We saw previously that Stephen was stoned and killed after giving an epic proclamation of the gospel. His execution was approved by a man named Saul who will be more notably referred to as Paul (more on him on a later day). Our text says that great persecution began after Stephen’s death, forcing the new Christians to scatter throughout the region. Verse 3 shows the severity of the persecution: “But Saul was going everywhere to destroy the church. He went from house to house, dragging out both men and women to throw them into prison.” While this was surely a terrifying time to be a Christian, it also became a strategic move that God used to advance the gospel.
Verse 4 says, “But the believers who were scattered preached the Good News about Jesus wherever they went.” The new believers were being persecuted and scattered, yes, but their scattering meant that different places and more people were hearing the gospel for the first time. God was redeeming suffering for the sake of the gospel. Even in the middle of persecution, the church was a light in a dark world. From this scattering, we see two accounts of life change: the fruit of the ministry of Philip, and Simon the sorcerer.
Our passage today is a great example of how God can redeem a situation for his glory and the advance of the gospel. What in your life could God be using to advance the gospel that at first didn’t make sense? What opportunities is he giving you to glorify Him in tough situations?
By: Graham Withers — Pastoral Ministry Apprentice