Notes on the Bible, by Albert Barnes, , at sacred-texts.com
In Iconium - See the notes on Act 13:51. In this place, and in Antioch and Lystra, Timothy became acquainted with Paul and his manner of life, Ti2 3:10-11.
So spake - Spake with such power - their preaching was attended so much with the influence of the Spirit.
And also of the Greeks - Probably proselytes from the Greeks, who were in the habit of attending the synagogue.
But the unbelieving Jews ... - See the notes on Act 13:50.
And made their minds evil-affected - Irritated, or exasperated them.
Against the brethren - One of the common appellations by which Christians were known.
Long time therefore - It seems probable that there were here no forcible or public measures to expel them, as there had been at Antioch Act 13:50, and they therefore regarded it as their duty to remain. God granted them here also great success, which was the main reason for their continuing a long time. Persecution and opposition may be attended often with signal success to the gospel.
Spake boldly in the Lord - In the cause of the Lord Jesus, or in his name and by his authority. Perhaps, also, the expression includes the idea of their trusting in the Lord.
Which gave testimony - Bore witness to the truth of their message by working miracles, etc. Compare Mar 16:20. This was evidently the Lord Jesus to whom reference is here made, and it shows that he was still, though bodily absent from them, clothed with power, and still displayed that power in the advancement of his cause. The conversion of sinners accomplished by him is always a testimony as decided as it is cheering to the labors and messages of his servants.
Unto the word of his grace - His gracious word, or message.
And granted signs ... - Miracles. See the notes on Act 2:22.
Was divided - Into parties. Greek: there was a schism - Ἐσχίσθη Eschisthē.
And part held with the Jews - Held to the doctrines of the Jews, in opposition to the apostles. A revival of religion often produces excitement by the bad passions of opposers. The enemies of the truth form parties, and organize opposition. It is no uncommon thing even now for such parties to be formed; but the fault is not in Christianity. It lies with those who form a party against religion, and who confederate themselves, as was done here, to oppose it.
An assault made - Greek: a "rush" - ὁρμή hormē. It denotes "an impetuous excitement and aggression; a rush to put them to death." It rather describes a popular tumult than a calm and deliberate purpose. There was a violent, tumultuous excitement.
Both of the Gentiles ... - Of that part of them which was opposed to the apostles.
To use them despitefully - See the notes on Mat 5:44. To reproach them; to bring contempt upon them; to injure them.
And to stone them - To put them to death by stoning; probably as blasphemers, Act 7:57-59.
They were ware of it - They were in some way informed of the excitement and of their danger.
And fled unto Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia - Lycaonia was one of the provinces of Asia Minor. It had Galatia north, Pisidia south, Cappadocia east, and Phrygia west. It was formerly within the limits of Phrygia, but was erected into a separate province by Augustus. "The district of Lycaonia extends from the ridges of Mount Taurus and the borders of Cilicia on the south, to the Cappadocian hills on the north. It is a bare and dreary region, unwatered by streams, though in parts liable to occasional inundations. Strabo mentions one place where water was even sold for money. Across some portion of this plain Paul and Barnabas traveled both before and after their residence in Iconium. After leaving the high land to the northwest, during a journey of several hours before arriving at the city, the eye ranges freely over a vast expanse of level ground to the south and the east, The two most eminent objects in the view are the snowy summits of Mount Argaeus, rising high above all the intervening hills in the direction of Armenia, and the singular mountain mass called the 'Kara-Dagh,' or 'Black Mount,' southeastward in the direction of Cilicia. And still these features continue to be conspicuous after Iconium is left behind, and the traveler moves on over the plain toward Lystra and Derbe. Mount Argaeus still rises far to the northeast, at the distance of 150 miles.
The Black Mountain is gradually approached, and discovered to be an isolated mass, with reaches of the plain extending round it like channels of the sea. The cities of Lystra and Derbe were somewhere about the bases of the Black Mountain." The exact position of Lystra and Derbe is still subject to some uncertainty. In 1824, Col. Leake wrote thus: "Nothing can more strongly show the little progress that has hitherto been made in a knowledge of the ancient geography of Asia Minor, than that, of the cities which the journey of Paul has made so interesting to us, the site of one only (Iconium) is yet certainly known. Perga, Antioch of Pisidia, Lystra, and Derbe, remain to be discovered." The situation of the first two of these towns has been since that fully identified, and some ruins have been found which have been supposed to mark the place of Lystra and Derbe, though not with entire certainty.
