Bowie Apostolic Church
Acts 8: The Rise of an Evangelist
by From the Pastor's Desk on February 8th, 2013

Saul's Zeal

Acts 8:1 And Saul approved of his execution. And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. 2 Devout men buried Stephen and made great lamentation over him. 3 But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison.
Stephen’s death set into motion a chain of events that would not only fulfill what Jesus had promised, but it would have an effect on the entire world for thousands of years to come until this time. Since Pentecost, they had not left Jerusalem. Jesus clearly said they would go to other areas: (1) Jerusalem, (2) Judea and (3) the uttermost part of the earth. Sometimes we can get caught up in the moment when God is moving, but not stay in tune with the overall vision that God has given us. When were they planning to go to the uttermost parts of the earth? They were fixated on their own kindred, Israel. Outside of Israel, there were no Christians. We will see in subsequent chapters that they were probably satisfied with that.

Two significant things come out of Stephen’s martyrdom: great persecution came upon the church and there was one person in particular who saw Stephen killed that would be used mightily by God. Why is great persecution so significant? Because it scattered the church from Jerusalem to Judea and Samaria. This is progressing God’s will further. Not only were they scattered, but they also took the word with them as they went. It wasn’t the apostles who scattered, but others. Therefore, it wasn’t only the apostles that preached, it was others. This tells us that it is not only the preacher’s job to spread the Gospel message, but it is the Church’s job. The whole gospel to the whole world by the whole church.

Philip the Evangelist

Acts 8:4 Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word. 5 Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed to them the Christ. 6 And the crowds with one accord paid attention to what was being said by Philip when they heard him and saw the signs that he did. 7 For unclean spirits, crying out with a loud voice, came out of many who had them, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. 8 So there was much joy in that city. 
Philip was one of the people that scattered. He actually went to one of the areas that Jesus spoke of in Acts 1:8, Samaria. As we have seen with Stephen (who was not an apostle), Philip is being used mightily by God as well. Healing and deliverance was occurring in this city that had not heard the gospel before. This is an example of the power of the Gospel to deliver you from the influence of false teaching.

A local magician (sorcerer) had such an influence on the city of Samaria because of his magical tricks. For him it was not only entertainment, but people spoke of him as if he came from God. Therefore, in his mind the miraculous works that Philip was being used to do would be another thing to add to his bag of tricks. It was mere entertainment to him. Ironically, even 2,000 years later, entertainment is a huge part or our society. Because of this, many feel that church must also be entertaining, as well. However, God is not interested in entertainment. He is interested in the revelation of His power for the purpose of converting the hearts of men and women, whether we are entertained or not.

Peter and John came to Samaria because although they had believed in Jesus, been baptized (including Simon) and there was much joy in the city, they still had not received the precious Gift of the Holy Spirit. When the apostles laid their hands on the believers in Samaria, they received the Spirit of God on their lives. There was obviously an outward sign because this would be the only thing that would attract Simon to this power. It would be the only reason that he would want to pay for the ability to “give” people the Holy Ghost. Of course, the same thing that happened on the day of Pentecost is what happened to those in Samaria. As he watched these people speak with tongues, he wanted to do what the apostles did for an entirely different reason than the apostles; his own personal gain. He repented after Peter explained the error of his ways.

After this, the bible said that the surrounding cities of Samaria also received the word of God. This is progressing the word of God further, in accordance to Jesus' Acts 1:8 prediction.

Philip and the Ethiopian

Acts 8:32 Now the passage of the Scripture that he was reading was this: “Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter and like a lamb before its shearer is silent, so he opens not his mouth. 33In his humiliation justice was denied him. Who can describe his generation? For his life is taken away from the earth.” 34 And the eunuch said to Philip, “About whom, I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?” 
Philip makes his way to Azotus (in the Old Testament, Ashdod) and is led to speak with a man riding in a chariot. This man was reading from Isaiah 53 which is a description of the suffering Messiah. It is clearly a foretelling of Jesus Christ and if you have not read Isaiah 53, I would recommend that you stop now and read it. Philip asks him “Do you understand what you are reading?” His response is something that typifies the hearts of your neighbors, coworkers, family and friends: “How can I, unless someone guides me?” There are people waiting for us to talk to them about Jesus. There are people that have questions in their hearts about faith and life and purpose. They need a Philip in their lives. They need an evangelist to arise and preach to them what they need to hear.

We have seen the message spread from Jerusalem. As they scattered through the rest of Judea, they reached Samaria. With the conversion of the Ethiopian eunuch, the message is moving closer to becoming international. This will not happen on a large scale until the conversion of the most influential and prolific writer of the New Testament. We will meet him in chapter 9.


Posted in Acts, Bible 2013    Tagged with philip, power, baptism, ethiopian, simon, magician, holy spirit, peter, john


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