Acts 8:4 question


“Now, those who had been scattered went about preaching the word.”

This sounds like the common folk preached. But I thought that Jesus only gave that authority to the apostles and their successors. (I forget the verse)

Any ideas on this one?



This seems to refer to the proclamation of the Gospel, the Kerygma, which all the Faithful can and should proclaim; this is the Good News of the Kingdom of God which Our Lord proclaimed and we, as the Body of Christ should trumpet this with joy for the cause of the Kingdom, the conversion of sinners and the salvation of souls.
Once a person has accepted the Gospel of the Lord, repents and is baptized, then comes the instruction and doctrinal teachings, the Sacraments, the Liturgy etc., the shepherding of which belongs to the Apostles and their ordained successors.


aragonsr. You asked,

This sounds like the common folk preached (in Acts 8:4). But I thought that Jesus only gave that authority to the apostles and their successors. (I forget the verse)

But this is not a dichotomy. In a sense there is “preaching” by both the clergy and laity.

The clergy in a Liturgical sense. Go back and re-read the books of Ezra and Nehemiah and you will see this being carried out Liturgically by the Priests.

But this doesn’t mean the Israelites cannot evangelize one another about God. In a certain sense they had to “evangelize” their pagan wives that some of them took (by telling them they were not allowed to be “married” to them).

Likewise in the Church (fulfilled Judaism) today too. It is not an “either/or” motif.

Maybe this will help you in your understanding (bold mine):

CCC 941 Lay people share in Christ’s priesthood: ever more united with him, they exhibit the grace of Baptism and Confirmation in all dimensions of their personal family, social and ecclesial lives, and so fulfill the call to holiness addressed to all the baptized.

CCC 942 By virtue of their prophetic mission, lay people “are called . . . to be witnesses to Christ in all circumstances and at the very heart of the community of mankind” (GS 43 # 4).

CCC 943 By virtue of their kingly mission, lay people have the power to uproot the rule of sin within themselves and in the world, by their self-denial and holiness of life (cf. LG 36).


All may proclaim that which they have learned at the feet of the Apostles and through the wisdom granted them by the Holy Spirit.

We here at CAF “preach” - that is we communicate, answer questions, correct misconceptions and misunderstandings etc…All of this is a form of preaching…Yet we do not share ourselves, but only that which we have been given by the Church.

The authority that you refer to as belonging to the Apostles is really the authority to settle various disagreements and questions - To “bind or loose” (Mt 18:15-18). This authority is given to the Church as a whole, working in concert and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.



Excellent answers. That all makes sense. Thank you.


I concur with the other replies, but it should be noted that the person that the very chapter, Acts chapter 8, describes as preaching the word, Phillip, was ordained a deacon by the apostles. In addition, it’s quite possible the passage is speaking of the 72 that Jesus had previously sent out.


The people who were scattered were Jewish Christians from Jerusalem who were persecuted by Saul and others.

And Saul was consenting to his death. And on that day a great persecution arose against the church in Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the region of Judea and Sama’ria, except the apostles. (Acts 8:1)

The Apostles stayed in Jerusalem. The others went north to Samaria, and beyond to Damascus in Syria. Syrian Antioch quickly became the center of Christianity where the religion spread due to all the roads and trade routes in and out of the city.



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