Publication Date: 1976-1977
Walter J. Cummins graduated from the Power for Abundant Class in 1962.
He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Education from Ohio State University in 1968 and his Master of Education degree in Secondary School Administration in 1978 from Wright State University.
He was ordained to the Christian by The Way International in 1968. He has studied at The Way International under Victor Paul Wierwille and K.C.Pillai. In addition to his teaching responsibilities, he was director of the Research department of the Way International and served as assistant to the president.
Lystra and the Close of Paul’s First Itinerary
After Paul had ministered to this lame man at Lystra and the people saw what had happened, they started gathering their things together to do sacrifice unto Paul along with the priests of Jupiter. They were calling Barnabas Jupiter and they were calling Paul Mercury. One thing you have to look at here; is the people saw what Paul did but they didn’t see how he did it.
This is so true. People see what happens as a result of the spiritual realm. They see what goes on among believers. They see what goes on in the psychic field but they don’t see how it’s done. The next thing is to speculate. Natural man cannot know God. It’s impossible for him to know God because he’s just a man of body and soul. He can’t see, hear, smell, taste or touch God. So all he can do is just guess as to where these things come from; both the true signs and wonders and the lying signs and wonders.
They saw what Paul did but they didn’t see that it was the power of God in operation. So they started guessing and they said, “It must be that these two guys are Gods. One of them must be Jupiter and one must be Mercury. Why would they pick those two? Because that was something that was a very important part of their lives. The priest of Jupiter lived there. They had a big temple to Jupiter. They always associated Jupiter and Mercury closely together. Mercury was the talker; the messenger and Jupiter was the head one.
In this book, Metamorphoses by Ovid, in its eighth book he talks about these two poor people who lived in Phrygia. That was in the same general area as Lystra. Ovid was a Roman poet. He lived between 43 B.C. and 18 A.D. He was born before Christ and died sometime during Christ’s life. The myth behind the poem was in existence a lot longer than that. That’s why they had temples in this area to Jupiter and Mercury. You lose all the meter and stuff in translation from Latin so don’t expect it to sound like a poem.
The Story of Baucis and Philemon
An oak tree stands beside a linden in the Phrygian hills. There’s a low wall around them. I have seen the place myself. A prince once sent me there to land ruled by his father. Not far off a marsh lays once habitable land but now a playground full of coots and divers. Jupiter came here once upon a time disguised as a mortal man and Mercury his son came with him having laid aside both wand and wing. [Mercury is always pictured with a wand and wings because he flies about to delivers his messages] They tried a thousand hoses looking for rest. They found a thousand houses shut in their face. [Disguised as two poor men walking about knocking on houses looking for a place to rest for food to eat and a thousand
places the door was shut in their face] But one at last received them. A humble cottage thatched with straw and reed. A good old woman, Baucis and a good old man, Philemon used to live there. They had married young. They had grown old together in the same cottage. They were very poor but faced their poverty with cheerful spirit and made its burden light by not complaining. It would do you little good to ask for servants or masters in that household for the couple were all the house.
