Good Morning!Well, my company is on their way home, and I will miss them! But, now, it is time to get back to work.
21After they had proclaimed the good news to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, then on to Iconium and Antioch. 22There they strengthened the souls of the disciples and encouraged them to continue in the faith, saying, “It is through many persecutions that we must enter the kingdom of God.” 23And after they had appointed elders for them in each church, with prayer and fasting they entrusted them to the Lord in whom they had come to believe. 24Then they passed through Pisidia and came to Pamphylia. 25When they had spoken the word in Perga, they went down to Attalia. 26From there they sailed back to Antioch, where they had been commended to the grace of God for the work that they had completed. 27When they arrived, they called the church together and related all that God had done with them, and how he had opened a door of faith for the Gentiles. 28And they stayed there with the disciples for some time.
Paul and Barnabas went on to the city of Derbe the next day, after Paul had been stoned in Lystra. Luke gives us only one sentence about their time there – they proclaimed the good news and made many disciples. But this would have occurred over a period of time – weeks or even months. We forget as we read Acts that Luke condenses much of what is happening; this first missionary journey took place over at least two years.
But after spending that time in Derbe, they went back to Lystra, and they met with the faithful there, and encouraged them in their faith. And they went on through Iconium and Psidian Antioch as well, again encouraging the believers in their faith. In each of these cities, finding groups who were thriving in the faith, they appointed leaders for each one, whom they called “elders”. The word is used for the leaders of the Church in Jerusalem in Chapter 11; but, this is the first use we find for the term “elder” to mean a leader appointed to be the leader for an individual church. Church structure would continue to form through the years. In each case, also, Paul and Barnabas, with prayer and fasting, entrusted these fledgling churches to the Lord.
And finally, they went on their way – passing through the region of Psidia, coming to Pamphylia. They spoke the word in Perga and went down to the seacoast at Attalia, sailing from there back to Antioch. When they arrived in Antioch they met with the church there, telling them all that God had done with them, and how he had opened a door of faith for the Gentiles. And they stayed there in Antioch for some time.
Paul never makes Herod’s mistake, claiming to be a god. He occasionally comes across in his writings as arrogant and certain, but more commonly, he speaks of himself as “less than the least of all these”, remembering his own history of persecuting the church. Here, he and Barnabas tell what God has done!