And unto the region ... - The adjacent country. Though persecuted, they still preached; and though driven from one city, they fled into another. This was the direction of the Saviour, Mat 10:23.
And there sat - There dwelt, Mat 9:16; Act 18:11 (margin). The word "sat," however, indicates his usual posture, his helpless condition. Such persons commonly sat by the wayside, or in some public place, to ask for alms, Mar 10:46.
Impotent in his feet - ἀδύνατος adunatos. Without any power. Entirely deprived of the use of his feet.
Being a cripple - Lame.
Who never had walked - The miracle, therefore, would be more remarkable, as the man would be well known. As they were persecuted from place to place, and opposed in every manner, it was desirable that a signal miracle should be performed to carry forward and establish the work of the gospel.
Who stedfastly beholding him - Fixing his eyes intently on him. See the notes on Act 1:10.
And perceiving - How he perceived this is not said. Perhaps it was indicated by the ardor, humility, and strong desire depicted in his countenance. He had heard Paul, and perhaps the apostle had dwelt particularly on the miracles with which the gospel had been attested. The miracles performed also in Icontium had doubtless also been heard of in Lystra.
Had faith to be healed - Compare Mat 9:21-22, Mat 9:28-29; Luk 7:50; Luk 17:19; Luk 18:42.
Said with a loud voice - See the notes on Joh 11:43.
And he leaped - See the notes on Act 3:8. Compare Isa 35:6.
They lifted up their voices - They spoke with astonishment, such as might be expected when it was supposed that the gods had come down.
In the speech of Lycaonia - What this language was has much perplexed commentators. It was probably a mixture of the Greek and Syriac. In that region generally the Greek was usually spoken with more or less purity; and from the fact that it was not far from the regions of Syria, it is probable that the Greek language was corrupted with this foreign admixture.
The gods ... - All the region was idolatrous. The gods which were worshipped there were those which were worshipped throughout Greece.
Are come down - The miracle which Paul had performed led them to suppose this. It was evidently beyond human ability, and they had no other way of accounting for it than by supposing that their gods had personally appeared.
In the likeness of men - Many of their gods were heroes, whom they worshipped after they were dead. It was a common belief among them that the gods appeared to people in human form. The poems of Homer, of Virgil, etc., are filled with accounts of such appearances, and the only way in which they supposed the gods to take knowledge of human affairs, and to help people, was by their personally appearing in this form. See Homer's Odyssey, xvii. 485; Catullus, 64, 384; Ovid's Metamorph., i. 212 (Kuinoel). Thus, Homer says:
"For in similitude of strangers oft.
The gods, who can with ease all shapes assume,
Repair to populous cities, where they mark.
Th' outrageous and the righteous deeds of men."
And they called Barnabas, Jupiter - Jupiter was the most powerful of all the gods of the ancients. He was represented as the son of Saturn and Ops, and was educated in a cave on Mount Ida, in the island of Crete. The worship of Jupiter was almost universal. He was the Aremon of Africa, the Belus of Babylon, the Osiris of Egypt. His common appellation was, The Father of gods and men. He was usually represented as sitting upon a golden or an ivory throne, holding in one hand a thunderbolt, and in the other a scepter of cypress. His power was supposed to extend over other gods; and everything was subservient to his will except the Fates. There is the most abundant proof that he was worshipped in the region of Lycaonia and throughout Asia Minor. There was, besides, a fable among the inhabitants of Lycaonia that Jupiter and Mercury had once visited that place, and had been received by Philemon. The whole fable is related by Ovid, "Metam.," 8, 611, etc.
And Paul, Mercurius - Mercury, called by the Greeks Hermes, was a celebrated god of antiquity. No less than five of this name are mentioned by Cicero. The most celebrated was the son of Jupiter and Maia. He was the messenger of the gods, and of Jupiter in particular; he was the patron of travelers and shepherds; he conducted the souls of the dead into the infernal regions; he presided over orators, and declaimers, and merchants; and he was also the god of thieves, pickpockets, and all dishonest persons. He was regarded as the god of eloquence; and as light, rapid, and quick in his movements. The conjecture of Chrysostom is, that Barnabas was a large, athletic man, and was hence taken for Jupiter; and that Paul was small in his person, and was hence supposed to be Mercury.