Both gave and followed orders. So when the gods came to this little cottage, ducking their heads to enter, the old man pulled out a rustic bench for them to rest on as Baucis spread a homespun cover for it. And then she poked the ashes around a little, still warm from last nights fire. And got them going with leaves and bark and blew at them a little without much breath to spare and added kindling. The wood split fine and the dry twigs made smaller by breaking them over the knee and put them under a copper kettle. And then she took the cabbage her man had brought from the well watered garden and stripped the outer leaves off. And Philemon reached up with a forked stick for the side of bacon that hung below the smoky beam and cut it, saved up so long a fair sized chunk and dumped it in the boiling water. They made good conversation to keep the time from being too long and brought a couch with willow frame and feet and on it they put a sedge grass mattress and above it such drapery as they had and did not use except on great occasion even so it was pretty warm. It had only cost a little when purchased new but it went well enough with a willow couch. And so the gods reclined. Baucis, her skirts tucked up, was setting the table with trembling hands. One table leg was wobbly. A piece of shell fixed that. She scoured the table, made level now, with a handful of green mint, put on the olives, black or green and cherries preserved in dregs of wine, endive and radish and cottage cheese and eggs, turned over lightly in the warm ash with shell unbroken. [Tells you what they ate in those days] The dishes of course were earthen ware and the mixing bowl for wine was the same silver. And the goblets were beech and inside coated with yellow wax. No time at all and the food was ready and wine brought out of no particular vintage. And pretty soon they had to clear the table for the second course. Here there were nuts and figs and dates and plums and apples in wide baskets. Remember how apples smell? And purple grapes fresh from the vines and a white honeycomb as centerpiece and all around the table shone kindly faces nothing mean or poor or skimpy in good will. The mixing bowl, as often as it was drained, kept filling up all by itself and the wine was never lower. This was strange and scared them when they saw it. They raised their hands and prayed a little shaky,
“Forgive us please our lack of preparation, our meager fare.” They had one goose, a guardian, watchdog he might be called, of their estate and now decided they had better kill him to make their offering better. But the goose was swift of wing. Too swift for slow old people to catch and they were wearied from the effort and could not catch the bird who fled for refuge. Or so it seemed to the presence of the strangers. “Don’t kill him,” said the god. Then continued, “We are gods, you know. This wicked neighborhood will pay as it deserves to. Do not worry. You will not be hurt but leave the house, come with us, both of you to the mountain top.” Obeying with staff and cane, they made the long climb slowly and painfully and rested where a bowman could reach the top with a long shot, looked down, saw water everywhere, only there cottage standing above the flood.
And while they wondered and wept a little for their neighbors’ trouble, the house they used to live in, the poor quarters, small for the two of them, became a temple. Forked wooden props turned into marble columns. The thatch grew brighter yellow, the roof was golden. The doors were gates most wonderfully carved. The floor that used to be of earth was marble. Jupiter, calm and grave, was speaking to them. “You are good people, worthy of each other; good man, good wife. Ask us for any favor and you shall have it.” And they hesitated. Asks, “Could we talk it over just a little?” And talked together, apart, and then Philemon spoke for them both. “ What we would like to be, is to be priests of yours and guard the temple and since we have spent our happy years together, may one hour take us both away. Let neither outlive the other that I may never see the burial of my wife nor she perform that office for me.” And the prayer was granted. As long as life was given, they watched the temple and one day as they stood before the portals, both very old, talking the old days over, each saw the other put forth leaves. Philemon watched Baucis changing. Baucis watched Philemon. And as the foliage spread they still had time to say, “Farewell my dear.” And the bark closed over, sealing their mouths and even to this day, the peasants in that district show the stranger the two trees close together and the union of oak and linden in one. The ones who told me the story, sober ancients, were no liars. Why should they be? And my own eyes have seen the garlands people bring there. I brought new ones, myself and said a verse, “The gods look after good people still and cherishers are cherished.”
That was the background of that particular culture and religion in that area. When they saw something like they saw Paul do, they started speculating that it must have been
Jupiter and Mercury because they didn’t know about the true God and his son Jesus Christ.
Acts 14:14-15: Which when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of, they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out,
And saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions [not gods] with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein:
“vanities” – what they believed in – the myth – mataios – it means; vain things. If something is vain it produces no results.
I Corinthians 3:19-20: For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness.
And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain.
“vain” – mataios - vanity, a vain thing, they produce no results
God’s stupidity is wiser than the intelligence of man. And he knows that their thoughts are vain; that they produce no results.
I Corinthians 15:17: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain [mataios]; ye are yet in your sins.
