Saul Ravages the Church – Acts 8

Paul the Apostle, Russian icon from first quar...

Paul the Apostle, Russian icon from first quarter of 18th cen. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The first three verses of chapter 8 really belong with chapter 7 in this writer’s opinion because they really mark the end of what could easily be considered the first section of the book of Acts. The significance of the previous chapter’s cold-blooded murder of murder of Stephen cannot be understated. A t the end, they stoned Stephen to death, laying their garments at the feet of Saul. Verse one begins

And Saul approved of the execution.

The reality of those words from verse one would haunt the apostle Paul for the rest of his life. Known at this time as “Saul of Tarsus,” Paul was himself a Pharisee, having been “educated at the feet of Gamaliel” (Acts 22:3), a much revered member of the Sanhedrin council.  Though himself not a member of the Sanhedrin, the last few verses confirm that Paul did enjoy a somewhat revered status himself. That status afforded him some authority as well. The fury over Stephens speech was not quenched by his death by way of stoning. The wrath of the council was then turned upon all Christians, and Saul acted upon their authority as he “was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison (verse 3).

The tremendous growth of the church from the day of Pentecost up until Stephen’s death had been a great blessing mixed with the growing pains we saw in chapter 6. Now as the church scattered, that growth would ensure that many more in many other places would be taught, as well as become teachers of, the gospel of Jesus Christ. The apostles, of course, remained where they were.

(This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week

Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from Acts here
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from 2 Chronicles here

/Bob’s boy
___________________

some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

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All of my comments in this blog are solely my responsibility. When reading any commentary, you should always refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word.

 

 

 

Psalm 83 – Most High Over All the Earth

After murdering an Egyptian, Moses escaped into Midian. There he married Zipporah and became a shepherd.

After murdering an Egyptian, Moses escaped into Midian. There he married Zipporah and became a shepherd.

When reading this chapter of Psalms, one could feel as if it were written about the Israel of today. Speaking of the enemies of the nation, the psalmist allows how they would gladly wipe out God’s people:

They say, “Come,let us wipe them out as a nation;
let the name of Israel be remembered no more

Among the conspirators mentioned are such as the Amelikites, the Moabites and Ammonites who are referred to correctly here as the children of Lot (Genesis 19:36-38), the Edomites, the Philistines, and the inhabitants of Tyre. All are Gentile persecutors of God’s people. Today, there are those people who would take joy in the persecution of Christians – a phenomenon that many would argue is beginning to make a somewhat surprising comeback in North America, as well as other parts of the world. The prayer of the chapter which glorifies the Lord is relevant today:

…that they may know that you alone,
whose name is the Lord,
are the Most High over all the earth.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  

Proverbs 12 – According To Good Sense

Nelson Mandela was born Rolihlahla Mandela in July of 1918 in the village of Mvezo, in Transkei, South Africa. “Rolihlahla” in the language of his country means “pulling the branch of a tree,” but more commonly translates as “troublemaker,” and it fit like a glove. Before the death of his father when he was nine years old, he was baptized into the Methodist Church. He went on to become the first in his family to attend school. After the death of his father (and probably because of the prejudice of the British ruling class educational system) he was coerced into taking the first name “Nelson.”

Nelson Mandela & Mikhail Gorbatchov

Nelson Mandela & Mikhail Gorbatchov (Photo credit: Anastasios Fakinos)

At the law firm where he clerked, Mandela befriended a member of the ANC and Communist Party, as well as Nat Bregman, a Jewish communist who became his first white friend. Attending communist talks and parties, Mandela was encouraged that whites and blacks were blending together as equals. However, he said later that he did not join the Party because its atheism conflicted with his Christian faith, and because the South African “Apartheid” struggle was racially based rather than a product of class warfare.

Becoming increasingly political, Mandela marched in support of a successful bus boycott, and continued his higher education, working on his BA at night. Deciding that armed resistance was inevitable, he was arrested for subversive activities, and served 27 years in prison before public pressure brought an end to the oppression and persecution of the South African’s he so dearly loved. After his release, he then became the first black President in the history of the nation, and quickly became the patron saint of the oppressed people of the world.

Nelson Mandela outlasted Communism, as well as the oppression and persecution of Apartheid, and his story brings to mind the wisdom of at least two of the Proverbs in chapter 12:

The wicked are overthrown and are no more,
but the house of the righteous will stand.

A man is commended according to his good sense,
but one of twisted mind is despised.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.