Acts 14:19-20 New King James Version (NKJV)
19 Then Jews from Antioch and Iconium came there; and having persuaded the multitudes, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead. 20 However, when the disciples gathered around him, he rose up and went into the city. And the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe.
This is what we consider the end of the first of Paul’s famous four mission trips. Many people have a bible with some maps at the end of the book, and most commonly, one of those maps probably details his four mission trips, like the following from the American Bible Association:
As you can see, his first journey was a considerably shorter distance than the second, kind of a warm-up, but no less important. If you’re interested in reading all the scriptures on each missionary journey, this webpage has compiled the scriptures from Acts that deal with Paul.
So, after first Preaching to those in Antioch and Iconium, he sees a man in Lystra healed by his faith in the Name of Jesus, ( Acts 14:8-18 ) we come to our scripture.
Supposing Him To Be Dead
I’ve read a few opposing viewpoints on this topic. Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible says of verse 19, “Supposing he had been dead – They did leave stoning him till they had the fullest evidence that he was dead; and so, most probably, he was.” But in Through the Bible Day by Day F. B. Meyer says he was likely in some sort of trance, citing 2 Corinthians 12:1-4 as support.
I go back and forth, but for me, when you look at the wording of “supposing him to be dead” it seems to me that he actually wasn’t dead. After reading the words of 2 Cor 12:1-4, which speak of men who “went a third of the way to Heaven” in visions, I am leaning toward that.
What does it mean? It means regardless of whether we are mostly dead or fully dead, God has the power to protect us, when doing His work. Whether or not we are protected from death, like Paul, or called Home, like James, (Acts 12:1-2) we should not shirk our mission to be the Salt and Light. For even if we are called Home, His glory will be known. If my life is needed for His sake, I gladly give.
Shake It Off
Yesterday we saw how the entire nation of Judah came together in prayer and fasting to ask deliverance. I imagine the same happened here. The disciples see Paul’s body, having been wrecked by the Jews, and then discarded out of the city like some trash. They gathered and likely were fervently praying in on accord.
I love how succinct Dr. Luke is with his account of this next event: “he rose up and went into the city.” I can just imagine the disciples standing there, slack-jawed as he stands up, brushes the dust off his shoulders and just starts walking back into the city. Back to the stones.
This is a clear call to action for modern Christians. Paul didn’t let a simple matter like stoning stop him from being about the LORD’s work. He walked right back into the city for all to see. F. B. Meyer’s Through the Bible Day By Day says specifically he walked back to show the Jews who stoned him that he was alive and well, moments later. I think he also went to show the disciples the power of the Living God.
Imagine that showing to the Jews and the disciples: “My God is stronger than your stones.” And so He is. Because of that strength, and that faithfulness that God shows to us, we are called to stand back up after our trials, and as Paul says when we returned back through Lystra Iconium and Antioch in Acts 14:21-23, “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.” This wording in the NKJV is interesting, I like the NASB translation, “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.”
My challenge to you this day is to shake it off. Whatever trials you are going through, remember that God’s mercies are new every morning. ( Lamentations 3:22-23 ) Pray that He restores your soul, giving you the energy to walk right back to the stones that hurt you yesterday, praising God.
I know it’s hard, and some of you are going through the worst part of your life, it could be divorce, loss of a parent, spouse, child, or friend, but God is still there. Even in the midst of the storm, you may not hear Him, but He’s there. Ask for His mercy, and the strength to get through this, one day at a time.