Because he was the chief speaker - The office of Mercury was to deliver the messages of the gods; and as Paul only had been discoursing, he was supposed to be Mercury.
Then the priest of Jupiter - He whose office it was to conduct the worship of Jupiter by offering sacrifices, etc.
Which was before their city - The word "which" here refers not to the priest, but to Jupiter. The temple or image of Jupiter was in front of their city, or near the gates. Ancient cities were supposed to be under the protection of particular gods; and their image, or a temple for their worship, was placed commonly in a conspicuous place at the entrance of the city.
Brought oxen - Probably brought two one to be sacrificed to each. It was common to sacrifice bullocks to Jupiter.
And garlands - The victims of sacrifice were usually decorated with ribbons and chaplets of flowers. See Kuinoel.
Unto the gates - The gates of the city, where were the images or temple of the gods.
Would have done sacrifice - Would have offered sacrifice to Barnabas and Paul. This the priest deemed a part of his office. And here we have a remarkable and most affecting instance of the folly and stupidity of idolatry.
Which, when the apostles - Barnabas is called an apostle because he was sent forth by the church on a particular message (Act 13:3; compare Act 14:26), not because he had been chosen to the special work of the apostleship - to Dear witness to the life and resurrection of Christ. See the notes on Act 1:22.
They rent their clothes - As an expression of their abhorrence of what the people were doing, and of their deep grief that they should thus debase themselves by offering worship to human beings. See the notes on Mat 26:65.
And saying, Sirs - Greek: Men.
Why do ye these things? - This is an expression of solemn remonstrance at the folly of their conduct in worshipping those who were human. The abhorrence which they evinced at this may throw strong light on the rank and character of the Lord Jesus Christ. When an offer was made to worship Paul and Barnabas, they shrank from it with strong expressions of aversion and indignation. Yet when similar worship was offered to the Lord Jesus; when he was addressed by Thomas in the language of worship, "My Lord and my God" Joh 20:28, he uttered not the slightest reproof. Nay, he approved it, and expressed his approbation of others who should also do it, Joh 20:29. Compare Joh 5:23. How can this difference be accounted for except on the supposition that the Lord Jesus was divine? Would he, if a mere man, receive homage as God, when his disciples rejected it with horror?
Of like passions with you - We are human beings like yourselves. We have no claim, no pretensions to anything more. The word "passions" here means simply that they had the common feelings and propensities of people - the nature of people; the affections of people. It does not mean that they were subject to any improper passions, to ill temper, etc., as some have supposed; but that they did not pretend to be gods. "We need food and drink; we are exposed to pain, and sickness, and death." The Latin Vulgate renders it, "We are mortal like yourselves." The expression stands opposed to the proper conception of God, who is not subject to these affections, who is most blessed and immortal. Such a Being only is to be worshipped; and the apostles remonstrated strongly with them on the folly of paying religious homage to beings like themselves. Compare Jam 5:17, "Elias (Elijah) was a man subject to like passions as we are, etc."
That ye should turn from these vanities - That you should cease to worship idols. Idols are often called vanities, or vain things, Deu 32:21; Kg2 17:15; Kg1 16:13, Kg1 16:26; Jer 2:5; Jer 8:19; Jer 10:8; Jon 2:8. They are called vanities, a lie, or lying vanities, as opposed to the living and true God, because they are unreal; because they have no power to help: because confidence in them is vain.
Unto the living God - Th1 1:9. He is called the living God to distinguish him from idols. See the notes on Mat 16:16.
Which made heaven ... - Who thus showed that he was the only proper object of worship. This doctrine, that there is one God who has made all things, was new to them. They worshipped multitudes of divinities; and though they regarded Jupiter as the father of gods and human beings, yet they had no conception that all things had been created by the will of one Infinite Being.
Who in times past - Previous to the gospel; in past ages.
