November 19, 2011

St. Barnabas in Lystra

Barnabas and Paul at Lystra
by Nicolaes Pietersz. Berchem

During Paul's First Missionary Journey, he and Barnabas went to a town called Lystra (within modern Turkey). While there, Paul healed a crippled man who had never been able to walk. The people of Lystra were completely amazed and thought the two missionaries were Gods; they thought Barnabas was Zeus and that Paul was Hermes. The people of Lystra began to prepare sacrifices for these two "Gods."

Paul and Barnabas were aghast and implored the people to stop and listen to their message of the living God.  They demanded that the people of Lystra see them as human beings.

The adoration of these two men oddly and abruptly stopped when some from Antioch and Iconium won over the crowd, stoned Paul and left him for dead.

The next day Paul and Barnabas left. Interestingly, however, Paul returned to Lystra during his second Missionary Journey, and a Christian community had taken root. So, the words and actions of Paul and Barnabas must have sunk in to the hearts of the people of this ancient city, prompting the start of one our our earliest Christian communities.

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