Acts, chapter 8

Chapter 8: Acts 8: 1- 40, Revival in Samaria, the first Gentile Christian convert

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, You are the alpha and the omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end, the author, and the perfecter of my faith. You are beautiful beyond words, beyond language, beyond description, beyond anything that we can ever imagine. We pray for open eyes, open ears, open minds, soft, receptive, believing, and obedient hearts, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

VV 1-2, 1 Now Saul was consenting to his death. At that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. 2 And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him.

Saul consented to the martyrdom of Stephen. The disciples buried Stephen and mourned over his death. Intense persecutions of Christians after the martyrdom of Stephen resulted in an exodus of Christians out of Jerusalem to Judea and Samaria. This led to the expansion of the church when the displaced Christians carried the gospel to their new home.

VV 3-8, 3 As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison.4 Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word. 5 Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them. 6 And the multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. 7 For unclean spirits, crying with a loud voice, came out of many who were possessed, and many who were paralyzed and lame were healed. 8 And there was great joy in that city.

Saul persecuted, arrested, and imprisoned Christians. The displaced Christians kept their faith and preached the gospel everywhere they went. Spirit-filed deacon Philip went to Samaria, operating in miracles, signs, and wonders. He preached the gospel, healed the sick, paralysed, and demonised. A great spiritual revival in Samaria resulted and the people rejoiced.

Nehemiah 8:10, ‘’Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

VV 9-13, 9 But there was a certain man called Simon, who previously practiced sorcery in the city and astonished the people of Samaria, claiming that he was someone great, 10 to whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, “This man is the great power of God.” 11 And they heeded him because he had astonished them with his sorceries for a long time. 12 But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized. 13 Then Simon himself also believed; and when he was baptized he continued with Philip, and was amazed, seeing the miracles and signs which were done.

Simon the sorcerer was a practicing occultist in Samaria. When the Samaritans saw that Philip had more power than Simon the sorcerer, they believed in Jesus, baptised, and followed Philip. Even Simon the sorcerer, believed, baptised, and followed Philip. According to traditions, Simon the sorcerer, Simon the Magician, or Simon Magus founded Gnosticism in the first-century world.

VV 14-17, 14 Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them, 15 who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. 16 For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.

Meanwhile, the apostles in Jerusalem sent Peter and John to Samaria to verify the revival of Samaria. They arrived and witnessed the revival as reported. They laid hand on the Samaritan believers and prayed for them to receive the Holy Spirit.

VV 18-24, 18 And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money, 19 saying, “Give me this power also, that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” 20 But Peter said to him, “Your money perish with you because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money! 21 You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God. 22 Repent therefore of this your wickedness and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you. 23 For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity.” 24 Then Simon answered and said, “Pray to the Lord for me, that none of the things which you have spoken may come upon me.”

Simon the sorcerer offered money to the apostles in exchange for the power of the Holy Spirit. Peter rebuked him because the Holy Spirit was not a commodity to be bought and sold. Today, the act of paying money to buy a position in the church is called simony. Simon the sorcerer repented of his sins and requested prayer from Peter.

VV 25-29, 25 So when they had testified and preached the word of the Lord, they returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel in many villages of the Samaritans. 26 Now an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, “Arise and go toward the south along the road which goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is a desert. 27 So he arose and went. And behold, a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace the queen of the Ethiopians, who had charge of all her treasury, and had come to Jerusalem to worship, 28 was returning. And sitting in his chariot, he was reading Isaiah the prophet. 29 Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go near and overtake this chariot.”

The apostles preached the gospel to the Samaritan villages and returned to Jerusalem. An angel of God appeared to Philip, instructing him to travel south along the Jerusalem-Gaza road. Philip obeyed and met a Gentile Ethiopian eunuch on his chariot. This god fearer was returning to Ethiopia after worshiping the God of Israel in Jerusalem. He was an official and treasurer of Candice, the queen of Ethiopia. He was reading the book of Isaiah. The Holy Spirit instructed Philip to go near the chariot.

VV 30- 35, 30 So Philip ran to him, and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah, and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?” 31 And he said, “How can I unless someone guides me?” And he asked Philip to come up and sit with him. 32 The place in the Scripture which he read was this: ‘’He was led as a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before its shearer is silent, So He opened not His mouth. 33 In His humiliation His justice was taken away, And who will declare His generation? For His life is taken from the earth.” 34 So the eunuch answered Philip and said, “I ask you, of whom does the prophet say this, of himself or some other man?” 35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him.

Philip ran to the eunuch and heard him reading Isaiah. The eunuch invited Philip to sit next to him. Philip expounded Isaiah 53:7-9 and preached Jesus to him from this passage.

Isaiah 53:7, ‘’He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep, before its shearer is silent, so He opened not His mouth’’.

VV 36-40, 36 Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?” 37 Then Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” 38 So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him. 39 Now when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, so that the eunuch saw him no more; and he went on his way rejoicing. 40 But Philip was found at Azotus. And passing through, he preached in all the cities till he came to Caesarea.

The eunuch believed and confessed Jesus as the Son of God. Philip baptised him in a river and immediately after this, the Holy Spirit caught Philip away to another town called Azotus. The Greek word for caught away is “harpazo”, which is the same word used in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 for the rapture. The Holy Spirit raptured Philip from Jerusalem Road to Azotus. The eunuch went on his way rejoicing in his newfound faith. The Ethiopian eunuch became the first Gentile Christian convert of Acts. Philip preached the gospel to all the cities until he arrived at Caesarea.

1 Thessalonians 4:17 a, “after that we who are still alive will be caught up…..”

Application:

After Stephen’s martyrdom, intense persecutions of the church resulted in church expansion because the 8000 odd displaced Christians took their faith to their new places of abode.

Philip took the gospel to the Samaritans and the Ethiopian eunuch. The Ethiopian eunuch took the gospel to Ethiopia.

Philip did evangelism by the Holy Spirit. He waited for the Holy Spirit’s instructions and obeyed. When you do evangelism, pray, wait for the Holy Spirit’s instructions, and obey.

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, thank You for all that You have done for us. Thank You for telling us the story of deacon Philip’s remarkable adventures in Samaria. We pray hunger and thirst for righteousness, clear minds, humble spirits,teachable hearts, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

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