Suffered all nations - Permitted all nations; that is, all Gentiles, Act 17:30. "And the times of this ignorance God winked at."
To walk in their own ways - To conduct themselves without the restraints and instructions of a written law. They were permitted to follow their own reason and passions, and their own system of religion. God gave them no written laws, and sent to them no messengers. Why he did this we cannot determine. It might have been, among other reasons, to show to the world conclusively:
(1) The insufficiency of reason to guide people in the matters of religion. The experiment was made under the most favorable circumstances. The most enlightened nations, the Greeks and Romans, were left to pursue the inquiry, and failed no less than the most degraded tribes of people. The trial was made for four thousand years, and attended with the same results everywhere.
(2) it showed the need of revelation to guide man.
(3) it evinced, beyond the possibility of mistake, the depravity of man. In all nations, in all circumstances, people had shown the same alienation from God. By suffering them to walk in their own ways, it was seen that those ways were sin, and that some power more than human was necessary to bring people back to God.
Nevertheless - Though he gave them no revelation.
He left not himself without witness - He gave demonstration of his existence and of his moral character.
In that he did good - By doing good. The manner in which he did it, Paul immediately specifies. Idols did not do good; they conferred no favors, and were, therefore, unworthy of confidence.
And gave us rain from heaven - Rain from above - from the clouds, Mar 8:11; Luk 9:54; Luk 17:29; Luk 21:11; Joh 6:31-32. Rain is one of the evidences of the goodness of God. Man could not cause it; and without it, regulated at proper intervals of time and in proper quantities, the earth would soon be one wide scene of desolation. There is scarcely anything which more certainly indicates unceasing care and wisdom than the needful and refreshing showers of rain. The sun and stars move by fixed laws, whose operation we can see and anticipate. The falling of rain is regulated by laws which We cannot trace, and it seems, therefore, to be poured, as it were, directly from God's hollow hand, Psa 147:8, "Who covereth the heaven with clouds; who prepareth rain for the earth."
And fruitful seasons - Seasons when the earth produces abundance. It is remarkable, and a striking proof of the divine goodness, that so few seasons are unfruitful. The earth yields her increase; the labors of the farmer are crowned with success; and the goodness of God demands the expressions of praise. God does not forget his ancient covenant Gen 8:22, though man forgets it, and disregards his great Benefactor.
Filling our hearts with food - The word "hearts" is used here as a Hebraism, to denote "persons" themselves; filling us with food, etc. Compare Mat 12:40.
Gladness - Joy; comfort the comfort arising from the supply of our constantly returning needs. This is proof of everwatchful goodness. It is a demonstration at once that there is a God, and that he is good. It would be easy for God to withdraw these blessings, and leave us to want. A single word, or a single deviation from the fullness of benevolence, would blast all these comforts, and leave us to lamentation, woe, and death, Psa 104:27-29; Psa 145:15-16.
And with these sayings - With these arguments.
Scarce restrained they the people - They were so fully satisfied that the gods had appeared, and were so full of zeal to do them honor.
And there came thither certain Jews - Not satisfied with having expelled them from Antioch and Iconium, they still pursued them. Persecutors often exhibit a zeal and perseverance in a bad cause which it would be well if Christians evinced in a holy cause. Bad people will often travel further to do evil than good people will to do good; and wicked people often show more zeal in opposing the gospel than professed Christians do in advancing it.
Antioch and Iconium - See the notes on Act 13:14, Act 13:51.
Who persuaded the people - That they were impostors; and who excited their rage against them.
And having stoned Paul - Whom they were just before ready to worship as a god! What a striking instance of the fickleness and instability of idolaters! And what a striking instance of the instability and uselessness of mere popularity! Just before they were ready to adore him; now they sought to put him to death. Nothing is more fickle than popular favor. The unbounded admiration of a man may soon be changed into unbounded indignation and contempt. It was well for Paul that he was not seeking this popularity, and that he did not depend on it for happiness. He had a good conscience; he was engaged in a good cause; he was under the protection of God; and his happiness was to be sought from a higher source than the applause of people, "fluctuating and uncertain as the waves of the sea." To this transaction Paul referred when he enumerated his trials in Co2 11:25, "Once was I stoned."
