The Expansion of the Gospel - Acts 8:4-25

Book of Acts  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  38:40
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The Expansion of the Gospel

The idea of this chapter is that the early believers were scattered after Stephen’s death. However, this does not mean that God is done with His program. This does not mean that the Holy Spirit God is done with the expansion of the Gospel mission. But THIS is the beginning of the expansion of God’s missionary work! By the following event(s) God will spread His Gospel to other parts of the word!
Some themes:
God’s blessings that comes with salvation in Christ is available for those who are afar off.
Gospel reaching out to the Samaritans is to include even the Samaritans, those of them who are thought of outcasts will now be part of God’s family.
The signs and wonders of God will motivate and energize those who play close attention to the message of God through the disciples.

The Expansion of God’s Mission to Samaria (8:4-24)

In Acts 1:8 the Lord foretold the coming of the Holy Spirit, but He also said that the disciples were to be witnesses not only in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, but also in Samaria.
Acts 1:8 KJV 1900
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.
Previously we learned about Stephen’s speech, and how the leaders, and listeners were furious at Stephen’s heart piercing words, which led them to stone Stephen to death.
However, in that narrative, we have also learned that Stephen followed the example of Jesus Christ in “forgiving” these persecutors.
We have learned that these people did not change. Their hearts were still rebellious; they have killed an innocent, just like they have killed Jesus.
We can clearly see how sin, when exposed, can cause anger that can lead one to do anything his/her mind leads them to.
From that episode, we can learn three things:
Believers should proclaim the Gospel courageously in spite of danger and death.
Believers must forgive enemies. Why? Because, forgiving one another is one of the many things what Jesus did, and a characteristic of a Christian.
What we would learn in this part, that is 8:4-25 is the expansion of God’s mission and the hostility towards Christianity.
So the main idea of 8:4-25 is the spreading of the Gospel in spite of the hostility.
One writer puts it this way: “The hostility which would become hospitality through the power of the gospel.”
Isn’t that amazing?
The enemy wants to hinder God’s work, but only to learn that he fails over and over again?
However, let us look at verse 1 in chapter 8.
Acts 8:1 KJV 1900
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.
With Stephen’s death, the persecution did not end, rather, it took a spike. His death marked an increase in persecution. Obviously, the people that Stephen spoke with were outraged at Stephen’s truth. So, when the truth ripped their hearts, they minds stopped functioning properly.
So, the Church was under heavy persecution.
Now, notice that Saul was “contending” with Stephen’s death.
ESV states, Saul approved of his execution.
And then we learn that there was a “great” persecution against the Church. Because of the persecution the Church scattered abroad throughout the regions of Samaria and Judea.

