Easton's Bible Dictionary
A town of Lycaonia, in Asia Minor, in a wild district
and among a rude population. Here Paul preached the gospel after he had been driven
by persecution from Iconium ( Acts
14:2 - 7
). Here also he healed a lame man ( Acts
14:8 ), and thus so impressed the ignorant and superstitious people that they
took him for Mercury, because he was the "chief speaker," and his companion Barnabas
for Jupiter, probably in consequence of his stately, venerable appearance; and
were proceeding to offer sacrifices to them ( Acts
14:13 ), when Paul earnestly addressed them and turned their attention to
the true source of all blessings. But soon after, through the influence of the
Jews from Antioch in Pisidia and Iconium, they stoned Paul and left him for dead
14:19 ). On recovering, Paul left for Derbe; but soon returned again, through
Lystra, encouraging the disciples there to steadfastness. He in all likelihood
visited this city again on his third missionary tour ( Acts
18:23 ). Timothy, who was probably born here ( 2
Timothy 3:10 , 3:11
), was no doubt one of those who were on this occasion witnesses of Paul's persecution
and his courage in Lystra.
Hitchcock's Dictionary of Bible Names
that dissolves or disperses
Smith's Bible Dictionary
This place has two points of interest in connection respectively
with St. Pauls first and second missionary Journeys: (1) as the place where divine
honors were offered to him, and where he was presently stoned, ( Acts
14:1 ) ... (2) as the home of his chosen companion and fellow missionary Timotheus.
16:1 ) Lystra was in the eastern part of the great plain of Lycaonia, and
its site may be identified with the ruins called Bin-bir-Kilisseh , at the base
of a conical mountain of volcanic structure, named the Karadagh.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
The forms Lustran, and Lustrois, occur. Such variation in the gender of Anatolian
city-names is common (see Harnack, Apostelgeschichte, 86; Ramsay, Paul the Traveler,
128). Lystra was visited by Paul 4 times (Acts 14:6 , 21 ; 16:1; 18:23 --the last
according to the "South Galatian" theory), and is mentioned in 2 Timothy 3:10
f as one of the places where Paul suffered persecution. Timothy resided in Lystra
1. Character and Site:
Lystra owed its importance, and the attention which Paul paid to it, to the fact
that it had been made a Roman colonia by Augustus (see ANTIOCH), and was therefore,
in the time of Paul, a center of education and enlightenment. Nothing is known
of its earlier, and little of its later, history. The site of Lystra was placed
by Leake (1820) at a hill near Khatyn Serai, 18 miles South-Southwest from Iconium;
this identification was proved correct by an inscription found by Sterrett in
1885. The boundary between Phrygia and Lycaonia passed between Iconium and Lystra.
(Acts 14:6) (see ICONIUM).
The population of Lystra consisted of the local aristocracy of Roman soldiers
who formed the garrison of the colonia, of Greeks and Jews (Acts 16:1 , 3), and
of native Lycaonians (Acts 14:11).
2. Worship of Paul and Barnabas:
After Paul had healed a life-long cripple at Lystra, the native population (the
"multitude" of Acts 14:11) regarded him and Barnabas as pagan gods come down to
them in likeness of men, and called Barnabas "Zeus" and Paul "Hermes." Commentators
on this incident usually point out that the same pair of divinities appeared to
Baucis and Philemon in Ovid's well-known story, which he locates in the neighboring
Phrygia. The accuracy in detail of this part of the narrative in Acts has been
strikingly confirmed by recent epigraphic discovery. Two inscriptions found in
the neighborhood of Lystra in 1909 run as follows:
|(1) "Kakkan and Maramoas and Iman Licinius priests
(2) "Toues Macrinus also called Abascantus and Batasis son of Bretasis having
made in accordance with a vow at their own expense (a statue of) Hermes Most Great
along with a sun-dial dedicated it to Zeus the sun-god."
Now it is evident from the narrative in Acts that the people who were prepared
to worship Paul and Barnabas as gods were not Greeks or Romans, but native Lycaonians.
This is conclusively brought out by the use of the phrase "in the speech of Lycaonia"
(Acts 14:11). The language in ordinary use among the educated classes in Central
Anatolian cities under the Roman Empire was Greek; in some of those cities, and
especially of course, in Roman colonies, Latin also was understood, and it was
used at this period in official documents. But the Anatolian element in the population
of those cities continued for a long time to use the native language (e.g. Phrygian
was in use at Iconium till the 3rd century of our era; see ICONIUM).
In the story in Acts a fast distinction is implied, and in fact existed, between
the ideas and practices of the Greeks and the Roman colonists and those of the
natives. This distinction would naturally maintain itself most vigorously in so
conservative an institution as religious ritual and legend. We should therefore
expect to find that the association between Zeus and Hermes indicated in Acts
belonged to the religious system of the native population, rather than to that
of the educated society of the colony. And this is precisely the character of
the cult illustrated in our two inscriptions. It is essentially a native cult,
under a thin Greek disguise. The names in those inscriptions can only have been
the names of natives; the Zeus and Hermes of Acts and of our inscriptions were
a graecized version of the Father-god and Son-god of the native Anatolian system.
The college of priests which appears in inscription number 1 (supporting the Bezan
variant "priests" for "priest" in Acts 14:13) was a regular Anatolian institution.
The miracle performed by Paul, and his companionship with Barnabas would naturally
suggest to the natives who used the "speech of Lycaonia" a pair of gods commonly
associated by them in a local cult. The two gods whose names rose to their lips
are now known to have been associated by the dedication of a statue of one in
a temple, of the other in the neighborhood of Lystra.
Ramsay, Cities of Paul, 407. On the new inscriptions, see Calder, The Expositor,
1910, 1, 148; id, Classical Review, 1910, 67. Inscriptions of Lystra are published
in Sterrett, Wolfe Expedition, and in Jour. Hell. Stud., 1904 (Cronin).
W. M. Calder
bible commentary, bible history, bible reference, bible study, bin-bir-kilisseh, define, lame man healed, lustran, lustrois, lystra, mercury and jupiter (paul and barnabas), paul's first and second journeys, paul preached and stoned, timothy (timotheus) birth place, town of lycaonia