Today in the Pentecostal handbook we see the spread of the church to Judea and Samaria as a result of Jewish persecution in Jerusalem. Philip, one of the first seven deacons, is used in a mighty way on two separate occasions reminding us that God can still build His church no matter the circumstances.
Three controversies answered in today’s text:
- Baptism: Jesus name only or Trinitarian (Father, Son and the Holy Spirit)
- Baptism of the Holy Spirit: Equal to Regeneration or A Secondary Work for Endowment of Power
- Salvation: Once Saved Always Saved or Conditional Salvation
- Inerrancy: Eclectic Text or Ecclesiastical Text
Acts 8:1, “1 And Saul approved of their killing him. On that day a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria (Acts 1:8). 2 Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him. 3 But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off both men and women and put them in prison.
4 Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went (Mark 16:20). 5 Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah there. 6 When the crowds heard Philip and saw the signs he performed, they all paid close attention to what he said. 7 For with shrieks, impure spirits came out of many, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed (Mark 16:17-18). 8 So there was great joy in that city.
9 Now for some time a man named Simon had practiced sorcery in the city and amazed all the people of Samaria. He boasted that he was someone great, 10 and all the people, both high and low, gave him their attention and exclaimed, “This man is rightly called the Great Power of God.” 11 They followed him because he had amazed them for a long time with his sorcery. 12 But when they believed Philip as he proclaimed the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.
13 Simon himself believed and was baptized. And he followed Philip everywhere, astonished by the great signs and miracles he saw. 14 When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to Samaria. 15 When they arrived, they prayed for the new believers there that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16 because the Holy Spirit had not yet come on any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.
18 When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money 19 and said, “Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.”
20 Peter answered: “May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! 21 You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God. 22 Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord in the hope that he may forgive you for having such a thought in your heart (Matthew 13:22). 23 For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.” (Hebrews 12:15) 24 Then Simon answered, “Pray to the Lord for me so that nothing you have said may happen to me.” 25 After they had further proclaimed the word of the Lord and testified about Jesus, Peter and John returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel in many Samaritan villages.
26 Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Go south to the road—the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” 27 So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of the Kandake (which means “queen of the Ethiopians”). This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, 28 and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the Book of Isaiah the prophet. 29 The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.”
30 Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked. 31 “How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.
32 This is the passage of Scripture the eunuch was reading: “He was led like a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before its shearer is silent, so he did not open his mouth. 33 In his humiliation he was deprived of justice. Who can speak of his descendants? For his life was taken from the earth.” (Isaiah 53:7-8)
34 The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?” 35 Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.
36 As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water. What can stand in the way of my being baptized?” [37 NKJV “Then Philip said, ‘If you believe with all your heart, you may.’ And he answered and said, ‘I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.'”] 38 And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him. 39 When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing. 40 Philip, however, appeared at Azotus and traveled about, preaching the gospel in all the towns until he reached Caesarea.”
- Notes from Wiki on Acts 8:37; “Reason: The earliest Greek manuscript (Ea/E2) of the New Testament to include this verse dates from the late sixth or early seventh century and it is only found in Western witnesses to the text with many minor variations. The majority of Greek manuscripts copied after 600 AD and the majority of translations made after 600 AD do not include the verse.
- The tradition of the confession was current in the time of Irenaeus as it is cited by him (c. 180) and Cyprian (c. 250). “For although in the Acts of the Apostles the eunuch is described as at once baptized by Philip, because “he believed with his whole heart,” this is not a fair parallel. For he was a Jew, and as he came from the temple of the Lord he was reading the prophet Isaiah,” (Cyprian) and is found in the Old Latin (2nd/3rd century) and the Vulgate (380–400). In his notes Erasmus says that he took this reading from the margin of 4ap and incorporated it into the Textus Receptus. J. A. Alexander (1857) suggested that this verse, though genuine, was omitted by many scribes, “as unfriendly to the practice of delaying baptism, which had become common, if not prevalent, before the end of the 3rd century.”
Are you willing to preach the gospel in the face of persecution, under church authority, believing God for revival with signs following?