1 Now it happened in Iconium that they went together to the synagogue of the Jews, and so spoke that a great multitude both of the Jews and of the Greeks believed.
2 But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brethren.
3 Therefore they stayed there a long time, speaking boldly in the Lord, who was bearing witness to the word of His grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands.
4 But the multitude of the city was divided: part sided with the Jews, and part with the apostles.
5 And when a violent attempt was made by both the Gentiles and Jews, with their rulers, to abuse and stone them,
6 they became aware of it and fled to Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and to the surrounding region.
We do not believe that Paul’s only purpose in going to the Jewish synagogues first was that he might contact the Jews. It must be remembered that before Israel was set aside by God the favored nation still exerted considerable influence, spiritually, upon the Gentiles. Hence, in the synagogues Paul would also find those Gentiles who had at least come to recognize the true God. These would naturally be most open to the Word of God and the message of grace and, if won to the truth, would give him a nucleus of believers around which to build. It is intimated that there were Gentiles present in the synagogue at Pisidian Antioch, from whence Paul and Barnabas had just come, and it is definitely stated that Greeks as well as Jews were present in this one in Iconium (v.1). — Stam, pages 220-221.
It was not only the thing they said, it was the way they said it. “They so spoke.” … Paul I think gives his own explanation of the meaning of the word “so.” When writing to the Corinthians, in his first letter, speaking of his coming to them, he said, “I came unto you … not with excellency of speech or of wisdom.” Then it was not his eloquence, it was not his logical faculty. “And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.” Paul was always a man intrepid, courageous, dogmatic, daring; but the intensive force of his intrepidity and courage is there revealed, “I was with you in weakness and in fear, and in much trembling.” Continuing he said: “And my speech and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.” There we discover the secret of the “so,” “They so spoke.” That is the secret of the preaching that prevails, and that wins; the preaching that is authoritative, definite, positive, and without apology, as the result of a sense of weakness and trembling and fear in the mind of the preacher; but which weakness and trembling and fear are all overcome by the preacher’s fellowship with the Holy Spirit. — Morgan, page 340.
unbelieving (v.2) — the tense seems to refer to an incident, a crisis that occurred when the apostles spoke in the synagogue
poisoned (v.2) = ill-treated — affected their minds in a way that caused them to oppose the apostles
therefore (v.3) — because of the believers (v.1) and the opposition (v.2)
boldly in the Lord (v.3) — with the sense of relying on, and getting courage from, the Lord
violent attempt (v.5) = strong movement. Perhaps the violent crowd was actually approaching through the streets when the apostles found out about it and fled.
rulers (v.5) — the Jewish rulers
abuse (v.5) — insulting and outraging — A form of the word is used in 1 Timothy 1:13 of Paul’s former persecution of believers.
Lystra (v.6) — A city about 18 miles south-southwest of Iconium. We know nothing of it till the founding of a Roman colony there by Augustus in 6 B.C., as a defense against the brigands who infested the Taurus range to the south. As a colony, its government and organization were Latin. Otherwise, in its more remote situation, as the narrative shows, it was distinctly less Graecized and civilized than either Pisidian Antioch or Iconium. — Walker, pages 307-308.
Derbe (v.6) — A frontier city of the Galatian province, on the main road leading southeast from Lystra. Very little is known of its history. It was about 30 miles distant from Lystra. — Walker, page 308.