This is part 1 of 4 selections of Bible passages about the persecution of the apostle Paul and the very first Christians, most of whom were alive when Jesus Christ was. Some of them, as in the case of the apostle Peter, had been his disciples. Find out the title of each selection
Bible topics part 3
Acts chapter 5 (GWT)
12 The people saw the apostles perform many miracles and do amazing things. The believers had a common faith in Jesus as they met on Solomon's Porch. 13 None of the other people dared to join them, although everyone spoke highly of them.
14 More men and women than ever began to believe in the Lord. 15 As a result, people carried their sick into the streets. They placed them on stretchers and cots so that at least Peter's shadow might fall on some sick people as he went by. 16 Crowds from the cities around Jerusalem would gather. They would bring their sick and those who were troubled by evil spirits, and each person was cured.
17 The chief priest and the whole party of the Sadducees who were with him were extremely jealous. So they took action 18 by arresting the apostles and putting them in the city jail.
19 But at night an angel from the Lord opened the doors to their cell and led them out of the prison. 20 The angel told them, "Stand in the temple courtyard, and tell the people everything about life [in Christ]."
21 Early in the morning, after they had listened to the angel, the apostles went into the temple courtyard and began to teach.
The chief priest and those who were with him called together the Jewish council, that is, all the leaders of Israel. They also sent men to the prison to get the apostles. 22 When the temple guards arrived at the prison, they didn't find the apostles. The guards came back and reported, 23 "We found the prison securely locked and the guards standing at the doors. However, when we opened the doors, we found no one inside."
24 When the officer of the temple guards and the chief priests heard this, they were puzzled about what could have happened. 25 Then someone told them, "The men you put in prison are standing in the temple courtyard. They're teaching the people."
26 Then the officer of the temple guards went with some of his men to bring back the apostles without using force. After all, the officer and his guards were afraid that the people would stone them to death for using force.
27 When they brought back the apostles, they made them stand in front of the council.
The chief priest questioned them. 28 He said,
"We gave you strict orders not to mention Jesus' name when you teach. Yet, you've filled Jerusalem with your teachings. You want to take revenge on us for putting that man to death."
29 Peter and the other apostles answered,
"We must obey God rather than people. 30 You murdered Jesus by hanging him on a cross. But the God of our ancestors brought him back to life. 31 God used his power to give Jesus the highest position as leader and savior. He did this to lead the people of Israel to him, to change the way they think and act, and to forgive their sins. 32 We are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him."
33 When the men on the council heard this, they became furious and wanted to execute the apostles. 34 But a Pharisee named Gamaliel stood up. He was a highly respected expert in Moses' Teachings. He ordered that the apostles should be taken outside for a little while. 35 Then he said to the council,
"Men of Israel, consider carefully what you do with these men. 36 Some time ago Theudas appeared. He claimed that he was important, and about four hundred men joined him. He was killed, and all his followers were scattered. The whole movement was a failure.
37 "After that man, at the time of the census, Judas from Galilee appeared and led people in a revolt. He, too, died, and all his followers were scattered.
38 "We should keep away from these men for now. We should leave them alone. I can guarantee that if the plan they put into action is of human origin, it will fail. 39 However, if it's from God, you won't be able to stop them. You may even discover that you're fighting against God."
40 The council took his advice. They called the apostles, beat them, ordered them not to speak about the one named Jesus, and let them go.
41 The apostles left the council room. They were happy to have been considered worthy to suffer dishonor for speaking about Jesus.
42 Every day in the temple courtyard and from house to house, they refused to stop teaching and telling the Good News that Jesus is the Messiah.
Acts chapter 6 (CEV)
8 God gave [a believer] Stephen the power to work great miracles and wonders among the people.
9 But some Jews from Cyrene and Alexandria were members of a group who called themselves "Free Men." They started arguing with Stephen. Some others from Cilicia and Asia also argued with him. 10 But they were no match for Stephen, who spoke with the great wisdom that the Spirit gave him. 11 So they talked some men into saying, "We heard Stephen say terrible things against Moses and God!" 12 They turned the people and their leaders and the teachers of the Law of Moses against Stephen. Then they all grabbed Stephen and dragged him in front of the council. 13 Some men agreed to tell lies about Stephen, and they said, "This man keeps on saying terrible things about this holy temple and the Law of Moses. 14 We have heard him claim that Jesus from Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs that Moses gave us."