Drew him out of the city - Probably in haste, and in popular rage, as if he was unfit to be in the city, and was unworthy of a decent burial; for it does not appear that they contemplated an interment but indignantly dragged him beyond the walls of the city to leave him there. Such sufferings and trials it cost to establish that religion in the world which has shed so many blessings on man; which now crowns us with comfort; which saves us from the abominations and degradations of idolatry here, and from the pains of hell hereafter.
Supposing he had been dead - The next verse shows that he was really not dead, though many commentators, as well as the Jews, have supposed that he was, and was miraculously restored to life. It is remarkable that Barnabas was not exposed to this popular fury. But it is to be remembered that Paul was the chief speaker, and it was his special zeal that exposed him to this tumult.
Howbeit - Notwithstanding the supposition that he was dead.
As the disciples stood round about him - It would seem that they did not suppose I that he was dead; but might be expecting that he would revive.
He rose up ... - Most commentators have supposed that this was the effect of a miracle. They have maintained that he could not have risen so soon, and entered into the city, without the interposition of miraculous power (Calvin, Doddridge, Clarke, etc.). But the commentators have asserted what is not intimated by the sacred penman. The probability is that he was stunned by a blow - perhaps a single blow and after a short time recovered from it. Nothing is more common than thus by a violent blow on the head to be rendered apparently lifeless, the effect of which soon is over, and the person restored to strength. Pricaeus and Wetstein suppose that Paul feigned himself to be dead, and when out of danger rose and returned to the city. But this is wholly improbable.
And came into the city - It is remarkable that he should have returned again into the same city. But probably it was only among the new converts that he showed himself. The Jews supposed that he was dead; and it does not appear that he again exposed himself to their rage.
And the next day ... - The opposition here was such that it was vain to attempt to preach there any longer. Having been seen by the disciples after his supposed death, their faith was confirmed, and he departed to preach in another place.
To Derbe - Act 14:6.
Had taught many - Or, rather, had made many disciples (margin).
To Lystra - Act 14:6.
And to Iconium - Act 14:1. We have here a remarkable instance of the courage of the apostles. In these very places they had been persecuted and stoned, and yet in the face of danger they ventured to return. The welfare of the infant churches they deemed of more consequence than their own safety; and they threw themselves again into the midst of danger, to comfort and strengthen those just converted to God. There are times when ministers should not count their own lives. dear to them Act 20:24, but when they should fearlessly throw themselves into the midst of danger, confiding only in the protecting care of their God and Saviour.
Confirming - "strengthening" ἐπιστηρίζοντες epistērizontes. The expression "to confirm" as in some churches a technical signification, denoting "to admit to the full privileges of a Christian by the imposition of hands" (Johnson). It is scarcely necessary to say that the word here refers to no such rite. It has no relation to an imposition of hands, or to the thing which is usually supposed to be denoted by the rite of "confirmation." It means simply that they established, strengthened, made firm, or encouraged by the presentation of truth and by the motives of the gospel. Whether the rite of confirmation, as practiced by some churches, be founded on the authority of the New Testament or not, it is certain that it can receive no support from this passage. The truth was, that these were young converts; that they were surrounded by enemies, and exposed to temptations and to dangers; that they had as yet but a slight acquaintance with the truths of the gospel, and that it was therefore important that they should be further instructed in the truth, and established in the faith of the gospel. This was what Paul and Barnabas returned to accomplish. There is not the slightest evidence that they had not been admitted to the full privileges of the church before; or that any ceremony was now performed in confirming or strengthening them.
The souls - The minds, the hearts, or the disciples themselves.
Disciples - They were as yet scholars, or learners, and the apostles returned to instruct them further in the doctrines of Christ.
And exhorting them ... - Act 13:43.
In the faith - In the belief of the gospel.
And that we must - καὶ ὅτι δεῖ kai hoti dei. That it is fit or proper that we should. Not that it is fixed by any fatal necessity, but that we are not to expect that it will be otherwise. We are to calculate on it when we become Christians. Why it is proper, or fit, the apostle did not state. But we may remark that it is proper:
(1) Because such is the opposition of the world to pure religion that it cannot be avoided. Of this they had had striking demonstration in Lystra and Iconium.
