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Iconium, from the Greek Ikonion, was the capital city of Lycaonia, in Asia Minor (today Turkey), situated about 120 miles / 195 kilometers inland from The Mediterranean Sea. In Paul's time, it was one of the major cities of the Roman province of Galatia (see Ancient Empires - Rome). Iconium's location, on a major road that led to Ephesus and Rome to the west, was visited by Paul and his associates during all three of his missionary travels (see Paul's First Missionary Journey, Paul's Second Missionary Journey and Paul's Third Missionary Journey).
As happened almost everywhere else, in Iconium the Gospel was welcomed by some, while rejected by others who were still awaiting The Cure For The Carnal Mind.
"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. 14:2 But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles, and made their minds evil affected against the brethren. 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. 14:4 But the multitude of the city was divided: and part held with the Jews, and part with the apostles. 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, 14:6 They were ware of it, and fled unto Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and unto the region that lieth round about: 14:7 And there they preached the gospel." (Acts 14:1-7 KJV)
The miracles done, by The Spirit Of God, through the apostles, as a testimony to the Gospel that they preached, were sometimes misunderstood by pagan-god worshippers. Should they not have seen the obvious difference, that lifeless idols cannot perform miracles? Yes, they should have, but they also may have been exposed to false "miracles" done by and with idols, by the power of Satan, which is nothing new, before and since e.g "weeping statues" in Roman churches (see also What Would Mary Really Say About Idolatry?; also Revelation 13 and Satan's Throne). At any rate, when Paul told them that their idols were not only worthless, but also evil (see Thou shalt not make any graven image), they "stoned Paul, drew him out of the city, supposing he had been dead."
"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: 14:9 The same heard Paul speak: who stedfastly beholding him, and perceiving that he had faith to be healed, 14:10 Said with a loud voice, Stand upright on thy feet. And he leaped and walked.
The return to Antioch in Syria was made by a very different Paul than the Saul who had left (see also Saul The Benjamite, Paul The Christian Jew). He departed on the journey "green," under the wing of Barnabas, but he returned battle-hardened and ready for all that was to come. The zealous Pharisee had become an even-more zealous Christianos.
"14:21 And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch, 14:22 Confirming the souls [see Where Is Your Soul?] of the disciples [see Prove To Be My Disciples], and exhorting them to continue in the faith [see Faith and Works] , and that we must through much tribulation [see No Pain, No Gain] enter into The Kingdom of God. 14:23 And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed. 14:24 And after they had passed throughout Pisidia, they came to Pamphylia. 14:25 And when they had preached the word in Perga, they went down into Attalia:
Acts Chapter 15
Paul's return to Jerusalem was at a time when many non-Israelite people were turning to Christ (while, ironically, many of Christ's own people of Judah still rejected Him, exactly as prophesied i.e. see The Apostle To The Gentiles). Paul then proclaimed the same lesson that The Lord had given to Peter (see Peter's Noonday Vision) - that salvation is open to anyone who repents and truly obeys God.
The "council at Jerusalem" was one of the very few recorded times when the apostles Peter and Paul were together, or even mentioned each other - they looked to each other for neither knowledge or leadership; they both looked only to Christ (see Who Did Peter Have Authority Over?).
"15:1 And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses [see also The Education Of Moses and Why Did Christ Put Moses To Death?], ye cannot be saved. 15:2 When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question. 15:3 And being brought on their way by the church, they passed through Phenice and Samaria, declaring the conversion of the Gentiles: and they caused great joy unto all the brethren. 15:4 And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them.
"15:22 Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren: 15:23 And they wrote letters by them after this manner;
By necessity, the apostles were strong-willed men, who were beholding to Christ, not each other (there was a security logic to that as well - when one was killed, it never affected any command structure because Christ was in command and everyone was serving directly under Him). Being imperfect humans, they sometimes disagreed among themselves, as happened in this example between Paul and Barnabas. Note that when they parted company, Barnabas again went to preach in his native Cyprus, while Paul again went to preach in his native Turkey.
"15:36 And some days after Paul said unto Barnabas, Let us go again and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they do. 15:37 And Barnabas determined to take with them John, whose surname was Mark [see John Mark]. 15:38 But Paul thought not good to take him with them, who departed from them from Pamphylia, and went not with them to the work. 15:39 And the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other: and so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus; 15:40 And Paul chose Silas, and departed, being recommended by the brethren unto the grace of God. 15:41 And he went through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the churches." (Acts 15:36-41 KJV)
Acts Chapter 16
Paul's Second Missionary Journey was longer, in time and distance, than his first journey (see Paul's First Missionary Journey; also Paul's Third Missionary Journey). This time, Timothy and Silas accompanied him.
"16:1 Then came he to Derbe and Lystra: and, behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timotheus [i.e. Timothy], the son of a certain woman, which was a Jewess, and believed; but his father was a Greek: 16:2 Which was well reported of by the brethren that were at Lystra and Iconium. 16:3 Him would Paul have to go forth with him; and took and circumcised him because of the Jews which were in those quarters: for they knew all that his father was a Greek. 16:4 And as they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem. 16:5 And so were the churches established in the faith, and increased in number daily." (Acts 16:1-5 KJV)
Paul's vision of the man of Macedonia resulted in the Gospel crossing from Asia into Europe.
"16:6 Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia, 16:7 After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not. 16:8 And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas. 16:9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night [see also Visions and Dreams]; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us. 16:10 And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them." (Acts 16:6-10 KJV)
Paul then sailed across the northern Aegean Sea from Troas to Neapolis.
"16:11 Therefore loosing from Troas, we came with a straight course to Samothracia, and the next day to Neapolis; 16:12 And from thence to Philippi, which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia, and a colony: and we were in that city abiding certain days.
While Paul and Silas found many believers in Macedonia, as with everywhere else, there were also those who opposed the Truth, particularly when the power of God was shown to be superior to demons. After they were arrested, tortured and thrown in prison, The Lord rescued them - with the result that even the jailer was converted.
"16:16 And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination [see also Familiar Spirits] met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying: 16:17 The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which show unto us the way of salvation. 16:18 And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour.
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