This week we focused on this brief, transitional passage that documents the first officially sanctioned persecution of Christ followers as well as what happened to Stephen’s body after his stoning (lynching) in chapter 7.
We looked at the structure of Acts noting that chapters 1-7 and 13-28 follow a single-thread narrative, whereas chapters 8-12 traces four distinct narrative threads which are not in any specific order chronologically.
We discussed how the persecution pushed the Christians out of Jerusalem (a fulfillment of Jesus prophecy in Acts 1:8), and how Luke had utilized Stephen’s story to illustrate how the temple and Jerusalem were not critical to the Christian experience.
We looked at various examples of “devout men” in the New Testament, and finished with an understanding that Saul’s persecution was a major catalyst in the expansion of the church beyond the walls of Jerusalem.
>> Click to read this week’s passages in KJV, CSB, ESV, NIV: Acts 8:1-3 <<
Acts 8:1b-3 ~ Persecution Initiates the Christian Diaspora
Saul kicks off his persecution; Stephen is buried; Christians relocate & evangelize
* Recorded: LIVE. This audio has been edited for class member privacy, time, and content.
Written on the Whiteboard:
- v. 1 – Great persecution (μέγας, “great”)
- v. 1 – Scattering (διεσπάρησαν, “diaspora”)
- v. 2 – Great lamentation (μέγας, “great”)
- v. 2 – Gathering (συνεκόμισαν, “gathering/carrying/burying”)
“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” John 12:24 (ESV):
Just as Stephen’s final moments paralleled those of Jesus, so also did each of their deaths result in the furtherance of the good news.
All references to “devout men” (εὐλαβεῖς, “devout”) in the New Testament:
- Luke 2:25
- Acts 2:5
- Acts 8:2
- Acts 22:12
You can learn more about Jackie Hill Perry on her website: http://www.jackiehillperry.com/