This verse refers to a period of relative peace and growth in the early Christian church, following the conversion of Saul (later known as Paul) on the road to Damascus.
To understand the significance of this verse, it's important to have some context from the preceding chapters of the book of Acts. In Acts 7, we see the stoning of Stephen, the first Christian martyr. This event marked a turning point in the early church, as it signaled an increase in persecution against the followers of Jesus. Saul, a zealous Jewish leader who opposed the Christian movement, was one of the most vocal persecutors. In Acts 8, we read about how Saul was present at the stoning of Stephen and how he went on to ravage the church, dragging men and women out of their homes and throwing them in prison.
However, in Acts 9, something extraordinary happens. Saul has a dramatic encounter with the risen Jesus on the road to Damascus. The experience leaves Saul blinded and transformed, and he goes on to become one of the most important figures in the early Christian church. After his conversion, Saul spends time in Arabia and then returns to Damascus, where he begins preaching about Jesus. This causes a great deal of controversy, as many of the Jews in Damascus see Saul as a traitor to their cause. Eventually, Saul has to flee the city to avoid being killed.
It's at this point in the narrative that we come to Acts 9:31. The verse tells us that the churches throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were being built up. This is significant because it suggests that the conversion of Saul had a positive impact on the early Christian movement. With one of their most vocal opponents now on their side, the Christians were able to enjoy a period of relative calm.
The verse also tells us that the Christians were "walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit." This is an interesting phrase because it suggests that the early Christians were experiencing a kind of tension between reverence for God and comfort in the presence of the Holy Spirit. This tension is one that many Christians continue to experience today. On the one hand, we are called to fear and respect God, acknowledging his power and authority. On the other hand, we are invited to experience the comfort and peace that comes from knowing the Holy Spirit.
Finally, the verse tells us that the churches were multiplying. This is evidence that the Christian movement was growing and spreading, despite the opposition it faced. It's worth noting that the growth of the early church was not just a matter of numbers. The Christians were also growing in their faith and in their understanding of what it meant to follow Jesus. They were becoming more mature and more grounded in their beliefs.
In conclusion, Acts 9:31 is a significant verse in the book of Acts because it marks a turning point in the early Christian movement. With the conversion of Saul, the Christians were able to enjoy a period of relative peace and growth. The verse also highlights the tension between reverence for God and comfort in the Holy Spirit, which is a tension that many Christians continue to experience today. Finally, the verse reminds us that the growth of the early church was not just a matter of numbers, but also a matter of spiritual maturity and growth.
Acts 9:31. The assemblies throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace, and were built up. They were multiplied, walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit.