"CRAFTILY"-"Lit., to employ cunning against" (Vincent p. 478) "To use fraud, craft, deceit." Yet the contending struggles of Roman Catholics, Greeks, and Armenians have made the whole subject a reproach and disgrace, and not an honour to the Christian name, showing how easily strife and partisanship and earthly passions enter in and usurp the ground which is nominally set apart for the honour of Christ Jesus. [Note: Tannehill, 2:16. This power is given through the Spirit, and conversely the Spirit in Acts may be defined as the divine agency that gives this power." This statement is not to be taken too literally. From that heart of the empire God would pump the gospel out to every other remote part of the world. (498) But and if both his flock and he have to encounter with the adversary, he is a treacherous forsaker of his office if he stand not stoutly to it even until the end. [Note: See Ernst Bammel, "Jewish Activity against Christians in Palestine according to Acts," in The Book of Acts in Its First Century Setting; Vol4: The Book of Acts in Its Palestinian Setting, pp357-64.] Only here, Acts 8:4; Acts 11:19. We have wandered far enough afield, however; let us retrace our steps, and seek to discover more in detail the instruction for the life of future ages given us in this first martyr scene. Stephen’s career was a type of all martyr lives, and embraces every possible development through which Christ’s Church and His servants had afterwards to pass, - obscurity, fame, activity, death, fixing high the standard for all ages. In addition, this would vindicate Jesus in the city in which He was so wrongly condemned. This power is given through the Spirit, and conversely the Spirit in Acts may be defined as the divine agency that gives this power. Compare Mark 9:1 with Acts 1:8. 1. Dr. John Lightfoot, in his great work "Horae Hebraicae," dealing with this passage, notes how we can trace in it the leading ideas and practices of Jewish legal processes. but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth. And they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. They entered into great details, showing how wonderfully the power of God’s grace was manifested, even in the weakest persons, sustaining their courage and enabling them to witness. The Church of Lyons, according to the loving usage of those early times, sent an account for all their trouble to the brethren in Asia and Phrygia, that they might read it at the celebration of the Eucharist for their own comfort and edification. The whole of that dreadful scene enacted at Jerusalem was transformed by the power of that beautiful conception. "ON THAT DAY"-"the martyrdom of Stephen acted like the first taste of blood to a wild beast." Acts 7:19 The same dealt craftily with our race, and ill-treated our fathers, that they should cast out their babes to the end they might not live. The word conveys more than mere 'consent' (as will be seen from Luke 11:48; Romans 1:32; 1 Corinthians 7:12-13). In the language of the ancient Church, with its strong realising faith, men spoke of a saint’s death or martyrdom as his dies natalis. For the conversion of Samaria was, as it were, the first fruits of the calling of the Gentiles. "They were now to be witnesses, and their definite work was to bear testimony to their Master; they were not to be theologians, or philosophers, or leaders, but witnesses. The Scriptures were written for the purpose of setting forth the example of devotion, of love, and of sanctity presented by its heroes, and therefore it shrouds all such scenes as that of Stephen’s martyrdom in thickest darkness. Except the apostles. 16, 91. Yet even then, he was just as clear on this point as Stephen years before, addressing his Epistle to the Church of God at Corinth, "with all that call upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ in every place"; while again, when we descend to the generation which came next after the apostolic age, we find, from Pliny’s celebrated letter written to Trajan, describing the practices and ideas of the Christians of Bithynia in the earliest years of the second century, that it was then the same as in St. Paul’s day. Let us see how this came about. [Note: Longenecker, p256. It is certain that they were not all scattered abroad, but the Scripture useth an universal note, for that which we say, Every where or abroad. Alex., Strom., vi., 5, 43, limited the Apostles’ preaching for the time specified not to Jerusalem, but to Israel.— : our Lord had recognised the barrier between the Samaritan and the Jew, Matthew 10:5; but now in obedience to His command (Acts 1:8) both Samaritan and Jew were admitted to the Church, for although the Apostles had not originated this preaching they very plainly endorsed it, Acts 8:14 ff. One might have expected that they would have been specially sought after, and would have been necessarily the first to flee. Acts 8:1-3. Is the clause "You shall be" a prediction or a command? Their principles lead some of them farther still. The result was that action was instigated in order to arrest all who followed Stephen’s pernicious ideas, and the Christians soon recognised that if they did not seek refuge outside Jerusalem they would all be put in prison. his companion, passeth through divers countries, Acts 16:9-13 and is directed by a vision to go into Macedonia. "Those at a distance, whatsoever they had at hand, every one hurled at him, thinking it would be a great sin if they fell short in wanton abuse against him." These names trace the enlarging advances in beautiful climax. But, no doubt it was the facility with which the enemies of the Gospel had got rid of Stephen that stimulated them to proceed against the whole party of Christians at Jerusalem; for the persecuting passion, like every other passion, is fed by exercise, and they might think it wise to strike while the iron was hot. In view of the fact that orthodox Jews wouldn"t even travel through Samaria (they would travel east, cross the Jordan River, and detour around Samaria), this territory would provide safe haven (John 4:9). The Greek term had been used by Xenophon (Anab. The Apostles had not as yet proclaimed that truth; had, perhaps, not as yet been led to it. The Acts of the Apostles. Christianity proclaims the dignity of law and order, and supports it-teaches that the magistrate is the minister of God, and that he does a divinely appointed work, but Christianity does not proclaim the infallibility of human laws or of human magistrates. Men did not then trouble themselves about questions of assurance, or their Christian consciousness. [213] Corinth, Corinthian or Corinthians. In Exodus 3:20 it is Jehovah who speaks. assent to, feel gratified with: -allow, assent, be pleased, have pleasure. Probably it means only that all the more prominent disciples were fain to flee agreeably to their Lord's directions (Matthew 10:23). The apostles were shielded in some way. Hereupon it cometh, that, like brute beasts, we only desire that which is commodious for our flesh, and therefore we rather catch that which is present. 8 And Saul approved of their killing him. See William J. Larkin Jeremiah, "The Recovery of Luke -Acts as "Grand Narrative" for the Church"s Evangelistic and Edification Tasks in a Postmodern Age," Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society43:3 (September2000):405-15, for suggestions for using Luke -Acts in a postmodern age.]. (Boles p. 121). Yet unquestionably some of the backlash would fall on them, for they could hardly avoid some of the blame resulting from the behaviour of men whom they had appointed to responsible positions in the church. We have already remarked that the earliest quotation from the Acts of the Apostles connects itself with this scene of Stephen’s martyrdom. —Parts as yet proclaimed that truth ; had, perhaps, not as yet unknown to that age, were. And can be considered as one of its main themes they would have tolerated... Lower level, and so Jesus at the beginning designed a universal.... Into explanations, at this stage to arrest the apostles clearly felt compelled preach! 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