15 Then all the council members stared at Stephen. They saw that his face looked like the face of an angel.
Acts chapter 7 (TEV)
1 The High Priest asked Stephen, "Is this true?"
2 Stephen answered,
"Brothers and fathers, listen to me! Before our ancestor Abraham had gone to live in Haran, the God of glory appeared to him in Mesopotamia 3 and said to him, "Leave your family and country and go to the land that I will show you.' 4 And so he left his country and went to live in Haran.
After Abraham's father died, God made him move to this land where you now live. 5 God did not then give Abraham any part of it as his own, not even a square foot of ground, but God promised to give it to him, and that it would belong to him and to his descendants. At the time God made this promise, Abraham had no children. 6 This is what God said to him: "Your descendants will live in a foreign country, where they will be slaves and will be badly treated for four hundred years. 7 But I will pass judgment on the people that they will serve, and afterward your descendants will come out of that country and will worship me in this place.'
8 Then God gave to Abraham the ceremony of circumcision as a sign of the covenant. So Abraham circumcised Isaac a week after he was born; Isaac circumcised his son Jacob, and Jacob circumcised his twelve sons, the famous ancestors of our race.
9 "Jacob's sons became jealous of their brother Joseph and sold him to be a slave in Egypt. But God was with him 10 and brought him safely through all his troubles.
When Joseph appeared before the king of Egypt, God gave him a pleasing manner and wisdom, and the king made Joseph governor over the country and the royal household. 14 So Joseph sent a message to his father Jacob, telling him and the whole family, seventy-five people in all, to come to Egypt. 15 Then Jacob went to Egypt, where he and his sons died.
17 "When the time drew near for God to keep the promise he had made to Abraham, the number of our people in Egypt had grown much larger. 18 At last a king who did not know about Joseph began to rule in Egypt. 19 He tricked our ancestors and was cruel to them, forcing them to put their babies out of their homes, so that they would die. 20 It was at this time that Moses was born, a very beautiful child. He was cared for at home for three months, 21 and when he was put out of his home, the king's daughter adopted him and brought him up as her own son. 22 He was taught all the wisdom of the Egyptians and became a great man in words and deeds.
23 "When Moses was forty years old, he decided to find out how his fellow Israelites were being treated. 24 He saw one of them being mistreated by an Egyptian, so he went to his help and took revenge on the Egyptian by killing him 25 (He thought that his own people would understand that God was going to use him to set them free, but they did not understand.) 26 The next day he saw two Israelites fighting, and he tried to make peace between them. "Listen, men,' he said, "you are fellow Israelites; why are you fighting like this?' 27 But the one who was mistreating the other pushed Moses aside. "Who made you ruler and judge over us?' he asked. 28 "Do you want to kill me, just as you killed that Egyptian yesterday?' 29 When Moses heard this, he fled from Egypt and went to live in the land of Midian. There he had two sons.
30 "After forty years had passed, an angel appeared to Moses in the flames of a burning bush in the desert near Mount Sinai. 31 Moses was amazed by what he saw, and went near the bush to get a better look. But he heard the Lord's voice: 32 "I am the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.' Moses trembled with fear and dared not look. 33 The Lord said to him, "Take your sandals off, for the place where you are standing is holy ground. 34 I have seen the cruel suffering of my people in Egypt. I have heard their groans, and I have come down to set them free. Come now; I will send you to Egypt.'
35 "Moses is the one who was rejected by the people of Israel. "Who made you ruler and judge over us?' they asked. He is the one whom God sent to rule the people and set them free with the help of the angel who appeared to him in the burning bush. 36 He led the people out of Egypt, performing miracles and wonders in Egypt and at the Red Sea and for forty years in the desert. 37 Moses is the one who said to the people of Israel, "God will send you a prophet, just as he sent me, and he will be one of your own people.' 38 He is the one who was with the people of Israel assembled in the desert; he was there with our ancestors and with the angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and he received God's living messages to pass on to us.
