Acts 8:1–3 (ESV)
Saul Ravages the Church
8 And Saul approved of his execution.
And there arose on that day a great persecution
against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. 2 Devout men buried Stephen and made great lamentation over him. 3 But
Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison.
Stephen’s death and Saul’s persecution of
Christ’s followers illustrate the fulfillment of the prophecy that the world would hate the Gospel and kill those who believed it (Mt 24:9–10). The omnipotent God made the world’s fanatical hatred serve His purpose in proclaiming the Gospel
throughout the entire world. When you are persecuted for the sake of the Gospel, trust that your Lord is at work in the midst of such circumstances. As the cross shows, He can work blessings for you and for others, despite all curses and condemnations.
I pray: “Praise for the first of martyrs Who saw You ready stand To help in time of torment, To plead at God’s right hand. Like You, our suff’ring Savior, His enemies
he blessed, With ‘Lord, receive my spirit,’ His faith, by death, confessed.” Amen. (LSB 517:7)
Edward A. Engelbrecht, The Lutheran Study Bible (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2009), 1848.