The Greater the Glory, the Greater the Affliction & Persecution

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament account of the spiritual body of Jesus Christ and of the works and ministry of the early church which was birthed on the day of Pentecost as written and recorded by the beloved physician Luke. More specifically, today’s passage is found in verses seventeen through forty-two of the fifth chapter. When you come to this particular portion of scripture you will find the events which took place in the lives—and deaths—of Ananias and Sapphira having now been completed. As you prepare to read the fifth chapter of the book of Acts you will immediately find that it follows directly on the heels of what Luke wrote concerning the early church. Coming to the final verses of the fourth chapter of the book of Acts you will find the beloved physician Luke writing how the early church—together with the apostles—prayed and offered up supplication before and unto the living God in the face of the threats which the religious system and leaders of that day hurled against the apostles Peter and John. What you will find is that after the religious council has let these two apostles of Christ go after further threatening them, they returned unto the corporate body and fellowship of believers and made them aware of what had just taken place in the council of the religious. IN THE COUNCIL OF THE RELIGIOUS! Upon returning back to the corporate fellowship of believers scripture reveals to us that they immediately prayed and lifted up their voices in the presence and hearing of God, and how they didn’t cry out and pray to be saved and spared from persecution, from suffering, from affliction, from trial and trouble. If there is one thing I find to be absolutely incredible concerning the response of the early church to the threats of the religious it’s that they almost seemed unmoved and unshaken in the face of their threats. Instead of courting in fear behind closed doors for fear of the Jews as did the apostles in the days immediately following the resurrection scripture reveals how they lifted up their voices as one in prayer before the God of heaven and earth. What’s more, is that instead of asking to be spared from trial and trouble they chose to pray that the Spirit of the Lord might grant unto them boldness to speak the word of God. Even more than this you will find them praying that the living God would confirm the preaching of the word with signs, with wonders and with miracles. How absolutely remarkable it is to think about and consider the fact that instead of being asked to be spared and somehow delivered from trial and trouble, from affliction and opposition, they chose to ask for boldness to preach—and not only boldness to preach, but boldness to stand in the face of adversity and affliction. What we read as they finished praying is that the building they were praying in was shaken, and that they were all filled with the Holy Ghost. How incredibly powerful this thought is when you truly take the time to think about their response to threatening, as well as their response to potential suffering and affliction.

As you come to the final verses of the fourth chapter—after the building where they were praying was shaken, and after they were all filled with the Holy Ghost—you will find the beloved physician Luke writing something which has become a common theme and thread woven into the fabric and D.N.A. of the early church. Coming to the latter portion and verses of the fourth chapter you will find Luke once more writing and recording how the early church and fellowship of believers were with one accord and were together in one place. What’s more, is the beloved physician Luke wrote concerning the early church that they were of one heart and one soul—and not only that they were of one heart and one soul, but also that they had all things common. Pause for a moment and think about this theme and thread which seems to be woven into the very fabric and D.N.A of the early church, and how essentially what we read is the answer and fulfillment to the prayer which Jesus prayed while He was still upon the earth. You will recall in the seventeenth chapter of the gospel written by John how Jesus prayed unto the living God and Father, and how He asked that they might all be one even as He and the Father were and are one. Oh I can’t help but be absolutely taken back and blown away with and by the fact that that the living God and Father lives answering the prayers of His Son. In fact, I firmly believe that He had been answering this prayer for centuries and millennia since Jesus prayed them and is still answering them today. There is not a doubt in my mind that what we read concerning the early church and their being with one accord, their being together in one place, and even their being of one heart and one soul is the deliberate and intentional fulfillment of the words which Jesus the Christ prayed unto His Father after He had taught the disciples concerning life after His departure, and prepared them for life in the wake of His absence. Oh how absolutely wonderful and remarkable it is to think about and consider the fact that the words we find in the fourth chapter—together with the words we find in the previous three chapters—is a wonderful and powerful picture of the unity of the church as they gathered together as one corporate and collective body of believers and followers of Jesus the Christ. It is absolutely intriguing to think about the undeniable truth that what we read in these chapters found within the book of Acts is a wonderful answer and fulfillment to the prayer which Jesus prayed concerning the church and corporate fellowship of believers and how He desired that they might be One. That which we find and read in the opening chapters of the book of Acts is a wonderful testimony to the fact that the Father delighted in answering the prayer of His Son for the unity of the church, and through the Holy Spirit manifested and brought that reality about in their midst.

