And it came to pass in Iconium, that they went both together into the synagogue of the Jews, and so spoke…
I. PAUL MADE HIS PREACHING FIRST. He performed miracles. But the miracle was a secondary thing — but a bell ringing. The disciples were commissioned to preach, and the triumphs of the gospel are owing to that. But the term covered teaching and "religious conversation." The Saviour preached to the woman of Samaria. But that mode of discourse is peculiarly preaching in which the truth is presented to masses of hearers. At Iconium, at Lystra, and in fact everywhere, with Paul preaching was the first and the leading agency. God has honoured this above all others.
II. PAUL PREACHED BOLDLY, i.e., fearlessly, unequivocally, but especially with power. The preacher should be persuasive, but above all, powerful. This trait Paul very highly valued. He urged his disciples to pray for him, that he might speak the Word boldly. The Spirit endues us with this holy boldness. By this we commonly intend plain speaking upon politics, temperance, morals, etc. But in nothing do we so need boldness as in the preaching of the simple truths of redemption.
III. PAUL'S PREACHING WAS WATCHFUL. He had spiritual discernment to see the effects of his preaching (ver. 9). Preachers of his discernment are ready for digression. Earnest preachers are bent upon saving, not sermons, but men. Paul stopped his discourse when he saw that the cripple had faith to be saved. He saw an opportunity to extend the interest in his message. How much fruit we lose from lack of spiritual watchfulness! Deacon Safford was deeply interested for a young man in his Sunday school class. One day Dr. Kirk preached a sermon which seemed to the deacon precisely adapted to reach his young friend. He watched him. He thought he saw the evidences of conviction in the intent face. In passing out of church he said in a low, earnest tone, "What are you going to do about it?" The impression was fixed. By that timely word the young man was saved. The gift of the Spirit is as needful to make us watchful as to make us bold.
IV. IN HIS PREACHING PAUL FOLLOWED UP IMPRESSIONS MADE. Long time he tarried in Iconium. The ability to follow up a work is quite distinct from that to begin it. Many persons can make an impression, but want the knowledge, the patience, or perhaps the interest, to develop it. Revivalism outside the Churches involves the danger of producing a class of immature, weak, enthusiastic disciples, who may be left at critical stages of experience; ready, with proper care, to become established Christians, but ready also, without long and wise nurture, to become enemies or schismatics. Faithful Christian work in the pulpit, the Sunday school, the home, will aim at two ends — conversion, and the training of converts.
V. THE THEME OF PAUL'S PREACHING WAS THE GOSPEL. When the first Moravian missionaries were about leaving for Greenland, a solid and pious minister advised them to give the natives "a sound body of divinity, beginning with the being and attributes of God, following with the doctrine of sin, and thus leading on at last to Christ and the Cross." This learned counsel was followed, and for several years their labour was in vain. One day, at a funeral service, quite by accident, a missionary told the story of the Cross, and explained its meaning. To his astonishment the truth made a profound impression. Conversions followed. Thereafter the missionaries began with the Cross.
(G. R. Leavett.)
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.