Summary: Paul and Barnabas preached “as usual”, effectively and boldy, in Iconium. God confirms His message of grace through miracles. The city is divided into two camps, Apostles and Jews. P&B learn of a plot to stone them so they leave for the outlying towns.
3. a. Effectively and boldly
b. Because I have learned to rely on the words of the bible and not my own, my witnessing is effective. However, I find that I am mostly bold in situations which probably do not require much boldness.
4. The word was spoken, many are saved, miracles are performed, but opposition was organized against the truth.
5. They rejected the message as being the truth and, as a result, fought it with the same fervor that Saul did before he saw the light. This is not a surprising reaction, although it is wrong.
Conclusion: Iconium, modern Konya, is on a roadway southeast of Pisidian Antioch by approximately 100 miles. According to last week’s notes, we learned that Romans considered a good day travel in this region to be about 16 miles so it would have taken the better part of a full week of travel to get here As you can see from maps of the area, Iconium is on a direct pathway, and roadway of that day, from Pisidian Antioch to Tarsus (Paul’s home town). The city, which was the capital of the area of Lycaonia, sits on the western edge of a great plain at 3600 feet elevation (more on this on Week 7, Day 3 Questions).
As the apostles head in the direction of Tarsus, they begin experiencing more of the fervor that Saul brought to the scene in his previous life. The Jews who stand in opposition to the truth, particularly now that “their God” is being co-opted into a God who is available to gentiles without them becoming jewish, is hitting a little too close to the core of what they hold as “theirs alone.” As a result, the passion against the truth is rising. Even with the authorities in Jerusalem, in opposition to Peter, we saw them mostly imprison, scold, and beat the Apostles. But, here, now, we see the people move quickly from treating them as guests invited to speak in the temple to something less that human that you would kill without trial by a mob throwing stones at it.
We will see Paul return to each of these places where seeds have been planted in future chapters of Acts and in the epistles. However, we also know that he felt the hatred of those who stood in opposition not only of him but of the grace of God. In 2 Tim 3:14 he recounts the persecution that he faced in this area.