Through the final verses of the fourth chapter of the book of Acts we come face to face with and encounter the wonderful reality that the early church not only had all things common and were of one heart and one soul, but also that they gave themselves wholeheartedly to community and to the needs of others. What we find and read in the final verses of the fourth chapter is a truly astonishing picture of the early church not only living in community, but living above and beyond themselves in order that they might live for each other. What is written and recorded in the final verses of the fourth chapter is a truly wonderful and powerful reality and manifestation of the absolutely selflessness the early church displayed and exhibited between and among themselves. The beloved physician Luke makes it perfectly and abundantly clear that not only did they have all things in common, but that any who had land, or houses, or possessions sold them and brought the proceeds unto the fellowship of believers and laid them at the feet of the apostles. The fourth chapter of the book of Acts concludes with the early church being of one heart, being of one soul, and having all things in common, and as a direct result of this unity and selflessness they sold that which they had water mint it as not belonging to them. The final verses of the fourth chapter presents us with a man named Joses who was surnamed Barnabas by the apostles, and how this man had a piece of land, sold it, and brought the proceeds to the feet of the apostles. The fourth chapter ends and concludes with men and women within the early church devoting and committing themselves one to another and to community, and doing so through extremist their possessions, their lands and their houses as not belonging to themselves. What’s more is that we find the early church and the apostles distributing as those among them had need. How truly wonderful and remarkable it is to read of the early church and to not only read of how selfless they were, but also how there was not a single one of them who esteemed that which they had as belonging to them. This man named Joses who was surnamed Barnabas by the apostles was pointed out by the beloved physician Luke as he sold a piece of land and brought the proceeds unto the church and laid them at the feet of the apostles. The fourth chapter not only ends with unity and community, but it also ends with giving and distribution as the early church lived selfless and sacrificial lives. Oh how truly wonderful and amazing IG is to think that not only had, and not only was the prayer which Jesus being answered, but it was being answered beyond measure in the lives of the early church. The final verses of the fourth chapter are a truly wonderful and powerful picture of the church dg living sacrificial and selflessly, but also of this one man who had sold of what he had and brought the full amount of the proceeds unto the feet of the apostles. This fourth chapter of the book of Acts is not only a tremendous picture of unity, is not only a wonderful picture of community, but it is also a wonderful picture of those who are willing to esteem others as better than themselves, and to live sacrificial and selfless lives before a living and holy God.

It is only when we understand how the fourth chapter draws to a close that we can truly understand that which we find and read in the opening verses of the fifth chapter, for it is in the context of selling that which was once in one’s possession and bringing the proceeds to the apostles and laying it at their feet. It is in the context of this sacrificial and selfless lifestyle that serves as the backdrop and foundation for what we find and read in the fifth chapter of the book of Acts, for in the fifth chapter we are confronted with the reality of two individuals who—as it would appear—were unwilling to live in true community and fellowship with the rest of the church. As I sit here this morning and consider the lives and account of Ananias and his wife Sapphira, I can’t help but be confronted with and by the reality that their holding a portion of the proceeds which they received from the sale of their property back for and unto themselves was about so much more than simply choosing to hold on to that which is monetary. The apostle Peter—when speaking unto these two individuals—not only declared and spoke unto them concerning lying to the Holy Ghost, but also conspiring together to tempt the Holy Ghost. As you take the time to read the words which are found within this passage you will be directly and immediately confronted with and by the fact that while on the surface it might seem like they simply held and withheld a portion of the funds back to and for themselves—that which they actually did was lie to the Holy Spirit and tempt the Holy Spirit of Christ who was manifested and evidenced in the church. What’s more, is that their deliberate and intentional decision to hold back a portion of the funds not only demonstrated their willingness to withhold the fullness of what they had received from the sale of the property, but it also demonstrated the reality that they were unwilling to live in true community and fellowship with the saints and believers of the Lord Jesus Christ. While on the surface it might seem like money and monetary funds to the natural and untrained eye—to the spiritual eye that which they did was so far beyond simply holding and withholding funds, and was actually about them holding and keeping a piece and portion of themselves back from the early church and community. Within the he fourth chapter you will find the beloved physician Luke writing how the early church were of one heart and one soul, and how they had all things in common, and if there is one thing the lives of Ananias and his wife prove and demonstrate, it’s that they were not only living independent of community, but they were also living independent of unity and oneness with the body. The simple fact that they chose to deliberately and intentionally withhold a portion of the proceeds from the sale of the property demonstrates the dangerous reality of choosing to live a life separate and independent from community and being unwilling to truly give everything you have for the sake of community and fellowship.

