Daily Word

Worship men as gods | Acts 14:14-18

14 But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard about it, they tore their [k]robes and rushed out into the crowd, crying out 15 and saying, “Men, why are you doing these things? We are also men, of the same nature as you, preaching the gospel to you, to turn from these [l]useless things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and everything that is in them.

16 [m]In past generations He permitted all the [n]nations to go their own ways; 17 yet He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good and gave you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, [o]satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.” 18 And even by saying these things, only with difficulty did they restrain the crowds from offering sacrifices to them.

Acts 14:14-18 (NASB) 中文

1st Missionary Journey

Paul and Barnabas are on the first missionary journey of the church, sent out by the church at Antioch. They’ve been in Cyprus, Perga, Antioch and Iconium. The jealous Jews often kicked him out of the city they zzz so they head to the next city where they do ministry, had success, then got kicked out again. Now they’re in Lystra and resisting being honored as gods for healing a man.

Worship men as gods

Paul and Baranabas are alarmed at the response of the Lystra dwellers, wanting to make them gods and offer them sacrifices. They quickly tear their robes (as a sign of humility and, for Jews, a response to blasphemy). Then they run among the people telling them to stop, they are just men, like them. Don’t worship us. Worship the God of creation. “These were strong words from Paul to people who took their pagan worship seriously, but Paul wasn’t afraid to confront this mob with the truth, and the truth was that their idolatry was wrong.” (enduringword.com)

Notice how Paul adapted his preaching to his audience. These were Greek gentiles, maybe 100%. So they had little knowledge of Judaism or the Old Testament so Paul couldn’t quote these sources. He knew enough about their pagan religion that he could speak to the heart of it. They believed Zeus provided all these things of life. Paul corrected their false faith with the truth, quite boldly.

Call to repentance

In the midst of their appeal, Paul and Barnabas use the opportunity to call the people of Lystra to repent, to turn from their false gods. Paul explains that the living God, the Creator of all things allowed mankind to worship false gods and yet provided witnesses of who he is that some would recognize and repent. The witness is the blessings of life – like food. This is commonly called common grace by theologians. 


  • When you encounter non-believers, firstly, do you have a desire to share the truth with them? Assuming you do, do you get to know them and what they believe, etc. as you pray and tailor the good news?
  • Is there only one format and way to preach the gospel? In college, we used the Campus Crusade “tried and true” booklet method. It’s called The Four Spiritual Laws. It often felt phony and like using a hammer to cut a cake. Have you considered your approach?
  • As the title of the post says, do we fall into worshiping men as gods? Maybe not like the people of Lystra but, idolize certain people, misdirect affection and attention due God to men?
Justin Bieber fans. Image from indigomusic.com *

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