Paul puts it to them in the negative. He says, “Christ was raised for your sins.” But no he says, “If Christ wasn’t raised, if he be not raised then your believing doesn’t produce any results. You haven’t gotten rid of your sins. You’re still in your sins. You aren’t righteousness. You aren’t redeemed.”
Titus 3:9: But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain [mataios].
Foolish questions produce no results. Genealogies produce no results. Contentions and striving about the law produce no result. They’re vain.
James 1:26: If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain.
“vain” – mataios – produces no results
I Peter 1:1: Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,
“Galatia” – he’s specifying this to one of the groups as being those in Galatia
I Peter 1:18: Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things [like the temple of Jupiter and all the junk in there], as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers;
“vain conversation” – vain [mataios] behaviour. Did they have it in Galatia? Did they have it at Lystra? They sure did. It didn’t produce any results. It was only vain thinking and vain believing.
There are a couple of examples where this word is used in the Septuagint:
Jeremiah 8:19: Behold the voice of the cry of the daughter of my people because of them that dwell in a far country: Is not the LORD in Zion? is not her king in her? Why have they provoked me to anger with their graven images, and with strange vanities?
I Kings 16:13 & 26: For all the sins of Baasha, and the sins of Elah his son, by which they sinned, and by which they made Israel to sin, in provoking the LORD God of Israel to anger with their vanities.
For he walked in all the way of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and in his sin wherewith he made Israel to sin, to provoke the LORD God of Israel to anger with their vanities.
These verse talk about a couple of kings of Israel. It talks about the stuff they had done was vain. They were the ones who had followed the sin of Jeroboam. Jeroboam had made two calves. He put one in one city on a hill and one in another city. They were golden calves and that’s where people went to worship in place of worshiping the true God. Vain worship; it was vanity; it produced no results.
You worship the true God; that produces results. You worship idols, vain things; it produces nothing.
...that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein:
“these vanities” – like worshiping golden calves, like worshiping other things that produce no results; like these myths.
It’s sort of a universal understanding apparently that the God made heaven and earth, if there is a ‘the’ God. This is also the word of God. Was Paul giving them the Word? Yes, he was still speaking the Word. Examples are:
For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
Which made heaven, and earth, the sea, and all that therein is: which keepeth truth for ever:
Acts 4:24: And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is:
Acts 17:24: God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands;
Revelation 14:7: Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.
He’s teaching the Word. He’s not just giving philosophical phrases, because when Paul spoke, he spoke the Word.
... unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein:
Acts 14:16: Who in times past suffered [allowed] all nations to walk in their own ways.
He just let the Gentiles go as they fool pleased; do what they wanted. He was not their God. He was the God of Israel. He was the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, remember? He let the Gentiles go as they wanted to go.
Acts 14:17: 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.
These are visible proofs in the senses world. Only a good God would allow you to have such things. “And He’s the God that made this whole thing that you’re sitting on.” That’s what he’s telling them.
Acts 14:18: And with these sayings scarce restrained they the people, that they had not done sacrifice unto them.
He stopped them from doing sacrifice. If he hadn’t have spoken the Word, would he have stopped them? No, they would have done sacrifice. He spoke the Word and he stopped them from doing sacrifice. Did he cover the resurrection here? No, but it says he had spoken the Word in the community. I’ll bet someplace along the line he covered the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Here he was concerned about stopping the sacrifice.
In the record in Acts chapter 3, where Peter had ministered to the man that was lame, all the people gathered around and looked on him and they were amazed. And Peter said, “Well, why do you want to look at us like we’ve got such great power?” That’s what they had done to Paul and Barnabas. They said, “These must be gods. Look at all that power.” In Acts 3 Peter said, “We haven’t done this by our own power. It’s God’s power at work within us.” Peter and John did the miracle; it was by their hands but it was by the power of God. The people looked at them like they must be some sorcerer or something like that. Peter then speaks the Word and he stopped the amazement. Paul speaks the Word and with the Word he stops the sacrifice.