As you read the opening words of the fifth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts you will come face to face with the awesome reality that the Holy Spirit was teaching the early church very early on that it was a dangerous thing to play games with the glory, the holiness and the presence of the living God. That which we find and that which we read in this passage of Scripture is a truly remarkable picture of how in the early days of the church the Holy Spirit was teaching and demonstrating unto the saints and followers of Jesus the Christ that they dare not and ought not play games with the presence of the living God. Through what we find and read concerning the early church and the example of Ananias and Sapphira we come face to face with the incredible reality that the Holy Spirit sought to teach the early church that the living God was One to be reverenced, feared, and One whom they should stand in awe of. The example and account of Ananias and Sapphira was more than simply an event which took place and occurred within the lives of the early church, but it stood and served as a teaching experience for and unto them concerning playing games with the Holy Spirit, and playing games in the presence of the living God. It is absolutely astonishing to think about and consider the fact that the Holy Spirit used the example and account of these two individuals to teach and demonstrate unto the early church that the Holy Spirit, the presence of God, the holiness of God, the glory of God was not something that was to be treated casually. Through the example of these two individuals the Holy Spirit not only pointed to and exposed how dangerous it was to think and even believe that one could lie to Him, but also that one could tempt Him with false appearances and a false presentation of oneself. When Ananias and his wife came into the company and presence of the apostles and those who were present with them on this day that which they were doing was essentially giving a false impression and false appearance of themselves, for they were attempting to present a false reality and lie—not only unto the apostles, and not only unto the early church, but also unto the Holy Spirit Himself. Through the apostle Peter the Holy Spirit exposed their deliberate and intentional attempt to lie to and tempt the living God, and as a direct result of their lying they were both struck dead immediately and on the spot. It is as you continue reading the words which are found within this passage you will find it written by Luke how great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things. It is important that we not neglect and miss out on this all important reality of great fear coming upon the church, for through these words we encounter one of the greatest lessons the Holy Spirit desired to teach the early church in its days of origin and beginning. I previously wrote how in the early days and days of the beginning of a work of God He appears to set clear and definitive borders and boundaries, and seeks to demonstrate His holiness, His glory, His presence, and His power in the midst of His people.

The more I read about and the more I consider the events which took place in the opening verses of the fifth chapter the more I can’t help but come face to face with the truth that often times in the inception of any great work of God, and more often than not in the beginning of a work the Spirit of the living God seeks to teach and warn the people of attempting to trifle with the presence of God, and making any attempt to play games with and in His presence. If you journey to the Old Testament book of Exodus—specifically in the nineteenth chapter—you will find that in the beginning days of the children of Israel being delivered from their slavery, their oppression and their bondage, the living God sought to teach them about borders and boundaries by setting clear parameters round about the mountain in the wilderness where He would personally come down and manifest Himself in their midst. If you take the time to read the words which the Lord spoke unto the children of Israel through His servant Moses you will not only come face to face with the fact that He set clearly defined borders and boundaries round about the mountain as He prepared to come down, but once He did in fact come down upon the mountain He set a clear and present warning that there ought not to be a single individual who would dare try to break though and make an attempt to come up and gaze upon the Lord. Anyone who failed to heed the words and warning of the living God would surely be put to death and either stoned or shot through. What’s more, is that when you read of the beginning of the days of the Tabernacle the Lord demonstrated His holiness, His glory and presence through the lives of two sons of Aaron—Nadab and Abihu—for Scripture reveals how they each took their censer, filled their censers with fire, and how they proceeded to offer unauthorized fire before and in the presence of the Lord which He commanded them not to. As a direct result of their attempt to offer unauthorized fire before and in the presence of the Lord, there was a fire that came out from the Lord and completely consumed and devoured them. Thus, as a direct result of their attempting to operate outside the borders and parameters which the Lord set for those who would minister before Him in His holy sanctuary, they were both struck dead before and in the presence of the living God. Here we are in the New Testament in the early and beginning days of the church and we find the Lord once more teaching and warning His people concerning operating outside of the borders and boundaries He clearly established and set forth. The account of Ananias and Sapphira is so unique because the Lord didn’t necessarily strike them dead because they held a portion of the proceeds back, for they could have done with the proceeds what they desired. After all, both the property and the proceeds belonged to them before they brought it to the feet of the apostles. The Lord struck them dead because they attempted to lie to and tempt the Holy Spirit, and thought they could give the appearance and impression of living in community when in all reality they were holding and withholding a piece and portion of themselves. ON the surface it might have seemed like they were simply withholding money and monetary objects, however, their withholding those moneys actually demonstrated their willingness to lie to the Holy Spirit, lie to themselves, and lie to the apostles and early church that they were willing to live in community, when in all reality they were still living for themselves above and beyond community and the church.

