Acts 8:26-40 The Gospel Continue to Go Foward


Luke seems to have regarded Stephen and Philip as a pair. Luke saw the ministry of both  men as helping to pave the way for the Gentile mission. Stephen’s contribution lay in his teaching about the temple, the law, and the Christ, and in the effects of his martyrdom, while Philip’s lay in his bold evangelization of the Samaritans as heretical outsiders. If Stephen’s martyrdom led to persecution, and the persecution to the dispersion, the dispersion now resulted in widespread evangelism. The scattering of the Christians was followed by the scattering of the good seed of the gospel. For those who had been scattered as they fled, far from going into hiding, or even maintain a prudential silence, preached the word wherever they went (4). Up to this point it was the apostles who had given the lead in evangelism, in defiance of the Sanhedrin’s ban, violence and threats; now, however, as the apostles stayed in Jerusalem, it was the generality of the believers who took up the evangelistic task. Not that they all became ‘preachers’ or ‘missionaries’ as a full-time vocation. The statement that they ‘preached the word’ is misleading; the Greek expression does not necessarily mean more than ‘shared the good news’. Philip was soon to preach to the Samaritan crowds (6); it is better to think of the other refugees as lay witnesses (‘nameless amateur missionaries’).

What is plain is that the devil (who lurks behind all persecution of the church) over-reached himself. His attack had the opposite effect to what he intended. Instead of smothering the gospel, persecution succeeded only in spreading it. As Bengel comments, ‘the wind increases the flame’. An instructive modern parallel is what happened in 1949 in China when the National Government was defeated by the Communists. Six hundred and thirty-seven China Inland Missions missionaries were obliged to leave. It seemed a total disaster. Yet within four years 286 of them had been redeployed in South-East Asia and Japan, while the national Christians in China, even under severe persecution, began to multiply and now total thirty or forty times the number they were when the missionaries left.

John Stott

Heart Preparation Read Acts 8:25-40. What can stop the spread of the gospel? If God wants to reach someone what limits are placed upon him? If God can reach anyone he wants what is it that limits your intentionality with the gospel?

Posted on: August 15, 2013 - 1:16PM

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