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Acts of the Apostles: 15 - Acts 7:44 - Acts 8:4

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Acts of the Apostles

15 - Acts 7:44 - Acts 8:4

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Acts of the Apostles: 15 - Acts 7:44 - Acts 8:4

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MP3 Audio (31.83 MB)

In this class we will discuss Acts 7:44-60 thru Acts 8:1-4 and continue looking at Stephen's sermon to the Sanhedrin and then the events of his death. At this time we are introduced to Saul (later to become Paul) who approved Stephen's death by stoning which then led to the Church being persecuted and scattered throughout Judea and Samaria.


Well, welcome back to ABC. We're in Acts Chapter 8. We need to finish that up today and get into, obviously Chapter 9. So, I hope everyone had a good break. For those of you watching online, we're back on the first day of the second semester here at ABC for this year. And we are at a point in the book of Acts where we need to kind of speed up, but we're getting into more and more material that is important and interesting, fascinating. So, we'll see how it goes as we move along through this. In our last class, we were going through Chapter 8, and we were talking about the trial of Stephen, the deacon who had been ordained in Chapter 7, and then quickly becomes something more than a deacon, as he gets into a discourse with certain Jews from the synagogue with the freedmen within Jerusalem. And they question his belief, as he is really laying out, a great deal to them. They hired some false witnesses, brought him before the Sanhedrin.

And Chapter 8 opens with Stephen's defense. And at that time, just a quick review to kind of set this up, and then we'll get down to about where we left off. But I did bring out the point that, as you go through the defense of Stephen here and his sermon in Chapter 8, which is one of the longest, if not the longest, in the book of Acts, of the messages and sermons that are given, he is focusing upon the fact that these luminaries of the story of Israel, Abraham, and Moses, and Joseph, all were dealt with by God outside of the land. Moses, in his home, in Haran, the promises were made to him before he ever came into the Promised Land. And Joseph was, of course, in Egypt when he was used by God in a very direct way, and his family came down there. And then Moses, born and raised in Egypt, more or less, you know, an Egyptian by training in many ways until God called him. Then he leads them out. But all of this happened outside the land.

And this idea of the land was one of the key things very important to the Jews of the 1st century. And it's behind this belief in the fact that the land of the promise was occupied by the Romans. And the Jews, the remnant of Israel, of the special covenant people of God, and the idea that they could only be the true people and worship God in truth if they had total control of the land in Jerusalem, which they did not because it was held by the Romans. Stephen is essentially, by his argument, he is showing the fallacy of that and that God worked with all these other men outside of the land. It's not the land by itself that makes one holy or special. And this is where he's coming down to kind of the final point here to get him to the point where he just, well, they're antagonized. Not that he's deliberately trying to do that, but he is very pointed in his talk here as he brings it down. And let's go ahead and just pick it up in verse 44, where we will jump into the story here.

Acts 7:44-45 He says, "Our fathers had the tabernacle of witness in the wilderness, as he appointed instructing Moses to make it according to the pattern that he had seen, which our fathers having received it, in turn, also brought with Joshua into the land possessed by the Gentiles, whom God drove out before the face of our fathers until the days of Moses."

And so, see what he said again here in verse 44, the very tabernacle that held the Ark of the Covenant and around which all of the sacrificial system of the old covenant and the Old Testament revolved. He said, verse 44, "That was in the wilderness," before they ever entered the land when they received that. "And then Joshua with them, they brought it into the land," in verse 45, "Possessed by the Gentiles, whom God then drove out before the face of our fathers until the days of David who found favor with God and asked to find a dwelling for the God of Jacob."

And so, again, this theme keeps being brought forth by Stephen, that even something as revered as the tabernacle and the Ark of the Covenant that had the commandments and the rod that butted and piece of manna from the time of their wandering, all of that, in a sense, took shape outside the land in the wilderness. And so God's not bound by these locations. And the Jews, by this time, had put far too much emphasis on that. And so here's where he brings it down to verse 47.

