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Bible Gemz 1641 - The Nature of the Opposition (Acts 14:1-7)

February 6, 2018

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. 

Some of the Jews, however, spurned God's message and poisoned the minds of the Gentiles against Paul and Barnabas. 

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. 

But the people of the town were divided in their opinion about them. Some sided with the Jews, and some with the apostles. 

Then a mob of Gentiles and Jews, along with their leaders, decided to attack and stone them. 

When the apostles learned of it, they fled to the region of Lycaonia—to the towns of Lystra and Derbe and the surrounding area. 

And there they preached the Good News. (Acts 14:1-7)



You three came up with some good questions:


I thought to myself I would love you to tell us about the connection between "poisoning our minds" and "spurning God’s message”. There is a sermon in that verse.


Note here again the opposition primarily arises from the Jews who then poison the minds of the Gentiles. Well at least those whose minds can be poisoned. While the poison is always around us, it is up to us as to whether we allow it to penetrate our minds and do its work. The literal reading of the text here tells us these Jews were [apeithes] - unbelieving Jews. That is those who stubbornly refused to believe Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God, the Messiah sent to save them. Apeithes carries the sense of being unwilling to be persuaded, blocking off all reasonable efforts to be convinced, to refuse to accept the truth before you.  When you adopt that position the end result of withholding belief is to withhold your obedience and the expected appropriate response. This word and the related concept is very interesting because this attitude is active and is the opposite of believing. Believing is not mere mental ascent to something. It is an on-going act of trusting in the Christ with every decision you make. The rest of life falls into line behind the act of believing. It expresses the totality of a new way of living. Thus [apeithes] is the opposite of that. It is a positioning of the mind in the process of refusing to believe and enter into the implications of that belief which positions you in complete opposition to the Christ. You are now fixed in your mental state of refusal in such a way that everything now works to oppose the process of trusting Him. The form of this verb is an aorist which carries the sense of beginning the process of being in a fixed state of non-believing. You have sealed your fate. Your unwillingness to trust and believe has now positioned you in a perpetual state of unbelieving from which it is hard to break free.  The end result is perpetual disobedience. The two are very closely related. The fact that you stubbornly refuse to accept, believe, trust means that your state of mind becomes the result of habits of what you repositioned yourself to believe - to oppose the truth at every turn. You refuse and reject the facts and choose to believe a lie. The Bible often describes that state. This unbelieving state is set against the believing state of the verse before it.  


Let’s again use the Deeper Bible method of surveying the various Bible translations of this verse (Acts 14:2):


Notice how the translations handle the verb [apeithesantes] 


(AMP)  But the unbelieving Jews [who rejected their message] aroused the Gentiles and embittered their minds against the brethren. 

(ASV)  But the Jews that were disobedient stirred up the souls of the Gentiles, and made them evil affected against the brethren. 

(BBE)  But those Jews who had not the faithmade the minds of the Gentiles bitter against the brothers. 

(EMTV)  But the disbelieving Jews aroused and embittered the souls of the Gentiles against the brothers. 

(ERV)  But some of the Jews did not believe. They said things that caused the non-Jewish people to be angry and turn against the believers. 

(ESV)  But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers. 

(GNB)  But the Jews who would not believe stirred up the Gentiles and turned them against the believers. 

(GW)  But the Jews who refused to believe stirred up some people who were not Jewish and poisoned their minds against the believers. 

(KJV)  But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles, and made their minds evil affected against the brethren. 

(LITV)  But the unbelieving Jews raised up and embittered the souls of the nations against the brothers. 

(MKJV)  But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the nations and made them evil-hearted against the brothers. 

(MSG)  But the unbelieving Jews worked up a whispering campaign against Paul and Barnabas, sowing mistrust and suspicion in the minds of the people in the street. 

(NASB)  But the Jews who disbelieved stirred up the minds of the Gentiles and embittered them against the brethren. 

(NLT)  Some of the Jews, however, spurned God's message and poisoned the minds of the Gentiles against Paul and Barnabas. 

