Persecutor

Verlyn Verbrugge

READ : Acts 7:59-8:3

And Saul was there, giving approval to his death . . . [and he] began to destroy the church. (Acts 8:1, 3 NIV)

Young Rabbi Saul attended the Synagogue of the Freedmen (Acts 6:9), where he heard Deacon Stephen testify that Jesus was the Messiah. That message contradicted everything Saul had been taught. How could God’s Messiah be someone whom God had cursed by having him hung upon a tree (cf. Gal. 3:13)?

While Saul was too young to be a member of the Sanhedrin, he was among those witnesses who testified that “this fellow [Stephen] never stops speaking against this holy place and against the law” (Acts 6:13 NIV). He gladly endorsed Stephen’s assassination. Then Saul went one step further: he became the chief persecutor of the young church in Jerusalem, dedicating his life to stamping out Christianity by dragging men and women to prison.

Saul’s misguided zeal had the opposite effect, however. Rather than eliminating the church, he helped it grow, since believers in Jesus Christ fled from Jerusalem and carried their faith with them. Churches began to spring up elsewhere in Judea and in Galilee as believers witnessed to others.

God can take the most tragic circumstances in our lives and turn them to his glory. He is in charge of this world, and no enemy of the church can destroy it (Matt. 16:18).
Praise God for his powerful hand and his almighty providence.

PRAYER

Lord God, I am encouraged to know that you are in charge of this world and everything that happens. Amen.