"Those Who Were Scattered" Acts 8:1-4 Bible Talk

Background/Ice Breaker

  • First ask, “What’s the worst persecution you’ve experienced as a Christian?”
  • Discuss (refer to Acts 7:54-60 and Acts 9:1-2) the background of the persecution in Acts 8

Read the Passage: 

And Saul approved of their killing him. On that day a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him. But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off both men and women and put them in prison. Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went. ” (Acts 8:1–4, NIV)

Textual Questions

  • Who was killed? What seems to be the cause for this capital punishment? What did the Sanhedrin (the ruling religious body of the Jews) hope to gain through Stephen’s death?
  • What was the implication of Stephen’s death for all the other Christians living in Jerusalem? What difference is there between persecution and a great persecution? 
  • If you were the father of a household of Christians what would you be tempted to do during this time of great persecution? 
  • Does grief and mourning promote or inhibit boldness in the face of persecution? Discuss how much more difficult it is to be bold for Jesus while mourning.
  • Have you ever been persecuted (on either a small or great scale)? What effect did the persecution have on your evangelism? What effect did it have on the Christians in this passage? Why the difference?
  • Who among the church were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria (answer: all but the Apostles, that is the leaders stayed put while the rest of the Christians were scattered)? So who among the church “preached the word wherever they went? Have you ever relegated/shifted the responsibility of evangelism to the church leaders? 
  • What are the obstacles to promoting the Gospel while on the run? What excuses have you used to NOT evangelize while traveling or in a state of transition, or even during hard times (like mourning), or during times of persecution? 
  • What might have been the reason all these Christians kept preaching the word despite the many challenges they faced? What are your reasons for preaching the word? What are your reasons for not preaching the word? What would these NT Christians look like if they lived today and worked at your job or lived in your neighborhood? What needs to change in you for you to better resemble the Christianity that the Bible presents. 

 Closing Charge

  • Paul will later write that “All who want to live a godly life in Christ will be persecuted.” If we’ve never been persecuted then we have to recognize that we do not look like New Testament Christianity. Something has not clicked in our convictions if we’ve held back  from spreading the gospel message wherever we can.