Acts 14:12

ESV Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the chief speaker.
NIV Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul they called Hermes because he was the chief speaker.
NASB And they began calling Barnabas, Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, since he was the chief speaker.
CSB Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the chief speaker.
NLT They decided that Barnabas was the Greek god Zeus and that Paul was Hermes, since he was the chief speaker.
KJV And they called Barnabas, Jupiter; and Paul, Mercurius, because he was the chief speaker.

What does Acts 14:12 mean?

While teaching a crowd in Lystra about Jesus' offer of salvation, Paul heals a man born crippled (Acts 14:8–10). Stunned, the people decide that he, as the main speaker, must be Hermes and Barnabas must be Zeus. Not only is Zeus the leader of the Greek gods, "Zeus" and "Hermes" are colloquial names for the regional father and son gods of Anatolia. Two separate Greek legends describe Zeus and Hermes visiting Lystra. It is Ovid's Metamorphoses, written about forty years before, however, that might have most influenced the crowd's reaction.

In the story, Zeus and Hermes come down to earth disguised as humans and ask for lodging at a thousand homes in Phrygia. After a thousand refusals, an old couple, Baucis and her husband Philemon, invite them to stay in their home, little better than a shack. The elderly couple wash their visitors' feet, boil some salted bacon, and offer their beds to eat on. The visitors feast on olives, salad, curds and cream, eggs, liquor, the bacon, wine, dried fruit, nuts, and honeycomb. The gods cause the food to not run out and grow in quality. The couple tries to catch a goose, as well, but she recognizes Zeus and runs to him for protection, and he lets her escape.

Finally, Zeus reveals their real identities. He promises to destroy the neighborhood except these two whom he leads to a mountain. When they look back, their neighborhood is flooded, and their house sits on an island in the middle of a lake. As the couple mourns their neighbors, the shack grows into a temple. Zeus gives them a wish, and they ask to serve at his shrine and die within an hour of each other. When they die, they turn into an oak and a linden tree.

Whether the people of Lystra think Paul and Barnabas are the Greek gods or their more local versions is unknown, but they might have been eager to ready sacrifices just in case.
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