Now about that time Herod the king laid hands on some who belonged to the church in order to mistreat them.
And he had James the brother of John put to death with a sword.
Jesus had personally told Peter, James, John, and Andrew that they, along with other disciples, would be persecuted and killed (Matt. 24:9). James was the first of the group to be executed.
Now he was very angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon; and with one accord they came to him, and having won over Blastus the king’s chamberlain, they were asking for peace, because their country was fed by the king’s country.
Tyre and Sidon. There was political tension between Judea and its neighbors.
In AD40 the Roman emperor Caligula sent Publius Petronius and two legions to Israel to erect statues in the temple. The army was met by tens of thousands of protesting Jews. Petronius threatened war, but the unarmed Jews said they are ready to die. Petronius eventually backed down, but on account of the unrest in Judea, the harvest was interrupted, and the resulting food shortage led to tensions with neighboring Tyre and Sidon (Wars, 2.10).
But the word of the Lord continued to grow and to be multiplied.
(a) The word of the Lord is synonymous with the word of God. The gospel of Jesus, in other words. Jesus is the Word of God made flesh (John 1:14, Rev. 19:13), and the exact radiance or representation of God the Father (Heb. 1:3).
See entry for Word of God.
(b) Continued to grow. The preaching of the gospel bore fruit. People were turning to God and being delivered from sin and sickness.
The Christians of the early church bore witness to the great fruitfulness of the gospel (Acts 13:49, 19:10, 20). By the time Paul wrote to the Colossians, the gospel was bearing fruit all over the world (Col. 1:6).
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