As you come to the twelfth verse of the fifth chapter of the book of Acts you will find that immediately after these events took place many signs and wonders were fought by the apostles’ hands among the people. What’s more, is that immediately after you read of great fear coming upon all the church, as well as great signs and wonders being wrought by the hands of the apostles, the early church were all with one accord in Solomon’s porch. There it is again—this concept of the early church being of one accord and being gathered together in one place, thus fulfilling the prayer which Jesus prayed unto the Father while He was still on the earth. The beloved physician goes on to write concerning the early church that believers were the more added to the Lord—multitudes both of men and women—for as much as were sick were brought into the streets and laid on beds on couches that even the very shadow of the apostle Peter might overshadow some of them. Luke also goes on to write how there came a multitude of men and women out of the cities round about Jerusalem, bringing sick folks, and those which were vexed with unclean spirits, and how the apostles healed every one. Oh please don’t miss what is taking place here, for not only is the Lord adding to the early church in great numbers and measure, but what we find and read within these verses is essentially the manifestation and continuation of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ being manifested through the apostles who walked with and followed Him for three and a half years. You will recall from the four gospel accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ that the same reality of bringing the sick, and all those who were vexed with unclean spirits of demons, and all those that were in need were brought unto Jesus in order that He might heal them all. Time and time again within the gospels we find account after account of multitudes of sick folk and all those who were vexed with unclean spirits of demons being brought unto Jesus and into His presence that He might heal and make them whole. Now here we are in the days after Jesus’ departure from the earth and return unto His Father in heaven, and the disciples themselves are continuing the very same ministry which Jesus began while on the earth. It is absolutely critical that we read these words and understand that what we are reading here is essentially a direct fulfillment and manifestation of that which Jesus the Christ engaged Himself in while walking upon the earth. If there is one thing we must understand concerning the book of Acts, it’s that while the four gospels demonstrate and point to the work of Jesus the Christ within and upon the earth, the book of Acts demonstrates and points to the manifestation of spiritual body of Jesus the Christ continuing the work which He began. The book of Acts not be understood independent of the four gospels, but must be understood as an extension of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ. What we find and what we read in the book of Acts is not merely an independent reality of the early church which was separate from the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ, but rather as an extension of that which He accomplished and wrought within and upon the earth. The New Testament book of Acts is a truly remarkable picture of the work which Jesus the Christ began upon the earth in the midst of men.

