And Saul was consenting to his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem…
I. GOD INTENDED THAT HIS CHURCH SHOULD BE SCATTERED ALL OVER THE WORLD.
1. There was a tendency in our humanity at first to remain together; hence the first grey fathers endeavoured to build a central tower around which the race should rally. But God confounded their language, and scattered them that they might people the world. Jerusalem was first the central point of Christianity, and the tendency doubtless was to keep the centre strong. I have often heard the argument, "Do not have too many out-stations, keep up a strong central force." But God's plan was that the holy force should be distributed; the holy seed must be sown — to do this the Lord used the rough hand of persecution. One went this way, and one the other; and the faithful were scattered.
2. Every Church endowed with the Spirit will be spread abroad. God never means the Church to be shut up in a shell or, like ointment, enclosed in a box. The precious perfume of the gospel must be poured forth to sweeten the air. Now that persecution has ceased godly men are scattered through the necessity of earning a livelihood. Sometimes we regret that young men should have to go to a distance, that families should have to migrate. But does not the Lord by this means sow the good seed widely? It is very pleasant to be comfortably settled under an edifying ministry, but the Lord has need of some of His servants in places where there is no light; and they ought of themselves to scatter voluntarily. Every Christian should say, "Where can I do most good?" And if we will not go afield willingly, God may use providential necessity as the forcible means of our dispersion.
II. GOD'S DESIGN IS NOT THE SCATTERING IN ITSELF, BUT SCATTERING OF A PURPOSE — to preach the Word. The word "proclaim" is not quite so subject to the modern sense which has spoiled the word "preach." The latter has come to be a sort of official term for delivering a set discourse; whereas gospel preaching is telling the gospel out in any way. Note —
1. The universality of the work of evangelising. All the scattered went everywhere; there does not seem to have been any exception. You thought it would read "the apostles," but they were just the people who did not go at all. Generals may have to stand still in the centre of the battle to direct the forces; but this was soldiers' battles, and of this sort all the battles of the Cross ought to be.
2. There were no personal distinctions. It is not said that ministers preached the Word, scarcely anything has been more injurious to the kingdom of Christ than the distinction between clergy and laity. No such distinction appears in the Bible. "Ye are God's Kleros": all God's saints are God's inheritance. "Ye are a royal priesthood." Though God gives to His Church apostles, teachers, pastors, etc., yet not by way of setting up a professional caste who are to do all the work while others sit still. Every converted man is to teach what he knows.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.
WEB: Saul was consenting to his death. A great persecution arose against the assembly which was in Jerusalem in that day. They were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except for the apostles.