Philip’s Ministry in Samaria (8:5-25)

Book of Acts  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  42:42
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Philip’s Ministry in Samaria

With 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 (v. 25).

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.
The main point is that Gospel is the Power of God, and so it conquers the evil power no matter where it goes.

Philip and the Ethiopian (Acts 8:26-40)

Now, after Philip’s ministry in Samaria, the Angel of the Lord gave Philip a task. This task it to go to the south from Jerusalem unto Gaza and meet an Ethiopian eunuch.
Acts 8:26 KJV 1900
And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert.
If you recall what happened to Moses and who led him in the wilderness episodes, you would think of the Angel of the LORD guiding Moses. Here as well, we see the Angel of the Lord guiding Philip.
This is a divine task. God has appointed a task for Philip to fulfill. Now, this is also the fulfillment of God’s mission - that is, the expansion of God’s message through His disciples.
The Angel told Philip to go towards Gaza. No specific place was mentioned. Philip doesn’t know what was going on; he did not have to; but he obeyed the voice of the Lord spoken by the Angel.
Acts 8:27 KJV 1900
And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship,
Philip obeyed God’s word, he met an Ethiopian, a eunuch with great authority. This Ethiopia is today’s Sudan, and former Cush in Scripture.
By the standards of the Mosaic Law, these men should not enter the temple. Deut. 23:1.
Deuteronomy 23:1 KJV 1900
He that is wounded in the stones, or hath his privy member cut off, shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord.
But, in Acts we learn that this eunuch has access to Isaiah’s scroll, and he went to Jerusalem to worship. This may be the fulfillment of Isaiah 11:11
Isaiah 11:11 KJV 1900
And it shall come to pass in that day, That the Lord shall set his hand again the second time To recover the remnant of his people, Which shall be left, from Assyria, And from Egypt, and from Pathros, And from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, And from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea.
From Luke’s perspective: The eunuch’s pilgrimage to worship in Jerusalem is also a way of showing that those who believe in Jesus are not treated as second-class citizens. If a eunuch was not allowed in the temple because of the law, then those who are saved by faith in Christ will not be hindered by that law.
In verse 28, we learn that this Ethiopian was returning from Jerusalem, and was sitting in his chariot reading Esaias the prophet.
He may have brought that scroll or book of Isaiah with him. However, we learn that he was intrigued by the Scripture he was reading.
Now notice that he was reading, but there was no understanding. What was he reading? Isaiah 53:7-8; a passage about the Suffering Servant.
Acts 8:29 KJV 1900
Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot.
Couple of things to note here:
The whole narrative of Philip going to meet the eunuch was the work of the Holy Spirit; Philip did not plan this event.
Philip, as he obeyed the angel of the Lord, here also he obeyed the Holy Spirit. This tells us how the Holy Spirit God is leading His disciples to expand the Gospel message or proclaim the goodnews to the world.
So, Philip went and joined the chariot. He then heard what the eunuch was reading. He was reading prophet Esaias. When Philip heard this, he asked do you understand what you are reading? (v.30). The eunuch responds, how can I? unless someone guides me? And then he asked Philip to go into the chariot and sit with him (v.31).
Point: Isn’t this why God gave teachers, and preachers? To explain the text? Sometimes we can read all we want, but we may understand little to nothing. So we need help. That is why God appointed pastors and teachers to do this job.

Philip’s Proclamation of the Gospel (8:32-33)

The portion of the text he was reading was from Isaiah 53:7-8, which he was following the Greek translation.
Isaiah 53:7–8 KJV 1900
He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, Yet he opened not his mouth: He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, So he openeth not his mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment: And who shall declare his generation? For he was cut off out of the land of the living: For the transgression of my people was he stricken.
The larger context of this text says that Yahweh’s servant suffers humiliation, and affliction. He did not complain; he was about to be slaughtered like a lamb; he did did not open his mouth; he was buried.
WHAT was Luke doing here? Why did he not quote the entire passage? His purpose was not to copy and paste the text from Isaiah, but to emphasize how Jesus Christ was the agent; He was the suffering servant, yet that does not negate the fact that He was the anticipated and promised Messiah.
Note that Philip did not ask eunuch to read this passage. God prompted, or lead the eunuch read the portion until this far by the time Philip was brought there by Him.
The Ethiopian asks: Who is this talking about? (v. 34).
The Philip began to explain. Notice verse 37. This is the beauty of God’s work.
Acts 8:35 KJV 1900
Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.
Notice that Philip opened his mouth and “began” at the same scripture and preached unto him Jesus.
Philip related this passage to Jesus Christ.
Now, I heard a Jewish teacher online said that those who teach Isaiah 53 and relate the suffering servant to Jesus doesn’t know what they are taking about. I say, this Jewish teacher doesn’t understand the Scripture; if he read this chapter in Acts 8, he wouldn’t have made that comment.

The Salvation and the Baptism of the Ethiopian (8:36)

Acts 8:36 KJV 1900
And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?
After the explanation of the text, God saved the Ethiopian; Salvation is implied in this passage; Philip must have explained him about baptism as well. So they came to certain water, and the eunuch asked, what stops me from being baptized? In other words, why not? So, Philip baptized him by immersion (v. 37-38).
After baptism, Philip was no more. The Holy Spirit took him.
Acts 8:39 KJV 1900
And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.
The result of this was not that eunuch went on searching for Philip, but he went on his way. Philip was taken by the Lord for another task.
Acts 8:40 KJV 1900
But Philip was found at Azotus: and passing through he preached in all the cities, till he came to Caesarea.
Philip found himself in Ashdod. He continues to do God’s work proclaiming the gospel. God is reaching to the ends of the earth by his Gospel through His disciples.

Theological Implications

The mission of the Church is to share the Gospel. Whatever the circumstances be, the mission must continue.
The mission of the Church is guided by the Holy Spirit. Throughout the book of Acts we learn how Holy Spirit God guides His people to proclaim the gospel to the world.
The mission of the Church is to study the Scripture and explain the gospel to others. Philip explained the text to the Ethiopian; we must also explain. But to explain, we must know the Scripture; to know we must study diligently.
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