“Believe” in Acts: Part 11:
For those new to these studies, my basic methodology has been to trace the subject of faith, along with related words such as believe, etc., through the Bible. We are presently in Acts and having already examined the 16 occasions of “faith” we continue here with the word believe, found 39 times in Acts.
Our last study found Paul and Barnabas in Antioch, the Capital of the Roman colony Pisidia where Paul successfully ministered on two Sabbath days but then when a group of Jews turned against the Word and blasphemed, he announced that although it was necessary the word of God should first have been spoken to the Jews there, because they judged themselves unworthy of everlasting life, he and Barnabas were turning to the Gentiles because the Lord had commanded them to be a light of the Gentiles, for salvation unto the ends of the earth, Acts 13:46 & 4746 Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.
47 For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth.
. “And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained (appointed, set, determined, addicted, defined) to eternal life believed.” Acts 13:4848 And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.
. The word of the Lord was published throughout all the region but the Jews stirred up devout and honorable women and the chief men of the city, and persecuted Paul and Barnabas, expelling them, Acts 13:49 & 5049 And the word of the Lord was published throughout all the region.
50 But the Jews stirred up the devout and honourable women, and the chief men of the city, and raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them out of their coasts.
. Paul and Barnabas shook the dust from their feet against them, and came unto Iconium. The disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost, Acts 13:55 And when they were at Salamis, they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews: and they had also John to their minister.
1 & 5251 But they shook off the dust of their feet against them, and came unto Iconium.
52 And the disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost.
Then Acts 14:11 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.
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.
records the 18th occurrence of the word believe in Acts: “And it came to pass in Iconium, that they (Paul & Barnabas) 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.” Acts 14:1. However those Jews who didn’t believe poisoned the minds of some against Paul and Barnabas but they remained in Iconium speaking boldly in the Lord - Who confirmed the message of His grace by enabling Paul and Barnabas to perform signs and wonders, Acts 14:2 & 32 But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles, and made their minds evil affected against the brethren.
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.
. Here, we keep in mind that at that time, Paul demonstrated the signs of an Apostle, which the book of Acts and Paul’s letters to the Corinthians describe. Paul was used:
•to blind the Jewish false prophet/sorcerer Barjesus because he attempted to turn the Gentile Sergius Paulus away from the faith, Acts 13:5-12.
•to heal a man crippled from Birth at Lystra, Acts 14:88 And there sat a certain man at Lystra, impotent in his feet, being a cripple from his mother's womb, who never had walked:
•he was released from the Philippian prison by a miraculous earthquake that unloosed the chains and doors, Acts 16:25 & 2625 And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.
26 And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one's bands were loosed.
•to raise Eutychus from the dead in Troas, Acts 20:77 And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.
•to heal a woman possessed by an evil spirit, Acts 16:16 - 1816 And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying:
17 The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation.
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.
•to heal people who touched handkerchiefs or aprons he had touched, Acts 19:11 & 1211 And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul:
12 So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them.
•to cast demons out of people the last time such an event is recorded in the New Testament, Acts 19:13 - 1613 Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the LORD Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth.
14 And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so.
15 And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?
16 And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.
•to be bitten by a deadly snake on the Island of Malta but suffered no ill effect, Acts 28:3 - 63 And when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks, and laid them on the fire, there came a viper out of the heat, and fastened on his hand.
4 And when the barbarians saw the venomous beast hang on his hand, they said among themselves, No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he hath escaped the sea, yet vengeance suffereth not to live.
5 And he shook off the beast into the fire, and felt no harm.
6 Howbeit they looked when he should have swollen, or fallen down dead suddenly: but after they had looked a great while, and saw no harm come to him, they changed their minds, and said that he was a god.
•to speak in tongues, i.e., other languages, 1 Corinthians 14:1818 I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all:
•to be caught up to heaven where the Lord revealed many things that he could not disclose, 2 Corinthians 12:1 - 41 It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord.
2 I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven.
3 And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;)
4 How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.
Paul teaches clearly that the miracles and signs existing during those early years in his ministry demonstrated or proved he and his associates were the Apostles of Jesus Christ, 2 Corinthians 12:1212 Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds.
, but that they were done away when the Word of God was completed, 1 Corinthians 13:8 - 138 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
. The end of the miracles and signs is demonstrated when Paul and his followers came to the end of their ministries, suffering sickness without healing (2 Corinthians 12:7 - 97 And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.
8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.
9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
; 1 Timothy 5:2323 Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach's sake and thine often infirmities.
