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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.
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.
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.
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
Mr. Simon thought that this power can be bought.
However, Peter rejects it.
In verse 20 Peter says:
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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?
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.
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.
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