ACTS OF THE APOSTLES
Sand Lake, Michigan
Chapters 8:1-25 – Gospel Work In Samaria
We can see what as active part Saul of Tarsus had in the death of Stephen – V. 1. Then he went right on entering houses and taking the believers off to prison. This caused the believers to be scattered abroad, but as they went they preached the Word of God. Of course this resulted in the Word going out from Jerusalem to other parts of the world. We remember that Jesus said in Acts 1:8 that they would be witness in Jerusalem, in Judea and in Samaria and unto the uttermost parts of the earth. Jesus had witnessed to the woman of Samaria and she had told others. The Lord used the persecution and the scattering to cause Philip to go to the city of Samaria – V. 5. There he preached Christ, and with great results. The people with one accord listened to what he had to say. Philip had been like Stephen, one chosen to wait on the tables. Like Stephen, also, he preached, and miracles followed his ministry. Unclean spirits came out of people. Healings took place, and all this resulted in great joy – Vs. 6-8.
Philip preached Christ, and exalted Him. In that city of Samaria, there was a man called Simon. He was into witchcraft, which is of the devil. He had everyone believing he was the great power of God. He just called attention to himself. Before the time when Philip came to Samaria, he had everything under his control – Vs. 9-11.
When Philip came to that city and preached the things about Jesus Christ, the people listened to him. We read in Luke 9:52-53 – that earlier on, Jesus sent messengers to Samaria, but they weren’t ready to hear His message. At this time (Acts 8) they believed Philip’s wonderful message, and were baptized both men and women. Now what was Simon going to do – for that would mean they wouldn’t believe him any more? Simon came and was baptized. He claimed to believe what Philip preached, and it even says he followed or continued with Philip, seeing the miracles and signs – Vs. 12-13.
The apostles in Jerusalem heard about what was going on in Samaria, and they sent two men – Peter and John – where Philip was. They prayed for these new Samaritan believers, laying hands on them to receive the Holy Ghost. They had not yet had that experience (the same as they had on the Day of Pentecost) under Philip’s teaching but they did when these men prayed for them – Vs. 14-17.
This brought out Simon’s true condition. He might have caused some to wonder whether he really did believe, or whether he was just going along with it because others did. Now he figured he could get in on this new teaching and still have the people think he was great. He must have seen that the power of God was greater than what he had exercised. He had already wondered at the results of Philip’s ministry, and now THIS. He tried to buy this gift (of having people receive the Holy Ghost) with money – Vs. 18-19.
Listen to Peter’s answer – “Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased (bought) with money. Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter, for thy heart is not right in the sight of God” – Vs. 20-21. Then Peter told him to repent of that wickedness and pray if perhaps the thought of his heart may be forgiven him. Peter could tell by the Holy Spirit, that Simon was in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity – Vs. 22-23. Then Simon wanted Peter to pray for him. I hope he got straightened out and really believed in the Lord.
Peter and John preached there for a awhile and then returned to Jerusalem. On the way they preached the gospel in other Samaritan villages.
From this lesson we learn that the message of Jesus was for all people. The Samaritans heard the Word, and we will find out that people in other places had the privilege of hearing also.
The Lord wants us to believe His Word about Jesus. It is never right to pretend to believe and just go with the crowd. The Lord knows the difference and so do others when the Holy Spirit shows them. God wants us to be real, to be genuine. Jesus love you and wants you to know for sure how you stand with Him.