Preaching the Gospel Has a Cost

“Preaching the Gospel Has A Cost”
Acts 14:1


  • In Chapter 13, we witnessed the account of Paul and Barnabas as they were called out of (Sent by) the church at Antioch and then they preached at Cyprus having John Mark with them. Mark had left for Jerusalem but Paul and Barnabas went to Perga then to Antioch where they were asked to expound on the reading of the Word in the temple.
  • We then closed the lesson out with Paul and Barnabas being praised by the Gentiles who listened to the sermon of Paul and were converted. But the Jews who refused Jesus (Mostly the leaders of the church) had grown angry at the popularity they recognized of the people and started to raise up the persecution of Paul and Barnabas.
  • We left Paul and Barnabas at Iconium in Acts 13:52…And the disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost.
  • Looking at the title of our lesson here in Acts 14, I know that it is not a new revelation of something that you didn’t know already.
  • I believe that many people do not understand “the costs” of being a preacher, a pastor, a missionary, a man of God.
  • I want to give you a glimpse of the “costs” a preacher/pastor pay…
  1. There is no one close to you as a friend (There is no time for such)
  2. The stress at trying to be an example to others.
  3. You are under high scrutiny and criticism from everyone (Even of other pastors/preachers.)
  4. Many hours laboring in a sermon that is rejected by many and accepted by few.
  5. Criticism by brethren, should you spell or pronounce a word wrong or turn to the wrong scripture or miss the address of a quoted verse.
  6. Loving people that don’t love you back.
  7. Trying to love everyone when they have no consideration whatsoever of God’s ministry.
  8. The stress at trying to be good at everything.
  9. There is no time for vacation and no one to take your place when you are absent from the pulpit.
  10. Your family takes a back seat in every situation concerning the church.
  11. Pressure of trying to create a message that is different, enjoyable, and beneficial to all the hearers of the Word.
  12. Stress and pressure to make sure your family is fed and it’s needs are taken care of on a small wage given.


I. At Iconium

  A) Some believe and some don’t

  • Acts 14:1…And it came to pass in Iconium, that they went both together into the synagogue of the Jews, and so spake, that a great multitude both of the Jews and also of the Greeks believed.
  • It seems to me that no matter where these Apostles went people were “amazed at their doctrine,” and they “repented and believed.”
  • And there seems to be a rather large number of people or as it is put here in verse 1 “a great multitude” that comes to hear them preach.
  • The people mentioned in verse 1 are the BELIEVERS.” (Meaning those who believed the gospel preached by Paul and Barnabas)
  • Now let us look at the “UNBELIEVERS” in Acts 14:2) But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles, and made their minds evil affected against the brethren.
  • Now when you see the term in verse 2 “…made their minds evil affected” it gives the idea of “poisoning their minds.”
  • How do you poison someone’s mind? First of all, to poison something or someone is to make it sick or dead. Poison ruins whatever it touches and renders whatever it touches useless.
  • What the Jews did was take the gospel of Paul and Barnabas and find fault with it by twisting their words and making them sound like they didn’t know what they were doing or saying.
  • Satan is in the Jews mouth because they spoke “…against the brethren.”
  • Now look at Acts 14:3…Long time therefore abode they speaking boldly in the Lord, which gave testimony unto the word of his grace, and granted signs and wonders to be done by their hands.
  • Let us note four things in this verse…
  1. “Long time therefore abode they…” They stay for quite some time (possibly several months) whereas before they were ousted out in a day or two. If people are not listening or repenting of their sins and so forth, then it suggested to leave as Christ did when He went to Nazareth.
  2. “…speaking boldly in the Lord,” Speaking boldly really was quite common for Paul and Peter. But Barnabas? I personally believe that the Holy Spirit of God gave them utterance in speaking without fear of being ridiculed, corrected, frowned upon, or even putting someone to sleep with their speech.
  3. “… which gave testimony unto the word of his grace,” I further believe that these apostles had become quite comfortable as one does when preaching uncontested. They were using the name of Jesus quite often and proudly without having to worry about the Pharisees ridicule and slander. I believe that they were probably having a revival meeting like those of old in the United States in the mid 60’s and 70’s. The “grace” being preached was none other than the doctrines of Jesus Grace which taught God’s grace and mercy upon the Jews first then the Gentiles.
  4. “…and granted signs and wonders to be done by their hands.” We know that the apostles were ordinary men just like us today only that they were given special powers to get people to believe on the Son of God Jesus Christ. Many have suggested that these were miracles that were above what you would see doctors, or sorcerers do. Whatever it was that these apostles did to make them believe the gospel, it was powerful. Also keep in mind, that the power to do these miracles come from God not the apostles.
  • Some believe, SOME DO NOT. Look now at Acts 14:4…But the multitude of the city was divided: and part held with the Jews, and part with the apostles.
  • It was just going too good for the apostles to think that something was never going to happen negatively speaking.
  • After reading this verse I may recant my earlier thought of the apostles staying for several months. Since this ugliness of Jews arises in verse 4, maybe it was more like 3 days. You know the old adage… “Company is a lot like fish, after 3 days of being it your house it starts to stink.”
  • I also believe that it was quite a few people now upset when Luke says that “…the multitude of the city was divided.” This means that more than half the city was torn as to whether or not they should believe the apostles doctrines.