Now, while it was true that great signs and wonders were performed by the apostles in the midst of the city of Jerusalem among men, it is also true that the demonstration and manifestation of power also seemed to attract something else—something else that was manifested in the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ. If you continue reading the words found within the fifth chapter of this book of Acts you will find that in response to the great signs and wonders which were being performed by the apostles the high priest rose up, and all those that were with him (which was the sect of the Sadducees), and were filled with indignation or envy, and laid their hands on the apostles and put them in the common prison. If there is one thing we must understand concerning the New Testament book of Acts it’s that while there was in fact and while there was indeed a demonstration and manifestation of the power and presence of the living, there was also the manifestation of something else—something else which seems to run parallel with any great work of God within and upon the earth. If the demonstration and manifestation of the power and presence of the living God was essentially one thread that was being woven through the fabric of the early church, there was another thread that was running side by side this one—one that is more often than not overlooked when reading the book of Acts. It’s easy to read the New Testament book of Acts and focus solely on the power and presence of the Holy Spirit, as well as the direct manifestation and demonstration of signs and wonders, however, I would dare say that to focus solely on the power and presence without also focusing on the persecution, the opposition, the threats, the affliction, and that which the apostles and early church experienced is to have an imbalanced view of the early church. There are those who teach, preach and believe that the glory of the latter church will be greater than the glory of the former church, and they allow themselves to get all hyped up about the power and the presence, and yet they fail to recognize and understand that with power and presence comes persecution and opposition. It is one thing to say that the glory of the latter church will be greater than the glory of the early church, however, if the glory of the latter church is to be greater than that of the early church then I would dare say that it holds true that so also will the persecution and affliction of the early church. We dare not, we cannot and must not only teach and preach an imbalanced view of the early church and speak only of power and presence without also speaking to the great persecution, affliction, opposition, and suffering the early church experienced at the same time as the power and presence. Oh there would be those who would read the book of Acts and would allow themselves to get so caught up and consumed with the power and the presence, and with signs, wonders and miracles, and yet they completely miss out on the reality of the great persecution and affliction that would befall and come upon the church. Yes it is true that there was a manifestation of power and presence, and it was true that there were signs, wonders, and miracles which were manifested in the midst of the early church, however, running side by side and parallel with power and presence is the reality of persecution and affliction.

I have recently heard someone teach about the glory of the latter church as being greater than the glory of the early church, and how the works and wonders which the early church did and performed would pale in comparison to that which the early church performed. While I do believe that it is possible that the latter church might demonstrate greater signs, wonders and miracles than that of the early church, I refuse to allow myself to get caught up solely and squarely on the power and the presence. While He walked upon the earth Jesus declared unto the disciples that greater works than those which He did would they do because He went unto His Father, and we see this manifested within the New Testament book of Acts. What we find in the New Testament book of Acts is a unique and powerful picture of the early church and apostles of Christ doing greater works than that which Jesus the Christ did while He walked upon the earth, for the early church was not confined to being in one place at a single time, but could in fact be in multiple places at one time. There could be those in the city of Jerusalem, there could be those in the region of Galilee, there could be those in Samaria, there could be those in Tyre and Sidon, and there could be those in the uttermost parts of the earth, and the power and presence of the Spirit of the living God could be manifested in each of those places. Through the church being the Temple of the Holy Spirit and the spiritual body of Jesus the Christ—no longer were the works of Christ, and no longer was the power and presence of the Spirit confined and relegated to one single place at a time, but the power and presence of the Spirit could and would be manifested in multiple places at a single time. What we find and what we read in the New Testament book of Acts is in fact a wonderful and powerful picture of the power and presence of the Holy Spirit being manifested within and upon the earth, as well as a direct extension of the work and ministry which Christ began on the earth in the midst of men, but what we also find running side by side and parallel with the power and presence is persecution and affliction. I feel compelled to emphatically declare that if the glory of the latter church can and potentially will be greater than the glory of the former church, then it will also hold true that the persecution and affliction of the latter church must also be greater than the affliction of the early church. When we read the New Testament book of Acts we must not read it solely in terms of the power and presence, nor even in terms of signs, wonders, and miracles, but we must understand it in terms of suffering, affliction, persecution, and opposition. It was Jesus the Christ who declared that if the world hated Him they would also hate His disciples, and if the world persecuted Him it would also persecute the disciples. We must read the book of Acts—not only through the lens of power and presence as manifested through signs, wonders and miracles, but also through the lens of persecution, affliction and suffering.

