14 At Iconium Paul and Barnabas went as usual into the Jewish synagogue. There they spoke so effectively that a great number of Jews and Greeks believed. 2 But the Jews who refused to believe stirred up the other Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers. 3 So Paul and Barnabas spent considerable time there, speaking boldly for the Lord, who confirmed the message of his grace by enabling them to perform signs and wonders. 4 The people of the city were divided; some sided with the Jews, others with the apostles. 5 There was a plot afoot among both Gentiles and Jews, together with their leaders, to mistreat them and stone them. 6 But they found out about it and fled to the Lycaonian cities of Lystra and Derbe and to the surrounding country, 7 where they continued to preach the gospel.
In reading this passage, these two phrases jumped out to me straight away: “…they spoke so effectively that a great number… believed” (vs 1) and “…speaking boldly for the Lord” (vs 3).
Paul and Barnabas faced conflicting responses in bringing the gospel to the Jews and Gentiles in the synagogue. Verse 1 highlights that much of their ministry was effective in leading people to Christ. However, this opportunity also brought considerable resistance from many of the Jews. Yet despite the division, Paul and Barnabas’ response was to “speak boldly” for the Lord and not be swayed. When the hearts of the Jews became so hard, Paul and Barnabas saw that it was time to relocate and not stop preaching, but continue spreading the Word of God to others.
I am encouraged as I think about how Paul and Barnabas approached evangelism. They spoke effectively and boldly. As I reflect, I ask myself the questions; How am I sharing the gospel with others? Am I being effective in seeing lives changed? Am I speaking boldly for the Lord no matter the response I get? Paul and Barnabas did not hold back from declaring God’s grace, but they also recognised when their audience was not receptive. This didn’t discourage them, as they moved on to the Lycaonian cities, and continued to preach.
God, I thank You for the opportunities you give me every day to share Your truth. Please open my eyes to see where I can be more effective. Help me to have boldness and not be ashamed. I ask for wisdom and direction as I seek to lead people closer to You. In Jesus’ Name.
Written by Ps. Laura Samperi