Online Bible Commentary
Glory to the Lord
Acts 14:8 And in Lystra a certain man without strength in his feet was sitting, a cripple from his mother's womb, who had never walked. 9 This man heard Paul speaking. Paul, observing him intently and seeing that he had faith to be healed, 10 said with a loud voice, "Stand up straight on your feet!" And he leaped and walked. 11 Now when the people saw what Paul had done, they raised their voices, saying in the Lycaonian language, "The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!" 12 And Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the chief speaker. 13 Then the priest of Zeus, whose temple was in front of their city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates, intending to sacrifice with the multitudes. (NKJV)
Paul is traveling in Asia Minor, present day Turkey, on his first missionary journey. He is accompanied by Barnabas and other apostles.
The time is about A.D. 45-46. when they arrive in the city of Iconium, having traveled about 80 miles southeast from Antioch, located in the province of Psidia. In Antioch the Gospel had been well received by the Gentile converts to Judaism but the Jews made trouble for the party causing them to move on to Iconium. They will continue their journey through three cities in the province of Lycaonia; Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe.
In Iconium Paul’s message was again well received by Gentile converts to Judaism and many were converted to Christianity. However, again, Jews and some Gentiles threatened the apostles and they moved on to Lystra, some 30 miles south of Iconium.
In Lystra, Paul encountered a man who had been cripple since birth (v. 8). Paul, as he was preaching, observed the man “intently” and discerned through the Holy Spirit that the man “had faith to be healed” (v. 9).
Paul then spoke, “with a loud voice”, "Stand up straight on your feet!" (v. 10a). At that point the cripple was healed “and he leaped and walked” (v. 10b).
Unfortunately, the Gentiles present attributed the miracle to their own gods and not to Paul’s God. They exclaimed: "The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men" (v. 11)! They called Barnabas Zeus and Paul Hermes “because he was the chief speaker” (v. 12).
Many Gentiles in the region still clung to the gods of Greek mythology. According to this mythology Zeus and Hermes once visited the earth. Zeus was an imposing figure, the leader of the Greek pantheon. Paul was not an imposing figure (2 Cor. 10:10), therefore Barnabas was the logical choice of the two to be Zeus. Hermes was the messenger god. Since Paul was delivering the message, he would have been more equated to Hermes.
Even the priest of Zeus bought into the words of the crowd and burst forth from his temple with “oxen and garlands” (v. 13a). He intended to “sacrifice with the multitudes” in an effort to appease the “gods”, Paul and Barnabas (v. 13b).
So Paul and Barnabas were given the credit that could only belong to the Lord. Men cannot perform miracles. Only God can perform miracles.
Too often people worship the creation instead of the Creator. Even we Christians may be guilty of this if we direct too much praise to our own pastors and teachers. Their efforts are enabled by God, the Holy Spirit. Therefore the glory should always be given to the Lord.