B) An assault is made

  • Acts 14:5…And when there was an assault made both of the Gentiles, and also of the Jews with their rulers, to use them despitefully, and to stone them,
  • Now, we see who the instigators of the assault were, both Gentile and Jewish people and their perspective leaders.
  • Do you know what is funny about this situation? Normally the Gentiles and the Jews were at each other’s throat. But when it comes time to throw someone under the bus…they join forces. Bunch of backstabbers!
  • Note also what their response to these men of God…
  1. “…to use them despitefully,” meaning, to expose them or treat them as monsters. People who disagree with preachers are normally people who think they know more than God Himself and especially the preachers.
  2. “…and to stone them,” This proves that the Jews were the instigators in this little dispute. Stoning was a Jewish form of execution for blasphemers and children who were rebellious.
  3. Page Three
  • Note now Acts 14:6…They were ware of it, and fled unto Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and unto the region that lieth round about:
  • Paul and Barnabas (and their band of disciples) left Iconium when they were “ware of it.” This means as soon as they got the gossip of the town (gossip being that Paul and Barnabas were false preachers, and blasphemers, and they were going to stone them.) they went about 18 miles away to Lystra and Derbe.
  • Verse 7) And there they preached the gospel. Here is the great thing that all preachers should do. As soon as you leave one dissatisfied group that does not believe, go to another and start preaching again.
  • Preachers never stop preaching. This is the will of God. Preachers will preach until they die (Unless they are self appointed) or God allows them to be disabled in some respect to rest a bit before entering heaven.

II.  Idolatry At Lystra

  A) A certain man at Lystra

  • Acts 14:8…And there sat a certain man at Lystra, impotent in his feet, being a cripple from his mother’s womb, who never had walked:
  • The word here describing the “…man at Lystra” was “impotent.” This word in the Greek is adynatos” and means weak, or unable or impossible to do.
  • In this case, it was impossible for this man to walk as his feet were crippled in some way since birth. Today we would call this “a birth defect.”
  • In these days (Days of Paul and Barnabas) People with birth defects were considered unclean and cursed of God. Now mind you… not everyone was on board with this thought of unclean and cursing.
  • Keep in mind that this man was well known throughout the city. Many would help support him with alms of different kinds to supply his necessities for everyday living.
  • Look at verse 9) The same heard Paul speak: who stedfastly beholding him, and perceiving that he had faith to be healed,
  • Several points of interest here need addressed.
  1. “The same heard Paul speak:” What was the speech that this lame man heard? What was in the content of this sermon, or lesson? It had to be something that was of huge interest to the lame man.
  2. “…who stedfastly beholding him,” This means that he was staring intently at Paul as he was speaking. He was mesmerized. He may not have even blinked his eyes. It was like the situation in Acts 1:10 (KJV) And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; This lame man was like the apostles when Jesus came back to give them further instructions. They were waiting for more!
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  4. “… and perceiving that he had faith to be healed,” Here is the “key” to healing.
  • You cannot be healed physically or spiritually if you cannot perceive it. Meaningno healing can take place without you believing that you can be healed. It is a matter of the heart.
  • Faith is the key ingredient to any kind of healing. If you go to the doctor, you must have faith in him to heal you. If you come to God for spiritual healing, you must show faith in Him in order for Him to heal you.
  • People say they have faith, but do not show it by their actions.
  • Paul was more than likely giving several examples of the Holy Spirit working through him at Iconium in healing many there. This may have been what caught the lame man’s attention here at Lystra.

