The earliest Christians followed a Jewish tradition of pausing to pray, preferably together, first thing in the morning, about mid morning, at noon, about mid afternoon, and in the evening. “Just a Note” posts are brief observations made from Scripture readings not related to a lectionary. If I have one to post, it normally appears about 9:00 in the morning, at “the hour of prayer.”
Acts 8:1-3 describes a tremendous change in the life of the fledgling Christian Church. Under the leadership of Saul of Tarsus, Christians are being systematically persecuted, not only in Jerusalem, but in other places. Because the center of persecution is in Jerusalem, many of the Christians scatter to other communities. I’d like to make two quick observations about what happens here.
First, the Christians who scatter to other communities do what Christians in every age have done. They take the Gospel with them. The persecution actually leads to a spread of Christianity. Wherever Christians go, they bring the message of Jesus, their savior. They work for peace and reconciliation in their communities, bringing the message of eternal forgiveness and life. This is an enormous change in the life of the Church. The apostles are not doing all the work. Instead, every Christian brings the Gospel wherever he goes.
Second, the apostles are left behind at Jerusalem. They are willing to face the opposition of the Sanhedrin. There is also some evidence that the apostles remained busy working with codifying the teaching of the Gospels. The first written accounts of Jesus’ life may have come from this time period, as Christianity was spreading beyond the places where the apostles could easily travel. We also see, later in Acts, that Jerusalem seems to be the place where Christian leaders assemble to consider difficult issues. This is a very important development. The apostles remain present for other Christians to consult, but their location in Jerusalem means that they will not be consulted on every account. The Church grows and replicates itself in each community.
This is what Christians have done up to this day. Local self-governing church congregations seek to follow the apostolic teaching and consult with other congregations and with experienced and godly leaders in other places when they need to do so. It’s a tried and true pattern.
If this brief meditation was helpful to you, I hope you will check out the other materials on our website at www.WittenbergCoMo.com and consider supporting us.