Amazing grace

Acts 14:1–7

1 The same thing happened in Iconium. Paul and Barnabas went to the Jewish synagogue and preached with such power that a great number of both Jews and Greeks became believers. 2 Some of the Jews, however, spurned God’s message and poisoned the minds of the Gentiles against Paul and Barnabas. 3 But the apostles stayed there a long time, preaching boldly about the grace of the Lord. And the Lord proved their message was true by giving them power to do miraculous signs and wonders. 4 But the people of the town were divided in their opinion about them. Some sided with the Jews, and some with the apostles.

5 Then a mob of Gentiles and Jews, along with their leaders, decided to attack and stone them. 6 When the apostles learned of it, they fled to the region of Lycaonia—to the towns of Lystra and Derbe and the surrounding area. 7 And there they preached the Good News.

What a series of contrasts!

I like how the ESV translates verse 1. Paul and Barnabas spoke about God’s grace “in such a way” that many believed. It seems the way they spoke demonstrated the grace of God that they spoke about. That was a powerful message, and many believed.

The response from those who didn’t believe was a shocking contrast. They poisoned the minds of the Gentiles against Paul and Barnabas personally. The response to words of grace was words of vindictive, personal poison.

I’m not sure how I would respond to that. But I’m challenged by how Paul and Barnabas responded, by boldly speaking about God’s grace. And God demonstrated their message with miraculous signs pointing to his grace.

The response to that is even more astounding: a mob looking to attack and stone them.

Another challenging response from Paul and Barnabas. They went to the next place and preached that same message of grace again. Grace, poison, grace, violence … go and do it again.

I suspect my first thought when someone attacks me for what I believe might not be to speak words of God’s grace boldly. But it should be. I’m reminded of Colossians 4:5-6.

Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. 6 Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.

There’s no promise that it won’t result in a poisonous response, but it might result in people believing in the God of grace, just like at Iconium.

Holy Spirit, fill me today. Fill me to overflowing with your words of grace. Especially when I feel grouchy – your words of grace. Especially when I feel vulnerable – your words of grace. Especially when I feel under attack – your words of grace.

Written by David Cornell

Have a look at this Bible Project video overview of Paul’s missionary journeys in Acts 13-20 at

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *