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THE JERUSALEM CHURCH: ITS GROWTH (3:1—9:31)

Communal experiments and religious movements fueled by enthusiasm are often short-lived. Will the faith of Pentecost sustain itself? Will the church's mission mandate be fulfilled? Luke sets out to answer these questions, which lie at the heart of his reason for writing Acts. He hopes to persuade Theophilus and others that the gospel message is true by showing that it was indeed carried "to all nations."

Thus Luke unfolds before us the church's unstoppable advance even in the face of official opposition (3:1—4:31). After a look at the church's internal life (4:32—5:11), he highlights its mission's growing momentum in outreach into "all Judea," even as opposition grows (5:12-42).

Just when prejudice within and death-dealing hostility from without are about to hamper the church's witness, God raises up fearless messengers, Hellenistic Jewish Christians (6:1—8:40). They will complete Jesus' mandate (1:8) in microcosm. And to crown the triumph of the gospel, their chief persecutor, Saul, is converted and begins his ministry (9:1-31).

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