New Territory, Changing Audiences, Continual Danger
Paul and Barnabas left Antioch of Syria, worked in Cyprus, crossed to Asia Minor, traveled north through mountains of Pisidia into Phrygia to Antioch, a Roman garrison, then to Iconium and Lystra in Lycaonia, a Roman garrison. Layers of old culture, Greek, Roman. Jewish communities. Travel was very dangerous. The ethnic conflicts in cities were sensitive. Jews were vulnerable.
The message of Paul and Barnabas set off conflicts in all three cities. Jewish teaching already had impact in these cities: “God-fearing” Gentiles and Proselyte converts. A major identity shift. Paul comes saying that in Jesus, faith in Israel’s one God, forgiveness and life are now open to all ethnic groups. No new religion, but a realization that Israel’s faith through the Messiah was for all.