“So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied” (Acts 9:31)
As he was prone to do throughout the Book of Acts, the author Luke summarized the condition of the church. As previously noted in Acts 9:28-30, Saul preached in Jerusalem and encountered strong opposition from the Hellenistic Jews who were responsible for the death of Stephen (Acts 6-7). What they did to Stephen, the Hellenists now wanted to do to Saul. They wanted to kill him. They wanted him dead because of his conversion to Christ.
The Jerusalem church discovered the Hellenists intentions. Therefore, they secretly brought Saul to Caesarea and then sent him home to Tarsus. This was for his own protection. It would also provide Saul some much needed peace and rest following his dramatic conversion (Acts 9:1-1-9) and the resulting hatred toward him by the Jews in Damascus and Jerusalem.
It was during this time that the church in Judea, Galilee and Samaria had peace and was growing in their faith. The peace came from not only Saul’s conversion but also from a new and stricter Roman governor, Marcellus (36-37 AD), who had succeeded Pontius Pilate.
The church was not only at peace and growing in their faith, but was also living in the fear and reverence of the Lord. This was accompanied by the Holy Spirit’s comfort.
While this time of tranquility was enjoyable, it would not last. The Book of Acts chronicles not only the growth of the church, but also the growth of the persecution against the church. Soon there would be more martyrs (Acts 12:1-3) and imprisonments (Acts 12:4-5). Yet, the Gospel could not be killed or imprisoned: then or now.
Take comfort today in the peace and rest God provides, even in the most trying of circumstances.
Soli deo Gloria!