Acts 14:14

ESV But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they tore their garments and rushed out into the crowd, crying out,
NIV But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of this, they tore their clothes and rushed out into the crowd, shouting:
NASB But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard about it, they tore their robes and rushed out into the crowd, crying out
CSB The apostles Barnabas and Paul tore their robes when they heard this and rushed into the crowd, shouting,
NLT But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard what was happening, they tore their clothing in dismay and ran out among the people, shouting,
KJV Which when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of, they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out,

What does Acts 14:14 mean?

Paul and Barnabas are in Lystra, in the middle of their missionary journey. They have been run out of Pisidian Antioch and Iconium (Acts 13:50; 14:5–6) but find an attentive audience in this smaller town. At least one man has responded with faith to their message about Jesus, and God has healed him as a result (Acts 14:8–10).

The miracle has a strong effect on the local witnesses, but that reaction is misguided. They determine Barnabas must be the Greek god Zeus and Paul must be Hermes. It's unclear if the two evangelists realize what is happing. Paul is preaching to the Lycaonians, but he may be speaking in tongues (1 Corinthians 14:18) and does not actually know the language. As soon as he and Barnabas realize the priest of Zeus is leading the people to offer sacrifices to them, they respond with actions associated with mourning and horror (Acts 14:11–14).

The church today is filled with confusion about what an "apostle" is. The term "apostle" is from the Greek root word apostolos and simply refers to someone "sent out," such as a delegate or messenger. Neither Paul nor Barnabas have the apostolic authority of the twelve disciples of Jesus—which includes Judas' replacement Matthias (Acts 1:23–26). However, they are chosen by the Holy Spirit to spread the message of Jesus in this trip (Acts 13:2). Nowhere does Scripture suggest that Paul was supposed to be the replacement for Judas.

Paul and Barnabas have strong reactions to the crowd's sacrifices for at least two reasons. The first is that as devout Jews and Jesus-followers, they know only God is worthy of such honor. The idea of people offering worship sacrifices to them is horrifying. The second reason, possibly, is they know the last person to accept such accolades suffered a gruesome death, eaten from the inside by worms (Acts 12:20–23). They have no desire to share Herod Agrippa I's fate.
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