3. The gospel moves out from Antioch, 13:1-15:41

iii] The mission to Iconium


Paul and Barnabas travel to Iconium, and in somewhat of a repeat of the events in Pisidian Antioch, they attend the local synagogue, with some members believing and others opposing them. The wider community is similarly divided and Paul and Barnabas are forced to leave and move on to Lystra and Derbe.


The gospel inevitably divides, forcing acceptance or rejection, faith or unbelief, joy or hatred.


i] Context: See 13:1-12.


ii] Background:

iThe movement of the gospel from Jerusalem to Rome, 1:1-11;

iSigns and Wonders in Acts, 4:23-31.

iGentile inclusion in the Christian church, 11:1-18.


iii] Structure: The mission to Iconium:

Good news for the local synagogue, v1;

Opposition quickly develops, v2;

Good news, in word and sign, for the wider community, v3-4;

Paul and Barnabas are forced to flee, v5-7


iv] Interpretation:

Paul and Barnabas leave Pisidian Antioch southeast on the Via Sebaste, heading for Iconium some eighty miles away. Iconium (now called Konya) is located on a plateau and served as a focal point for a number of major roads in the Roman province of Galatia.

Luke tells us that, as was their custom (kata to auto, may mean "together"), Paul and Barnabas attended the local synagogue and there they proclaim the gospel, and as a consequence, many Jew and Gentile attenders (Ellhnwn, "Greeks", presumably God-fearers / proselytes, cf., notes 13:43) believe, and this because of ouJtwV, "how", they preached (possibly "what" they preached, although this would require oJste).

Again, a repeated pattern of opposition soon drives Paul and Barnabas from the synagogue, allowing them to focus on gospel outreach to the wider community. Presumably, the opposition does not initially spread to the wider community, and so the missioners are able to stay ikanon cronon, "a long time", in Iconium, evangelising both in word (communicating tw/ logw/ thV caritoV, "the word of grace" = the gospel) and sign ("signs and wonders"; see Background above), while at the same time, nurturing the new believers.

Irrespective of the signs and wonders, which for Gentiles can easily be confused with magic tricks, opposition begins to build in the wider community, with a number of Jews and Gentiles conspiring to take matters into their own hands (arcousin, "leaders", are included in this plot, but the word does not necessarily refer to public officials). When they get word of the plot, the apostles (note Luke's wider use of the word "apostle" by including Barnabas) head off to Lystra and Derbe to continue their mission there.

Text - 14:1

The mission to Iconium: i] Good news for the local synagogue, v1.

egeneto de "-" - but/and it happened [in iconium]. Transitional, indicating a major step in the narrative. "Much the same thing happened at Iconium", Phillips.

eiselqein (ercomai) aor. inf. "went... into" - [them] to enter into. Along with lalhsai, "to speak", this infinitive forms an infinitival phrase which serves as the subject of the verb egeneto, "it happened"; "as usual / together they entered into the synagogue of the Jews and spoke in this way so that a great multitude of both Jews and Gentiles believed happened in Iconium." The accusative subject of both infinitives is autouV, "they".

kata to auto "as usual" - according to the thing [into the synagogue]. The prepositional phrase probably modifies the infinitive "to enter", possibly meaning "together", "they entered together into the Jewish synagogue", ESV, but usually read as adverbial, modal, "after the same manner", Barrett Gk., "as usual", as NIV. Kellum notes that it may modify the impersonal verb egeneto, "it happened"; "the same thing occurred in Iconium", NRSV.

twn Ioudaiwn (oV) gen. "Jewish [synagogue]" - [the synagogue] of the jews. The genitive is adjectival, limiting "synagogue", attributive, as NIV, or possessive, "the synagogue belonging to the local Jewish population."

ou{twV adv. "[they spoke] so effectively" - [and to speak] in this way. Although this adverb expresses manner, putting weight on the way Paul addressed the congregation, the sense expressed by the NIV is surely the intended sense, ie., Paul brilliantly presented the gospel message in a way that allowed the congregation to fully understand it. So probably not "they spoke with such power that ....", Cassirer, but "they spoke with such effect that ....", Barclay, or simply, "the message convinced both Jews and non-Jews", Peterson. The construction ou{twV w{ste + inf., "in such a way that ....." is classical.

