Lys'tra (ἡ Λύστρα, Ac 14:6,21; Ac 16:1; τἀ Λύστρα, Ac 14:8; Ac 16:2; 2Ti 3:11), a city in Asia Minor, of much interest in the history of Paul and Timothy.
We are told in the 14th chapter of the Acts that Paul and Barnabas, driven by persecution from Iconium (verse 2), proceeded to Lystra and its neighborhood, and there preached the Gospel. In the course of this service a remarkable miracle was worked in the healing of a lame man (verse 8). This occurrence produced such an effect on the minds of the ignorant and supersittious people of the place that they supposed that the two gods, Mercury and Jupiter, who were said by the poets to have formerly visited this district in human form, SEE LYCAONIA, had again bestowed on it the same favor, and consequently were proceeding to offer sacrifice to the strangers (verse 13). The apostles rejected this worship with horror (verse 14), and Paul addressed a speech to them, turning their minds to the true Source of all the blessings of nature. The distinct proclamation of Christian doctrine is not mentioned, but it is implied, inasmuch as a Church was founded at Lystra, which in post-apostolic times was so important as to send its bishops to the ecclesiastical councils (Hierocles, Synecd. page 675). The adoration of the Lystrians was rapidly followed by a change of feeling. The persecuting Jews arrived from Antioch in Pisidia and Iconium, and had such influence that Paul was stoned and left for dead (Ac 14:19). On his recovery, he withdrew, with Barnabas, to Derbe (verse 20), but before long retraced his steps through Lystra (verse 21), encouraging the new disciples to be steadfast. It is not absolutely stated that Paul was ever in Lystra again, but, from the general description of the route of the third missionary journey (Ac 18:23),it is almost certain that he was. SEE PAUL.
It is evident from 2Ti 3:10-11, that Timothy was one of those who witnessed Paul's sufferings and courage on the above occasion; and it can hardly be doubted that his conversion to Christianity resulted partly from these circumstances, combined with the teaching of his Jewish mother and grandmother, Eunice and Lois (2Ti 1:5). Thus, when the apostle, accompanied by Silas, came, on his second missionary journey, to this place again (and here we should notice how accurately Derbe and Lystra are here mentioned in the inverse order), Timothy was already a Christian (Ac 16:1). Here he received circumcision, "because of the Jews in those parts" (verse 3); and from this point began his connection with Paul's travels. We are doubly reminded here of Jewish residents in and near Lystra. Their first settlement, and the ancestors of Timothy among them, may very probably be traced to the establishment of Babylonian Jews in Phrygia by Antiochus three centuries before (Josephus, Ant. 12:3, 4). Still it is evident that there was no influential Jewish population at Lystra: no mention is made of any synagogue, and the whole aspect of the scene described by Luke (Acts 14) is thoroughly heathen. As to its condition in heathen times, it is worth while to notice that the words in Ac 14:13 (τοῦ Λιὸς τοῦ ὄντος πρὸ τῆς πόλεως) would lead us to conclude that it was under the tutelage of Jupiter. Walch, in his Spicilegium Antiquitatuem Lystrensium (Dissert. 1 in Acta Apostolorum, Jena, 1766, volume 3), thinks that in this passage a statue, not a temple, of the god is intended.
Pliny (5:42) places Lystra in Galatia, and Ptolemy (5:4, 12) in Isauria; but these statements are quite colnsistent with its being placed in Lycaonia by Luke, as it is by Hierocles (Synecd. page 675). This city was south of Iconium, but its precise site is uncertain, as well as that of Derbe, which is mentioned along with it. Colossians Leake remarks that the sacred text appears to place it nearer to Derbe than to Iconium; for Paul, on leaving that city, proceeded first to Lystra, and thence to Derbe; and in like manner returned to Lystra, to Iconium, and to Antioch of Pisidia (see Walch, Diss. in Act. Apost. 3:173 sq.). He also observes that this seems to agree with the arrangement of Ptolemy (5:4, 12), who places Lystra in Isauria, and near Isaura, which seems evidently to have occupied some part of the valley of Sidy Shehr, or Bey Shehr. Under the Greek empire, Homonada, Isaura, and Lystra, as well as Derbe and Laranda, were all included in the consular province of Lycaonia, and were bishoprics of the metropolitan see of Iconium. Considering all the circumstances, Colossians Leake inclines to think that the vestiges of Lystra may be sought with the greatest probability of success at or near Wiranc Khatuiz, or Khatzun Serai, about thirty miles to the south of Iconium. "Nothing," says this able geographer, "can more strongly show the little progress that has hitherto been made in a knowledge of the ancient geography of Asia Minor than that of the cities which the journey of St. Paul has made so interesting to us, the site of one only (Iconium) is yet certainly knovwn" (Tour and Geogr. of Asia Minor, page 102). Mr. Arundell supposes that, should the ruins of Lystra not be found at the place indicated by Colossians Leake, they may possibly be found in the remains at Karahissar, near the lake Bey-shehr (Discoveries in Asia Minor.) Still more lately, Mr. Hamilton (Researches in Asia Minor, 2:319) identifies its site with the ruins called Bin-bir-Kilisseh (the "Thousand and one churches"), at the base of a conical mountain of volcanic structure named the Karadagh (generally thought to be those of Derbe, but which, according to his arguments, must be sought elsewhere, perhaps at Divle), as being more considerable (a bishop of Lystra sat in the Council of Chalcedon, according to Hierocles, Synecd. page 675), and on the direct road from Iconium to Derbe. Another traveler ascended the mountain, and says, "On looking down I perceived churches on all sides of the mountain, scattered about in various positions.... Including those in the plain, there are about two dozen in tolerable preservation, and the remains of perhaps forty may be traced altogether" (Falkner in Conybeare and Howson, St. Paul, 1:202). Comp. Mannert, Geogr. VI, 2:189 sq.; Forbiger, Handb. 2:322.