(2) it is necessary to reclaim us from wandering, and to keep us in the path of duty, Psa 119:67, Psa 119:71.
(3) it is necessary to wean us from the world; to keep before our minds the great truth that we have here "no continuing city and no abiding place." Trial here makes us pant for a world of rest. The opposition of sinners makes us desire that world where "the wicked shall cease from troubling," and where there shall be eternal friendship and peace.
(4) when we are persecuted and afflicted, we may remember that it has been the lot of Christians from the beginning. We tread a path that has been watered by the tears of the saints, and rendered sacred by the shedding of the best blood on the earth. The Saviour trod that path; and it is enough that the "disciple be as his master, and the servant as his lord," Mat 10:24-25.
Through much tribulation - Through many afflictions.
Enter into the kingdom of God - Be saved. Enter into heaven. See the notes on Mat 3:2.
And widen they had ordained - χειροτονήσαντες cheirotonēsantes. The word "ordain" we now use in an ecclesiastical sense, to denote "a setting apart to an office by the imposition of hands." But it is evident that the word here is not employed in that sense. That imposition of hands might have occurred in setting apart afterward to this office is certainly possible, but it is not implied in the word employed here, and did not take place in the transaction to which this word refers. The word occurs in only one other place in the New Testament, Co2 8:19, where it is applied to Luke, and translated, "who was also chosen of the church (that is, appointed or elected by suffrage by the churches) to travel with us, etc." The verb properly denotes "to stretch out the hand"; and as it was customary to elect to office, or to vote, by stretching out or elevating the hand, so the word simply means "to elect, appoint, or designate to any office." The word here refers simply to an "election" or "appointment" of the elders. It is said, indeed, that Paul and Barnabas did this. But probably all that is meant by it is that they presided in the assembly when the choice was made. It does not mean that they appointed them without consulting the church; but it evidently means that they appointed them in the usual way of appointing officers, by the suffrages of the people. See Schleusner, and the notes of Doddridge and Calvin.
Ordained them - Appointed for the disciples, or for the church. It is not meant that the elders were ordained for the apostles.
Elders - Greek: presbyters. Literally, this word refers to the aged. See the notes on Act 11:30. But it may also be a word relating to office, denoting those who were more experienced than others, and who were chosen to preside over and to instruct the rest. What was the nature of this office, and what was the design of the appointment, is not intimated in this word. All that seems to be implied is, that they were to take the charge of the churches during the absence of the apostles. The apostles were about to leave them. They were just organized into churches: they were inexperienced; they needed counsel and direction; they were exposed to dangers; and it was necessary, therefore, that persons should be designated to watch over the spiritual interests of the brethren. The probability is, that they performed all the functions that were required in the infant and feeble churches; in exhorting, instructing; governing, etc. The more experienced and able would be most likely to be active in exhorting and instructing the brethren; and all would be useful in counseling and guiding the flock. The same thing occurred in the church at Ephesus. See the notes on Act 20:17-28. It is not improbable that the business of instructing, or teaching, would be gradually confined to the more talented and able of the elders, and that the others would be concerned mainly in governing and directing the general affairs of the church.
In every church - It is implied here that there were elders in each church; that is, that in each church there was more than one. See Act 15:21, where a similar phraseology occurs, and where it is evident that there was more than one reader of the Law of Moses in each city. Compare Tit 1:5, "I left thee in Crete, that thou shouldst ...ordain elders in every city"; Act 20:17, "And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church." It could not mean, therefore, that they appointed a single minister or pastor to each church, but they committed the whole affairs of the church to a bench of elders.
And had prayed with fasting - With the church. They were about to leave them. They had entrusted the interests of the church to a body of men chosen for this purpose; and they now commended the church and its elders together to God. Probably they had no prospect of seeing them again, and they parted as ministers and people should part, and as Christian friends should part, with humble prayer, commending themselves to the protecting care of God.
They commended them ... - They committed the infant church to the guardianship of the Lord. They were feeble, inexperienced, and exposed to dangers; but in his hands they were safe.
To the Lord ... - The Lord Jesus. The connection shows that he is particularly referred to. In his hands the redeemed are secure. When we part with Christian friends, we may, with confidence, leave them in his holy care and keeping.
