February 17, 2021 – Wednesday
Acts 11:19-21 NIV
19 Now those who had been scattered by the persecution that broke out when Stephen was killed traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, spreading the word only among Jews.
20 Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus.
21 The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord.
I was moved when I read these verses in last Thursday night’s Bible study as we work our way through Acts. What moved me was that these men were believers, but not Apostles. Nonetheless they carried the Good News of Jesus Christ with them wherever they went as they were scattered.
We are told in v19 they were scattered by the persecution that broke out when Stephen was killed. Thus, in a very real sense Luke is picking up were he left off in chapter eight where we read (v1-4), And Saul approved of their killing him [Stephen]. On that day a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him. But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off both men and women and put them in prison. Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went. Those who had been scattered -godly men, but not Apostles, believers in the Good News of Jesus Christ – preached the word wherever they went.
They had no training, and they had no calling that we are made aware of. We do not even know their names. However, we do know they were Godly men and they had not only accepted the Gospel but knew it as well. Some preached it only to Jews, but others spoke to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus. Many commentaries question whether this preceded or followed Peter bringing the word to Cornelius the Centurion and his household due to a vision as described in chapter 10. No one really knows, but the common belief is that the outreach to Gentiles/Greeks were independent of each other. But the question remains what drove these men whose names are never mentioned?
MacLaren’s Expositions provides the answer that makes the most sense to me as it fits my understanding as I considered these verses. He wrote, Persecution drove the members of the Church apart, and, as a matter of course, wherever they went they took their faith with them, and, as a matter of course, spoke about it. The coals were scattered from the hearth in Jerusalem by the armed heel of violence. That did not put the fire out, but only spread it, for wherever they were flung they kindled a blaze. These men had no special injunction ‘to preach the Lord Jesus.’ They do not seem to have adopted this line of action deliberately, or of set purpose. ‘They believed, and therefore spoke.’ … They see all around them men who need Him, and that is enough. They obey the promptings of the voice within, and lay the foundations of the first Gentile Church. They believed, and therefore spoke most likely with the prompting of the Holy Spirit.
I believe we are all called to share the Good News of Jesus Christ no matter where we are planted. We may be too afraid or too embarrassed or dare I say too ashamed to do so No matter for what does that say about us and our relationship with Jesus. He died for us. He took all our sins upon Himself on the cross. These men left their homes and friends and all they knew – all except the knowledge of what He had done for them. As as result they could not keep from sharing Jesus with others. May we also be able to do the same in our own lives.
Prayer: Heavenly Father – Give us the courage to overcome any reasons we have for not sharing about Your Son, enable us to share all He has done for us. – In Jesus name. Amen.