to the city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates, for he together with the people intended to offer sacrifice.
- The apostles Barnabas and Paul tore their garments 3 when they heard this and rushed out into the crowd, shouting,
- 4 "Men, why are you doing this? We are of the same nature as you, human beings. We proclaim to you good news that you should turn from these idols to the living God, 'who made heaven and earth and sea and all that is in them.'
- In past generations he allowed all Gentiles to go their own ways;
- yet, in bestowing his goodness, he did not leave himself without witness, for he gave you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, and filled you with nourishment and gladness for your hearts."
- Even with these words, they scarcely restrained the crowds from offering sacrifice to them.
- However, some Jews from Antioch and Iconium arrived and won over the crowds. They stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead.
- But when the disciples gathered around him, he got up and entered the city. On the following day he left with Barnabas for Derbe.
- After they had proclaimed the good news to that city and made a considerable number of disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch.
- They strengthened the spirits of the disciples and exhorted them to persevere in the faith, saying, "It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the kingdom of God."
- They appointed presbyters 5 for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, commended them to the Lord in whom they had put their faith.
- Then they traveled through Pisidia and reached Pamphylia.
- After proclaiming the word at Perga they went down to Attalia.
- From there they sailed to Antioch, where they had been commended to the grace of God for the work they had now accomplished.
- And when they arrived, they called the church together and reported what God had done with them and how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.
- Then they spent no little time with the disciples.
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1 [8-18] In an effort to convince his hearers that the divine power works through his word, Paul cures the cripple. However, the pagan tradition of the occasional appearance of gods among human beings leads the people astray in interpreting the miracle. The incident reveals the cultural difficulties with which the church had to cope. Note the similarity of the miracle worked here by Paul to the one performed by Peter in Acts 3:2-10.
2  Zeus . . . Hermes: in Greek religion, Zeus was the chief of the Olympian gods, the "father of gods and men"; Hermes was a son of Zeus and was usually identified as the herald and messenger of the gods.
3  Tore their garments: a gesture of protest.
4 [15-17] This is the first speech of Paul to Gentiles recorded by Luke in Acts (cf Acts 17:22-31). Rather than showing how Christianity is the logical outgrowth of Judaism, as he does in speeches before Jews, Luke says that God excuses past Gentile ignorance and then presents a natural theology arguing for the recognition of God's existence and presence through his activity in natural phenomena.
5  They appointed presbyters: the communities are given their own religious leaders by the traveling missionaries. The structure in these churches is patterned on the model of the Jerusalem community (Acts 11:30; 15:2, 5, 22; 21:18).
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