The Ministry of Philip Acts 8:5-13

In Acts 8 4
Acts 8:4 KJV 1900
Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.
Acts 8:5 KJV 1900
Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them.
From this verse we see Philip’s ministry. We learned about Philip when the Church was suggested to find seven men, and one of those seven men along with Stephen was Philip.
This Philip went to Samaria, and preached Christ unto them. And the result of this ministry is conversion. Look at Acts 8 6
Acts 8:6 KJV 1900
And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did.
What we must note here is that Philip went to Samaritans. A people group despised, if not hated, by Jews. The Gospel of Jesus Christ has no boundaries. The message of God cannot be confined or restricted by anyone.
Now men may think they are able to bind God’s Word from spreading throughout the world, but in reality, they may only dream about it.
So Philip went to a city of Samaria and preached, or proclaimed the Gospel. We do not know what specific city, but he may have went and proclaimed the gospel to the district of Samaria.
The verb “proclaim” in Greek is κηρύσσω, which means: “to publicly announce religious truths and principles while urging acceptance and compliance—‘to preach.” Louw-Nida, 33.256. This term is not a technical term, but a term used to proclaim the message of God with authority and confidence.
The term used in the Old Testament is קרא, which means “to call” has the idea where the prophets of the Old Testament proclaiming God’s word with authority, expecting that the listeners would take some action to the message.
The point here is that Philip was preaching/proclaiming the message of God - the Gospel with divine authority and confidence.
One thing to note here is that the Samaritans accept only the Torah, the Pentateuch; they reject everything else. So in this case, Philip should have used that Torah and proclaimed them about the “Prophet” who would come from among the Jews - one like Moses, based on Deut. 18:15, 18.
Acts 8:6 KJV 1900
And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did.
Notice that people payed attention to what Philip was saying. The Greek very was an imperfect verb, which means they have heard Philip speak for an extend time. Then they saw miracles.
This validates Philip’s mission! He was doing what the Apostles did in Jerusalem! This means, Philip was doing the work of the Lord by the help of the Holy Spirit.
Because of Philip’s ministry, people were liberated from unclean spirits (vv.7-8), many people were healed, and there was joy in the city!
Now, there is a shift in the narrative.
There was a man named Simon, who had been practicing magic, and the Samaritans fell for his skills. Look at verse 9.
Acts 8:9 KJV 1900
But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one:
All the great things about God, His message, His miracles were going on - the city was filled with joy. But then something happens. There was a man named Simon, who was a magician, and somehow made other call him great or made himself look great. He was practicing sorcery, and entertained people to some extent.
In spite of this guy hanging around in town for a while, and people listening him, they are now listening to Philip and paying attention. People at this point are not paying attention to Simon the magic man.
In verses 10-11 we learn that this man has a name: This man is the Power of God called Great. However great Simon may have been, but he was not greater than God and his magic has no equivalent to God’s great works. So, people paid attention to Philip’s message and activities.
In verses 12-13 we learned that people were baptized, and even Simon himself came to faith and was baptized. However, was Simon really save? We will see that later.
Now, the Apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, and so they sent Peter and John (v. 14).
Acts 8:15–16 KJV 1900
Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)
Peter and John prayed that the Samaritans might receive the Holy Spirit. This means that they have believed the faith of the Samaritans is authentic. The Peter and John laid hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit (v. 17).
Now this may have been a visible experience as in Acts 2. We do not know, but that might be a possibility. The laying of hands in verse 17 also indicates the granting of the promise of the Holy Spirit.
This brings the conversion of the Samaritans - that is, those who believe in the Lord as their Savior, to a climax. The work of God has spread to Samaritans, who are part of true Israel - a combination of Gentiles and Jews.
However, there is an issue here. Look at 8:18-19
Acts 8:18–19 KJV 1900
And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost.
Mr. Simon thought that this power can be bought. However, Peter rejects it. In verse 20 Peter says:
Acts 8:20 KJV 1900
But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.
Peter knew that buying the Holy Spirit is impossible because the Holy Spirit is a gift of God. Peter wishes a curse on Simon for a desire as such and for his attempt to purchase. In verse 21 Peter declares that Simon’s heart is not right, so he must repent (v.22).
Acts 8:22–23 KJV 1900
Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee. For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity.
Peter’s call was for him to repent. Peter did not say that he was not saved, but that his thoughts and actions were wrong and even sinful.
Peter noticed that Simon was angry - a bitter anger. Why was he angry? Probably because he was sentenced by Peter to face God’s punishment.
Acts 8:24 KJV 1900
Then answered Simon, and said, Pray ye to the Lord for me, that none of these things which ye have spoken come upon me.
We see Simon’s plea, and requested Peter to pray so that none of what Peter said would come upon Simon.
After this incident, the apostles returned to Jerusalem, proclaiming the good news in many of the villages in Samaria.

Theological points:

Holy Spirit cannot be bought. The gift of the Holy Spirit is only given by God, not by men.
Human cannot direct or call upon Holy Spirit and say “do this or do that.” No human pastor or missionary or an evangelist has that power. The Holy Spirit’s ministry is to guide our lives.
There are those so called ministers who dream and lie about calling the Holy Spirit “right now” upon someone. Let me clear this to them - no, you cannot call Him to play your pathetic games deceiving believers.
Signs and wonders can be from God or from the devil. Simon was, before his conversion, a self-serving person, who did magic to gain profits. However, Philip’s motivation was to serve God; he did not seek honor or glory or money.
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