47 This is what the Lord told us to do, saying: ‘I have made you a light for the nations; you will show people all over the world the way to be saved.'”48 When those who were not Jewish heard Paul say this, they were happy and gave honor to the message of the Lord. And the people who were chosen to have life forever believed the message. 49 So the message of the Lord was spreading through the whole country.
AGAIN, a focus on purpose. “We know what God has asked of us, and we will pursue it without compromise.” The what is not about how – God had not demanded a particular strategy or program or methodology. This text should not be used to argue for pursuing a specific ministry solution, but simply for remaining true to the purposes that undergird the ministry. Speak the truth without compromise, and accept whatever consequences come as a result. Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. (Proverbs 3:5)
And as a result, the LORD blessed, and many believed. Also, though, persecution increased. This text is another warning against the notion that when we are faithful to God, everything will go well. The consistent witness of the ministry of Jesus and the early church is that each time they moved forward in faithfulness, resistance increased in some way. And, as the following texts illustrate, God moves even through the persecution:
Acts 8:4 Now those who were scattered went from place to place, proclaiming the word. 5 Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah to them. 6 The crowds with one accord listened eagerly to what was said by Philip, hearing and seeing the signs that he did, 7 for unclean spirits, crying with loud shrieks, came out of many who were possessed; and many others who were paralyzed or lame were cured. 8 So there was great joy in that city. (following the stoning of Stephen for preaching the word)
Acts 11:19 Now those who were scattered because of the persecution that took place over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, and they spoke the word to no one except Jews. 20 But among them were some men of Cyprus and Cyrene who, on coming to Antioch, spoke to the Hellenists also, proclaiming the Lord Jesus. 21 The hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number became believers and turned to the Lord.
The text also reminds me of the importance of doing this ministry with partners. They did not go out alone in their preaching. Paul and Barnabas went together; Peter and Mark likewise. If we are to be bold, and if we are to withstand resistance and even persecution, companions in ministry are essential.