“So Paul and Barnabas spent considerable time there, speaking boldly for the Lord, who confirmed the message of his grace by enabling them to do miraculous signs and wonders.” (Act 14:3)
Iconium, a fortified city in what is modern day Turkey, was known for its many graven images; from which we get our modern word iconic. It became a place in which Paul would experience some of his greatest blessings – and worst persecutions.
It was here that Paul preached the message of God’s grace and saw the Lord confirm the truth of his words by enabling him to do miraculous signs and wonders. Get it? Grace is the power of Christ – and Jesus proved it by unleashing His power in healing, salvation and deliverance.
It was from Iconium that Paul and Barnabas, along with others, traveled to Lystra, a neighboring city, and preached the gospel with unflinching faith. While Paul was preaching, there was in the crowd a man who had been crippled from birth. Paul saw the hand of God touching the man and thus said to him, “Stand up!” And the man jumped to his feet and started walking.
The place went nuts!
Pagans that they were, they began shouting out that “the gods are now among us!” They decided that Barnabas was the Greek god Zeus and that Paul was Hermes, since he was the chief speaker. (see Act 14:12).
When Paul adamantly stopped them from worshipping him and Barney, the fickle crowd shifted; and in a zealous frenzy they stoned Paul, leaving him for dead outside the city walls! (Note to self: remove Lystra from my speaking itinerary)
It was here in the midst of all these astounding encounters that Paul met a young man, a Greek named Timothy, who would become a protégé of the apostle and a future champion of the Church.
Hey, somebody pull from the shelf over there the Book of Paul’s Letters to Timothy.
“Got it right here,” a young lady said.
“Great; Read a passage to us.”
“Just look at the pages and read to us the part that seems to lift off the page.”
The lady looked for a moment, and then began reading, “But you, Timothy, certainly know what I teach, and how I live, and what my purpose in life is. You know my faith, my patience, my love, and my endurance. You know how much persecution and suffering I have endured. You know all about how I was persecuted in Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra—but the Lord rescued me from all of it. Yes, and everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” (2Ti 3:10-12).
Wow. Amazing grace, indeed.