1 Now it happened in Iconium that they went together to the synagogue of the Jews, and so spoke that a great multitude both of the Jews and of the Greeks believed. 2 But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brethren. 3 Therefore they stayed there a long time, speaking boldly in the Lord, who was bearing witness to the word of His grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands.
Paul and Barnabas fled Antioch to Iconium (Acts 13:50), 90 miles southeast of Antioch, via the Sebastian Way. The team of two stayed longer in Iconium than in any other city on their first missionary journey. In Iconium, a “great multitude” of Jews and Gentiles believed, even under great opposition (Acts 14:1-7).
Now it happened in Iconium that they went together to the synagogue of the Jews,
Paul and Barnabas went to the synagogue in Iconium as a team to preach. The city was a cosmopolitan conglomerate comprised of Phrygians, Greeks, Jews, and Romans. It was a city that remained Greek in temperament and resisted Roman culture, although it had been a Roman colony since 25 B.C.
and so spoke that a great multitude both of the Jews and of the Greeks believed.
Both Jews and Greeks become believers in Iconium.
But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brethren.
Unbelieving Jews poisoned the attitude of some Gentiles toward Paul and Barnabas. The word “unbelieving” connotes not allow one to be persuaded. They rejected the evangelism they heard from Paul and Barnabas.
Therefore they stayed there a long time, speaking boldly in the Lord,
Regardless of the opposition, the apostles remained in Iconium for a protracted period, continuing to preach boldly.
who was bearing witness to the word of His grace,
Grace is an accurate characterization of the gospel. The essence of the gospel is “grace”; it is something that God freely gives of His own accord.
“Bearing witness” carries the idea of confirmation. God confirmed the authenticity of His “word” through signs and wonders. These miracles are always associated with establishing what God says in His Word.
granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands.
God allowed Paul and Barnabas to execute “signs and wonders.” These miracles validated the ministry of the apostles; they were the particular signs of an apostle (2 Co 12:12; He 2:3-4; Ga 3:5). God gave the apostles signs and wonders to authenticate their message because the New Testament was not completed yet. After the closing of the canon, God did not use these abilities but appealed to the Bible as the authority to which people are to turn. Paul was both an apostle of Christ and an apostle of the church. Luke did not refer to him as an apostle of Christ (see next verse). Barnabas was only an apostle from the church in Antioch of Syria.
We should take note that God never separates acts of miracles from His Word—”bearing witness to the word of His grace.”
Boldness requires discernment.
It is noteworthy that the boldness of Paul and Barnabas was not without discernment. When their lives came into danger, they fled to where people were more open to the gospel.