Acts 7:47 “Then Solomon built him a house."

So, he jumps to the very fact when Solomon was allowed by God to build a permanent temple. Remember the story, David wanted to first build the temple but God would not allow David to do that. David had brought the tabernacle and the Ark into Jerusalem, and he wanted to build a permanent building for it, but God wouldn't allow it for a number of reasons. And he said, "Your son will do it." And Solomon did. And so that is the first temple.

Always remember, in the Bible, we have essentially two temples. Terminology is used. The first temple is the one built by Solomon. When we hear about the term, the second temple, that is the one that was rebuilt first by the Jews on their return from the exile, and then later refurbished and brought up to a higher standard by Herod the Great. And that second temple is the temple then of this period, to which Jesus went and all these scenes in the Book of Acts take place. So, we have a first temple and then the second temple. And it was on the same pattern but different from the temple that Solomon built. And then in verse 48, Stephen makes a direct statement.

Acts 7:48-50 He says, "However, the Most High does not dwell in temples made with hands. As the prophet says. Heaven is my throne, earth is my footstool. What house will you build for me? Says, the Lord, or What is the place of my rest? Has my hand not made all these things?"

And this is where he kind of brings it down to point. And we all listen to sermons, we listen to class lectures, and especially in a sermon or a sermon out on the Sabbath. We're listening carefully, we want to know, what's your point? And the good speaker's going to be very clear about it. And at some point, in that message, you bring it to the point. Here's the point. And the better ones will revolve around one point that is just hammered home from multiple angles. But this is where Stephen gets down to the point, that the Most High God does not dwell in temples made with hands. Now, he is in the actual temple precincts. All right? I mean, he's there where the Sanhedrin is meeting, I don't have that map up on the board, but it's on the southern end of the temple where they feel that they met. And he probably points his hand, lifts his hand, and they can see through the porticos and the columns out across that expanse of the temple mount area. They can see it. And probably, you can imagine Stephen saying, "God does not dwell in temples made with hands." And probably some of these Jewish leaders kind of follow his point, and then they're hearing what he's saying.

And this then arouses their anger because they revere that temple, at least, in theory. Keep in mind, as we've shown in some of the other lectures, the Jewish leadership is not that holy, the priesthood and all they have become quite a political machine at this point in the story. They are, in some ways, even, what we would call a crime family. And literally, this is the group that engineered the death of Jesus, and now they're going to kill Stephen. And they bring in false witnesses, they create false witnesses. So, there's not a whole lot of pious righteousness to this group of people here. And Stephen is just getting beyond under their skin. He's striking to the heart of their whole existence and meaning here when he brings this out. The idea here is that the temple is not God, but they had elevated the physical temple to something higher than it was. God does not dwell in buildings made with hands. Where does God dwell? With whom does God dwell? Hold your place here. Let's turn back to Isaiah 66 and note something. Isaiah 66:1, Isaiah writes, quoting God.

Isaiah 66:1-2 "Thus says the Lord. Heaven is my throne. Earth is my footstool." God doesn't have a throne in a building. He rests His feet upon the earth. "Where is the house that you will build me?" He says, "Where is the place of my rest?" This is what Stephen has quoted there. "For all of these things, my hand has made and all of these things exist, says the Lord." And at the end of verse two, notice, "But on this one will I look on him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at my word."

Stephen doesn't quote all of the passage here in Isaiah, or at least as is put into the account by Luke. But that really gives us the answer. With whom does God dwell? With whom is God close and intimate in a spiritual relationship? One who trembles at the word of God has a poor spirit, is contrite. Humility.

You know, if you want a word to study or a concept to study, as we've turned into a new calendar year and maybe we start new Bible reading programs and we start thinking about things, try humility this year, make humility a study, a topic, something to think about. You can't go wrong unless you've already chosen something, then do it next year. But do a biblical study on humility. We would all benefit at any given time from that. This is really to the heart of the message. And look at what he says in verse 51 then.

Acts 7:51 "You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears."