B) Healing takes place by the Holy Spirit in Paul

  • Look now at Acts 14:10…Said with a loud voice, Stand upright on thy feet. And he leaped and walked.
  • Paul had apparently noticed this man staring at him the entire speech. Paul also saw the expression on the lame man’s face during the speech being that of one desiring to be healed.
  • So, Paul commands the lame man to stand up on his feet. The lame man not only stands, but he “leaps,” and then walks.
  • Do you suppose the crowd cheers in praise to God for the healing of a man that they knew was destined for life to be lame? Let us see there response…

C) A strange reaction to the healing

  • Now look at verse 11…And when the people saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in the speech of Lycaonia, The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men.
  • The actions of the apostles created a response by the people that was not Godly.
  • The folklore and traditions of these people at Lystra was that the gods called Zeus and Hermes visited Lystra incognito (under an assumed named) asking for food and a place to sleep. Everyone turned Zeus and Hermes away except this peasant named Philemon and his wife, Baucis. The gods Zeus and Hermes took vengeance upon the people who rejected them and they drowned them all in a flood. They then turned the house belonging to the peasant couple into a temple, where they were to serve as priest and priestess.
  • Since they did not want to repeat their ancestor’s mistake, the people of Lystra believed Barnabas was Jupiter (or Zeus) and that Paul was Mercurius (or Mercury/Hermes.)
  • Let us also note that Barnabas and Paul had no idea what the intensions or ides were of the people at Lystra. Proof of that is in this verse 11b… they lifted up their voices, saying in the speech of Lycaonia, The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men.”
  • “…saying in the speech of Lycaonia” Barnabas and Paul didn’t know the language.
  • Look now into Acts 14 and verse 12) And they called Barnabas, Jupiter; and Paul, Mercurius, because he was the chief speaker.
  • JUPITER – was the most powerful of all the gods. Barnes Notes said this… He was represented as the son of Saturn and Ops, and was educated in a cave on Mount Ida, in the island of Crete. The worship of Jupiter was almost universal. He was the Ammon of Africa, the Belus of Babylon, the Osiris of Egypt. His common appellation was, the father of gods and men. He was usually represented as sitting upon a golden or an ivory throne, holding in one hand a thunderbolt, and in the other a sceptre of cypress. His power was supposed to extend over other gods; and everything was subservient to his will, except the fates. There is the most abundant proof that he was worshipped in the region of Lycaonia, and throughout Asia Minor. There was, besides, a fable among the inhabitants of Lycaonia that Jupiter and Mercury had once visited that place, and had been received by Philemon.
  • MERCURIUS – Again we refer to Barnes Notes that says… He was the messenger of the gods, and of Jupiter in particular; he was the patron (protector, defender) of travelers and shepherds; he conducted (controlled, led) the souls of the dead into the infernal (Hell-like) regions; and he presided (be in authority over an assembly) over orators, and declaimers, and merchants; and he was also the god of thieves, pickpockets, and all dishonest persons. He was regarded as the god of eloquence; and as light, rapid, and quick in his movements. The conjecture (an interfering of predictions and theories given when evidence is incomplete or uncertain…guesswork) of Chrysostom (Saint John, a Greek church father) is, that Barnabas was a large, athletic man, and was hence taken for Jupiter; and Paul was small in his person, and was hence supposed to be Mercury.
  • Now look at Acts 14:13… Then the priest of Jupiter, which was before their city, brought oxen and garlands unto the gates, and would have done sacrifice with the people.
  • THE PRIEST OF JUPITER – It was his duty to lead the people in worship. Like we have song leaders, and prayer leaders, and ushers, and etc.
  • What was happening was that these people were getting ready for worship to Barnabas and Paul.
  • To the people here in Lystra, Barnabas and Paul were gods.
  • Do you want to know the cost here of Barnabas and Paul? Their sanity, their patience, their will to preach.
  • When you preach your heart out ad lay everything out so that they will understand God’s word and the truths thereof… they do not get it. They fail to comprehend what you just preached. This leads to a preacher losing his sanity (the condition of not having a good mind).
  • The preacher starts to think within himself… Did I explain everything right? Did I follow the word of God? Am I losing my touch with reality?
  • I believe that during Paul’s sermon here at Lystra, he could still see question marks on the foreheads of the congregation. So he probably did as many preachers often do, try a different approach, a different example, a different technique. Until finally you become impatient and annoyed that they still do not understand what you are saying. They don’t understand the purpose of your preaching. They do not understand that God sent you for them.
  • In all the frustration of continuing to preach the gospel to people who do not wish to worship God in spirit and in truth…it causes the preacher to lose his will or desire to preach.

