“But Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and having won over the crowds, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead. But while the disciples stood around him, he got up and entered the city. The next day he went away with Barnabas to Derbe. After they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying, ‘Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.’ When they had appointed elders for them in every church, having prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed. They passed through Pisidia and came into Pamphylia. When they had spoken the word in Perga, they went down to Attalia. From there they sailed to Antioch, from which they had been commended to the grace of God for the work that they had accomplished. When they had arrived and gathered the church together, they began to report all things that God had done with them and how He had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles. And they spent a long time with the disciples.”
Paul and Barnabas were still in Lystra. Certain Jews who had heard Paul along the way in the various synagogues and had rejected the message came and won over crowds because they were full of jealousy according to Acts 13:45. The envy and jealousy of the religious Jews motivated the whole action. It was a mob scene that resulted in the stoning of Paul. The Greek word for supposing “nomizo,” which means to consider or to think. Did they suppose he was dead or did they know he was dead? The Scripture doesn’t say definitively. However, some theologians conclude that he was dead and they cite II Corinthians 12:1-4 as the reason for their conclusion. Verse 20 says Paul got up, entered the city and the following day made a 116 mile trip to Derbe. I doubt a man who was stoned to the point of death could have done this. I believe Paul died and was resuscitated by God so he could continue his ministry.
“The next day he went away with Barnabas to Derbe. After they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying, ‘Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God." They went back the way they had come. The word preached means to train. Their return was between Antioch and Derbe, an area of extreme danger which is described in II Corinthians 11:24-32.
The word strengthening is a compound word, episthrizo [epi = upon; sthrizo = to establish], which comes to means to stabilize. He came to stabilize their minds, and to do this he had to communicate Bible doctrine. It takes doctrine in the human spirit in order for the believer to be controlled by the Holy Spirit, rather than by the sin nature. Strengthening of the souls of the disciples means the communication of Bible doctrine so that believers become spiritually self-sustaining. It should be the objective of the Christian life for every believer to have enough doctrine so that they are totally and completely dependent upon God, so that they understand the grace of God, are oriented to the plan of God, and so that wherever they go and whatever they do they can have perfect inner happiness and peace, and do not have to use human viewpoint or others as a “crutch.” The only “crutch” a believer needs is Bible doctrine, which is not really a crutch, but rather a stable platform and a solid foundation.
The Scripture is clear that the only solid foundation for a believer is Jesus Christ Himself. As with any building, we must be careful to first lay the right foundation before we build on it. God’s Word likens spiritual growth to building a house. Often expressed as edification, the concept in Greek is to build or to build up. For the Christian, this occurs in his soul as he exposes himself to accurate Bible teaching and applies the truth that he learns. We know that the Word of God is the mind of Christ. Therefore, the foundation is the written Word (Christ is the living Word). The written Word of God is meant to be understood and utilized as a blueprint for building your spiritual building (the Christian Way of Life).
The Greek word for edification is “oikodome” and literally means the act of building or erecting a structure. (Ephesians 4:11-29) Like any structure, our “building” in the soul must have a firm foundation and properly constructed “floors.” Our foundation is Jesus Christ and the “floors” are categories of Bible doctrine. Once the foundation is in place, then the believer can begin to build upon it with full confidence that it will stand. The foundation is received at salvation, but the floors must be built over a period of time, as Bible doctrine is learned, believed and properly applied. (Ephesians 4:12,16,29; Colossians 2:7; I Timothy 1:4; James 1:4)
The basis for any system from God is always grace. The word grace itself makes it clear that God’s system for building the spiritual building is void of any human merit, human works, human ability or human viewpoint thinking. The reason that God planned it this way is to eliminate human viewpoint thinking and human production as the means for building anything spiritual. Instead, He provided a non-meritorious system for both perception and execution of the Christian Way of Life: FAITH. We learn how to erect this building in our souls by faith and it takes faith to put into practice. This method is the only one that can bring honor and glory to God. (Hebrews 11:6)
The spiritual building is built using the stored Bible doctrine in the mind of the believer. Consistent study and accurate application over a period of time is the method for developing our complex. This building is literally Christ being formed in the soul of the believer. Positionally, Christ is “in” every believer, but He is not “formed” in every believer. Jesus Christ had this spiritual building formed in His soul. He had all the characteristics of spiritual maturity: 1) He was full of grace and truth 2) He had a relaxed mental attitude 3) He was free from mental attitude sins 4) He had capacity for love and 5) He had divine inner happiness. Christ erected the spiritual building in His soul as a demonstration to all believers that it is possible for us to do the same through the power of the Holy Spirit. (Galatians 4:19; John 1:14)
“Encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying, “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.” Verse 22 says that the first thing Paul did was to encourage them by means of doctrine. The word to encourage is “parakaleo” [para = the immediate source; kaleo = to call, to shout]. The immediate source was the doctrine that Paul had in his human spirit, and this doctrine was “called out” of his soul and communicated. The Greek word continue means to abide in. This means that once you learn some doctrine you are to begin to apply it and stay with it. The faith is a technical word referring to the whole realm of doctrine found in the Word of God.