He really could not have said anything worse. Think of, again, this is the equivalent of a lot of cursing, if you will, in any of our modern language. Now, I'm not saying this is foul language, but to the ears of the Jews, he couldn't have said anything that would make them angry, and offend them, and stir them up. And he basically said to them, "You are pretty bad." Let's just leave it at that, to say that you are uncircumcised in heart and ears. They were circumcised. These were the male leaders of the community, and they thought they were already good. And he said, "You're stiff-necked."

Now, that brings a lot of Old Testament imagery back into their minds that God would say about Israel. They were stiff-necked, it means that they were resisting God's word, God's law. They were resisting God's leadership. Israel did that, beginning in the Exodus and during that period of time. And he's pointing that down to them at this point.

Acts 7:51-53 He says, "You always resist the Holy Spirit as your fathers did, so do you." And it's a pretty strong indictment. "Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who foretold the coming of the just one, of whom you now have become the betrayers and murderers, who have received the law by the direction of angels and have not kept it."

God's angels are messengers and, to the degree, that they have been the messengers of God's word and God's covenant, God's law, in that whole process of delivery of the word of God they have been involved. And so in verse 54, we come at this.

Acts 7:54 "Then when they heard these things..." Stephen's sermon is over. He's rested his case. "When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart and they gnashed at him with their teeth."

And this is an idiom, idiomatic phrase. They didn't literally start biting on him, but they physically probably began to manhandle him and jostled him about. But with their heart, and their thoughts, and their words of condemnation, they were cutting at him, cutting toward him. And so they're moving now toward an action.

Acts 7:55 "Stephen, however..." Luke's focus is back to him, "But he being full of the Holy Spirit gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God."

He's now given a vision. This is literally what is happening. Stephen is given a vision, and it is at the moment of crisis. It is certainly meant to encourage him because he knows pretty much, at this point, that he is going to not survive this. He's probably beginning to realize that they are there moving toward an action that is not going to end well for him. And God gives this vision of the glory of God. And we're going to start into the book of Revelation here later this week, and we'll get into the visions that John had about the glory of God, the throne of God. Stephen is given this vision to encourage him.

Acts 7:56 And he says, "Look, I see the heavens opened and the son of man standing at the right hand of God."

And so this is what he saw. It's kind of, again, echoes of Daniels 7. If you want to go back to what Daniel saw in his vision in Daniel 7 of one like the son of man coming in the clouds of the heaven and receiving a kingdom. And here, in this picture, Christ is standing at the right hand of God. Some feel that, in a sense, this is a kind of a stance or a position of judgment with Christ being shown as standing before the throne of God advocating for Stephen, advocating for the church, and for those that are standing up against the Jews at this point. But it would've struck them as a scene of judgment because, again, that's what you see back in Daniel 7. And if they would've remembered that, then they would've seen that he's equating us to be receiving the judgment of God in a bad way. And it would've further inflamed them. That's why they cried out.

Acts 7:57 “They cried out with a loud voice, stopped their ears and ran at him with one accord."

They didn't want to hear anymore. They were done listening to him. They had given him enough time in their thinking, and they grabbed him.

Acts 7:58 And it says, "They cast him out of the city and stoned him."

All right? Now, you talk about, this is quite a...it moves quickly from, you know, the tumult inside there. They rush him out of the temple to a point down, probably in the lower part of the area of the Valley of Hinnom, and the Kidron Valley, somewhere down there, would've been to the south of their location in the temple. And they stone him. They moved to judgment here at this particular time. How and why did they do that? Now, keep in mind, this is the same group that engineered the death of Jesus. But in the case of Jesus, remember, of course, it was at the Passover time, Jerusalem was full of pilgrims. It also, it had resident at the time, the Governor, the Roman governor, whose name was Pontius Pilate, remember? And so he's the Roman governor.

