And there came thither certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium, who persuaded the people, and having stoned Paul…
(text and 2 Corinthians 11:25): — That is no ordinary heap of stones. See, there is blood on it, the blood of one of earth's best sons. Only a dozen years between the man who held the clothes of Stephen's murderers and the martyr Paul, for he was a martyr then in intention, and for anything we know he literally died for the truth, For he tells us, "Whether in the body or out of the body I cannot tell." Persecutors may become helpers. The pirate may yet carry lawful cargo. Do you wish it were so? Then haul down your ensign and run up the white flag and red cross. Cease to do evil, learn to do well. "Sermons in stones." Yes, there are many homilies in such a blood-stained stone heap as this.
I. THE WAY THE WORLD USES ITS BENEFACTORS. Stone the man who healed the cripple! That is the way we always do. Does not the world often starve its geniuses? Who expects wealth for an inventor? The history of poets and painters tells us of hunger and nakedness. Some of the books that live were written in garrets and cells. Don't expect gratitude if you are doing good. You will be better off than God if you get thanks for kindness. Look at the Cross.
II. BIGOTRY BRUTALISES IGNORANCE. "Certain Jews persuaded the people." You have the history of persecution epitomised in that nineteenth verse. The priests have pulled the strings before today, and are trying to get hold of them now. Let us beware of ignorance. Education has always been the foe of priestcraft. But let us not content ourselves with our children learning everything but the Word of God. Popery has no chance so long as the Bible is understood by the people. Do not fear new ideas. There will be quite enough to throw stones at the man with a new idea without your throwing one. If a man loves God he has been promised "a crown of life," and you will not like, should you see him crowned, to think of the time when you threw a stone at his head! Religion will not save you from bigotry; there are no bigots like religious ones. Let us learn to tolerate the man who loves God, seeing that we shall have to live with him forever.
III. PERSECUTION IS LIMITED IN ITS RESULTS. "Once was I stoned." Paul lived twenty years after this, but never was stoned again. The enemy had tried to do it before, but was not able. I was stoned, not killed; at least, though left for dead, I rose up and came into the city. The foes of God may beat out our brains, but they cannot kill the truth. Paul did not give up the work to which he was called because he had to suffer. No, brave little man. He comes into Lystra again. Here was good for evil. Mark how the Christian hero makes his very sufferings useful, telling the Church, and every scar illustrated the truth that "we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God." By and by he visited Lystra again, and found fruit remaining. How true it is that the blood of the martyr is the seed of the Church. Such men as Timothy are cheap at such a price. Let us trust God, even when we are hurt in doing good; out of our wounds there may flow that which shall heal many.
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.