“They went everywhere preaching the word” Acts 8:4

  1. Who went everywhere preaching the Word?
    One may presume that it was the apostles who went everywhere preaching the Word. But let’s read what the text says: “Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word” (Acts 8:4).

    Who were “those who were scattered”? “At that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.” (Acts 8:1). Members of the church in Jerusalem were scattered, except the apostles who remained in Jerusalem.

    So, the Scriptures tell us that those who went everywhere preaching the Word were the ordinary members of the church at Jerusalem; it specifically tells that they were not the apostles.

  2. What is the importance of understanding who went everywhere preaching the Word?
    It shows that the ordinary members of the church (in contrast to the apostles who were chosen to be witnesses of the resurrection of Jesus as per Acts 1:21-22) went everywhere preaching the Word. In the early church, every Christian was actively engaged in preaching the Word.
    • Unfortunately, today it is quite common for some to think that the work of preaching the Word is the responsibility of the paid preacher or church officers such as elders, deacons, evangelists and teachers. Due to this incorrect thinking, they do not actively engage in “preaching the Word”.

    • Some have been known to contend that the Great Commission of Matt 28:18-20 (i.e. “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you”) was only given to the apostles and not to all Christians. But as Acts 8:4 clearly shows, the ordinary members of the 1st century church knew that it was also their responsibility to go and preach the Word.

    • It is important to note that the early ordinary Christians did not go everywhere “witnessing” for Jesus and His resurrection. The work of being a “witness” of Jesus and His resurrection was specifically the work of the apostles.

      In order to be a “witness” one had to fulfill the requirement of “having accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 beginning from the baptism of John to that day when He was taken up from us, one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection.” (Acts 1:21-22).

      Those living today cannot be “witnesses” of Jesus and His resurrection because no one living today was with Jesus during His earthly ministry or was an eye-witness of His resurrection – unlike the apostles who were “eyewitnesses of His majesty” (2 Pet 1:16).

      The ordinary Christians went everywhere “preaching the Word”. They were not “witnessing” for Jesus but “preaching the Word”.
  3. What was the Word that they preached?

    • They preached “Christ/Jesus”: “Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them” (Acts 8:5). “Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him.”(Acts 8:35)
    • They preached “the things concerning the kingdom of God” (Acts 8:12)
    • They preached the “word of God”: “Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God” (Acts 8:14).  “For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.”(1 Thess 2:13) 
    • They were “preaching the gospel”: “So when they had testified and preached the word of the Lord, they returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel in many villages of the Samaritans.” (Acts 8:25)

  4. What was the result or the goal of them going everywhere preaching the Word?

    • They were “baptized”: “But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized. 13 Then Simon himself also believed; and when he was baptized” (Acts 8:12-13)

      • Did Simon have an accurate or correct understanding of everything concerning the “things of the kingdom” even though he had been baptized? “And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money, 19 saying, “Give me this power also, that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 8:18-19). Simon was still carnal-minded.

      • Although Simon had been baptized, he was not perfect and there was an occasion when Simon’s heart was not right with God: “But Peter said to him, “Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money! 21 You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God. 22 Repent therefore of this your wickedness” (Acts 8:20-22)

      • Was Simon required to be baptized again when his heart was not right with God?
        Consider what the apostle Peter said to him: “Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you.” (Acts 8:22) 
        Simon was not required to be baptized again for the forgiveness of his sins. He was required to “repent” and to “pray to God” for forgiveness. This is consistent with what is written in 1 John 1:9: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

        Baptism is a one-time act of obedience that puts one into Christ (Gal 3:27; Rom 6:1-6) and adds one to His Body, the church (Acts 2:47; 1 Cor 12:13; Eph 1:22-23). There is only “one” baptism (Eph 4:5).

        But if one had not been baptized in the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of sins that was made possible by the shedding of the blood of Jesus (Matt 26:28) then one ought to be baptized again as shown by those who had been baptized under John’s baptism instead of that commanded by Jesus: Consider what the apostle Paul said to those who were baptized under John’s baptism: “And he said to them, “Into what then were you baptized?” So they said, “Into John’s baptism.” Then Paul said, “John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.” When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 19:3-5)

    • When Philip the evangelist taught the Ethiopian eunuch about Christ, the eunuch knew his urgent need to be baptized. When he saw water along the desert road, he asked to be baptized. They did not wait for a convenient time nor an auspicious occasion to be baptized. Evidently, Philip had taught him what Jesus said that one needed to do in order to be saved: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.” (Mark 16:15-16)

    • When the word of the Lord is sown in the hearts of man, and if they have “honest and good hearts” they will “keep it and bear fruit with patience” (Luke 8:15, KJV). Paul wrote: “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.” (1 Cor 3:6). God will give the increase when there are those who would “plant the seed of the Word of God” (Luke 8:11) and there are others who would “water” it. The result is the person being born again and added into the kingdom of God (John 3:5; 1 Pet 1:22-23).

  5. They went “everywhere” preaching the Word. Everywhere means wherever there are people who needed to hear the gospel – both far and near – friends and strangers.
    • They preached in the religious meeting places and also from house to house: “And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.” (Acts 5:42)
    • They preached “the gospel in many villages of the Samaritans” (Acts 8:25) – they preached to people with whom they had no past dealings or relationships: “Jews had no dealings with Samaritans” (John 4:25)
    • They preached in the “desert” (Acts 8:26)
    • They preached in the “river side” (Acts 16:13-16)
    • They preached in the “prison” (Acts 16:25-40)
    • Paul preached to king Agrippa (Acts 26:27-28)

We will do well to imitate the good example of the early Christians to go everywhere, preaching the Word. Let’s remember the exhortation of the apostle Paul: “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching” (2 Tim 4:2). Then God will give the increase: “the word of God grew and multiplied” (Acts 12:24)