And they followed the technicality of the law, in a sense, to cover their tracks. And they got the Romans to condemn him and then do the dirty work of crucifying Jesus. But in this case, with Stephen, they do it. Now, did they violate the law? Well, technically, yes. But it's understood that the Jews had certain leeway given to them within the Roman oversight of the time that they could handle, according to their laws, certain cases. And so there were probably certain loopholes that scholars feel were there, that when... And looking at the case that Stephen made where he was blaspheming the temple, this was a matter of Jewish law. And there would've been, let's say, an allowance for the Jews to handle this within their own law. What do they do? Well, they rush to a judgment and they kill him. There's one other thing to probably note about this, and that is that there's no evidence from the text, and very likely was the case at this time, that the governor, the Roman governor of Judea was probably not in Jerusalem. And so they couldn't have taken him to that.

Now, this is all intricacies of the, let's say, the legal system and the structure they had to work into because we're going to see later, keep this in mind, when we come to Paul's arrest, by the same people, later on in the story, several years later, they take him... Ultimately, Paul engineers that they were...he's not kept in Jerusalem, knowing that he could meet the same fate as Stephen. He basically appeals to his right as a Roman citizen, and they get him down to Caesarea on the coast. Caesarea is, where is Caesarea? Right here, which was the seat of the Roman governor. All right? Jerusalem is right here, boom, that's Jerusalem, of course, that's where the center of the Jewish state is, and all the actions taking place. But Caesarea, down on the coast, is where the governor was. And during this time of Stephen, very likely that the Roman governor wasn't up here. So, they rushed to this judgment and went ahead and stoned him, and didn't bother with the niceties of Roman law. But again, in the gospels, we've seen, they stayed within that larger Roman system. And Paul uses it to his own advantage to keep his life later on in the story. So, that's probably why the Jews go ahead and do this, and they rush to judgment.

So, one thing to understand about the Roman governors, whether it's Pontius Pilate or the others that we will read about, they didn't spend any more time than they had to in Jerusalem. Why? Well, they had a very nice spot in, number one, down in Caesarea. Herod the Great had built a very nice seaside palace down there and city. they had a Roman amphitheater, they had a stadium. I don't think it was a hippodrome. There was a difference between a stadium and a hippodrome in the Roman social culture there. But they did have a stadium and a theater, and it was a really nice place. It was a really nice place. I mean, you had the blue waters of the Mediterranean, you had a seaside palace that Herod had built, and it's really nice. The ruins were there. You can see it when you go to Caesarea. I think Herod had a lazy river water park there, and he could float around in that all during the day and probably... And I think he had a floating bar that he could just kind of come up to, and get a rum drink, and things like that. So, y'all know about these. So that's what Herod had. You believe me on this one? Well, you should. Anyway, it was still very nice by Roman standards down there.

But the nicest thing about Caesarea, the Jews weren't there. And he kept them out of the hothouse atmosphere of Jerusalem, where the Jews were. And the Romans didn't like the Jews. The Jews were just, you know, they were always at each other's throats themselves, and they were always creating problems and fights toward the Romans. So, no self-respecting Roman governor wanted to spend time there. So, it's a long way to say why they rushed a judgment here with Stephen and stoned him. So, let's go back to the account here.

Acts 7:58 "The witnesses laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul."

Here's our first introduction now to our protagonist, primary protagonist later in the book. And that is Paul, the man who will be the Apostle Paul. "They laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul."

Now, we know from other writings of Paul and his other speeches, especially in Philippians, he gives a little bit more biographical background that... And this would be in the mid-30s. Let's just use a general term of timing, mid-30s AD, 35, 36, possibly. It's kind of hard to...depends on what scholar you read in terms of the dating of this particular event as well as other events. But we'll just settle at mid-30s. Saul, it says, he's a young man. Now, Paul later identifies himself as a Pharisee, brought up at the feet of a rabbi named Gamaliel, whom we've already been introduced to back in Chapter 6, as this wise man who stood up in the council advocating for the apostles, that rash action would not be taken against them. Some speculate that Saul and this is his Hebrew name, Saul here. He's named after the first king of Israel, king Saul, who was a Benjamite, and Saul was of the tribe of Benjamin. And so he's named after the most prominent person in the history of the tribe of Benjamin, which was Saul. We'll talk about the name change later on when we come to that, when that time does happen and what that means.

