The spread of the Gospel, first to Samaria.
In the first part of the Book of Acts the focus in the story has been on Jerusalem. But Jesus’ instructions had been to spread the Good News beyond Jerusalem, and ultimately to the far corners of the earth. So in these chapters we catch the very first glimpses of this expansion and how the early believers fulfilled their responsibility to go into all the world.
Forced out to Samaria.
vv 3-5. 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. But the believers who were scattered preached the Good News about Jesus wherever they went. Philip, for example, went to the city of Samaria and told the people there about the Messiah.
What a contrast between Saul/Paul, and the followers of Jesus. ‘Saul was going everywhere to destroy the church’; Philip and others ‘were scattered and preached the Good News about Jesus wherever they went.’
All the believers initially stayed in Jerusalem it would seem, but Jesus had said explicitly that they were to go to Samaria. So do you see God’s hand even in the spate of persecution that followed? They were scattered for a purpose – to take the Good News to Samaria. This persecution was no unfortunate accident. The seed of the Kingdom has to be scattered, and the Master Kingdom planter shakes the seeds out into Samaria first of all. It may be uncomfortable for the seeds, but left in the packet there would be no growth!
This process of shaking Jesus’ followers out of their comfortable places and into the rough and tumble of everyday life continues today. Our growth Groups and other Church activities are pretty comfortable really, whereas God may be calling us out into the harder areas of society where the good news of Jesus needs to be heard.