It is good to be back to writing blogs!
We had left the story of Acts where Stephen has been martyred and Saul's name first appeared. These are hugely changing times: Saul now takes the persecution of Christian believers to new heights and the Gospel spreads to Gentiles as the Church spreads as a result of persecution.
We learn in these opening verses of chapter eight that the apostles stood firm throughout all this and the authorities hesitated to lay hands on them because they were known for their good character. This passage also emphasises the brute force of Saul's persecution: The Greek word used to describe it is the same word as described a wild animal savaging a body!
We are also introduced to Philip, who was one of the deacons chosen alongside Stephen and not one of the Twelve. We witness a breaking down of barriers: the Jews had no dealings with the Samaritans: the Church is unconsciously taking one of the most important steps in history and beginning to discover that the gift of Jesus Christ was to benefit the whole world. The preaching of the Good News to the people of Samaria brought freedom, deliverance, healing, a new unity-note that both men and women were baptised.
Christianity is not just a matter of words: the power is demonstrated in actions and in joy. The new believers in Samaria came to know this blessing which they had not known before.