Acts 8: A Scattered People

Scattered or Sent Out?

That very day a great persecution was started against the church in Jerusalem.  Everyone except the apostles was scattered through the lands of Judaea and Samaria. . . . Those who were scattered went all over the place announcing the word. (8:1, 4)

One way or another God is going to spread his Kingdom.  That was what He wanted (1:8) and here it is happening.

Were the disciples not spreading out as desired?  Were they, like we often are today, more comfortable staying where they were, with people like them, in familiar territory?  Did God use — or even bring, if your theology and this situation allows that idea — this persecution to advance His kingdom?  This is a speculative conclusion; we can’t know for sure.

What is clear is that His kingdom grew one way or another.  God’s people talk about God wherever they go.

What unpleasant time in your life right now might God be using to advance His Kingdom?

Categories: Acts | Tags: , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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5 thoughts on “Acts 8: A Scattered People

  1. Georgia Stafford

    In verses 14-16… I noticed that the apostles in Jerusalem received the Holy Spirit following their baptism that had been done in the name of Jesus Christ.

    Are there any other accounts like this? Is this because the apostles in Jerusalem and Samaria weren’t baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? I guess I just always thought we used that phrase out of tradition. I never really considered it to be a requirement… is it?

    • There is a little variation all throughout Acts. We will see the opposite in Acts 10 with Cornelius, but there is likely a good reason for that. More later on that.

      I think you are right that the formula “Father Son and Holy Spirit” when baptizing is more tradition (a good one) than anything else. The typical explanation I have heard here for this passage is this: Miraculous spiritual gifts (which seems to the be what is meant by saying “Holy Spirit” in these verses) were passed on at that time by the laying on of the original apostles’ hands. Thus Philip could not pass on this gift, as he was not one of the originals. So Peter and John had to journey to Samaria to do this. So in this case, that outpouring of miraculous power from the Holy Spirit came after their baptism, presumably weeks or months after, when Peter and John could get there.

  2. Boldness, success, and joy – that is what I noticed today. Real gospel preaching will involve risk, even if it s just the label of “Bible-thumper,” but it is going to be more successful than we might think. And there is so much happiness in the honest seekers in this passage.

  3. I’m struck this morning by Simon’s response to being rebuked and wanting to understand him more. Was his response purely out of fear? Did he recognize and understand his sin? I’d like to hear the rest of his story. How did this event shape his future?

  4. “The [Samaritan] crowds were eager to receive Philip’s message.” (8:6)

    Such a contrast with the persecution the Christians were getting in Judea. Once again, the outsiders (Samaritans) show up the insiders (full Jews).

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