In the book of Acts, we see the Early Church starting to grow and fulfill their mission to make disciples in Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria, and the whole world. The Church was gifted with the Holy Spirit and empowered to endure through the persecution they will endure.
But there’s a unique phrase at the end of Saul’s conversion story.
So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samar′ia had peace and was built up; and walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit it was multiplied. – Acts 9:31 RSVCE
We’ve seen the call to walk in the fear of the Lord many times in the Old Testament. There was a strong call to know what He is God, and we are not God.
But there was a new phrase added to this familiar call.
They walked in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit had fallen upon the people and was comforting them.
He came to teach them all things. To help them understand the fulfillment of the prophecies and all that Jesus taught on earth.
Instead of the confusion, the blindness they faced, He gives them clarity and understanding.
In Chapter 14, we see how the Holy Spirit inspires the Council at Jerusalem to properly understand the implication of the freedom from the Law of Moses for new converts.
They walked in the fear of God, as all people should, but it is no longer alone. They walk also with the comfort of the Holy Spirit guiding them, equipping them to live as God has called them.
Because in the New Covenant, we see the fulfillment of God’s promise to equip us to give us hearts that will follow Him.
Throughout the New Testament, the role of the Holy Spirit will be expanded upon. But this first little phrase change is a signpost, a marker of the change that began in the New Covenant.
And it explains the way the Christians in Acts were able to endure persecution, even to the point of death.
We see in Stephen, in Peter and John, and also in Paul men who are willing to suffer for the sake of the Gospel because they are walking in the comfort of the Holy Spirit and the fear of the Lord.
They have a proper understanding of the limitations of their bodies and the enduring life they are working towards. Instead of living in fear, they are compelled to go spread the good news even when it brings them temporary harm.
I am eager to get into Epistles where so much more is explained about the Spirit’s work. One of the benefits of reading through the Bible in such a short period of time is that these little phrases stand out when they vary slightly from what I’ve read over and over again in the Old Testament. As we read through the last several books of the Bible this week, let’s be on the lookout for more tidbits like this!