“At that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles…As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison.”
So the Lord uses persecution to scatter his disciples and to further the spread of the gospel. Philip, one of the seven selected to serve in the church in Jerusalem, goes to Samaria where he preaches Christ to them. Multitudes receive Christ and are baptized resulting in great joy in the city. When Peter and John hear the good news, they come to Samaria to pray over the people that they may receive the Holy Spirit. One man, Simon a sorcerer, offers them cash for the Holy Spirit. Peter rebukes him saying, “Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money! You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you.” So Simon asks Peter to pray for him.
Then an angel tells Philip to go south on a road from Jerusalem to Gaza. Philip, prompted by the Holy Spirit, leaves the masses who are coming to Christ and goes out into the desert for a divine appointment with an individual. There Philip encounters an Ethiopian eunuch returning from worshipping in Jerusalem. When Philip comes near his chariot, he finds the man reading the words of Isaiah and he asks him if he understands. The Ethiopian responds, “‘How can I, unless someone guides me?’… Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him.” The Ethiopian eunuch goes on to receive Jesus Christ as his Savior and is baptized by Philip.
While all these wonderful things in the name of Jesus are happening, Saul is still “breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord.” That is until he encounters Jesus on a road to Damascus. Jesus calls out, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” Then Saul asks two important questions: 1) “Who are you Lord?” 2) “Lord, what do You want me to do?”
Then Jesus gives Saul the next step. He says, “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” Jesus blinds him for three days. “And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank.”
The Lord appears to Ananias, a disciple in Damascus, and tells him to go to Saul and lay hands on him so that he may receive his sight. However, this disciple is afraid because he has heard reports of Saul persecuting Christians. “But the Lord said to him, ‘Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.’”
Ananias obeys the Lord, and Saul receives his sight, is filled with the Holy Spirit, and is baptized. Once Saul receives food and is strengthened, “Immediately he preached Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God.” And when the Jews try to kill Saul for preaching Jesus, his new brothers in Christ hide him.
Saul flees to Jerusalem where he meets Barnabas and the apostles. Saul shares his story with them and begins preaching Jesus in Jerusalem. “And he spoke boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus and disputed against the Hellenists, but they attempted to kill him. When the brethren found out, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him out to Tarsus.” Saul will remain in his hometown of Tarsus for about ten years before Barnabas will go and get him to join him in ministry.
Tomorrow Peter receives a vision from the Lord, resulting in more Gentiles joining the kingdom of God. Keep reading.