Wednesday: The Early Church and Comfort Zones

Daily Lesson for Wednesday 18th of October 2023

Read Acts 8:1-4. In the early church, what brought about the scattering of believers beyond their comfort zone?

Until this time, the early church was mainly in Jerusalem (or within the Jewish territory and among the Jewish people). When persecution began—in which Saul, a devout Jew and a Pharisee, was actively involved—the church in Jerusalem was then dispersed all over Judea and Samaria.

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Jesus had predicted in Acts 1:8 that “ ‘you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria’ ” (NIV). This statement was fulfilled, as noted in Acts 8:4, that “those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went” (NIV).

Even after the church began to move out beyond Jerusalem, the believers were still preaching in the regions of the Jews or in the neighborhoods of the Jewish people in other cities. Acts 11:19 indicates that the believers were dispersed all the way to Phoenicia (Lebanon) and Cyprus, but they did not at this stage preach the message to anyone other than the Jews alone. The disciples of Jesus and the early church did not intend to see the Gentiles, but only Jews, come to the Lord. They still had very narrow views on what the mission of the church was to be.

Peter, a disciple of Jesus and one of the leading figures of the early church, was averse to taking the gospel message to the Gentiles, even after Paul had begun to do so. Peter was known as an apostle to the circumcised (meaning the Jews), and Paul an apostle to the Gentiles (Galatians 2:8). Early on, Peter did not even want to be seen with the Gentiles (Galatians 2:11-12). However, God moved Peter out of his comfort zone and changed his heart. He was starting to learn about what the gospel commission really entailed and what Jesus’ death was meant to accomplish for the whole world.

Read Acts 10:9-15,28-29. What was the message that the Lord was giving to Peter, and how must we, in our day and age, apply this principle to the work of mission?