But some speculate that the laying down of their clothes at the feet of this, maybe an indication of his prominence among the Pharisees at this time, that it's kind of a sign of, you know, distinction. He's right there in the front of it. He's giving consent, as he will later say, he consented to the death of Stephen at this moment. Did he cast the first stone? Did he lead the charge out with the mob? It says, he consented. And some think that Paul may have been of the synagogue of the freedmen or at least somehow connected with this, which is the group that initiated the discussion with Stephen in the previous chapter that gets us to this point in the story. We don't know all for a certainty, but this is where Luke chooses, led by God's spirit to introduce Saul into the text and into the story here. And this is very important, just to note, Saul is an eyewitness to this. He's consenting to it. He's involved in it. And this is going, this scene, this moment, this is a moment in the life of Saul that we're going to see him come back to in his own speeches or sermons. This moment will stay with Saul for the rest of his life, that he was consenting to, and in instigating, possibly, and involved, maybe even throwing the first stone against this righteous man. That will never leave his mind.

I speculate that it probably woke him up many, many nights in the middle of a night from a nightmare of a thought of what he did, here and in the subsequent days. He'll come back to it. Certain events in your life, good and bad, they stay with you. We can repent, we can be forgiven, and yet certain things will stay with us. So, it speaks to living a life of integrity. Paul, certainly thought he was living a life of integrity as Pharisee, at this point. But he was responsible for the death of a good man, a righteous man.

Acts 7:59 Says, "They stone Stephen as he was calling on God and saying..." And this is what Stephen was saying, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. Lord Jesus, receive my spirit."

Now, this is echoes, again, of what Jesus said. Jesus as he was dying, said essentially the same thing to the Father, you know, "Receive my spirit." And so were those words in Stephen's mind, you know, as a part of what he had known from the time of Christ's death? Could be, could be. But this is the same matter he says…

Acts 7:59-60 "Receive my spirit. He knelt down and cried out with a loud voice," in verse 60, "Lord, do not charge them with this sin."

Again, echoes of what Jesus said when he was in His last moments of life, when He, in a sense, asked forgiveness on those that were engineering that. And so Stephen is bringing forth these same ideas. But here's something else. Note that he is praying to Jesus. He is praying to the Lord. He says, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." And he cried, "Lord, do not charge them with this sin." And so it's an example of praying to Jesus. There'll be times that I will pray to Christ. Certainly, I pray to the Father, you know, according to the model prayer that Christ taught, you know, "Our Father, which are in heaven." And I always ask in the name of Jesus Christ, as you do as well, but Christ is the head of the church. Christ is God. Christ is divine. And Stephen is praying to Christ here, it's a very clear example. And so there are times, you know, in my prayers that I will address Christ directly, especially, usually when it comes to matters pertaining to the church and issues of importance to the church, which is his body, and he is the head of that church. So, this is where he is. He has this vision, and he ends with that.

Acts 7:60 "When he said this, he fell asleep."

Again an idiom for dying. And death is a type of sleep. This is one verse that shows that Paul talks about this in 1 Thessalonians 4, those who sleep in Jesus it says there, so death is referred to as a type of sleep, a kind of sleep in that way, even though there's no memory and thoughts cease at that particular time.

Acts 8:1 That “Saul was consenting to his death.”

 So, he was right there, he was a part of it. It was a mob action, it was a method used, you know, at the time, stoning and killing people in this particular way. And it says here that he consented to that death, he approved of it. That's what the word consent means. It comes from a word that means to approve, in a sense, like, he cast his vote to, you know, let's kill him. Let's do this. And again, some wonder if this might mean that he had an official vote within the Sanhedrin. We don't know that, for sure. But he certainly was right there in front of it and was involved with this.

