Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied. (Acts 9:31)
Acts chapter 9 began with a zealous man named Saul breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord (Acts 9:1). But God was more than able to turn this terrible threat into a great blessing. Here, at Acts 9:31, Luke shows that God’s work not only continued but it was strong, despite the great opposition that came against it.
Notice the places where the church was healthy: all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria. The story of the advance of the churches in Judea (including Jerusalem) is found in Acts 1-7. Acts 8 includes the story of the church in Samaria. As for Galilee, the Book of Acts tells us nothing about the planting of churches in Galilee. We don’t know who started these churches, how they did it, or all the great works of God which took place in these young churches. This reminds us that Acts is only a partial history of God’s work during this period.
The churches throughout these regions had peace. This doesn’t mean that all persecution had stopped; instead, it means that they had peace amid persecution. Gods’ people should not need easy circumstances to have peace. As Jesus is with us, we can have peace amid the storm.
The churches throughout these regions were edified. That word edified has the idea of being built up. The churches were growing in numbers and strength. Jesus was building His church, just as He promised (Matthew 16:18).
We also read that all the churches in these regions were walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit. Each of these are needed in the Christian walk. At any given moment a disciple of Jesus may more need the fear of the Lord or more need the comfort of the Holy Spirit.
How is it in your life? Depending on God to give you wisdom, ask Him to show you if you most need to receive a greater measure of the fear of the Lord or an extra portion of the comfort of the Holy Spirit. I fear that our quick response will always be for more comfort, but we must be sensitive to seasons when we simply need more fear of the Lord.
We can be sure of this – that when God’s people are walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, you may expect that they will also see their numbers multiplied.
The Bible teacher A.T. Pierson wrote about the phrase the comfort of the Holy Spirit: “There is not an evil now cursing or threatening our church life which this ‘comfort of the Holy Ghost’ would not remedy and perhaps remove.” May God give and we receive both the fear and the comfort to build up healthy churches!