D) Making people understand their sin (Idolatry)

  • The preacher of God’s word has the call of God given to him to “feed the flock,” “be instant in season and out of season,” and most importantly to do it in a way that they do not become …“ Lord over God’s heritage.”
  • Jesus preached the sins of the people and brought the sins out in the open for people to see their own sins when they were blaming others for their sins.
  • An example of that is in John 8 where the Pharisees brought a woman living in adultery to him to accuse her of her sin when Christ revealed their own sins to them in His writing on the ground.
  • Sin cannot be dealt with until a person recognizes their own sin. You cannot be healed from a problem you have until you first recognize that you have a problem.
  • Watch the frustration shown by Barnabas and Paul after “they got wind of” heard the murmuring of the people in Acts 14:14…Which when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of, they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out,
  • “…they rent their clothes,” The term “rent their clothes” is a normal expression by a Jewish person when they are horrified or shocked at blasphemy.
  • It is an expression of their being upset at something they have done or someone else has done.
  • What is our response when we (or someone else) do something stupid or repulsive? We may roll our eyes, or yell in disgust. Same thing here.
  • Here is what the apostles Barnabas and Paul yell…Verse 15) 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:
  • Because the crowd here at Lystra was mostly pagan (Idol worshipers) and had no knowledge of the O.T. Paul took his message and come from their perspective in order to reach them.
  • Paul first tells them “We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities” In other words… “We are normal just like you, why are you worshiping us. It is useless to worship people.” Paul basically told them… “Your gods are useless.”
  • Instead of telling them about the God of Abraham (Taught in the OT) Paul brought to their attention the God of creation.
  • Their rational was with the “…the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein:”
  • Now look at verse 16) Who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways.
  • “times past” meaning before the New Testament, before the gospel of Jesus Christ.
  • “…suffered all nations.” Allowed (suffered) the nations of the Gentiles and Jews “to walk in their own ways” (do what they thought was right).
  • Why did God let the people do what they felt was right? He wanted them to find out for themselves the mistake that they were making and how it will affect them.
  • It is normally best to let people find out for themselves because they remember the results.
  • We should also know that when you preach something over and over and over again and the people refuse to do what god’s word says… leave them alone and let God take care of them and deal with them.
  • Like I have always said when trying to get through to a hard headed person “You just had well save your breath for cooling your soup.” They have turned you off before you open your mouth to speak.
  • Now look at verse 17) Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.
  • Paul is saying here in verse 17, that “You all are witness to the fact that even when we left to do what we feel is right , even though it may not be God’s will, He still does not let His people be thirsty or hungry.”
  • The best passage of scripture to review the message here in Acts 14:17 is what Paul later said in Romans 1:18—32.
  • Acts 14:18…And with these sayings scarce restrained they the people, that they had not done sacrifice unto them.
  • After Paul and Barnabas laid out the Law of God in the above verses, the people could not hold back their desire to make sacrifices in worship to Paul and Barnabas because of what they said.
  • I believe that the Holy Spirit of God was working in their hearts hitting in “stony places” as in Mark 4:16…And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness; However, the ground of their hearts remained uncultivated by satan’s stronghold on them I their worship of their false gods.

III.  The Stoning and Escape

  A) Certain Jews

  • Look at Acts 14:19…And there came thither certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium, who persuaded the people, and, having stoned Paul, drew him out of the city, supposing he had been dead.
  • Let us look at these certain Jews from Antioch.
  • These Jews were the same ones that were in Antioch and Iconium that started a riot in the churches there causing Paul and Barnabas to flee for their life.
  • These are the Jews (few in number) that have their heart set on getting rid of the “dynamic duo” of God permanently.
  • As you well know, there are some people that are more strongly bent on doing harm to someone and will stop at nothing to see their cause come to fruition.
  • It is a crying shame when persecutors of the gospel have more zeal towards ruination than those that preach it or practice it.
  • These Jews are the kind that are not satisfied until they ruin everything they touch.
  • Look at “…who persuaded the people.” Two ways to look at this here…
  1. The people were weak spiritually without any backbone.
  2. These Jews from Antioch were very good at convincing others.
  • I cannot stress enough how important it is for you of SBBC to stay strong in your belief. Stay strong in what you have been taught.
  • There are so many Christians or children of God out their trying to flex their spiritual muscles that make it difficult for the weak to overcome their inabilities to defend what they believe.
  • I wonder if these Jews from Antioch had influence in Lystra before this incident that helped them to gain support so readily.