39 "But our ancestors refused to obey him; they pushed him aside and wished that they could go back to Egypt. 40 So they said to Aaron, "Make us some gods who will lead us. We do not know what has happened to that man Moses, who brought us out of Egypt.' 41 It was then that they made an idol in the shape of a bull, offered sacrifice to it, and had a feast in honor of what they themselves had made.
42 So God turned away from them and gave them over to worship the stars of heaven, as it is written in the book of the prophets: 7 " People of Israel! It was not to me that you slaughtered and sacrificed animals for forty years in the desert. 43 It was the tent of the god Molech that you carried, and the image of Rephan, your star god; they were idols that you had made to worship. And so I will send you into exile beyond Babylon.'
44 "Our ancestors had the Tent of God's presence with them in the desert. It had been made as God had told Moses to make it, according to the pattern that Moses had been shown. 45 Later on, our ancestors who received the tent from their fathers carried it with them when they went with Joshua and took over the land from the nations that God drove out as they advanced. And it stayed there until the time of David. 46 He won God's favor and asked God to allow him to provide a dwelling place for the God of Jacob. 47 But it was Solomon who built him a house.
48 "But the Most High God does not live in houses built by human hands; as the prophet says, 49 "Heaven is my throne, says the Lord, and the earth is my footstool. What kind of house would you build for me? Where is the place for me to live in? 50 Did not I myself make all these things?'
51 "How stubborn you are!" Stephen went on to say. "How heathen your hearts, how deaf you are to God's message! You are just like your ancestors: you too have always resisted the Holy Spirit! 52 Was there any prophet that your ancestors did not persecute? They killed God's messengers, who long ago announced the coming of his righteous Servant. And now you have betrayed and murdered him. 53 You are the ones who received God's law, that was handed down by angels-yet you have not obeyed it!"
54 As the members of the Council listened to Stephen, they became furious and ground their teeth at him in anger. 55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw God's glory and Jesus standing at the right side of God. 56 "Look!" he said. "I see heaven opened and the Son of Man standing at the right side of God!"
57 With a loud cry the Council members covered their ears with their hands. Then they all rushed at him at once, 58 threw him out of the city, and stoned him.
The witnesses left their cloaks in the care of a young man named Saul.
59 They kept on stoning Stephen as he called out to the Lord, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!" 60 He knelt down and cried out in a loud voice, "Lord! Do not remember this sin against them!" He said this and died.
Acts chapter 8 (TEV)
1 And Saul approved of his murder.
That very day the church in Jerusalem began to suffer cruel persecution. All the believers, except the apostles, were scattered throughout the provinces of Judea and Samaria. 2 Some devout men buried Stephen, mourning for him with loud cries.
3 But Saul tried to destroy the church; going from house to house, he dragged out the believers, both men and women, and threw them into jail.
4 The believers who were scattered went everywhere, preaching the message. 5 Philip went to the principal city in Samaria and preached the Messiah to the people there. 6 The crowds paid close attention to what Philip said, as they listened to him and saw the miracles that he performed. 7 Evil spirits came out from many people with a loud cry, and many paralyzed and lame people were healed. 8 So there was great joy in that city.
Acts chapter 9 (TEV)
1 In the meantime Saul kept up his violent threats of murder against the followers of the Lord. He went to the High Priest 2 and asked for letters of introduction to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he should find there any followers of the Way of the Lord, he would be able to arrest them, both men and women, and bring them back to Jerusalem.
3 As Saul was coming near the city of Damascus, suddenly a light from the sky flashed around him. 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul! Why do you persecute me?"
5 "Who are you, Lord?" he asked.
"I am Jesus, whom you persecute," the voice said. 6 "But get up and go into the city, where you will be told what you must do."
7 The men who were traveling with Saul had stopped, not saying a word; they heard the voice but could not see anyone. 8 Saul got up from the ground and opened his eyes, but could not see a thing. So they took him by the hand and led him into Damascus. 9 For three days he was not able to see, and during that time he did not eat or drink anything.
10 There was a believer in Damascus named Ananias. He had a vision, in which the Lord said to him, "Ananias!"
"Here I am, Lord," he answered.
