The mound of Lystra, now called Zordula, is located about 18 miles south of Konya (biblical Iconium), Turkey, near the village of Hatunsaray.
Lystra was visited by Paul and Barnabas on the First Missionary or Preaching Journey (Acts 14). Lystra and Derbe were towns of Lycaonia (Acts 14:6). The locals spoke the Lycaonian language. They called Barnabas, Zeus, and Paul, Hermes (14:12). Inscriptions have been found that identify these particular gods with Lycaonia.
This was the home of young Timothy, “the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek” (Acts 16:1). Timothy accepted the invitation of Paul to join him on the second journey. Two of Paul’s epistles were written to Timothy.
After Paul healed a lame man, the residents of Lystra wanted to worship Paul and Barnabas as gods. Paul preached one of two sermons to Gentiles recorded in the Book of Acts (Acts 14 at Lystra; Acts 17 at Athens). The Jews of Pisidian Antioch who rejected the gospel message followed Paul to Lystra and persuaded the people against Paul. Paul was stoned, presumed dead, and dragged outside the city (Acts 14:19).
In the second letter to Timothy, Paul says that Timothy knows about the persecution he endured at Lystra.
10 You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, 11 my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra–which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me. 12 Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:10-17 ESV)
Here is a brief summary of the events at Lystra during the visit of Paul and Barnabas (Acts 14:6-20).
- Healing of a lame man.
- Priest of Zeus and the crowd wanted to offer sacrifice to Barnabas and Paul.
- Sermon on the witness of God in nature.
- Paul was stoned and dragged outside the city for dead.
In previous posts we have discussed the significance of Lystra in the work of Sir William Ramsay here and here.
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