What does Acts 14:15 mean?
ESV: “Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men, of like nature with you, and we bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them.
NIV: Friends, why are you doing this? We too are only human, like you. We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made the heavens and the earth and the sea and everything in them.
NASB: and saying, 'Men, why are you doing these things? We are also men, of the same nature as you, preaching the gospel to you, to turn from these useless things to a living God, who MADE THE HEAVEN AND THE EARTH AND THE SEA, AND EVERYTHING THAT IS IN THEM.
CSB: "People! Why are you doing these things? We are people also, just like you, and we are proclaiming good news to you, that you turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made the heaven, the earth, the sea, and everything in them.
NLT: Friends, why are you doing this? We are merely human beings — just like you! We have come to bring you the Good News that you should turn from these worthless things and turn to the living God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them.
KJV: And saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein:
NKJV: and saying, “Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men with the same nature as you, and preach to you that you should turn from these useless things to the living God, who made the heaven, the earth, the sea, and all things that are in them,
Verse Commentary:
The story of foreigners performing great deeds in front of villagers and being hailed as gods has become somewhat of a science fiction trope. When those foreigners are Paul and Barnabas, trying to introduce the saving grace of Jesus to the villagers, the adulation is particularly upsetting. Paul has healed one man born lame, and now the priest of the temple of Zeus wants to offer sacrifices to them (Acts 14:8–13).

The villagers are eager to show proper honor to Paul and Barnabas, thinking they are Zeus and Hermes. They have tales of the two gods seeking hospitality and flooding an entire town when they didn't receive it. Three years before, in Caesarea Maritima, a similar situation occurred. Herod Agrippa I appeared in a crowded coliseum wearing a silver-threaded garment that reflected the morning sun. As the people chanted, "The voice of a god, and not of a man!" he said nothing to correct them. Five days later, he was dead, worms having eaten his guts (Acts 12:20–23).

Paul and Barnabas have no desire to receive the honor due only to God. They immediately tear their clothes (Acts 14:14) and deny any claim to deity. In fact, they tell the townspeople their worship of Zeus is a "vain thing," which is a bold criticism. They know that the worship of idols is punishment God places on those who reject Him (Deuteronomy 4:25–28). These idols cannot speak, hear, feel, or move (Psalm 115:4–7; Isaiah 46:7), but the people are enslaved to their worship (Galatians 4:8). When Baal did not respond to his priests' frenzied call, Elijah joked he must be asleep, on a journey, or in the bathroom (1 Kings 18:27).

Paul and Barnabas want the people of Lystra to know the living God. Because these people do not study in the synagogue and obviously worship Zeus, Paul can't turn their thinking by showing how Jesus of Nazareth fulfills the prophecies of the Messiah in the Jewish Scriptures. So, he goes to the beginning, as he does in Athens (Acts 17:22–31). He talks about their Creator. In Greek mythology, the creating gods were cruel and violent and several generations removed from the cruel and violent pantheon worshiped by the Lystrans. Paul offers the people a relationship with the real God, the Creator of the universe who loves them and wants a relationship with them.

Paul and Barnabas are not very successful in Lystra. Without a significant Jewish influence to provide context for Jesus the Messiah, the crowd is easily influenced by Paul and Barnabas' antagonists from Pisidian Antioch and Iconium. The locals wind up stoning Paul and leaving him for dead (Acts 14:19). But on Paul's second trip, he meets Timothy, who is from either Lystra or Derbe (Acts 16:1). It may be that Timothy's mother and grandmother are two of the few who respond positively to Paul's message.
Verse Context:
Acts 14:8–20 finds Paul and Barnabas in Lystra in the province of Galatia in modern-day Asia Minor. This city's reaction is the extreme opposite of what happened in Pisidian Antioch and Iconium, where they were threatened with stoning (Acts 13:50; 14:5). In Lystra, they are initially worshiped as gods. The two Christian missionaries are horrified by this reaction and do their best to stop it. Before long, however, antagonistic Jews from their previous stops arrive and convince the locals to stone Paul. God's warning that Paul would suffer greatly for Him begins to come true (Acts 9:16), but Paul considers being left for dead a small price to pay for his salvation through Jesus (Romans 8:18).
Chapter Summary:
Acts 14 describes the last half of Paul's first missionary journey. He and Barnabas leave Pisidian Antioch, near central modern-day Asia Minor, and travel southeast to Iconium where they establish a new church. In Lystra, Paul heals a man born crippled. The amazed people insist Barnabas is the Greek deity Zeus, and Paul is Hermes. They attempt to offer sacrifices to them, much to the horror of the two evangelists. When antagonists from Pisidian Antioch and Iconium arrive, Paul is stoned but survives. The pair travel to Derbe, then retrace their steps, encouraging the new churches before sailing back to Syrian Antioch.
Chapter Context:
Paul's first missionary journey, recorded in Acts 13—14, gives a glimpse of issues that the church will face throughout its entire existence. When presented with Jesus's story, some will accept Him while others will not. Opposition is sometimes violent. Some integrate into church life easily, but for centuries the church has struggled with how to integrate those from vastly different cultures. This raises the crucial question of which aspects of faith and worship are biblical, making them universal, and which are cultural, and therefore optional? In Acts 15, the church leadership will start a discussion on that subject which continues even today.
Book Summary:
The summary of the book of Acts is provided in Jesus' words in Acts 1:8: ''But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.'' In Acts 2:1–13, the Christ-followers receive the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:14—7:60 describes the rapid growth of the church in Jerusalem. Chapters 8—12 find Jewish persecution inadvertently spreading the gospel throughout Judea and Samaria. And in chapters 13—28, Paul and his companions spread the good news throughout the Roman Empire.
Accessed 5/26/2024 8:19:36 AM
© Copyright 2002-2024 Got Questions Ministries. All rights reserved.
Text from ESV, NIV, NASB, CSB, NLT, KJV, NKJV © Copyright respective owners, used by permission.
www.BibleRef.com