Paul, Stoned! But encouraged the brethren!
“…they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead.” Acts 14:19b
Paul, having just healed a lame man, so captivated the people of Lystra, that they extolled him and Barnabas as incarnate gods (Acts 14:8-11). But, envious and disbelieving Jews came from Iconium and Antioch and persuaded the multitude to rebel against them. Erroneously convinced, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead (Acts 14:19). But, miraculously, he arose that same day and entered into the city with his other disciples. The very next day, he and Barnabas traveled approximately fifty miles to the city of Derbe v. 20. This amazing feat was accomplished because the Lord performed a supernatural divine healing. For Paul was violently and brutally “stoned” and most likely a bloody pulp. And obviously death by stoning was extremely harsh, agonizing way to be murdered, let alone surviving such an ordeal. But, what is even more amazing then Paul’s miraculous survival, is the fact that he devotedly proclaimed the Gospel immediately upon arriving in Derbe and made many disciples there. From Derbe, they returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch; the very cities responsible for nearly killing Paul! v. 21. One could appropriately speculate, the Jews unsuccessful at murdering Paul the first time, were exceedingly furious and desirous for the opportunity of having a second chance at murdering him.
So, why did Paul return to these hostile and pernicious venues? Most believers, if not all, would have probably fled fast and far from such perilous environments, opting not to go near them ever again. But Paul didn’t, he courageously chose to venture back, dangerously placing his life at risk. Perhaps to encourage the brethren in each city, who might have witnessed or heard of the pandemonium which culminated in Paul’s stoning. Also Paul’s devotion and desire to proclaim the Gospel. Paul abided in the faith, declared; “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.” v. 22b.
We can glean from these passages that Paul’s courageous return, demonstrated an unwavering trust in God and belief in God’s power to perform miracles. Paul was a literal paradigm of encouragement for those disciples to witness, and to exude that same trust in God themselves. Furthermore, his return would have served to encourage the brethren, who became discouraged from Paul’s violent rejection; contemplating, in that situation, darkness overcame light. So, in essence, Paul demonstrated the fortitude and unrelenting amelioration of the church (Matt. 11:12); that it cannot not be thwarted by evil unbelief! Even under severe persecution, the Lord Jesus Christ earnestly declared, evil shall not overpower. (Matt. 16:18, John 1:5). Amen!