In this message we shall cover 9:31-43.
Acts 9:31 says, “So the church throughout the whole of Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace, being built up; and going on in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it was multiplied.” This verse speaks of Judea, Galilee, and Samaria, all of which were provinces in the Roman Empire. Judea was in the southern part of the Jewish land, Galilee was in the north, and Samaria was in between the south and the north. There were churches in all three of these provinces. Since at this time the church had spread only to the provinces of Judea, Galilee, and Samaria, and the word “whole” covers all the places where the church existed, the “church” in singular is used in the universal sense. The church here is spoken of in the universal sense although there must have been a number of churches in the various cities of these three provinces, which may be called churches in the local sense.
According to verse 31, the church throughout the whole of Judea, Samaria, and Galilee had peace. The church had peace inwardly although there was persecution outwardly.
Having peace in the midst of persecution, the church was being built up. The building up proceeded after the establishment of the church.
We are also told that the church in these provinces was going on in the fear of the Lord. Although there were persecutions, the church was not in the fear of men. Rather the church went on in the fear of the Lord lest the church offend the Lord by being put down or even subdued by persecution, or lest she offend the Lord in other things.
According to 9:31, the church was going on also in the comfort of the Holy Spirit. This indicates that the church was suffering affliction through the persecutions, in which she feared the Lord and enjoyed the comfort of the Holy Spirit.
The Jews regarded Judea as the best province. They considered Galilee a despised region and Samaria a region full of mixture. Therefore, the Jews in Jerusalem despised Galilee and rejected Samaria. But in 9:31 we see that the churches in these three provinces are regarded as one. This verse speaks of “the church throughout the whole of Judea and Galilee and Samaria.” I believe that the Spirit inspired Luke to write in this particular way in order to indicate that no matter how much Galilee was despised and Samaria was rejected by the Jews in Jerusalem, the churches raised up in those regions should all be considered one church. In the local sense, there were the churches, but in the universal sense, all these churches are the church. Here we have a basic revelation concerning the oneness of the church universally.
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