Bible Bible Bible Bible Study Acta Acts Acts Acts Acts Bible Study Bible Study
After reading the Bible text, look at verse 1. We see the introduction of Saul (who would later be known as Paul). At this time, he is the vehement enemy of the Church. He consented to Stephen’s death. This is another way of saying that he also killed Stephen, maybe not with hands, but with his thoughts, intentions, and desires. He was heartily glad the deed was done, in other words.
Go back in memory to Matthew 5:21-22 where Jesus said that hatred and anger are the same as murder because the heart and mind has done the deed, not the hands. This was said to show how a self-righteous person cannot avoid the spirit of law by heeding the letter of it only. There are no not-guilty-by-technicalities with God.
So Saul as much as killed Stephen himself. This is what the people of the day likely understood. Saul was probably avoiding becoming ceremonially unclean even though he was spiritually unclean and did not know it.
Verse 3 says Saul made havoc of the church by entering every house and dragging off the men and women and throwing them into prison. Let’s camp out here for a while. Notice it did not say that he made havoc with the church by destroying the building. The Church was not a building…it was people. It would be a long time before the Church would be thought of as a church building. When people talked about the Church during this time, everyone knew the people were the Church.
Please allow me to digress for a moment. Many years ago, I traveled to a work location where one of our industrial buildings was located in a town that had been devastated by a tornado. Less than a quarter mile from our plant, a church was leveled. Now, when I say leveled, I mean the only thing visible about the church building was the hardwood floor. Even most of the pews were gone. (Don’t ask me what a pew is…that is a discussion for another day)
The majority of the building and its former contents were scattered across the small town. However, when Sunday morning came, the Church met on the lawn where the church building had been. Why? Because the Church is the people God has redeemed not the building inside which they meet.
Saul (and others) attacked God’s forming Church by attacking the people. Prison would be the home of those captured by Saul. Wow, what would happen today if people were thrown in prison for being found to be members of God’s Church? I will leave this as a rhetorical question.
The result of Saul’s persecution was a scattering of the people. Yet verse 4 says that those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word. Uh oh, apparently God not only withstood the assault against His work, He also used it to prime the pump, so to speak. Now the scattered people are not cowering in the corner, they are preaching everywhere!
Praise God! His work cannot be stopped. I will leave you with a question…where is the power found? May God bless the study of His word.