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Enter Saul, soon to become the apostle Paul. This is where we pick up the thread of our series on the Book of Acts as we enter into chp 8:


8:1 And Saul agreed completely with killing him. Now on that day a great persecution began against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were forced to scatter throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria. 8:2 Some devout men buried Stephen and made loud lamentation over him. 8:3 But Saul was trying to destroy the church; entering one house after another, he dragged off both men and women and put them in prison.


8:4 Now those who had been forced to scatter went around proclaiming the good news of the word...

Gospel work involved opposition to the gospel; opposition to the gospel generated response and courage and faithfulness; that led to furthering the gospel wherever they gospel agents of Jesus were scattered.

Again, as we read the Book of Acts, we are reading along with Beverly Gaventa in her commentary: The Acts of the Apostles (Abingdon New Testament Commentaries)
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A missional theology, that is a theology of Acts that sees that mission is something about God first and foremost, does not pick out who might be the best candidates for expanding the mission. The story of God’s mission is the story of God’s taking the most unlikely, sometimes despicable, characters and transforming them into gospel agents. Saul was one who participated in the death of Stephen. Saul spent his time persecuting the church. Saul’s story here reads like some undercover Nazi agent finding Jews in hidden places so he could destroy them — Saul went door to door to find Christians so he could imprison them.

And a missional theology is unafraid of opposition. In the words of Jesus, missional theology is unafraid to take up the cross or to participate in the cross of Christ by suffering with Jesus. The gospel agents were doing this and it is something that became a keynote in Paul’s own apostolic gospel life.
Finally, missional theology leads gospel agents to take advantage of the opportunities they are given. If they are driven from one location, they take the gospel to the next location. If it is prison, they gospel in prison; if it is a Gentile city, they gospel there. They are gospel agents, regardless of where they are.
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