Just about anything can happen when you’re ministering the Word. You think that you’ve got every loop-hole covered and somebody comes up with something else and it gives you a chance to walk by revelation. Just give them the Word and the Word produces the result. Just speak the Word. What Word are you going to cover? Suppose he’d have quoted the same thing here that he had spoken in Acts 13 at Antioch. It might not have produced the same result.
It’s got to be a word fitly spoken.
A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.
“Oranges of gold and bowls of silver” is the orientalism; refreshing; the Word fitly spoken.
You know, the Word will not return void.
Isaiah 55:11a: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void
That doesn’t mean when somebody comes up to you to say or do something, you just read them the Word like, “Sirs, why do ye do these things? And certain men which came down from Judea taught the brethren and said ‘except ye be circumcised after the manner...’” That’s really going to stop them from doing sacrifice. No, it’s got to be the Word fitly spoken. When the Word is spoken it will not return void. The right Word at the right time and you and God will know. There won’t be any question, you just speak it. A lot of revelation is not great big pictures but a lot of it is inspired utterance in situations like this or inspired action like Peter and John. Not all of it but a lot of it is many times.
Acts 14:19: 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.
“from Antioch and Iconium” – he’s in Lystra. He had been in Antioch and Iconium where the Jews had run him out of town. They came down from Antioch and Iconium. Antioch is about 100 miles or so from Lystra. Iconium is a lot closer.
“stoned Paul” – with stones. Paul just got done saying he’s a man of like passions. Do you think the stones hurt?
“had been” – was – it’s the aorist tense in Greek
“supposing” – is not in the sense of “well, I suppose.” It’s – reckoning from evidence, or from law, from custom or from circumstances. It’s reckoning it. You can reckon something and be right. You can reckon something and be wrong. You can figure it out by law or by evidence, by custom, by whatever. Maybe they felt his pulse or put their ear on his chest but they figured out and declared by evidence that he was dead. Whether or not he was, it does not say. He was awful close to it, if he wasn’t. When you reckon someone is dead, you check them over. That’s what they were doing.
If he was that close or if he was dead, could he believe? No, he could not believe.
Acts 14:20: 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.
If these disciples were standing round about him, they had their black robes on and they had their heads covered because they were in mourning for Paul ----- That’s what a lot of people think. But there is a law that says, “As you believe you receive.” Paul could not believe. Somebody else had to do the believing. When Lazarus was dead, could Lazarus believe? Who did the believing? Jesus Christ.
Paul is dead or next to it. Could he believe? No. So those that were standing around him didn’t come out for sympathy or to pity him or to bereave him. They didn’t come out to mourn. They’d bury him before they’d do that. It says they were standing around him. I’ll bet they formed a circle and were speaking in tongues. I’ll bet they had their minds stayed on Paul and they ‘saw’ him back in Lystra teaching the Word. I don’t think they were mourning Paul. They would have had the shovel out. They were standing around him believing. There’s a law; you have to believe to receive. He would never have gotten up if those people were not believing. The disciples stood around. It doesn’t say all of them. Maybe it was only one twig out there. Maybe it was only the top leaders but somebody was out there believing and speaking in tongues.
Who caused the trouble in Lystra, the Jews of Lystra? No, the ones from Antioch; the outsiders that came in. They’re not satisfied with trying to keep their city clean (or dirty). They want to follow you around wherever you go and stir up trouble.
Derbe is about 100 miles or less from Lystra. Nobody, I think, knows where those two cities are but that’s where they speculate. Antioch and Iconium they’re certain of.
We started over in Antioch of Syria, came over to Salamis on the island of Cyprus, from there to Paphos. Then we sailed up to Perga and that’s where John Mark left. From there we went to Antioch of Pisidia and this is the Galatia area. From there they go down to Iconium. From Iconium they go down to Lystra and from Lystra over to Derbe. That’s the last city before they start back. You’re going to see that they go back to Lystra then to Iconium then to Antioch then down to Perga. There’s another city nearby Perga called Italia and from there they sail back to Antioch. That is Paul’s first itinerary.
