What does Acts 14:4 mean?
ESV: But the people of the city were divided; some sided with the Jews and some with the apostles.
NIV: The people of the city were divided; some sided with the Jews, others with the apostles.
NASB: But the people of the city were divided; and some sided with the Jews, while others, with the apostles.
CSB: But the people of the city were divided, some siding with the Jews and others with the apostles.
NLT: But the people of the town were divided in their opinion about them. Some sided with the Jews, and some with the apostles.
KJV: But the multitude of the city was divided: and part held with the Jews, and part with the apostles.
NKJV: But the multitude of the city was divided: part sided with the Jews, and part with the apostles.
Verse Commentary:
Déjà vu is the feeling one is reliving a particular moment from the past. Paul and Barnabas might have experienced that during the events of this passage. They are in the synagogue of Iconium, sharing that Jesus of Nazareth was sent by God to provide salvation—just as they had in Pisidian Antioch. And just like in that previous town, some of the Jews and Gentiles believe while others try to undermine their message. The two apostles respond by staying longer, teaching further, and sharing more about Christ. The town becomes even more divided.

This division had followed Jesus throughout His entire ministry. The issue has to do with the Mosaic law and the Jews' misunderstanding of the Law's purpose. God chose the Jews to be His people and to display to the world that they are His people by following His laws. If the Jews agreed to value their relationship with God and do what He told them to, He would bless them beyond measure with peace from enemies, verdant fields, and fertile animals. If they refused to obey Him and looked to other gods to provide for them, He had a list of things He would allow to happen to get their attention (Leviticus 26, Deuteronomy 28). Eventually, half the nation was destroyed by Assyria, and the other half was taken into exile in Babylon.

When the exiles from Babylon returned, they changed their ways. They eventually became relatively obedient to the Law; unfortunately, instead of a relationship with their God, their approach to "doing" the Law became the focus of their religion. The Pharisees, especially, enforced the law with little regard for how God loved His people.

Iconium is in the district of Galatia, the audience of Paul's letter to the Galatians. Much of Paul's letter addresses the Galatian church's obsession with a legalistic approach to Old Testament law. He tells them that the gospel of grace is the only gospel (Galatians 1:6–9); that they should seek to please God, not men (Galatians 1:10); that Jesus-followers are justified by faith in Jesus, not by the Law (Galatians 2:16); and that even sanctification—becoming more Christlike—is through faith, not by rigid obedience—even obedience itself is a gift of God (Galatians 3:2–6).

For those humble enough to recognize they can never please God, the gospel of grace is a welcome gift. For those who have been taught that the only way to God's heart is strict obedience, the gospel is hard to take.
Verse Context:
Acts 14:1–7 records how Paul and Barnabas fled persecution in Pisidian Antioch and arrived in Iconium. As becomes their habit, they share Jesus' story in the local synagogue and watch many Jews and Gentiles agree to follow Jesus. Like in Pisidian Antioch, other Jews and Gentiles reject their message. The pair stay as long as they can, teaching and starting the church, until their antagonists threaten to stone them. Paul and Barnabas leave the new believers and travel south and east to establish new churches but will return on their way back through (Acts 14:21).
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 6/13/2024 12:02:57 PM
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