; Philippians 2:25 - 3025 Yet I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, and companion in labour, and fellowsoldier, but your messenger, and he that ministered to my wants.
26 For he longed after you all, and was full of heaviness, because that ye had heard that he had been sick.
27 For indeed he was sick nigh unto death: but God had mercy on him; and not on him only, but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow.
28 I sent him therefore the more carefully, that, when ye see him again, ye may rejoice, and that I may be the less sorrowful.
29 Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness; and hold such in reputation:
30 Because for the work of Christ he was nigh unto death, not regarding his life, to supply your lack of service toward me.
; 2 Timothy 4:2020 Erastus abode at Corinth: but Trophimus have I left at Miletum sick.
) and were jailed where they remained.
Back to Iconium - the city was divided; part held with the Jews and part with the Apostles. Some of the gentiles, along with the Jews and the city leaders plotted to stone the Apostles. When Paul and his group learned of this they fled to the cities of Lystra and Derbe in Lycaonia and the surrounding country where they preached the gospel, Acts 14:4 - 74 But the multitude of the city was divided: and part held with the Jews, and part with the apostles.
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,
6 They were ware of it, and fled unto Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and unto the region that lieth round about:
7 And there they preached the gospel.
. In Lystra, Paul encountered a man listening to him who had been crippled since birth and thus had never walked. Paul saw him and perceived he “had faith to be healed” and with a loud voice told him to stand upright on his feet - and he leaped and walked. Acts 14:8 - 108 And there sat a certain man at Lystra, impotent in his feet, being a cripple from his mother's womb, who never had walked:
9 The same heard Paul speak: who stedfastly beholding him, and perceiving that he had faith to be healed,
10 Said with a loud voice, Stand upright on thy feet. And he leaped and walked.
. We studied this passage in Vol 4, No 14, published October 22, 2016 while examining the word “faith” so we won’t repeat that study, except for two points:
The word “healed” in the phrase “perceiving that he had faith to be healed” is the Greek word “sodzo” (G4882) found 111 times in the New Testament (NT) where it is translated “save” or “saved” 94 times and healed only 3 times. Generally, it is used to describe someone saved from their sins such as the first time it appears in the NT where the Angel of the Lord told Joseph that Jesus would “save” His people from their sins. It is the same word used by Paul when he wrote: “For by grace are ye saved (sodzo) through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:” Ephesians 2:88 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
. From this we understand that the crippled man believed God’s Word being preached because faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God, Romans 10:1717 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
. Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, perceived, or knew or understood that this man believed, i.e., he had faith and so he told him to stand up and he leaped and walked.
The next point is that Paul and Barnabas faced two problem groups; the Jews who rejected their message and the unbelieving pagans who took the healing of the crippled man to be a sign that Barnabas was the pagan god Jupiter and Paul Mercury so they prepared to offer sacrifices to them. Paul and Barnabas had to talk them out of doing so but then Jews came from Antioch and Iconium and talked the crowd into stoning Paul. They did so and pulled his body out of the city, supposing him to be dead. But while the disciples stood around his body he got up and went into the city, Acts 14:11 - 2011 And when the people saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in the speech of Lycaonia, The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men.
12 And they called Barnabas, Jupiter; and Paul, Mercurius, because he was the chief speaker.
13 Then the priest of Jupiter, which was before their city, brought oxen and garlands unto the gates, and would have done sacrifice with the people.
14 Which when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of, they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out,
15 And saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein:
16 Who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways.
17 Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.
18 And with these sayings scarce restrained they the people, that they had not done sacrifice unto them.
19 And there came thither certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium, who persuaded the people, and having stoned Paul, drew him out of the city, supposing he had been dead.
20 Howbeit, as the disciples stood round about him, he rose up, and came into the city: and the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe.
The next day Paul and Barnabas left Lystra for the town of Derbe where they taught, however they then returned back to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch “Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God. 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.” Acts 14:2020 Howbeit, as the disciples stood round about him, he rose up, and came into the city: and the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe.
b - 23. Here is the 19th occurrence of “believe” confirming the status of believing Jews and Gentiles in Lystra, Iconium and Antioch. Paul’s statement to them “that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God,” Acts 14:2222 Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.
b puts us in mind of what he wrote Timothy in what was probably his last epistle written from prison: “But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience, Persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me. Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” 2 Timothy 3:10 - 1210 But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience,
11 Persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me.
12 Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.
. We know from history that the persecution suffered by Paul and those believers almost 2000 years ago has been prevalent in the lives of many believers since then. However, Paul assured believers: “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” Romans 8:16 - 1816 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.