Acts 14:6-18 – Paul and Barnabas in Lystra
SummaryPaul and Barnabas go to Lystra and heal a paralyzed man. The local population, whose language Paul and Barnabas do not know, believes it has been visited by the gods Zeus and Hermes in disguise and tries to worship the two evangelists, who barely succeed in restraining the people.
AnalysisPaul and Barnabas travel to Lystra, an inland city in Asia Minor. They do not know the local language, nor do the local inhabitants speak Greek. But, as Peter and John did before them (3:1-10), in a public place they heal a man crippled from birth. The crowds, wisely from their religious point of view, believe that they have been visited by the gods in disguise and proceed to treat Paul and Barnabas accordingly--with a sacrifice offered to them. Paul and Barnabas barely stop them from engaging in this blasphemy, but finally the evangelists succeed. The cry of Paul and Barnabas, "We are mortals just like you," is almost the reverse of the cry Herod had accepted in 12:22, "the voice of a god, and not of a mortal!" We see the wisdom and piety of Christians compared with both Herod's pride and the ignorance of the Lystrans. Again readers are reminded that it is not the Christians who create public uproar, but first the locals and then a group of traveling Jews who incite a riot in which Paul is nearly killed.