Throughout Pisidia - See the note at Act 13:14.
They came to Pamphylia - See the notes on Act 13:13. These places they had visited before.
In Perga - See the notes on Act 13:13.
They went down into Attalia - "Attalia had something of the same relation to Perga which Cadiz has to Seville. In each case the latter city is approached by a river voyage, and the former is more conveniently placed on the open sea. Attalus Philadelphus, king of Pergamus, whose dominions extended from the northwestern corner of Asia Miner to the Sea of Pamphylia, had built this city in a convenient position for commanding the trade of Syria or Egypt. When Alexander the Great passed this way, no such city was in existence; but since the days of the kings of Pergamus, who inherited a fragment of his vast empire, Attalia has always existed and flourished, retaining the name of the monarch who built it. Its ancient site is not now certainly known" (Life and Epistles of Paul, vol. i. pp. 200, 201). It is probable that it is the modern Satalia.
And thence sailed to Antioch - See the note at Act 11:19.
From whence they had been recommended ... - Where they had been appointed to this missionary tour by the church, Act 13:1-4.
To the grace of God - His favor and protection had been implored for them in their perilous undertaking.
For the work which they fulfilled - This shows conclusively:
(1) That they had accomplished fully the work which was originally contemplated. It was strictly a missionary tour among the Gentiles. It was an important and hazardous enterprise, and was the first in which the church formally engaged. Hence, so much importance is attached to it, and so faithful a record of it is preserved.
(2) it shows that the act by which they were set apart to this Act 13:1-3 was not an ordination to the ministerial office. It was an appointment to a missionary tour.
(3) it shows that the act was not an appointment to the apostleship. Paul was an apostle before by the express appointment of the Saviour; and Barnabas was never an apostle in the original and proper sense of the term. It was a designation to a temporary work, which was now fulfilled.
We may remark, also, in regard to this missionary tour:
(1) That the work of missions is one which early engaged the attention of Christians.
(2) it entered into their plans, and was one in which the church was deeply interested.
(3) the work of missions is attended with danger. People are now no less hostile to the gospel than they were in Lystra and Iconium.
(4) Missionaries should be sustained by the prayers of the church. And,
(5) In the conduct of Paul and Barnabas we have an example for missionaries in founding churches, and in regard to their own trials and persecutions. If they were persecuted, missionaries may be now; and if the grace of Christ was sufficient to sustain them, it is not the less sufficient to sustain those of our own times amidst all the dangers attending the preaching of the cross in pagan lands.
They rehearsed ... - Act 11:4. They related what had happened; their dangers and their success. This they did because they had been sent out by the church, and it was proper that they should give an account of their work; and because it furnished a suitable occasion of gratitude to God for his mercy.
All that God had done ... - In protecting, guarding them, etc. All was traced to God.
Had opened the door of faith - Had furnished an opportunity of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles, Co1 16:9; Co2 2:12.
And there they abode - At Antioch.
Long time - How long is not intimated; but we hear no more of them until the council at Jerusalem, mentioned in the next chapter. If the transactions recorded in this chapter occurred, as is supposed, about 45 a.d. or 46 a.d., and the council at Jerusalem assembled 51 a.d. or 53 a.d., as is supposed, then here is an interval of from five to eight years in which we have no account of them. Where they were, or what was their employment in this interval, the sacred historian has not informed us. It is certain, however, that Paul made several journeys of which we have no particular record in the New Testament, and it is possible that some of those journeys occurred during this interval. Thus, he preached the gospel as far as Illyricum, Rom 15:19. And in Co2 11:23-27, there is an account of trials and persecutions, of many of which we have no distinct record, and which might have occurred during this interval. We may be certain that these holy men were not idle. From the example of Paul and Barnabas as recorded in this chapter, we may learn to bear all persecutions and trials without a complaint, and to acknowledge the good hand of God in our preservation in our travels; in our defense when we are persecuted; in all the opportunities which may be open before us to do good; and in all the success which may attend our efforts. Christians should remember that it is God who opens doors of usefulness; and they should regard it as a matter of thanksgiving that such doors are opened, and that they are permitted to spread the gospel, whatever toil it may cost, whatever persecution they may endure, whatever perils they may encounter.