“Now at Iconium they entered together into the Jewish synagogue and spoke in such a way that a great number of both Jews and Greeks believed. 2 But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers. 3 So they remained for a long time, speaking boldly for the Lord, who bore witness to the word of his grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands.” (Acts 14:1–3)
Paul and Barnabas left Pisidia Antioch and traveled to the neighboring city of Iconium, in the region known as Lycaonia. Iconium was approximately 80 miles southeast from Pisidia Antioch and was located in a Roman province called Galatia.
As was there usual practice, upon their arrival they both entered into the Jewish synagogue and spoke from God’s Word. The result was a great number of both Jews and Gentiles believed in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. As was previously the case, the Gospel continued to effectively spread resulting in the conversion of souls.
This was a significant event because Iconium was a town dominated by idol worship among the Gentiles. Among the false deities that the Iconium Gentiles worshiped, the most prominent was Cybele, the Phrygian mother goddess. Other cults were also common. However, inscriptions testify that the Christian faith spread and Iconium later became a major center of Christianity in Asia Minor.
However, no sooner does the Gospel spread than corresponding persecution occurred. Unbelieving Jews roused and caused the Gentiles to turn against the new converts in general, and Paul and Barnabas in particular.
Regardless, Paul and Barnabas remained in Iconium for a considerable amount of time. While there, they continued to speak boldly on behalf of the Lord. Consequently, the Lord confirmed their message of the Gospel of grace by granting that signs and wonders be done by them. The Lord sovereignly permitted miracles be done by both Paul and Barnabas.
Dr. John Walvoord explains that, “The reference to miraculous signs and wonders was further confirmation of God’s endorsement of this ministry (cf. 2:43; 4:30; 5:12; 6:8; 8:6, 13; 15:12). Later Paul referred to these miracles to validate the reality of the gospel among the Galatians (Gal. 3:5).”
Dr. R. C. Sproul explains that, “Faith demands obedience, otherwise it lacks the characteristics of trust, obedience, and dependence. Faith without obedience is dead (James 2:17). The proclamation of the Good News demands a positive response of joyful compliance, but a negative response demonstrates willful defiance.”
What is your response to the Good News of the person and work of Jesus Christ? Is it joyful compliance or willful defiance? Is it obedience or disobedience? Is it submission or rejection?
Soli deo Gloria!