B) Paul’s stoning

  • Now let us look at the rest of the verse 19… having stoned Paul, drew him out of the city, supposing he had been dead.”
  • Here we see that Paul was stoned. Where was Barnabas? Was he silent and waited to see the outcome?
  • This account has no mention of defense by anyone for Paul during this stoning.
  • If I was traveling with someone that didn’t look out for my well being, I may seek another traveling companion.
  • On the other hand, Maybe Barnabas was overcome with the throng of people who opposed their doctrines.
  • One more point here in Paul’s stoning… isn’t it amazing how quickly a crowd can turn. They were getting ready to make sacrifices to Paul believing his every word and because of a few influential people’s word of disbelief, they stone him.
  • Whatever the case, the people were “…supposing he had been dead.”
  • There are some commentators and preachers who will argue the point here that Paul actually die and it is his 3rd heaven experience mentioned in II Corinthians 12.
  • The word “supposing” in this verse means to suppose that something is true when in reality it is not true. They “think” not actually “know.”
  • Paul was more than likely pretending to be dead or possibly been knocked out, but not dead.

C) Departing to Derbe

  • Now look at verse 20) Howbeit, as the disciples stood round about him, he rose up, and came into the city: and the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe.
  • As we note here that there were some disciples who stood around Paul to insure that he was alive. It is also quite possible that they were praying for Paul’s restoration.
  • Then we note that Paul “rose up, and came into the city” Paul I believe wanted for people to see that he was healed. God’s man was still able to preach the word. God’s will is to be done and His man will be restored.
  • Paul was “cast down, but not destroyed.” (ref. II Corinthians 4:8-20)

IV.  Strengthening the Converts

  A) Gluttons for punishment

  • Here is the unique part about Paul. He was a fighter, a scrapper. He was a person who stared death in the face and laughed at danger. This is why Paul was selected by God personally for this mission.
  • Look now at Acts 14:21… And when they had preached the gospel to that city (Derbe), and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch,
  • While healing from his stoning at Lystra, Paul stayed in Derbe awhile and we can see the results of his stay there at Derbe… 1) He preached, 2) He taught.
  • Preaching is one thing and teaching is another.
  • Preaching is the presentation of the word, and teaching is a result of the preaching in that the people acquire a desire to learn more.
  • Hearing people have a saying for those who seem to enjoy pain and suffering… “You are a glutton for punishment.”
  • The reason I say that is because Paul and Barnabas go back to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch which are cities they had been threatened with their lives before.
  • But in reality I believe that they may have been more subtle in their visit as we can see in the following verse…
  • Acts 14:22) Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.
  • It tells us here in verse 22 what they did in these cities. Basically the verse is saying that they were checking up on their new coverts from Judaism to Christianity, and encouraging them to …what? “…continue in the faith.”
  • Here is a “key” statement for those who don’t know what to expect with their new faith… “…that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.”
  • After a person makes a commitment to God, they will be attacked by Satan and his angels causing doubt, despair, grief, and a desire to abandon or go back to the old path.
  • A new convert is weak and vulnerable to Satan’s attacks. He is wise and done this for many years.
  • This is why it is important for us a s the stronger spiritually to aid the weaker.
  • Becoming a child of God (enter the kingdom of God) is not as easy as some claim it to be. Paul here attests to its difficulty by calling it “tribulation.”

B) The “perpetuity” of the church

  • The word “perpetuity” means … lasting forever, continuing without interruption.
  • To see that the church lasts forever is the goal of Jesus Christ and the goal of His believers.
  • Now look at Acts 14:23) And when they had ordained them elders in every church (Christian churches established by the apostles), and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.
  • In order for a church to last forever, here is the work of the leaders…
  1. Ordain others (men to lead or pastor churches in other cities.) – The apostles Paul and Barnabas did not choose someone whom they thought was a good fit but merely helped the church in that city to choose someone from within the group of disciples.
  2. Pray with fasting – The apostles did this to strengthen the “body of Christ” before leaving to another city. This also was a lesson to be taught to the congregation about the power of prayer with fasting. It shows a sense of zeal and interest.
  3. Commend to the Lord those who believe – to “commend” is to put something or someone into the care of another. In this case the apostles were placing the new inexperienced church into the care of Jesus Christ. This was a part of their prayer and fasting. The apostles wished for the Lord to take each church under His protective wing and nurture each member until they were strong enough to stand against the wiles of the devil.
  4. The Journey back to Antioch
  • Acts 14:24…And after they had passed throughout Pisidia, they came to Pamphylia. 25) And when they had preached the word in Perga, they went down into Attalia:
  • These were all cities that Paul and Barnabas had visited and preached to before. There need to linger in these cities or townships was unnecessary. Again, I believe that the stopping at these cities were merely to check on their new converts (Discipleship).
  • Look now into verse 26) And thence sailed to Antioch, from whence they had been recommended to the grace of God for the work which they fulfilled. 27) And when they were come, and had gathered the church together, they rehearsed all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles. 28) And there they abode long time with the disciples.
  • Since Antioch commissioned the Dynamic Duo, it was pertinent that they report back to them of what they had accomplished.