Good morning! With today’s passage (Acts 13-14), we start another major part of Acts—the journey stories of Saul/Paul and Barnabas. The mixed reviews that these apostles get from their audiences show the diversity among Jews and Gentiles. It would be too simple to say that Jews rejected the Jesus tradition and Gentiles embraced it. Rather, some believed and some disbelieved in each community, continuing the productive tension among Christ-followers that is the hallmark of these early Christian decades.
Acts 13 describes the outset of the first journey (of four total) that Barnabas and Paul make in Acts. Those with access to a map of ancient Palestine may enjoy following along the route as Luke describes their travels. We also hear some of the encounters that Paul and Barnabas have in the various places, including with a hostile magician in Paphos, and (re)interpreting scripture in the synagogue of Pisidia. It’s curious that the opponents of Paul and Barnabas persuade “the devout women of high standing” in Pisidia to oppose the men, because usually it’s these “women with cash” (as my New Testament professor liked to call them) who bankrolled expeditions of the apostles.
In Iconium and subsequent cities, Paul and Barnabas face heightening pressure from Jewish and Gentile foes, culminating in a nearly fatal stoning of Paul. The two men learn to be as fleet of foot as they are ready to speak. Since their reputations precede them, the opposition has ample time to foment residents against them. However, sometimes (as in Lystra) the deeds of power and healing miracles that they perform win numerous awestruck converts. Happy reading!
Please join discussion of this passage at the Daily Bible Facebook group, or comment below. The passage for tomorrow is Acts 15-16. Thanks for reading!