The Modern Missionary: Acts 14:8-18
“8) At Lystra a man was sitting who had no strength in his feet, lame from his mother’s womb, who had never walked. 9) This man was listening to Paul as he spoke, who, when he had fixed his gaze on him and had seen that he had faith to be made well, 10) said with a loud voice, “Stand upright on your feet.” And he leaped up and began to walk. 11) When the crowds saw what Paul had done, they raised their voice, saying in the Lycaonian language, “The gods have become like men and have come down to us.” 12) And they began calling Barnabas, Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the chief speaker. 13) The priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates, and wanted to offer sacrifice with the crowds. 14) But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they tore their robes and rushed out into the crowd, crying out 15) and saying, “Men, why are you doing these things? We are also men of the same nature as you, and preach the gospel to you that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them. 16) In the generations gone by He permitted all the nations to go their own ways; 17) and yet He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good and gave you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.” 18) Even saying these things, with difficulty they restrained the crowds from offering sacrifice to them.” Acts‬ ‭14‬:‭8‬-‭18‬
Opinions can change very quickly. They went from calling Paul and Barnabas “gods” in this paragraph to trying to kill them in the next. The miracle of healing on a lame man opened the door to preach the gospel. But the Greek crowd jumped to the wrong conclusion.
They called Barnabas “Zeus” and Paul “Hermes.” It was with difficulty that they stopped them from presenting sacrifices to them.
It is interesting in verse 14 it says; “When the Apostles, Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they tore their robes and rushed into the crowd…” We here have the title “Apostles” clearly ascribed to both Barnabas and Paul, but neither of them were among the original twelve who were in office prior to the day of Pentecost. This has caused confusion for some. Let’s take a moment and unpack this mystery.
The word “apostle” literally means a “sent one.” Ephesians 4:11 includes this word in a list of five administration gifts of the Holy Spirit for the church. Absent from the list is the word “missionary.” Interestingly, Paul and Barnabas had been sent out by the Holy Spirit on a missionary journey. (See Acts 13:3-4) I maintain the mystery is solved. Those named “apostles” after the day of Pentecost fit the description of the modern term of “missionaries.”
These are often multi-gifted people sent out to start new works. Missionaries are often pioneers bringing the gospel into new regions. Paul and Barnabas both were called and gifted for this role. They usually have thick skin and the ability to face opposition. I praise God for these amazing people.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global