Persecution Scatters Believers / Philip Boldly Preaches

“Westerners, 2,000 years removed from the first Christmas, are tempted to assume that there could hardly be anything more innocent, non-threatening, and “non-political” than a baby in a manger. Yet the birth of a baby that first Christmas resulted in a horrific wa … More

Persecution
The death of Stephen was the signal for an outbreak of persecution which compelled the Christians to scatter and to seek safety in the remoter districts of the country. However the apostles stood fast. They braved whatever perils might come; and this was for two reasons:
  1. They were men of courage. They were determined to face whatever dangers threatened.
  2. They were good men. There was something about them that won the respect of all.
The death of Stephen had brought on a wave of persecution against the Jerusalem church (vv. 1-2). One of the chief persecutors was a man by the name of Saul, who was born in Tarsus (Acts 22:3), a “Hebrew of the Hebrews” (II Corinthians 11:22), the “son of a Pharisee” (Acts 23:6) and a Roman citizen (Acts16:37). In fact he was one of the most promising young Pharisees in Jerusalem, who was on his way to becoming a great leader of the Jewish faith. It says that Saul “made havoc of the Church” (v. 3). He went from house to house persecuting and arresting Christians, until the prisons overflowed. Warren Wiersbe says, “Persecution does to the church what wind does to seed: it scatters it and only produces a greater harvest.” This persecution in Jerusalem caused the believers (God’s seed) in Jerusalem to scatter throughout Judea, Samaria and other parts of the world (v. 4). This was the beginning of a worldwide witness. Next we are introduced to another young man by the name of Philip who was one of the seven deacons chosen by the Jerusalem church (v. 5). God directed him to become an evangelist in Samaria, which is a small province north of Judea. He not only declared God’s Word, but he also demonstrated God’s power by performing miracles (vv. 6-8). However, the main emphasis is on the Word of God.

Application

Sometimes God has to force me out of my comfort zone to share my faith with others. I know that persecution may be a part of my being a good witness for Christ.

Acts 8:1-8 (English Standard Version)

And Saul approved of his execution. And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. Devout men buried Stephen and made great lamentation over him. But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison. Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word. Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed to them the Christ. And the crowds with one accord paid attention to what was being said by Philip when they heard him and saw the signs that he did. For unclean spirits, crying out with a loud voice, came out of many who had them, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. So there was much joy in that city.

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