wJste + inf. "that" - so that [to believe]. This conjunction, with the infinitive "to believe", forms a consecutive clause expressing result; "with the result that a great number of Jews and Greeks believed."

te kai "and" - [a great multitude] both [of jews] and [of greeks]. A coordinative construction, "both ... and." The genitive "of Jews" and "of Greeks" is adjectival, partitive.


ii] Opposition quickly develops, v2. Luke provides us with an outline of events typical of Paul's encounters with a local synagogue. The Western text seeks to expand the account, telling us that it was the "chiefs of the Jews and the rulers of the synagogue" who ephgeiran, "stirred up, incited, agitated" the wider community. The Western text also expands on the persecution that follows, seeking to overcome the awkward relationship between v2 and v4. Moffatt sorts the problem by reversing v2 and v3, but as Barrett Gk. explains, Paul and Barnabas simply get on with with life, despite the opposition; "until the Gentile opposition broke out, the apostles ignored the Jewish hostility and carried on the work of evangelisation for a considerable time."

apeiqhsanteV (apeiqew) aor. part. "refused to believe" - [but/and the jews] having disobeyed [stirred up and harmed = made angry (deliberately poisoned) the souls (the minds)]. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verbs "to stir up" and "to harm." The word is used in the LXX for disobedience to God - those Jews opposed to the gospel are acting in disobedience to God; they disobey by rejecting the gospel, as NIV.

kata + gen. "against" - [of the gentiles] according to = against [the brothers]. Here expressing opposition, as NIV.


iii] The good news in word and sign, v3-4. As already noted, the narrative logic is somewhat awkward with persecution (v2) leading to Paul and Barnabas staying in Iconium for a iJkanon, "a long time", v3. Of course, oun may be inferential, ie., it is because of the persecution that they stay to assist the new believers. The Western text helps out by adding "but the Lord soon gave peace" - an obvious addition. As already indicated, the point is that the missioners just get on with it, despite the opposition, and only move on when they have to do so. And what they get on with is proclaiming the gospel, tw/ logw/ thV caritoV, "the word of grace" = the message which concerns the free offer of God's divine favour. For his part, the Lord (possibly Jesus, so Dunn), "encouraged them by joining his witness to theirs as he allowed, or caused, signs and wonders to happen through their hands", Barrett adj. This confirmation of the apostolic message and standing of Paul and Barnabas, is not a confirmation to unbelievers, but to Paul and Barnabas themselves, and by extension, to the reader, (note how Luke calls them both apostles in v4).

Signs and wonders are often regarded as evidential proofs of the validity of the word, but it is very unlikely that the apostles were to use "signs" to certify the authority of their message, particularly when Jesus himself never used them that way. In fact, when asked to provide evidential certification for his authority, Jesus refused to give it. The signs are the word; they proclaim the message - "if I by the finger of God cast out demons then know that the kingdom of God has come upon you", Lk.11:20. Given that signs can only serve this function for a person imbibed in the scriptures, signs and wonders recede into the background as the mission to the diaspora becomes increasingly Gentile - for Gentiles, signs and wonders are viewed as magic, either religious or secular.

men oun "so" - therefore. Transitional connective, see men oun 1:6.

iJkanon acc. adj. "considerable [time]" - a long [time]. Accusative, extent of time; "for a long time."

parrhsiazomenoi (parrhsiazomi) pres. part. "speaking boldly" - [they remained] speaking with boldness. The participle is adverbial, modal, expressing the manner of their stay in Iconium; "speaking fearlessly about the Lord", Moffatt.

epi + dat. "for [the Lord]" - upon [the lord]. Here expressing cause / ground for the action; "in the Lord", Barrett.

tw/ marturounti (marturew) dat. pres. part. "who confirmed" - the one bearing witness. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "the Lord"; "the Lord, for his part, adding his own testimony in vindication of the gracious message they were proclaiming, through bringing many a sign and many a wondrous deed into being by their means", Cassirer.

tw/ logw/ (oV) dat. "the message" - in the word. The dative is adverbial, Culy suggests reference / respect; "bearing witness with respect to the word of his grace."

