Meanwhile, the believers who had been scattered during the persecution after Stephen's death traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch of Syria. They preached the word of God, but only to Jews.
— Acts 11:19 NLT
The renowned conservative scholar of the mid-twentieth century, F.F. Bruce, wrote a book on Acts focused on the Holy Spirit and the spread of Christian faith. He entitled the book, "The Spreading Flame," combining two central themes:
- The spread of the Good News about Jesus.
- The power of the Holy Spirit to spread that Good News to include all people.
The first part of the story in Acts could be called, "The Limited Flame." Jesus' disciples shared the Good News and included new disciples in full fellowship in only a limited fashion, only with Jews and "near Jews" (Samaritans). In general, the disciples were not spreading the Good News of Jesus to Gentiles. We are now in a crucial transition section for the book of Acts.* The Holy Spirit and good-hearted followers of Jesus' who were driven out of Jerusalem by persecution expanded the flame of Good News to reach Gentiles, as we have seen with Cornelius and will continue to see in the coming days!
Righteous and tender Father, lead us to understand that we must live with our hearts wide open to all people and convict us to do so. Teach us to listen for hearts that yearn to know Jesus. Show us how to welcome, include, and love new people and different people into our friendships and our fellowships. To honor Jesus, who died for all to be saved, I pray. Amen.