So that brings us through the story of Chapter 7 and this significant story of the stoning of Stephen. Now, this is a very key event. I've already talked about it, at least in the personal life of Saul or Paul, and we will come back to that. But it's also a key event in the life of the church. They have not seen anything like this happen. They have not had a martyrdom. This is what you call a martyrdom, a death. Stephen becomes a martyr, the first martyr. And that is a term that applies to people who die for their faith. We will see many in scriptures. We'll see others.

James, the brother of John will be killed in the story of Acts. Certainly, Jesus was martyred himself. Paul will meet a martyrdom. Peter, and by the accounts we have from traditions, all the apostles were martyred, but to die for their faith. And martyrdom didn't die then, I mean, didn't end then. Other people, throughout the ages, have died for their faith. And that is a critical story of church history as well. But this, Stephen, becomes the first. So, you can imagine the impact upon the congregation, the church here in Jerusalem when this happens, because it now triggers a persecution. And that's what we see as we go on into Chapter 8.

Acts 8:1-3 It says, "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. And devout men carried Stephen to his burial and made great lamentation over him. And as for Saul, he made havoc of the church entering every house and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison."

And let's just read on a little... Let's just pause right there because I want to bring in something here. This martyrdom creates then a major persecution. And notice what we're told in the text, "It came against the church, which was at Jerusalem. And they were scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles." Now, this is where you have to... It's important to read all of the Bible very carefully, word for word. Every word of God is important. But in a story like Acts, Luke gives us a lot of information in a very short fashion. He sometimes half a sentence or as a tack on, onto something. And as the whole picture comes in, as you read the rest of the book, you begin to understand what's happening. First of all, there's a scattering that takes place, it says, of the church at Jerusalem. To this point in the story, there has only been activity in the church at Jerusalem. We haven't really seen the church go out any further than this. Have we? Look at the events we've seen, the events of Pentecost in Chapter 2. We've seen John and Peter go up into the temple, healing of that lame man. They being brought before the Sanhedrin. And on two occasions, we see a growth in the church, but it's all centered in what's happening in Jerusalem. To this point, and if it is, what? Three, let's say, three to four years from the time of the beginning of the church and use that as a round number, they essentially are still in Jerusalem, at least as far as the narrative is concerned. But remember this, go back to Acts Chapter 1, and let's look at verse 8. Okay? Acts 1:8. Go ahead and turn back there. Jesus says this to the church.

Acts 1:8 He says, "You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be witnesses to me in Jerusalem."

Verse 8 of Chapter 1, it's an encapsulation of their marching orders, their prime directive, if you will, what they are to do. He said, "You're going to be witnesses of me in Jerusalem." But notice, it goes beyond that, "In all Judea, Samaria, and to the end of the earth." Now, in Matthew 28:19, we've read that in this class. But Christ gives a commission to the apostles, "Go you therefore, into all the world, preaching and teaching, making disciples, teaching all the things that I have commanded you." The mission of the church, and we have this in our mission statement, is to preach the gospel to the world, to make disciples, to care for those disciples. This all flows together. But to this point in the story, the church in Jerusalem hadn't gone very far. A few years have gone by. They've kind of been bottled up in Jerusalem. There's been several thousand people in the church, but we don't have a record, at least of a lot going out beyond that. Were there forays out? Possibly.

We're going run into something when we get into Chapter 9, when Paul is converted in the city on his way to Damascus, we're going to run into a disciple named Ananais. Now, who is he? Where does he fit in the story? If he's a disciple way up in Damascus, how did that happen? Again, we're not told. So, I'm not trying to say that the church necessarily was all locked up here, but primarily they were but they were to go beyond. And Jesus explicitly says, Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, the ends of the earth. This is like a growing circle out from Jerusalem to Judea, then to take in Samaria, and then to the ends of the earth, which can be all the different points of the compass. But then in Chapter 8, go back to Chapter 8 and in verse 1, we read now that there's a scattering throughout the regions of Judea. This echoes back Chapter 1:8. Again, Luke is consistent.

