Chapter Eight — Part One: The Book of ActsBy: Pastors Rodney & Adonica Howard-Browne
Publish date: 09/05/2021Foundation Scriptures:
1. Severe Persecution.
a. Acts 8:1a AMPC — And Saul was [not only] consenting to [Stephen’s] death [he was pleased and entirely approving].
b. Consenting (Greek — syneudokeō) — consent to; agree to; be pleased; allow; have pleasure in; to be pleased together with; to approve together (with others); to be pleased at the same time with; to applaud.
c. Acts 22:20 AMPC — And when the blood of Your witness (martyr) Stephen was shed, I also was personally standing by and consenting and approving and guarding the garments of those who slew him.
d. Saul was not just standing by when Stephen was murdered—he fully approved of it.
e. Acts 8:1b AMPC — On that day a great and severe persecution broke out against the church which was in Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles (special messengers).
f. From that day, severe persecution broke out against the Church in Jerusalem.
g. They were dispersed—scattered—throughout Judea and Samaria.
h. Even when the devil means a thing for bad, God means it (turns it around) for good.
i. Jesus already told them, “…you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8 NKJV)
j. It was always His plan that they spread out into the world, carrying the Gospel.
k. Acts 8:2 AMPC — [A party of] devout men with others helped to carry out and bury Stephen and made great lamentation over him.
l. Acts 8:3 AMPC — But Saul shamefully treated and laid waste the church continuously [with cruelty and violence]; and entering house after house, he dragged out men and women and committed them to prison.
m. Saul made havoc of the Church.
n. Havoc (Greek — lymainō) — to affix a stigma to; to dishonor; spot; defile; to treat shamefully or with injury; to ravage; devastate; ruin.
o. Saul continued to actively, and ruthlessly, persecute the Church and decimate the Body of Christ—men, women, and children.
2. Scattered Abroad.
a. Acts 8:4 AMPC — Now those who were scattered abroad went about [through the land from place to place] preaching the glad tidings, the Word [the doctrine concerning the attainment through Christ of salvation in the kingdom of God].
b. Fortunately, they did not let the persecution stop them.
c. Those who were dispersed, continued to preach the Good News of the Gospel wherever they went.
d. Acts 8:5 AMPC — Philip [the deacon, not the apostle] went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed the Christ (the Messiah) to them [the people].
e. What the Lord did with Philip is proof that you do not necessarily need to be called to full-time ministry to preach, teach, and demonstrate the power of the Gospel.
f. Later, he is referred to as Philip, the evangelist (Acts 21:8-9).
g. God will use anyone who makes themselves available and takes Him at His Word!
h. Acts 8:6 AMPC — And great crowds of people with one accord listened to and heeded what was said by Philip, as they heard him and watched the miracles and wonders which he kept performing [from time to time].
i. The crowd was unified in their attention which they gave to the things Philip taught.
j. He did many miracles that were seen by them all, confirming his message, that it was the Truth.
k. Acts 8:7 AMPC — For foul spirits came out of many who were possessed by them, screaming and shouting with a loud voice, and many who were suffering from palsy or were crippled were restored to health.
l. By the power of God, demons came out screaming and bodies were healed and restored, including those who were crippled or paralyzed.
m. Acts 8:8 AMPC — And there was great rejoicing in that city.
n. Whenever people open their hearts to receive the Gospel—multitudes are saved, miracles, healings and deliverances take place, demons are cast out, many are baptized in water and the Holy Ghost—and the fruit of it all is rejoicing and great joy.
3. Samaria Receives the Gospel.
a. Acts 8:9-11 AMPC — But there was a man named Simon, who had formerly practiced magic arts in the city to the utter amazement of the Samaritan nation, claiming that he himself was an extraordinary and distinguished person. 10 They all paid earnest attention to him, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is that exhibition of the power of God which is called great (intense). 11 And they were attentive and made much of him, because for a long time he had amazed and bewildered and dazzled them with his skill in magic arts.
b. Magic, sorcery, soothsaying, divination, and witchcraft were expressly forbidden in the Word of God.
c. Simon used his skills in these areas to deceive, control, and manipulate others for gain.
d. Because of the lust for money and power, many people have done much harm and caused much pain.
e. Acts 8:12 AMPC — But when they believed the good news (the Gospel) about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ (the Messiah) as Philip preached it, they were baptized, both men and women.
f. Philip proclaimed Christ the Messiah, preached the Word of God, the Good News of the Gospel, and the Name of Jesus Christ.
g. The people believed what he preached and were baptized—both men and women.
h. Acts 8:13 AMPC — Even Simon himself believed [he adhered to, trusted in, and relied on the teaching of Philip], and after being baptized, devoted himself constantly to him. And seeing signs and miracles of great power which were being performed, he was utterly amazed.
i. Even Simon believed and was baptized—and then began to follow Philip everywhere.