Continuing on from the last verse of chapter 7, we will learn more about this young-man called Saul, plus some of what happened among the learning-disciples and apostles of the resurrected Christ Jesus.
8:1But Saul was considering-it-good-together with (others) at his elimination. And a great persecution came-to-pass in that day on the church, the (church) in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the countries of Judea and Samaria besides the apostles. .2And devout adult-males carried Stephen together and they made great lamentation on him. .3But Saul treated the church outrageously journeying-into (and) according to the houses, hauling both adult-males and women he gave (them) over into prison. .4Therefore indeed the (people) having been scattered went-through good-messaging the word.
In these four verses the topics alternate between those who believed the truth of what God says and those who vehemently opposed God’s Word regarding the Lord Jesus Christ, thus intensifying the active persecution against God's people at that time.
This Saul, in conjunction with the council members, consented because he supposed that it was a good-thing to get Stephen out of their way permanently. He demonstrated it by being an active participant in Stephen's death taking the responsibility of keeping-watch over the robes of authority while they stoned him (refer to Acts 7:57-60 and 22:20).
This event on that day began a great (large) persecution down-on the church, emphatically and specifically the church in Jerusalem. The word "church" here is not referring to a physical building. It refers to the assembly of people called-out by God from among the rest of the people because they believed God's words. This church consisted of those who had become holy-people (sanctified-people, saints, Christians), just like Stephen.
The church was being pursued as enemies within Jerusalem, and so all the holy-people were caused to disperse (as a sower would scatter seed upon the earth) accordingly throughout the surrounding areas from one place to another of Judea and Samaria – except the apostles who stayed in Jerusalem during this time (refer to Acts 1:13 and 26).
Some adult-males, who were dedicated and careful to carry-out their Godly-duties, together took-up and bore Stephen's dead body to its burial and expressed their extreme grief based-on what had happened to him.
However, Saul ravaged the church of holy-people, traveling from house to house, going inside their homes and forcefully dragging the grown men and women, husbands and wives, handing them along (delivering them) into prison! Talk about being 'religious'?! Saul was 'religious' alright!
As a result of all of this persecution, did those who purposefully left Jerusalem at that time sit-down and cry saying, "That's the end of it all, we can't take anymore"? No! Emphatically they went throughout the areas where they had moved-to evangelizing (good-messaging, gospelizing) the Word of God! They spoke the words that God has given mankind to believe. They did not speak of how upset they were, or how angry they may have been regarding what was going on in Jerusalem to their spiritual brothers and sisters at that time. They good-messaged God's Word!
[Reference: Acts 1:8, 5:14, 9:21, 11:19, 22:4 and 19, 26:9-11; Romans 1:32; I Corinthians 15:9; Galatians 1:13 and 23; Philippians 3:6; I Timothy 1:13.]
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