Acts 8:1 "There's a scattering throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria."

Now, again, Judea speaks to the region of, essentially the allotment to the tribe of Judah. And as it has developed, to this point, in the 1st century, and Jerusalem is the center of it. Samaria is right up here in Northern, Northern Israel.

Remember, in your Old Testament history, Samaria was a different tribal allocation. But in the division of the nation, after the death of Solomon, when Rehoboam led a rebellion against the house of Judah, David's dynasty, and Jeroboam the king, they created the 10-tribe nation of Israel. But Samaria was the center of that. That's where they were centered, that became the capital. And so for roughly 200 years, they are taken captive. You have a separate dynasty, kings, and nation operating up here, that is the story. But Jesus, you know, is looking at it as a spiritual word, and the word is to go out to Samaria. And so we'll come back to that, the importance of Samaria as we go into Chapter 8. But I want to make one other point here, just very quickly before we conclude.

And notice, again, go back to verse 1 of Chapter 8. There's a scattering because of this persecution. Now, many comment on this, and I think it's very valid that, in a sense, Christ allowed Stephen to be martyred, and he's allowed this persecution, at this extent now, and there and there is a scattering. And this works to the promulgation of the gospel. It works to the preaching of the gospel. Sometimes bad events, within and to the church, create opportunity. And so this is one of those, it is by the scattering that people go out and the word is carried. All right? But notice what it says at the end of verse 1.

Acts 8:1 That, "They went through these regions, except the apostles."

Which indicates to us that they weren't scattered, that they were not part of the scattering. They must have stayed relatively close to Jerusalem, and certainly within Judea. Now, we turn over, hold your place here and turn over to the, let's see, Chapter 11. Let's go to Chapter 11 of Acts. And we're skipping over a lot. We'll come back, we're going to go through that, but this is where, kind of, and the way Luke writes it, these two connect. So, Acts 11:19, Acts 11:19. All right? So, we've got a kind of a new episode started here.

Acts 11:19 And he says, "Now, those who were scattered after the persecution that arose over Stephen..." that's what we've just read about. "Those who were scattered after the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch preaching the word to no one, but the Jews only."

All right? This is what happened as a result of this scattering on the death of Stephen. Those who left, for whatever reason, it got too hot farther them and said," I'm out of here. I want to go someplace where it's more peaceful." And they folded up their tents, and they moved to Beverly Hills like Jed Clampett did and all. You know, they left. But what did they do? "They preached the word." Notice that. Who are these people? Who are those guys? Like the great line out of "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," Who are these people? Anybody seen "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance"? Oh, another one of your deficiencies, folks, you've got to see that. Who are these guys? Who are those guys? Who are these people that are scattered?

Back in Chapter 8:1 verse 1, were told they must be disciples, except the apostles. I think that's key. That's key. These people that went out were disciples. And what did they do? They preached the word. And they went as far as Antioch. Now, here's Antioch. I will flip the chart over here for a moment, here's Antioch. What do you know from the name Antioch? What does that tell you? Anybody? What? Antiochus Epiphanies. This was his head headquarters, the bad guy from Daniel 11. This was the seat of the Greek government that had persecuted the Jews during that time, led to the Maccabean Revolt. But now we've got disciples going up as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and to Antioch. And what do they do? They preach the word.

All right. Just you'll hold that thought because we're going to come back to that when we come to Chapter 11 and 12, that point in the story. And we'll tie all of this together. So, when we go back to Chapter 8, then, the scattering results in an expansion of the church, and it's now expanding into Gentile areas. And this is important, too, as we will see in the story. And so devout men carry Stephen, and he's buried. Now, look at verse 4.

Acts 8:4 It says, "Therefore, those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word."

It's kind of what we just read out of Chapter 11 as well. But then Luke focuses upon one individual named Philip. Now, this Philip is one of the same seven who were ordained back in Chapter 6, one of the seven who was chosen. We focused in Chapter 7 on Stephen. Now, Luke has led to focus on Philip.