Journey through the New TestamentBook of Acts with me. The plan is simple. Read ONE chapter a day. Blog or journal 5* things you learned that you previously didn't know and ask 5* questions about the chapter that you'll ponder all week. Let's go!
** You'll probably learn way more than 5 things and have more than 5 questions about each chapter. That's totally fine. The more the merrier!
QUESTION 1:Why did the apostles not return home to Galilee, but choose to remain in Jerusalem where the persecution was greatest?
QUESTION 2: How did the apostles avoid persecution/detection in the midst Saul’s havoc against the Church as he went from house to house, “dragging off men and women, and committing them to prison.”?
Question 3: How many family members of the believers Paul persecuted and killed were part of the Churches Paul would later plant?
QUESTION 4: How well was he received by them when he returned to those same places where he had arrested and harmed believers?
QUESTION 5: How many of them still held deep grudges against him and were possibly part of the opposition Paul sometimes faced inc certain congregations?
WHAT I LEARNED:
INSIGHT 1: Meet Saul: The greatest missionary the world has ever known, the man responsible for planting most of the New Testament Churches, the man whose teachings has shaped Christian theology, and who wrote 13 of the 27 books of the New Testament Bible is first introduced to us in the Bible as being party to the death of the first Christian martyr (Acts 7:58-8:1), and the leader of an orchestrated mayhem that was raged against the early Church (Acts 8:1-3).
INSIGHT 2: The apostles and many of the early converts were not from Jerusalem. Which means, since the launching of the Church sometime after Jesus’ ascension in 30 AD, the disciples have made Jerusalem their home base for several years. It’s highly likely that 3-4 years have transpired from the birth of the Church in Acts 2 to this persecution in Acts 8 since most Bible commentaries put Paul’s conversion around 34 AD
INSIGHT 3: If the great persecution that arose against the Church in Jerusalem (a city that the apostles and the international Church from Acts 2 had made their home base) caused the early Christians to scatter “throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria”, it’s likely that many of these Christians simply returned to their original homes from whence they came (since they were all visitors from out of town on the day of Pentecost).
INSIGHT 4: Later in Acts after his conversion, Paul explains exactly how he went about wreaking havoc on the early Church that he would later become a central part of. In Acts 22:4-5, he says, “ I persecuted this Wayto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women, as also the high priest bears me witness, and all the council of the elders, from whom I also received letters to the brethren, and went to Damascus to bring in chains even those who were there to Jerusalem to be punished.” Then in Acts 26:10-11, he goes on to explain, “Indeed, I myself thought I must do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. This I also did in Jerusalem, and many of the saints I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them. And I punished them often in every synagogue and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly enraged against them, I persecuted them even to foreign cities.”
INSIGHT 5: At His ascension in Acts 1:8, Jesus instructed the disciples, saying, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” The Church, however, had remained put in Jerusalem. Though God is NOT the author of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33), the persecution of the Church and its “scattering” “…throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria” ended up accomplishing the very plan that God had preordained. It’s fulfillment in clearly stated in verse 4, “Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word.”
INSIGHT 6: Phillip’s evangelistic presence in Samaria was a game changer for the Church because this is the first time the Gospel was going “outside of the” Jewish people. The Samaritans were generally considered “half-breeds” and were universally despised by the Jews (Nehemiah 6:1-14; John 4:6-26; John 8:48; John 4:9). So, the fact that they not only welcomed Phillip, but “with one accord, heeded the things” he spoke” is an indication that Jesus’ Church had truly become a global international Church. Again, we see that God intends His Church to cross racial, ethnic, and social barriers!
Husband. Dad. Pastor. Nigerian American. Storyteller. Aspiring Prayer Warrior. Steak Lover. Follower of Jesus Christ reminding you that God the Father still loves you.