God Meant it for Good
Satan wanted to destroy the work of God by killing and silencing Stephen, but God overruled this demonic plan and used the persecution to spread the gospel into Samaria!
I. The Effects of Persecution (vv. 1-2)
1) Scattering of the Believers for witness
2) Emboldening of the Jerusalem Church
a. Boldness of the Apostles in remaining
b. Boldness of the ‘devout men’ who conducted Stephen’s funeral at great personal risk
3) Do we discern God’s Providence in suffering?
II. The Agent of Persecution (v. 3)
1) Saul of Tarsus
a. Misguided religious zeal –> terrorism!
b. Luke carefully underscores the extremely violent nature of Saul’s tactics
2) Introduction of Saul prepares the way for the introduction of Paul the Apostle in chapter 9.
3) Is anyone beyond the grace of God?
III. God’s Power within Persecution (vv. 4-8)
1) Power of God is displayed in verbal proclamation of His Word
a. Preaching (euangelizo) – v. 4
b. Proclamation (kerusso) – v. 5
2) Philip’s scandalous ministry to the Samaritans
a. Samaritans were hated by the Jews
b. Philip’s ministry produced joy!
3) Are we proclaiming the Word as we go and trusting in its power to save the lost?