Through many tribulations refers to the suffering categories of the Christian way of life. Suffering is simply a part of the Christian life and is actually a blessing if handled properly by a believer. Even divine discipline can be a blessing if a believer learns a lesson and gets back on track with their spiritual life. Must enter the kingdom of God means that suffering will continue for all of us, as long as we live in a world system controlled by Satan.
I Peter 4:16 says, “But if anyone suffer as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed; but is to glorify God in this name.” This verse refers to the believer suffering undeservedly. When a believer is in fellowship with God and under the control of God the Holy Spirit, he does not have to be ashamed of his suffering. Why? The reason he doesn’t have to be ashamed is that through suffering he can glorify God. God is glorified when we are filled with the Holy Spirit and using the doctrine that we have learned through the Faith-Rest Technique. This, of course, brings inner happiness and peace. When we are able to have happiness and peace in the midst of suffering, we are already blessed.
I Peter 4:19 says, “Therefore those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.” Suffering according to the will of God is suffering for righteousness sake or undeserved suffering. By relying upon the filling (control) of God the Holy Spirit, we are committing the safeguard of our souls to our Creator, Jesus Christ. Jesus has already gone through the same trials that we are facing and has shown us that by utilizing the filling of the Holy Spirit we can come through the test victoriously. It is God Who turns the suffering into blessing because He is faithful. (John 1:3; Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 1:10)
Since we will not suffer in eternity as believers, it should be obvious that all suffering on earth is geared to give blessing. Maybe the blessing will come as a result of naming our sins and returning to fellowship with God during deserved suffering. Maybe the blessing will come from application of Bible doctrine under the control of the Holy Spirit, during undeserved suffering. (Revelation 21:4)
“When they had appointed elders for them in every church, having prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed.” Paul and Barnabas would go into an area and start teaching the Word of God. As they began to present doctrine, believers would begin to grow spiritually, and as a result, spiritual gifts would eventually be manifested, such as pastor-teacher (elder). You can teach so much and then you have to turn people over to the Lord. Everyone is responsible for their own spiritual life. The Greek word for commended is “paratithemi,” which was a banker’s term [para = immediate source; tithemi = to place, deposit or entrust]. After Paul had given them a crash course in theology he entrusted (commended) their care to the Lord (ultimate source). The point is that you can’t make people follow the teaching; you simply communicate it and leave the rest to God the Holy Spirit.
Remember that you and you alone are the only one who can live your spiritual life; no one else can live it for you. Consequently, you and you alone are responsible for your own decisions, good or bad, positive or negative to doctrine, which means you cannot blame environment, childhood, people, anyone or anything for your failure to live your own spiritual life. Your spiritual life was designed by God in eternity-past and functions under divine power only - the power of the Spirit and the power of the Word of God. Therefore, Bible doctrine and the filling of the Holy Spirit must have number one priority in your life after salvation.
Since both the filling of the Spirit plus learning, understanding and application of doctrine are mandated for all believers, you have to undergo a change, and the first change has to be your scale of values. Sooner or later you must assign number one priority to Bible doctrine. The Word of God is the revelation of God’s will, plan and purpose for your life. You cannot know the will of God apart from Bible doctrine. You can pray that God will guide you; however, it is a prayer that will not be answered if Bible doctrine is not residing in your soul. The only way that you are going to know the will of God is through the Word of God. Only through living your very own spiritual life through utilization of divine power can you glorify God and fulfill His will, His purpose, and His plan for your life.
Daily study of God’s Word keeps Divine Viewpoint Thinking fresh in the mind and helps counteract Human Viewpoint Thinking. (Psalms 119:129-135) Thinking your way through life with Divine Viewpoint Thinking will bring victory, peace, power and stability. (Isaiah 26:3-4, 33:6) It also eliminates mental attitude sinning, such as maligning, character assassination, gossiping, jealousy, self-pity, etc. Vacillating between Divine Viewpoint Thinking and Human Viewpoint Thinking makes a believer unstable according to James 1:8. An unstable believer is an unhappy believer.
The Christian Way of Life is a supernatural way of life, which cannot be lived apart from knowledge of Bible doctrine and the guidance of God the Holy Spirit. (Romans 7:6, 8:2; Galatians 5:25; Ephesians 5:18) This way of life requires thinking. All changes in our lives must come from the inside. The true character of the believer is determined by what he thinks, not by what he does. God never forces the believer into any course of action. We determine what our own spiritual lives are going to look like based on what we allow ourselves to think. Divine Viewpoint Thinking equals a victorious Christian Way of Life.
“They passed through Pisidia and came into Pamphylia. When they had spoken the word in Perga, they went down to Attalia. From there they sailed to Antioch, from which they had been commended to the grace of God for the work that they had accomplished. When they had arrived and gathered the church together, they began to report all things that God had done with them and how He had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles. And they spent a long time with the disciples.” Verses 24-28, give us the return route of Paul and Barnabas and their follow up along the way. They finally reached Antioch (Syria) from where they began their missionary journey, having been sent out to the mission field under the protection of the grace of God and they reported on the results of their trip. Then they stayed for what is described as a long time. Knowing Paul and Barnabas as we do, I’m sure that this was an opportunity to continue to train the new believers in Antioch and refresh themselves for their next missionary journey.