thV caritoV (iV ewV) gen. "of [his] grace" - of the grace [of him]. The genitive is adjectival, descriptive, idiomatic / verbal, objective; "a word which concerns / is about God's gracious favour, kindness - his gift of forgiveness / salvation." Possibly just attributive; "gracious favour."

didonti (didwmi) dat. "by enabling them" - giving. This Greek word is often used for the Hebrew word "to permit", so "granted, allowed." The dative is instrumental, expressing means; "by granting signs and wonders", as NIV.

ginesqai (ginomai) pres. inf. "to perform" - to happen [signs and wonders]. Introducing an object clause / dependent statement of indirect speech / cause, expressing what was granted, namely to make happen / perform signs and wonders.

dia + gen. "-" - by means of [the hands of them]. Instrumental, expressing means.


As the mission continues, a large part of the local population takes sides, some standing with the Jewish community, and others with the apostles. Note how Luke seems to be making a point by the use of the word apostoloV, "apostle", for both Paul and Barnabas. As Paul's associate, Barnabas "shares with Paul in the status as well as the function of apostleship", Clark, Apostles.

thV polewV (iV ewV) gen. "[the people] of the city" - [but/and the multitude] of the city [was divided]. The genitive is adjectival, partitive.

kai "-" - and. Here exegetic, introducing an explanation of the division; "that is, some ......."

oiJ men .... oiJ de "some ..... " - some on the one hand [were with the jews] but others on the other hand [were with the apostles]. Adversative comparative / coordinative construction. The preposition sun, "with", expresses association.


iv] Paul and Barnabas are forced to flee, v5-7. "While there may not have been any official action taken against them, there was a plot, oJrmh, brewing among some of the Gentiles and Jews to mistreat and stone them (the missioners)", Longenecker. The word oJrmh means "rush, a violent move toward", ie., the rush of a lynch-mob, the intent of which is specified by the two epexegetic infinitives uJbrisai, "to harm", and liqobolhsai, "to stone."

wJV "-" - [but/and] when [a rush happened]. Temporal use of the conjunction serving to introduce a temporal clause.

te kai "among both [Gentiles] and [Jews]" - both [of the gentiles] and [jews]. Coordinating construction, "both ..... and", as NIV. The genitive of "Gentiles" and "Jews" is adjectival, verbal, subjective; "when an attempt was made by both Gentiles and Jews ...... to mistreat ...", ESV.

sun + dat. "together with" - with [the rulers of them]. Expressing association. Bruce Gk. thinks Luke is referring to Gentile magistrates and leaders of the Jewish community, but it may just refer to those leading the lynch-mob.

uJbrisai (uJbrizw) aor. inf. "to mistreat" - to harm [and to stone them]. Along with "to stone", the infinitive is epexegetic, specifying the "rush".


When Paul and Barnabas discover the plot they escape to Lystra some 18 miles away, and then later to Derbe at some 55 miles. Both centres are in the province of Galatia. The local region, "Lycaonian", is "the region probably called Lycaonia Galatica (which) lay east of Phrygia Galatica", Bruce Gk.

sunidonteV (sunoraw) aor. part. "they found out about it" - having seen, become aware, realised [they fled into]. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "to flee"; "when the two apostles found out what was happening, they escaped to the region of Lycaonia", CEV.

thV lukaoniaV (a) gen."[the] Lycaonian [cities]" - [the cities] of lycaonia. The genitive is adjectival, descriptive, idiomatic / local, "the cities located in the region of Lycania." Translated by the NIV as attributive.

Lustran (a) acc. "Lystra" - lystra [and derbe and the surrounding countryside]. As with "Derbe", accusative in apposition to "cities".


The Western text has built on the verse with "The whole multitude was moved by the teaching, but Paul and Barnabas remained in Lystra."

euaggelizomenoi (euaggelizw) pres. part. "they continued to preach the gospel" - [there, at that place, they were] communicating important / good news = the gospel]. The present participle with the imperfect verb to-be h\san forms a periphrastic imperfect construction, probably expressing durative aspect, as NIV; "they went on preaching the good news", Berkeley.


Acts Introduction

Exegetical Commentaries


[Pumpkin Cottage]