In the fourth chapter of the book of Acts we find the religious council laying hold of and seizing the apostles Peter and John and placing them in the hold while they determined what ought to be done unto them. After bringing them out from the hold and into their midst they determined they would not put to death, for they were held in high esteem among the people. Instead of putting them to death they would choose to threaten them and command them not to preach the name of Jesus the Christ, nor preach the resurrection of the dead. When we come to the fifth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts we again find the religious council laying hold of and seizing the apostles, and casting them all into the common prison overnight while they convened to determine what might be done unto them. What I so love about that which we find and read in the fifth chapter is that the apostles weren’t brought forth out of the common prison by man, but rather the angel of the Lord by night entered into the prison, opened the prison doors, and brought them forth commanding and instructing them to go and speak in the temple to all the people the words of this life. This is actually quite remarkable when you take the time to think about and consider it, for in the fourth chapter we find the place where the early church was praying being shaken, and now in the fifth chapter we find the angel of the Lord not only entering into the prison where the apostles were, but also opening the prison doors, and. Bringing them out from the midst of the prison. Thus within two chapters—not only do we find a building being shaken, but we also find prison doors being opened. Oh, there is something to be said about power and presence and great signs, great wonders, and great miracles being wrought and performed by the apostles and early church, however, there is something to be said about buildings being shaken and prison doors being opened that must not be overlooked. It would be very easy to focus solely on the signs, on the wonders, and on the miracles, and yet completely miss out on the fact that not only did the early church experience the place where they were shaking, but the apostle also experienced prison doors being opened, and their being led out by the angel of the Lord. Without getting ahead of myself, there are two other places within the book of Acts where we find a manifestation and demonstration of power in prisons—one with the apostle Peter himself being cast into and shut up within a prison and being delivered by an angel of the Lord, and one with the apostle Paul and his companion Silas being cast into prison and their feet secured in stocks, and how while they sang praises in the presence of the living God a great earthquake took place, the prison doors in the entire prison were opened, and all the shackles and fetters which bound the prisoners were released. The story of the early church is as much a story of power and presence as it is about buildings being shaken and prisons being invaded. Within the book of Acts we find prisons, iron bars, chains, shackles, fetters, stocks, stone walls, and the like being subject to the tremendous power and strength of the living God. The story of the early church was one about power and presence, and one about signs, wonders and miracles, but it was also one about buildings being shaken, and prison doors being opened as prisons would be invaded by the power and presence of the living God.

By the time we come to the end of the fifth chapter we encounter and come face to face with the prison where the apostles were being held being invaded by the angel of the Lord, the angel opening the prison doors and leading them out, and the angel commanding them to go and stand in the Temple and speak the words of life. What’s more is that you will read how when the report of the apostles being found in the Temple standing before the people and preaching the good news of the life which was proclaimed by and found in Jesus the Christ. The fifth chapter will conclude—not only with the apostle standing before the religious council once more and once more being commanded to cease preaching the name of Jesus the Christ, as well as the resurrection of Jesus the Christ, but also the apostle boldly standing in the midst of them and declaring that they ought to obey God rather than man, for the God of their fathers raised up Jesus, whom they slew and hung on a tree. It was this Jesus whom God exalted with His right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. Upon hearing the word which the apostles spoke all those in the council were cut to the heart and took counsel to slay them. Their desire and their attempt to slay them, however, would be stopped and prevented as a man named Gamaliel stood up in their council and spoke to them of two other men who gathered unto themselves followers in order that they might be someone in the midst of the earth, and even rebel against Rome and the authority of those days. Gamailiel spoke unto them and declared that in each of these instances those who not only claimed to be somebody, but also those who gathered around themselves those who were committed to their cause found themselves coming against a brick wall as the leaders of these groups and uprisings were themselves killed, and the followers being scattered. What Gamaliel speaks next is actually quite remarkable and astonishing, for not only does he declare that if this work which the apostles were engaged in would be brought to nought if it was determined to not be of God, but if that which they were engaged in was of God then the religious council would find themselves fighting against the will and work of the living God. By the time the fifth chapter draws to a close it does so with the apostles being beaten and commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus before being let go. The end of the fifth chapter finds the apostles rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for the name of Jesus the Christ, and continued standing daily in the Temple, and in every house. What’s more, is that the fifth chapter concludes with these words: “THEY CEASED NOT TO TEACH AND PREACH JESUS CHRIST.” Oh please don’t miss and lose sight of this, for in the face of threatening and in the face of being beaten—not only did they count it joy to suffer shame for the name of Jesus the Christ, but they also continued teaching and preaching Jesus Christ in the Temple. Oh how absolutely wonderful and remarkable it is to think about and consider how even in the face of persecution, even in the face of opposition, and even in the face of affliction, they continued steadfastly with their boldness, and even continued to preach the name of Jesus the Christ among all those who were present within the city of Jerusalem.

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