(RV)  But the Jews that were disobedient stirred up the souls of the Gentiles, and made them evil affected against the brethren. 

(Webster)  But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles, and made their minds evil-affected against the brethren. 


Εκάκωσαν τας ψυχας των    εθνων     κατα     των αδελφων

Poison       the souls  of the  Gentiles against the  brothers/believers


Do you see how a survey of the translations can lead you deeper into the realm of the meaning of the verse? I am sure you have a deeper idea of it now. The literal word in the text is “souls” the substitute in some translations is “minds" (a very Gentile / Greek thing). All pointing to the effect on that inner part of us. Rejecting the truth and refusing to respond to it will affect, infect or poison you against it long term. Be careful of the course you set your mind or soul on because it will ultimately determine your end state. Oh we think we are in control of our minds, little realizing that toying or courting with evil and the wrong mind set may set you on your course for life. Yes there is a sermon in all of this but I will leave you draw it out.  



There is a difficulty to see why the opposition stirred up would result in Paul and Barnabas saying there longer. 

Some want to switch verse two and verse three around to have the reference to "staying a long time" before the spurning and poisoning. They feel it causes a problem to have the flow of the text read the opposition was stirred up and they stayed. Normally when opposition is stirred up the believers move on. There is no stated move of the people to expel them or take action against Paul and Barnabas initially. Rather the aorist could be the beginning of building opposition. Rather than run, the believers stand firm and contend for the Gospel. That is what we have to do sometimes, we have to know when to stand and know when to run. As Kenny Rogers sang so long ago – "You gotta know when hold up and know when to fold up". Later on in verse five the opposition grows to the point of the opposition attacking and wanting to stone them. Until then Paul and Barnabas stand firm and boldly preach the word. Notice what happens when they do that – God comes to confirm His message. We have now returned to the sequence of events of what happened in Jerusalem and then in Judea and Samaria and . . . Luke is sending us the message that this is a continuing pattern. When God’s people stand firm He shows up to confirm the message. Don’t cut and run before the miraculous appears. 


It seems Luke was telling us of the different reactions between the Jews and the Gentiles - Then suddenly I read "a mob of Gentiles and Jews, along with their leaders, decided to attack and stone them.”

I am confused – why are the Gentiles combining with the Jews now in opposition?


Yes we seem to have the polarization described of the events in Jerusalem.  The Jews are set against the Gospel, the Gentiles receive it with open arms. Now there has been a subtle change. Now the Gentiles too are affected, or should I say infected. The sense of infection is not in this verb but when we are heart-affected with evil it very quickly leads to infection. Evil comes flooding in. You asked the question why are the Gentiles combining with the Jews now in opposition? Because from the verse above they allowed their hearts to be poisoned. When you take on board another's hurt, grievance, pain, lies, deceit or poison you become poisoned yourself. It is an important life lesson to learn. Above all guard your heart, for it is the well spring of life. Don’t let anything poisonous or evil-affected get into you. That includes your thinking and your mindset. Poison doesn’t just affect the stomach or the digestive tract. Jesus said it is what comes out of your heart that poisons you. James tells us it is the evil that is stored up within our thinking that comes out and defiles us. 


Do you see now the way in which these verses go together? 

Yes there is a sermon there? 

I will leave you to draw it out.

Then the next step is to apply it. Ahh now we have reached the point of obedience, repositioning and commitment. That is where the rubber meets the road. Don't just think it – do something about it. 


I will take you back to the Six Steps of Obedience I have shared with you before.

1. Listen to God’s message 

2. Understand

3. Remember

4. Make a decision to change

5. Do something to action it

6. Persist with the action – the devil will try to suck you back in again. 



A quote I saw on Twitter: "Twitter lets you follow total strangers without getting in trouble." Untrue. Ian


You determine your life’s end by what you allow to take root in your mind. Ian 


Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies. Nelson Mandela


When we fill our thoughts with right things, the wrong ones have no room to enter. Joyce Meyer


Why is mediocrity so prevalent? It requires no courage! 

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