Acts 14:16-20
Acts 14:16 (KJB)
Who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways.
Since the fall into sin by Adam and Eve, God had allowed the nations of this world to adopt their own ways in culture, life, and religion. This was because God was preparing the world for the first destruction which came through the worldwide flood of Noah’s day when He destroyed all the pagan societies of the world. With sin still being in the world even after the time of Noah, the nations once again adapted false religions and their own evil ways of life. This sinful progression of the world will continue until the last day when God judges the world and all its evil systems but this time they will never rise again because He will create the new Heavens and the new Earth.
Acts 14:17 (KJB)
Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.
Paul then continues on that even though the nations are evil and they are in opposition to God, He has shown Himself to be very good in that He gave the rain from Heaven which allowed the crops to grow and be used for drinking water. (Mat 5:45 KJV) That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. He states this to get his hearers to realize that in spite of all the evil in this world that God is really the sustainer of all things in this world and that the human race continues to enjoy all these benefits from the hand and goodness of God. When the flood of Noah’s day had ended, God decreed the seasons would be a part of every day life. (Gen 8:22 KJV) While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease. So from the time of this decree, there will be four seasons per year without fail until the last day when this present world will end.
Acts 14:18 (KJB)
And with these sayings scarce restrained they the people, that they had not done sacrifice unto them.
Even though Paul had made the declaration that they were not gods but there is a true God in Heaven, it did not quell the desire of the crowd to continue on with the feast. This was probably due to the fact that accompanying these pagan feast was a lot of eating, drinking, and sexual activity. Some may have even thought that Paul and Barnabas was testing the crowd to see if they would go through with the sacrifices. This shows you how deeply these areas were steeped in false religions. Whatever the reason, the people did not pay attention and were bent on continuing with the pagan ceremony.
Acts 14:19 (KJB)
And there came thither certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium, who persuaded the people, and, having stoned Paul, drew him out of the city, supposing he had been dead.
Persuaded - Convinced
There was no doubt some in the crowd who were listening to Paul speak because they must have sent word back to Antioch of Pisidia and Iconium concerning Paul. Remember, Paul and Barnabas were thrown out of Antioch and the Jews in Iconium wanted to stone Paul. So Jews from both cities had traveled to Lystra which would not have been a long journey and had somehow got to address the crowd. Normally the Jews would have nothing to do with the Gentiles unless, as in this case, it was to oppose the Gospel. (1 Th 2:15 KJV) Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men: They wanted all the vestiges of Christianity gone just as they do today. Their attitudes toward Christ has not changed in two thousand years.
Acts 14:20 (KJB)
Howbeit, as the disciples stood round about him, he rose up, and came into the city: and the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe.
Once the crowd had dispersed, the disciples had stood around the body of Paul. The crowd left because they believed that he was dead. The word for “rose up” in the Greek carries with it the meaning of resurrection, so Paul may have died from the stoning. I am sure they would have checked his pulse to see if he was still alive. What happened here was a resurrection from the dead performed by God. It had to be a miracle because after a stoning which had the force to kill someone, Paul rises up and goes back into the city, no doubt to the home of one of the Christians. Then after that stoning he has the strength to go from Lystra to Derbe the very next day. That trip would have been about 80 miles (129 km). Keep in mind in those days, they either walked, hitched a ride on a wagon or used a horse or donkey, so someone that was just stoned, taking a ride like that definitely was the recipient of a miracle by the hand of God.