Paul & Barnabas in Lystra

Acts 14:8-19   At Lystra, Paul heals a man who has been crippled since birth. When the man jumps up and walks, the people think that Paul and Barnabas are human incarnations of the Greek gods Hermes (‘Mercury’ to the Romans) and Zeus (the Roman god ‘Jupiter’ or ‘Jove’). The priest of the Temple of Zeus brings garlanded bulls to the city gates to sacrifice to Paul and Barnabas. But the disciples tear their clothes and protest that they are only human.

 

2nd century Roman inscription from Lystra

At this point, some of the Jews from Pisidian Antioch and Iconium arrive and win over the crowds. Paul is stoned, dragged outside the city walls and left for dead. The disciples gather round him and pray for a miracle – and, amazingly, Paul gets up and walks back into the city.

The next day Paul and Barnabas say goodbye to the new believers in Lystra (including Timothy, a young man with a Jewish mother and a Roman father – see Acts 16:1) and depart for Derbe (see 7 on Map 23).

 

2nd Century Roman Inscription from Lystra,
Konya Archaeological Museum
(Acts 14:8)

 

Lystra

            Lystra was a remote town on a fertile plain in Paul’s time (see Map 23). It was a military staging post on the Via Sebaste which linked Antioch with Iconium, Lystra and Derbe. Inside the protective Roman walls were a number of temples dedicated to the Greek gods, the most important of which was the Temple of Zeus where the blood of bulls was offered to Zeus, the father of the Greek gods (see Hebrews 9:13-14).

When Paul and Barnabas healed a crippled man at Lystra, the priests of the Temple of Zeus thought they were human incarnations of Zeus and Hermes, and brought garlanded bulls to sacrifice at their feet.

 

Garlanded bull, Ephesus

Garlanded bull at Constantine's Baths, Ephesus  (Acts 14:13)

 

Today, little remains of ancient Lystra, apart from an isolated settlement mound beside the modern highway near Gilistra, covered with carved stone fragments and broken pottery sherds.

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