Acts 14:6-18 – Paul and Barnabas in Lystra


Acts 14:6-18


Paul and Barnabas go to Lystra and heal a paralyzed man. The local population, whose native dialect Paul and Barnabas do not know, believes it has been visited by the gods Zeus and Hermes in disguise and tries to worship the two missionaries, who barely succeed in restraining the people.


Paul and Barnabas travel to Lystra, an inland city in Asia Minor. They do not know the   “Lycaonian” language. But, as Peter and John did before them (3:1-10), they publicly heal a man crippled from birth. From their religious perspective, the crowds believe that they have been visited by the gods in disguise and proceed to treat Paul and Barnabas accordingly, by offering them a sacrifice. Paul and Barnabas barely stop them from engaging in this blasphemy. The cry of Paul and Barnabas, “We are mortals just like you,” is almost the reverse of the cry Herod had accepted in 12:22, “the voice of a god, and not of a mortal!” We see the apostles’ (14:4, 14) wisdom and piety  contrasted with Herod’s pride and the ignorance of the Lystrans. Moreover, Acts reports that a group of Jews from Pisidian Antioch and Iconium incite a riotous mob which drags Paul outside the city, stones him, and leaves him for dead. However, “when the disciples surrounded him,” he revived, returned into the city, and resumed his missionary travels the next day (14:19‒20).