Acts 8:1-5
Acts 8:1 (KJB)
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.
Consenting - Agree, approve, or be pleased with
Saul had given approval to the fact that Stephen was stoned to death. He probably thought this would send a message to all the Christians who were living in Jerusalem and beyond that they could expect the same fate. This persecution had a two-fold meaning. First, it was done by those who hated Christ and they wanted to extinguish Christianity totally so there would be no possibility of spreading. The second meaning, was a marching order. Instead of the church beginning to take the Gospel message outside of Jerusalem, they had hunkered down and were instead, in a state of perpetual fellowship and euphoria. They were given a scriptural mandate to be witnesses in Judaea, Samaria, and the uttermost parts of the earth and they had not begun to send forth the Gospel. So the Lord allowed persecution to hit them so they would get out of their comfort zones and fulfill Acts 1:8. (Acts 1:8 KJV) But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.  The only ones who did not leave Jerusalem at that time were the Apostles. Since all the Christians were scattered from Jerusalem, the Apostles stayed behind because they would continue to witness and build the Jerusalem church with other Christians. They knew the testimony would go out from Jerusalem, as it had begun already but they wanted the Jerusalem church to be a home base from where to work from.
Acts 8:2 (KJB)
And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him.
It is not known if these were Christians or devout Jews who lamented over Stephen. These men may have been Jews who totally disagreed with the stoning of Stephen and they lamented over him knowing that he was put to death without so much as a trial to see if he was guilty of anything worthy of death. It is also something out of the ordinary that, Stephen being a Greek, would be lamented over by the Jews. According to Jewish tradition, normally, whether Jewish or Gentile, an executed person is never lamented over.
Acts 8:3 (KJB)
As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison.
Made havock - Destroy or ravage
Haling - Draw, drag, or haul
Saul had continued his attempted destruction of the church to the point that he would go into the houses of Christians and literally drag them out of the house and throw them into prison. Saul did not care if it was a man or woman, if they were Christians, they went to prison. No doubt they were first brought before the priests and magistrates and then thrown into prison without a trial. (Acts 22:4-5 KJV) And I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women. {5} As also the high priest doth bear me witness, and all the estate of the elders: from whom also I received letters unto the brethren, and went to Damascus, to bring them which were there bound unto Jerusalem, for to be punished. Saul not only sent them to prison, but many of them suffered death under his venomous hands. He was also in collusion with the High Priest to bring the Christians bound unto Jerusalem. They obviously wanted to keep them all in Jerusalem to contain them from sending forth the Gospel. If they could have done that, they probably would have sold the whole bunch as slaves. What the chief priests and Saul failed to understand was the fact that they could do nothing to stop the spread of the Gospel because it was to go out worldwide by the decree of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Acts 8:4 (KJB)
Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.
Here we have the effect of the scattering of the Christians. The persecution of them just sent them on their way, and as they went they spread the Gospel. This was something that Saul and the chief priests did not count on. Their scheme to eliminate the church just made it grow bigger and reach out much farther. Now there was nothing that anyone anywhere could do to stop the spread of the Gospel. It had begun its worldwide trek and will not stop until the last day.
Acts 8:5 (KJB)
Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them.
Philip had gone to Samaria to preach the Gospel. This was the city of Samaria which is modern day Sebaste. The city dates back to Omri which was about 876 B.C. Omri had moved his residence there. Those who lived in Samaria at the time of Christ, were despised by the Jews and that is why it took courage for Philip to proclaim the Gospel in that area. The city was located about ten miles northwest of the place where Jesus spoke with the woman at the well at Sychar. (John 4:5 KJV) Then cometh he to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph.