After His Resurrection, Jesus commanded His Apostles to teach and baptize people in every nation. He also foretold that the Apostles’ ministry would begin in Jerusalem, spread throughout Judea and Samaria, and finally go “unto the uttermost part of the earth” Acts 1:8.
Acts 8-12 describes the beginning of this worldwide expansion of the early Church. Up to this point, the book of Acts recounts the Church’s growth among Jews in Jerusalem and Judea. In Acts 8 we read about Philip, one of the seven leaders called to assist the Twelve (see Acts 6:5), who taught and baptized many Samaritans and a man from Ethiopia. Acts 9 recounts the conversion of Saul, who would become an Apostle and a powerful missionary to the Gentiles. The Lord also gave Peter, as leader of the Church, a vision directing him to accept Gentiles into the Church in Acts 10-11. Despite growing opposition, Church leaders pressed forward to take the gospel “unto the uttermost part of the earth.”
- Saul persecuted the Church. In Samaria, Philip preached, baptized, and performed many miracles.
- Jesus appeared to Saul on the road to Damascus. At the Lord’s direction, Ananias sought out Saul, restored his eyesight, and baptized him.
- At Caesarea, an angel instructed Cornelius to send for Peter. At Joppa, Peter received a revelation instructing him to accept Gentiles into the Church. (Acts 10:5-8)
- In Acts 11:1-17 Peter recounted his experience with his vision to Jewish members of the Church in Jerusalem. They came to realize, as Peter had, that God had extended gospel blessings to the Gentiles- Acts 11:18
- The church continued to grow despite opposition. Revelation for the Church always comes from its people.
- Barnabas found the Jesus movement was alive and well.
- The church of Antioch was the first international Jesus community where Jesus’ followers were first called Christ Followers.
- The movement went global to the ends of the earth and caused conflict which is what we will talk about next week.
Talk About It
- What influence do you think Philip’s ministry had on future preaching of the gospel in Samaria?
- What influence do you think our actions have on future preaching of the gospel where we live?
- What happened as Peter moved forward in faith and acted upon what the Spirit taught him? (He came to understand the meaning of his vision and knew that the Gentiles should be baptized.)
- How did Peter’s experiences recorded in Acts 10 change the course of Christian history?
- Share an example of a time when you have seen your family in opposition?
The Bible Project Blog: Bringing the Gospel to the Greeks
Bible Commentary: Work & Christian Identity Acts 8-12