And there came thither certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium, who persuaded the people, and having stoned Paul…
1. The enemy can be as active as the friend; sometimes we think can outdo him in energy. The Jews had no easy work to get to Lystra. They also had to travel the hundred and thirty miles which separated the towns. But what is that when the heart is burning with hatred?
2. Paul was but once stoned, and he never forgot it! "Once was I stoned." No man can forget that experience. Those who stoned Stephen lay down their clothes at a young man's feet whose name was Saul. The wheel of Providence turns round! There is justice at the very heart of things.
3. They left Paul, "supposing he had been dead." Many a time has Christianity been stoned and "supposed to be dead," but the error is in the supposition. Whatever is true rises again. It may be thrown down; over it all hell may have a moment's laugh — but it finds its feet again! "Truth is great, and must prevail."
4. The next day Paul travelled twenty miles with Barnabas to Derbe; and the thought came to them that they would go, step for step, along the road they had come. People do not know you on one visit. Paul and Barnabas, therefore, went back, "confirming," etc., with this line added: "we must through much tribulation," etc. We cannot copy pathos. We must learn it by life. We may not write our sermons with ink, for then they would be but rhetorical emptiness. We must live them. Paul was suffering when he said those words. There was a subdued sob in the man's emphasis as he said this. Strangers might not detect it, but the speaker himself was conscious that a new thread — a golden one — was being run through the web of his eloquence as he exhorted the Christians to accept tribulation, not as a discredit, but as an endorsement.
5. Paul and his colleague came back to Antioch. Into no speech with which I am acquainted is so much meaning condensed as there is in ver. 27. Look at it.
(1) "And when they bad gathered the Church together." How easily we say these words! How much they may possibly involve! The Church did not live on the open street, or in the fine houses. The Church was a scattered people, perhaps often communicating secretly — despised amid the pomp and splendour of the Syrian Antioch. But why not tell the little missionary story on the open thoroughfare to the passers-by? Because it is useless to speak to men in an unknown tongue. Only the Church can understand the speech of the Church.
(2) They connected the whole story with God. The statement does not read that Paul put his hand upon his head, and said, "Oh, what I have suffered for you!" Stoning and hunger and peril and persecution — these things God has done! It is because we do not recognise that fact that we suppose ourselves to be the victims of circumstances and the butt of enemies. It is part of the Divine education. The Lord reigneth.
6. They left one impression upon the Church — how God "had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles." There is no whine in that tone! They were very heroes. Instead of saying, "The way is very difficult," they said, "The door is open." The stoning was a very little thing when the apostles thought that the Gentile provinces were to be added to the empire of their Lord.
7. Nor was this all. An incident happened not recorded here. Twenty years afterwards Paul wrote a letter to his "own son in the faith," and in that letter he said, "Thou hast fully known my...afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra," etc.; and in the loving Timothy, who would carry on his own noble work, he found a compensation for the stoning at Lystra. We do not always know what we are doing, but the Master knows, and that is enough.
(J. Parker, D. D.)
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.