As Paul and Barnabas left the synagogue that day, the people begged them to speak about these things again the next week. Many Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, and the two men urged them to continue to rely on the grace of God. The following week almost the entire city turned out to hear them preach the word of the Lord. But when some of the Jews saw the crowds, they were jealous; so they slandered Paul and argued against whatever he said.
Then Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly and declared, “It was necessary that we first preach the word of God to you Jews. But since you have rejected it and judged yourselves unworthy of eternal life, we will offer it to the Gentiles. For the Lord gave us this command when he said, ‘I have made You a light to the Gentiles, to bring salvation to the farthest corners of the earth.'” When the Gentiles heard this, they were very glad and thanked the Lord for his message; and all who were chosen for eternal life became believers. So the Lord’s message spread throughout that region.
Then the Jews stirred up the influential religious women and the leaders of the city, and they incited a mob against Paul and Barnabas and ran them out of town. So they shook the dust from their feet as a sign of rejection and went to the town of Iconium.
And the believers were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.Acts 13:42-52
Now for your questions:
- “Then the Jews stirred up the influential religious women and leaders of the city, and they incited a mob.” Who were these influential people? (Ross)
- Is there some cultural background in this Antioch that women held an influential position compared to in jews culture that day where women is considered second class ? (Andre)
We have two different verbs used here to stir up or incite. [parotruno] means to “arouse”, “stir up”, “incite” or “encourage someone”. [epegeiro] means to arouse, stir up. Incite as well. I don’t have access to my most authorative resource to check out the difference, as it is back in my study in Auckland. Note that the object of the first verb were the selected people – influential religious women and leading prominent men, while the object of the second verb was the mob. Note that the subject of first verb were the Jews, assumedly the same ones who were jealous and slandered Paul and argued against him in verse 45. The subject of the second verb were the influential religious women and the leaders of the city. Note how subtle those in opposition were. They did not carry out the incitement to mob violence themselves, they encouraged others to do it. In the case of the first verb the meaning is to simply stir up or incite, in the case of the second verb it is an incitement to do something against Paul and Barnabas. This is how it worked in Antioch all those years ago and this is how it working in Jakarta at the moment, where provocateurs are stirring up the masses toward mob violence. Because when the mob acts no-one is responsible right? It is hard to prosecute the masses. At least that is what “those behind it” hope.
Note that in the first case those involved were prominent, high standing reputable upper class people. They were part of the upper class aristocracy. And note too they were women. The ones who were doing the inciting of these people were religious and zealous. Likely as not they were leaders in the synagogue. Who do they choose to stir up but people of high standing who were influential and religious. If you wish to stir the masses then make it a religious matter and make sure you get some fine upstanding people behind you. Then the matter looks as though it comes from those with authority and power. That is what happened in Antioch and it’s certainly what is happening here in Jakarta where people are paid to join the mob violence and given a free lunch. Note also these people were not only the leading men of the city but also leading women as well. If you can get men and women as well then it has wider appeal and creates the illusion of the issue being acceptable. Satan employs the same methods from generation to generation. Sorry Ross and Andre, I can’t give you any more detail or background information than that. Why? Because those involved at each time this occurs don’t wish for you to know more. Subversive activity always prefers to remain anonymous.
“They incited a mob against Paul and Barnabas and ran them out of town.” Why did they just run them out of town” when most mobs would have killed them? The nature of the mob violence is normally to exceed the bounds of rationality and restraint. Why were Paul and Barnabas just run out of town and not killed? Wouldn’t that be more in line with the desire of the Jewish leaders? (Alan)
Yes that is a good question Alan. Note too that they just drove them out of the city. They really didn’t care where they went after that, just get out of our city. It is curious that the mob didn’t kill them. Mobs normally do things with a mob mentality and mob mentality normally leads to excessiveness. Here in the city religious leaders have openly been calling for the man at the centre of their anger to be killed and one will even pay a million dollars for that to happen. That was said in front of police but nothing was done to arrest the one who incited the violence. When you are doing things outside of the law you have to be careful how you proceed. So there seems to be a natural limit place on those who were doing the inciting but of course there is not necessarily any limit placed on mob violence. The mob has a mind of its own and it is normally spontaneous. I am thinking of both contexts as I write. As to why the mob themselves didn’t kill Paul and Barnabas God only knows – and likely as not He was behind the degree to which the actions of the mob were limited. At least that is what I think. That and the fact their actions were outside of the law and perhaps that may have kept the lid on it too. But that won’t always happen and eventually mob reaction will result in death. I am sure that is what the Jewish leaders were hoping for. Interesting isn’t it, that this current situation with Paul and Silas was exactly what Jesus and His disciples faced. They were careful not to overstep the mark with Jesus because they knew He had popular support. It is also likely that the same thing was happening in this case. Clearly the crowds liked what they had heard the week before to the degree to which the majority of the city came the next week. But as with the last question Luke does not make clear to us why they were not killed. I would say they were not killed because God had more for Paul and Barnabas to do.
For the Lord gave us this command when he said, ‘I have made You a light to the Gentiles, to bring salvation to the farthest corners of the earth.'” – which command does Paul refers to? Is it cross referenced to another verse ? (I.e Acts 9:15 ? But there wasn’t any mention about lights in the verse) (Andre)
No Andre, it is not cross referenced to any New Testament verse. The reference is most likely Isaiah 49:6 which reads “He says, “It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant To raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also make You a light of the nations So that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”
There is more to say here but I will leave it there for the moment.
Very often a change of self is needed more than a change of scene.Arthur Benson
Meditation takes information and turns it into revelation.Joyce Meyer
Bless are the ones that walked away from you, they’re just making room for the ones that won’t.Oprah Winfrey
Big shots are only little shots who keep shooting.Christopher Morley