Summary: The gospel and the Holy Ghost combination is unstoppable and will be victorious over all obstacles.
Acts 8 General outline
1. Introduction of Saul's exploits against the church
2. The result of persecutions against the church
3. Philip's ministry in Samaria
4. The Baptism in the Holy Ghost
5. Simon (the sorcerer) vs Simon (Peter)
6. Christ's Ambassador meets Ethiopia's Secretary of the Treasury
7. Philip's continued ministry
Act 8:1-8 And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles. 2 And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him. 3 As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison. 4 Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word. 5 Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them. 6 And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. 7 For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed. 8 And there was great joy in that city.
Saul was most likely a member of the synagogue of the Libertines being a native of Tarsus in Cilicia. Saul must have entered into argument with Stephen and came out the worst for it because "...they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake. Act 6:10
Can you imagine that?...Saul being bested in an theological argument? It's speaks much for the power of the Holy Ghost in the life of a believer who has spent time actually studying the word of God! Being unable to resist Stephen they resorted to the usual violence, the weakest trick in the book! If you can't win them beat them up and kill them!!!
Have you ever wondered about the inclusion of the longest address in Acts ? How did it get there? I know Luke wrote but who dictated it? Paul? Was it burned into his mind the day he heard it?
Someone once said "They tried to stamp the fire of God out in Jerusalem, but they scattered the embers all over the world."
Acts 7 became a turning point in the ministry of the church at Jerusalem.
Prior to that it appears that the ministry was confined to Jerusalem.
With the murder of Stephen the persecution began in earnest resulting in many believers being scattered throughout Judea and Samaria.
Funny but it takes my mind back to Act 1:8 where Jesus said: But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
It is possible that the gospel was being spread elsewhere in small measures maybe but the focus was on Jerusalem where things were really happening. Also the big guns of the faith, the apostles, were there! It seems as though even back then people liked to hang around the big names of the ministry.
It also seems as though no one was doing much about the command of Jesus to be witnesses in all Judea and Samaria and the uttermost parts of the earth.
1. IT DOES NOT MATTER WHAT YOU START OUT AS. WHAT MATTERS IS THE USE YOU MAKE OF YOUR OPPORTUNITIES.
A deacon (Stephen) stirred up the great controversy in Jerusalem and supplied the igniting spark that exploded the powder of the gospel message all over the world.
Another deacon Philip did some tremendous evangelistic work in Samaria and elsewhere.
Saul (Paul) started out the greatest persecutor of the church...he ended up being the greatest messenger for Christ! Act 9:10-16 And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord. 11 And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth, 12 And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight. 13 Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem: 14 And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name. 15 But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: 16 For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake.