Acts 8:1-8 Forced Missions.

As Luke just noted, the false witnesses against Stephen had “laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul” (7:58). This was Saul “consenting to his death” (v. 1a). The persecution had only begun with Stephen. Quickly the persecution had spread to the church as a whole, which caused everyone, but the apostles, to be scattered “throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria” (v. 1b). However, before they scattered, some “devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him” (v. 2). At this time, Saul was the leader of those persecuting the church, even entering the homes of Christians and dragging both men and women off to prison (v. 3).

The goal of this persecution was to silence the preaching of the apostolic message, but the scattering of the church actually helped to fulfill the commission which the Lord Himself had given, to take the gospel to the farthest ends of the earth, beginning at Jerusalem (v. 4 Cf. 1:8; 11:19; Mt. 28:18-20). A case in point was Philip, who “went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them” (v. 5). This was still the time of the apostles, and even though they remained in Jerusalem, those who went abroad preaching were accompanied by the apostolic signs and wonders, including the casting out of demons (v. 6). The word was accompanied with power. “And there was great joy in that city” (v. 8).

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