4 But the multitude of the city was divided: part sided with the Jews, and part with the apostles. 5 And when a violent attempt was made by both the Gentiles and Jews, with their rulers, to abuse and stone them, 6they became aware of it and fled to Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and to the surrounding region. 7And they were preaching the gospel there.
But the multitude of the city was divided: part sided with the Jews, and part with the apostles.
The response to the apostles’ messages was mixed; some believed their message, and others did not.
This verse is the only place in Acts where Luke referred to Paul as an apostle. The use of “apostles” here is probably not about him as an apostle of Christ but as an apostle of the church (a missionary of Antioch of Syria).
It is important to note that Barnabas was not an apostle of Christ but only an apostle of the church. The church in Antioch of Syria commissioned him to go on mission trips. He was not an eyewitness of the resurrection of Christ. He was a “sent one” from a local church, much like missionaries of our day. Paul was both an apostle of Christ and an apostle (missionary) of the church. Here, however, the reference is only to him as an apostle of the church.
And when a violent attempt was made by both the Gentiles and Jews, with their rulers, to abuse and stone them,
A plot hatched against the two apostles because of their bold gospel preaching.
they became aware of it [the plot against them] and fled to Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and to the surrounding region.
Paul and Barnabas learned of the plot and fled Iconium. Because of the hostility toward the apostles in Iconium, they fled to Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia in southern Galatia. Lystra lay 20 miles south of Iconium. Derbe was 60 miles southeast of Lystra. The same thing happened to them as in Pisidian Antioch.
Note that Lystra was the home of Timothy, Lois, and Eunice (Acts 16:1; 2 Tim 1:5).
And they were preaching the gospel there.
Although some tried to kill the apostles in Iconium, they continued to preach the gospel in the region of Lycaonia.
The power of Christian witness comes from divine enablement.
Divine enablement is the catalyst for boldness. Without it, people will not share their faith. Without courage, few will come to Christ (Eph 6:19-20; Php 1:19-20; 1 Th 2:2). Rejected proclaimers of the gospel proclaimed a spurned Christ.
Whenever the gospel penetrates Satan’s world, its messengers can expect opposition. Some ministry members quit because others oppose their faithful teaching of God’s Word. It is essential for Christian workers to resist the devil (Jas 4:7). When the missionaries encountered opposition, they moved to communities that had more positive volition.