Acts 8:1-4 - 1'And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles. '2 And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him. '3 As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison. '4 Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word. Saul, as a Jew, persecuted the church. The purpose of highlighting this is to show that throughout the New Testament, it is the Jews (not the Romans), who are the chief enemy of the church. Acts 9 Acts 9:1-2 - 1 'And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, '2 And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem. Saul, still a Jew, still persecuting the church. Acts 9:22-23 - 22 But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ. '23 And after that many days were fulfilled, the Jews took counsel to kill him: Saul is no longer a Jew. He is a Christian. So the Jews now try to kill him. Acts 10 Acts 10:34-43 - 34 Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: '35 But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him. '36 The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all:) '37 That word, I say, ye know, which was published throughout all Judaea, and began from Galilee, after the immersion which John preached; '38 How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him. '39 And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree: '40 Him God raised up the third day, and shewed him openly; '41 Not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead. '42 And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead. '43 To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins. A brief note here that in the end of time, God the Father will be the Judge and Jesus will be the Advocate. This Judgeship of Jesus is that of Matthew 25, the Judge of nations when He was to come with His messengers to bring judgment, to burn the tares.
Again we see the OT prophets involved in this time period, though nothing from them, ever, about the end of time. Acts 12 Acts 12:1-11 - 1 'Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church. '2 And he killed James the brother of John with the sword. '3 And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also. (Then were the days of unleavened bread.) '4 And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Passover to bring him forth to the people. '5 Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him. '6 And when Herod would have brought him forth, the same night Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains: and the keepers before the door kept the prison. '7 And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands. ''8 And the angel said unto him, Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals. And so he did. And he saith unto him, Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me. '9 And he went out, and followed him; and wist not that it was true which was done by the angel; but thought he saw a vision. '10 When they were past the first and the second ward, they came unto the iron gate that leadeth unto the city; which opened to them of his own accord: and they went out, and passed on through one street; and forthwith the angel departed from him. '11 And when Peter was come to himself, he said, Now I know of a surety, that the '''''Lord''''' hath sent his angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod, and from all the expectation of the people of the Jews. Herod (one of seven by that name), king of the Jews, sees that killing Christians pleases other Jews and so kills James the brother of John, an Apostle and seeks to kill Peter also. More Jews persecuting the church, but specifically the king of the Jews doing so. (See Revelation 12:4.) Acts 13 Acts 13:15-41 - 15 And after the reading of the law and the prophets the rulers of the synagogue sent unto them, saying, Ye men and brethren, if ye have any word of exhortation for the people, say on. '16 Then Paul stood up, and beckoning with his hand said, Men of Israel, and ye that fear God, give audience. '17 The God of this people of Israel chose our fathers, and exalted the people when they dwelt as strangers in the land of Egypt, and with an high arm brought he them out of it. '18 And about the time of forty years suffered he their manners in the wilderness. '19 And when he had destroyed seven nations in the land of Chanaan, he divided their land to them by lot. '20 And after that he gave unto them judges about the space of four hundred and fifty years, until Samuel the prophet. '21 And afterward they desired a king: and God gave unto them Saul the son of Cis, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, by the space of forty years. '22 And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave their testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will. '23 Of this man's seed hath God according to his promise raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus: '24 When John had first preached before his coming the immersion of repentance to all the people of Israel. '25 And as John fulfilled his course, he said, Whom think ye that I am? I am not he. But, behold, there cometh one after me, whose shoes of his feet I am not worthy to loose. '26 Men and brethren, children of the stock of Abraham, and whosoever among you feareth God, to you is the word of this salvation sent. '27 For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath day, they have fulfilled them in condemning him. '28 And though they found no cause of death in him, yet desired they Pilate that he should be slain. '29 And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulchre. '30 But God raised him from the dead: '31 And he was seen many days of them which came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are his witnesses unto the people. '32 And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers, '33 God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee. '34 And as concerning that he raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, he said on this wise, I will give you the sure mercies of David. '35 Wherefore he saith also in another psalm, Thou shalt not suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. '36 For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption: '37 But he, whom God raised again, saw no corruption. '38 Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: '39 And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses. '40 Beware therefore, lest that come upon you, which is spoken of in the prophets; '''''41 Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish: for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you. The rulers of the synagogue read from the law and the prophets, then ask if anyone has anything to say. Paul uses this as an opening to declare the full meaning of what the law and the prophets were about. He speaks of "they that dwell at Jerusalem" (the earth), "and their rulers" (the heavens, sun, moon, stars) including as Moses and the prophets did the same groups of people. He points out that it is the people of their generation that fulfilled the prophets concerning Jesus.
Then Paul leaves them with a warning from the prophets. This warning is about something yet to come that the prophets spoke of, a work that is unbelievable to them (the end of Jerusalem and Judaism). They would behold it (see it in their life times) wonder at it (it was something they could not believe could happen), and perish (they would not only die in the literal sense, but take part in the demise of the whole Jewish system). Acts 13:44-50 - 44 And the next sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God. '45 But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming. '46 Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles. '47 For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth. '48 And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed. '49 And the word of the Lord was published throughout all the region. '50 But the Jews stirred up the devout and honourable women, and the chief men of the city, and raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them out of their coasts. And more Jews persecuting Christians. Acts 14 Acts 14:1-7 - 1 And it came to pass in Iconium, that they went both together into the synagogue of the Jews, and so spake, that a great multitude both of the Jews and also of the Greeks believed. '2 But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles, and made their minds evil affected against the brethren. '3 Long time therefore abode they speaking boldly in the Lord, which gave testimony unto the word of his grace, and granted signs and wonders to be done by their hands. '4 But the multitude of the city was divided: and part held with the Jews, and part with the apostles. '5 And when there was an assault made both of the Gentiles, and also of the Jews with their rulers, to use them despitefully, and to stone them, '6 They were ware of it, and fled unto Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and unto the region that lieth round about: '7 And there they preached the gospel. There you have it folks, half way through Acts and finally the Gentiles take up persecution. But wait, these Gentiles were stirred up by and led by the Jews. Luke makes it clear though that this is Jews vs. Christians in verse 4. The Gentiles were just pawns of the persecuting Jews. Acts 14:19-22 - 19 And there came thither certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium, who persuaded the people, and having stoned Paul, drew him out of the city, supposing he had been dead. '20 Howbeit, as the disciples stood round about him, he rose up, and came into the city: and the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe. '21 And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch, '22 Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God. So we end this second quarter of the letter to Theophilus with more Jews persecuting the church.
Paul, though, leaves the church with an interesting message. He is speaking to those who are already Christians, bolstering them and exhorting them to "continue in the faith" (no once saved always saved) because "we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God". This phrase indicates that they were enduring that tribulation now, that they were entering the kingdom at that time. What should be understood here is that Paul is not talking about entering Heaven, for the kingdom of God is not a location, it is the church. What Paul is preaching to them is the establishment period of the church, founded on Pentecost, but not fully established until the writing of the last inspired letter, the faith being once and for all delivered to the saints (Christians) - Jude 3. In Truth and Love, Ernie