The sentence jumped off the page: “But Saul began to destroy the church.”
People left Jerusalem to avoid arrest, though not to be silent. Philip went to Samaria (home of the Samaritans). He talked about Jesus. People responded and Peter and John went from Jerusalem to Samaria to find out what was happening and to provide support.
Later in the story, Peter says to a man named Simon, a magician in Samaria, “I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.” It was a penetrating insight into the man’s motivations.
In time, “Peter and John returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel in many Samaritan villages.”
I read these in my morning reading the other day and these pieces of the story stuck in my head ( Using The Books of the Bible: New Testament which has no chapters or verse numbers, which probably helps the reading.)
When Peter and John were going from village to village through Samaria, did they follow the same roads they had when they had been through the area a year or two before? Did they find the village where the Samaritan woman had talked with Jesus? Did they say, “It’s great to see you again. Can we fill you in on the rest of the story? It’s pretty amazing. And we’re sorry we were rude back then.”
When Peter spoke to Simon the magician, he cut to the root of the man’s jealousy of the work of Peter and John, the desire to heal people like they did. How much of our motivation for platform and audience has those same bad motives?
When Saul followed his passion to destroy the church, he was following the teaching he grew up with. Passion and purpose, when proceeding from wrong teaching, can be deadly.
The lesson? Keep reading what you thought you knew and you may see things in new ways.