Great Persecution of the Faithful Has Hit Yerushalayim

In my last post, we learned that the Emissaries Are Rounded Up Yet Again and Warned by the Sanhedrin. In this post, we learn about a Great Persecution of the Faithful Has Hit Yerushalayim.

Following the stoning of Stephen in Acts 7, there arose intense persecution against the Messianic Community in Yerushalayim; all but the emissaries were scattered throughout the regions of Y’hudah and Shomron. ~ Acts 8:1 (CJB) Picking up the story in verse 14: When the emissaries in Yerushalayim heard that Shomron (Samaria) had received the Word of God, they sent them Kefa [1] and Yochanan, 15 who came down and prayed for them, that they might receive the Ruach HaKodesh. 16 For until then, he had not come upon any of them; they had only been immersed into the name of the Lord Yeshua.17 Then, as Kefa and Yochanan placed their hands on them, they received the Ruach HaKodesh.

From a theological standpoint, the work of the Ruach HaKodesh is one spiritual process (Ac 2:38-39). Still, in the experience of the early Kehilah, not all aspects of His work are necessarily manifested simultaneously. Luke emphasizes the prophetic empowerment dimension of the Ruach (Ac 1:8) so much that he rarely mentions other aspects of the Ruach’s work known in the Tanakh and early Judaism; this prophetic empowerment aspect could be in view here, although Philip’s hearers were already converted in 8:12.

Ancient Judaism provides rare examples of laying on of hands for prayer. In the Tanakh, hands were laid on to impart blessings in prayer (Gen 48:14-20). Early converts received the Ruach HaKodesh at the laying on of hands by emissaries or evangelists. Some suggest that this was God’s plan to ensure that new believers received trustworthy instruction and got connected to God’s chosen leaders.

18 Shim’on saw that the Spirit was given when the emissaries placed their hands on them, and he offered them money. 19 “Give this power to me, too,” he said, “so that whoever I place my hands on will receive the Ruach HaKodesh.”

Here we see Shim’on’s true heart. He was used to impressing the crowds with magic; now, he wanted to impress them with his ability to impart the Ruach HaKodesh.

20 But Kefa said to him, “Your silver go to ruin – and you with it, for thinking the free gift of God can be bought! 21 You have no part at all in this matter; because, in the eyes of God, your heart is crooked. 22 So repent of this wickedness of yours and pray to the Lord. Perhaps you will yet be forgiven for holding such a thought in your heart.

By saying that Shim’on had no part at all in this matter, Kefa confirmed that Shim’on had not truly converted to Messianic Judaism. His heart (meaning his will, affections, allegiance) was still crooked.

23 For I see that you are extremely bitter and completely under the control of sin!” 24 Shim ‘on answered, “Pray to the Lord for me so that none of the things you have spoken about will happen to me.”

It is not clear whether Shim’on’s words sprang from genuine repentance or were themselves only more sham, deception, and hypocrisy.

25 Then, after giving a thorough witness and speaking the Word of the Lord, Kefa and Yochanan started back to Yerushalayim, announcing the Good News to many villages in Shomron.” ~ Acts 8:14-25 (CJB)

After several episodes in Shomron, Kefa, Philip, and any other emissaries traveling with them returned to Yerushalayim. They evangelized many villages in Shomron along the way, tearing down ethnic barriers with the global gospel of Yeshua.

In my next post, we will jump forward to Acts 9 to learn that Kefa Performs More Miracles.

Click here for the PDF version.

[1] This is another example of Kefa being seen as the early leader of the emissaries.​

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