49 And the word of the Lord was spreading throughout the whole region. 50 But the Jews incited the devout women of high standing and the leading men of the city, stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and drove them out of their district. 51 But they shook off the dust from their feet against them and went to Iconium. 52 And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 13:49–52)
As a result of Paul and Barnaba’s ministry, the Gospel was spreading throughout the whole region of Pisidia Antioch. The work by the Holy Spirit through Paul and Barnabas was igniting an awakening unto biblical truth.
However, as we have already seen in the earlier portions of Paul’s life and beyond, the work of the Lord often incites opposition. Saul of Tarsus was an initial source of that opposition. As the Apostle Paul, he ironically becomes a catalyst provoking it.
The jealous Jews incited influential women and men of Pisidia Antioch to stir up persecution against Paul and Barnabas. The result was that the growing opposition drove the two missionaries from the city. Why did they chose to do this?
One commentator explains, “Ancient sources report that many prominent women were interested in Judaism (partly because their wealth gave them leisure to consider it, partly because they, unlike men, did not have to face circumcision if they became serious about it); these women in turn could influence their powerful husbands. Local aristocracies made up a fraction of the population but held great wealth and most of the political power; from them came suggestions for the local councils, and their opposition could drive someone out of town. But their authority was only local, and by going to Iconium Paul and Barnabas moved out of their jurisdiction.”
Paul and Barnabas were not discouraged. They simply departed and traveled east to the city of Iconium, located in the neighboring region of Lycaonia. Even so, the disciples of Jesus in Pisidia Antioch rejoiced and were filled with joy by the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22).
The joy of the Gospel is often contrasted by the unhappiness of those who oppose the Gospel. Do you remember when you opposed the Gospel? Are you experiencing the joy of the Gospel today?
Soli deo Gloria!