Acts 14:21: And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch,
They taught many in Derbe. It doesn’t say how long they were in each of these cities but they didn’t just go there for one day and then leave. They spent some time there teaching the Word.
Acts 14:22: Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.
“Confirming” – epistērizō – to establish more solidly; to confirm or establish more solidly. It’s related to the word: stereoō which means; to strengthen; to make strong. It’s used in Acts 3:7:
And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength.
“received strength” – stereoō – to strengthen. His feet and ankle bones were strengthened.
It’s used in Acts 3:16:
And his name through faith in his name hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.
“strong” – stereoō – to make strong. It’s talking about this same man from verse 7.
It’s used in Acts 16:5:
And so were the churches established in the faith, and increased in number daily.
“established” – stereoō – made strong
We get the word “stereo” from that. Like “stereo-type”, means to make it strong or the same.
They made the souls of the disciples stereo, so they were harmonizing; they were strong. If you have on a record, one person singing and another person a little flat, it doesn’t sound too good. If you have two people and ones a little off, then you don’t have harmony. It’s the same way with believers. They made them strong so they’d be in harmony; stereo.
Acts 14:22: Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.
He went back through each of those cities here. He ended up at Derbe and then he stars back. He’d been to Lystra and he goes back to Lystra and says, “Stay in the family faith. Stay strong.” Then he goes up to Iconium and tells them the same thing. Then he goes back up to Antioch.
“tribulation” – thlipsis – mental pressure; pressures of life. It doesn’t mean “knife-in-the-back” kind of tribulation all the time; any type of pressure. When the Word was taught the pressure was put on. That doesn’t mean you have to have thlipsis in order to
get in the kingdom of God. It’s not you ticket in. It’s just that it’s going to happen, because whenever the Word is taught, the unbelievers are there to stir up the people and make the division and so you’re going to have the thlipsis.
Acts 14:23: And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.
The elders were the twig leaders and the branch leaders if it was big enough. The churches met in the homes. The twigs met in the houses.
“prayed with fasting” – that means they believed with doing the will of the Lord.
Acts 14:24: And after they had passed throughout Pisidia, they came to Pamphylia.
Pamphylia is down in the lower part where Perga is.
Acts 14:25: And when they had preached the word in Perga, they went down into Attalia:
When they first went to Perga John Mark split and went back to Jerusalem. This time when they came back to Perga they preached the Word.
Acts 14:26: And thence sailed to Antioch, from whence they had been recommended to the grace of God for the work which they fulfilled.
Attalia was right below Perga and from there they sailed back over to Antioch which was Antioch of Syria, the headquarters of the Gentile outreach.
“fulfilled” – pleroō - filled up to capacity - the work which they had fulfilled; they had filled up to capacity. They had done everything; completed it. Their work had been fulfilled; they had accomplished it.
When you walk by the spirit and know the Word, there’s no reason why you should miss anything. Sometimes we do because we let our senses get in. But you’ve got the potential anyway. So why should you let anything get in? Why not do the work and do it complete?
Acts 14:27: And when they were come, and had gathered the church together, they rehearsed all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles.
“rehearsed” – means they announced or reported
“all that God had done” – that’s all without distinction
“with” – meta – in association with. God was not just along side them but He was working in association with them.
“opened the door” – God didn’t open a wall. He opens doors. He’s not going to open the wall so you can get in. He opens doors. That’s a key; doors not walls.
“of faith” – of is the genitive of relation; in other words, “the door leading to the family faith unto the Gentiles,” so that the Gentiles could also come to the family.
Acts 14:28: And there they abode long time with the disciples.
The book of Acts chapters 13 and 14 covers about 7 years and this then closes his first itinerary. And they stayed there in Antioch a long time. It doesn’t say how long but we know it was a long time.