11 The Lord said to him, "Get ready and go to Straight Street, and at the house of Judas ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul. He is praying, 12 and in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come in and place his hands on him so that he might see again."
13 Ananias answered, "Lord, many people have told me about this man and about all the terrible things he has done to your people in Jerusalem. 14 And he has come to Damascus with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who worship you."
15 The Lord said to him, "Go, because I have chosen him to serve me, to make my name known to Gentiles and kings and to the people of Israel. 16 And I myself will show him all that he must suffer for my sake."
17 So Ananias went, entered the house where Saul was, and placed his hands on him. "Brother Saul," he said, "the Lord has sent me - Jesus himself, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here. He sent me so that you might see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit."
18 At once something like fish scales fell from Saul's eyes, and he was able to see again. He stood up and was baptized; 19 and after he had eaten, his strength came back.
Saul stayed for a few days with the believers in Damascus. 20 He went straight to the synagogues and began to preach that Jesus was the Son of God. 21 All who heard him were amazed and asked, "Isn't he the one who in Jerusalem was killing those who worship that man Jesus? And didn't he come here for the very purpose of arresting those people and taking them back to the chief priests?"
22 But Saul's preaching became even more powerful, and his proofs that Jesus was the Messiah were so convincing that the Jews who lived in Damascus could not answer him.
23 After many days had gone by, the Jews met together and made plans to kill Saul, 24 but he was told of their plan. Day and night they watched the city gates in order to kill him. 25 But one night Saul's followers took him and let him down through an opening in the wall, lowering him in a basket.
26 Saul went to Jerusalem and tried to join the disciples. But they would not believe that he was a disciple, and they were all afraid of him. 27 Then Barnabas came to his help and took him to the apostles. He explained to them how Saul had seen the Lord on the road and that the Lord had spoken to him. He also told them how boldly Saul had preached in the name of Jesus in Damascus. 28 And so Saul stayed with them and went all over Jerusalem, preaching boldly in the name of the Lord. 29 He also talked and disputed with the Greek-speaking Jews, but they tried to kill him. 30 When the believers found out about this, they took Saul to Caesarea and sent him away to Tarsus.
31 And so it was that the church throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had a time of peace. Through the help of the Holy Spirit it was strengthened and grew in numbers, as it lived in reverence for the Lord.
1 Timothy chapter 1 (TEV)
12 I give thanks to Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength for my work. I thank him for considering me worthy and appointing me to serve him, 13 even though in the past I spoke evil of him and persecuted and insulted him. But God was merciful to me because I did not yet have faith and so did not know what I was doing. 14 And our Lord poured out his abundant grace on me and gave me the faith and love which are ours in union with Christ Jesus. 15 This is a true saying, to be completely accepted and believed: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. I am the worst of them, 16 but God was merciful to me in order that Christ Jesus might show his full patience in dealing with me, the worst of sinners, as an example for all those who would later believe in him and receive eternal life.
17 To the eternal King, immortal and invisible, the only God-to him be honor and glory forever and ever! Amen.
Acts chapter 12 (NLT)
1 ... King Herod Agrippa began to persecute some believers in the church. 2 He had the apostle James (John's brother) killed with a sword. 3 When Herod saw how much this pleased the Jewish leaders, he arrested Peter during the Passover celebration 4 and imprisoned him, placing him under the guard of four squads of four soldiers each. Herod's intention was to bring Peter out for public trial after the Passover.
5 But while Peter was in prison, the church prayed very earnestly for him.
6 The night before Peter was to be placed on trial, he was asleep, chained between two soldiers, with others standing guard at the prison gate. 7 Suddenly, there was a bright light in the cell, and an angel of the Lord stood before Peter. The angel tapped him on the side to awaken him and said, "Quick! Get up!" And the chains fell off his wrists. 8 Then the angel told him, "Get dressed and put on your sandals." And he did. "Now put on your coat and follow me," the angel ordered.
9 So Peter left the cell, following the angel. But all the time he thought it was a vision. He didn't realize it was really happening. 10 They passed the first and second guard posts and came to the iron gate to the street, and this opened to them all by itself. So they passed through and started walking down the street, and then the angel suddenly left him.
11 Peter finally realized what had happened. "It's really true!" he said to himself. "The Lord has sent his angel and saved me from Herod and from what the Jews were hoping to do to me!" 12 After a little thought, he went to the home of Mary, the mother of John Mark, where many were gathered for prayer. 13 He knocked at the door in the gate, and a servant girl named Rhoda came to open it. 14 When she recognized Peter's voice, she was so overjoyed that, instead of opening the door, she ran back inside and told everyone, "Peter is standing at the door!"
15 "You're out of your mind," they said.
When she insisted, they decided, "It must be his angel."
16 Meanwhile, Peter continued knocking. When they finally went out and opened the door, they were amazed. 17 He motioned for them to quiet down and told them what had happened and how the Lord had led him out of jail. "Tell James and the other brothers what happened," he said. And then he went to another place.
18 At dawn, there was a great commotion among the soldiers about what had happened to Peter. 19 Herod Agrippa ordered a thorough search for him. When he couldn't be found, Herod interrogated the guards and sentenced them to death.
20 Now Herod was very angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon. So they sent a delegation to make peace with him because their cities were dependent upon Herod's country for their food. They made friends with Blastus, Herod's personal assistant, 21 and an appointment with Herod was granted. When the day arrived, Herod put on his royal robes, sat on his throne, and made a speech to them. 22 The people gave him a great ovation, shouting, "It is the voice of a god, not of a man!" 23 Instantly, an angel of the Lord struck Herod with a sickness, because he accepted the people's worship instead of giving the glory to God. So he was consumed with worms and died.
24 But God's Good News was spreading rapidly, and there were many new believers. 25 When Barnabas and Saul had finished their mission in Jerusalem, they returned to Antioch, taking John Mark with them.
Acts chapter 13 (NLT)
1 Among the prophets and teachers of the church at Antioch of Syria were Barnabas, Simeon (called "the black man"), Lucius (from Cyrene), Manaen (the childhood companion of King Herod Antipas), and Saul. 2 One day as these men were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Dedicate Barnabas and Saul for the special work I have for them." 3 So after more fasting and prayer, the men laid their hands on them and sent them on their way.
4 Sent out by the Holy Spirit, Saul and Barnabas went down to the seaport of Seleucia and then sailed for the island of Cyprus. 5 There, in the town of Salamis, they went to the Jewish synagogues and preached the word of God. (John Mark went with them as their assistant.)
6 Afterward they preached from town to town across the entire island until finally they reached Paphos, where they met a Jewish sorcerer, a false prophet named Bar-Jesus. 7 He had attached himself to the governor, Sergius Paulus, a man of considerable insight and understanding. The governor invited Barnabas and Saul to visit him, for he wanted to hear the word of God. 8 But Elymas, the sorcerer (as his name means in Greek), interfered and urged the governor to pay no attention to what Saul and Barnabas said. He was trying to turn the governor away from the Christian faith. 9 Then Saul, also known as Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked the sorcerer in the eye and said, 10 "You son of the Devil, full of every sort of trickery and villainy, enemy of all that is good, will you never stop perverting the true ways of the Lord? 11 And now the Lord has laid his hand of punishment upon you, and you will be stricken awhile with blindness."
Instantly mist and darkness fell upon him, and he began wandering around begging for someone to take his hand and lead him.
12 When the governor saw what had happened, he believed and was astonished at what he learned about the Lord.
The main Bible pages on this site:
|Bible Part 1: Bible Quotations, The Holy Spirit, People And Their Stories|
|Bible Part 2: The Lives and Suffering of the Ancient Israelites|
|Bible Part 3: The Bible, Articles About Alleged Inaccuracies in it, And Stories of People who Became Christians.|
|Or go directly to the next in the series: Predictions Of The Persecution Of Christians; Instructions Concerning Telling People About Christianity; And The Mistreatment Of The Apostle Paul.|
The selections of Bible quotations have been put together by Diana Holbourn.
Throughout this series, wherever the initials TEV appear, they stand for Today's English Version (The Good News Bible).Other initials:
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