ACTS – Chapter
verses for this week: Psa
44:20 If we have
forgotten the name of our God, or stretched out our hands to a
strange god; Psa 44:21 Shall
not God search this out? for he knoweth the secrets of the heart.
Chapter 7, we saw Stephen addressing the Sanhedrin council, and they
were so incensed by his preaching of the truth concerning Jesus
Christ, they stoned him to death.
We saw at the end of the chapter where Stephen looked up and
saw Christ standing at the right hand of God.
I believe Jesus stood to welcome this great saint home.
Saul (who later became the apostle Paul after being saved).
Witnessed all of this, and I believe that Paul never forgot what
The Fourth Persecution (from Saul)
8:1 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.
8:2 And devout men
carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him.
We know from
chapter 1 of Acts that the Lord Jesus Christ laid out a program to
evangelize the whole world. Following
the death of Stephen, intense persecution came upon the first church
there in Jerusalem, and it drove the apostles and church members to
areas away from Jerusalem. From
this, we see that God can make good from things that are bad.
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
And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he
was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.
We see from verse
1 that great persecution came upon the church.
We know when Jesus appeared to Saul on the road to Damascus,
Jesus said that he was persecuting Him.
That means that when people are against the church, they are
And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him,
Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?
And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am
Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the
8:3 As for Saul, he
made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men
and women committed them to prison.
8:4 Therefore they that
were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.
Wiersbe’s commentary on Acts, he noted how unlikely a candidate
Paul was to be chosen as the apostle unto the gentiles.
“He was born in
Tarsus in Cilicia (Acts 22:3), he was a “Hebrew of the Hebrews”,
the son of a Pharisee, and a Roman citizen.
He was educated in Jerusalem by Gamaliel.
Measured by the Law, his life was blameless. (Phil 3:6).
He was one of the most promising young Pharisees in
Jerusalem, well on his way to becoming a great leader for the Jewish
faith. Saul’s zeal
for the Law was displayed most vividly in his persecution of the
church. He really
thought that persecuting the believers was one way of serving God ,
so he did it with a clear conscience. (2 Tim 1:3)
And Saul made havock of the church.
He was a man with great authority whose devotion to Moses
completely controlled his life, and almost destroyed his life.
He did it “Ignorantly in unbelief.”
1 Tim 1:13
Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious:
but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.
1 Tim 1:14
And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith
and love which is in Christ Jesus.
1 Tim 1:15
This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation,
that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am
We can learn
from Saul’s life that not everyone who comes in God’s name is a
Christian, and we need to be careful of what we believe by those who
teach anything contrary to the Word of God.
We know that by Saul’s persecution of the church, the
members were driven to many remote areas where they continued to
preach the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
We should remember that no matter what happens to us, we need
to never forget God, and never stop preaching the Gospel.
It is the power of salvation to all that believe.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the
power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew
first, and also to the Greek.
For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith
to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.
Paul gave the same
charge to young Timothy to be out and preaching the Word.
2 Tim 4:1
I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus
Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and
2 Tim 4:2
Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season;
reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.
The Ministry of Philip
8:5 Then Philip went
down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them.
8:6 And the people with
one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing
and seeing the miracles which he did.
8:7 For unclean
spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were
possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were
lame, were healed.
8:8 And there was great
joy in that city.
Philip was one of
the seven chosen to serve as a deacon of the church. (Acts 6:5) Most likely Philip had surrendered to the ministry and was an
evangelist. We find
that he visited Paul years later and was called an evangelist.
And the next day we that were of Paul's company departed, and
came unto Caesarea: and we entered into the house of Philip the
evangelist, which was one of the seven; and abode with him.
We see that Philip
went down to the city of Samaria, and was the first (after Christ)
to preach the Gospel to this group of people.
The Samaritans were not liked by the Jews, and they had
little to do with one another.
We know from reading in Ezra that when Judah refused to let
the Samaritans help rebuild the temple, they became the enemies of
Now when the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the
children of the captivity builded the temple unto the LORD God of
Then they came to Zerubbabel, and to the chief of the
fathers, and said unto them, Let us build with you: for we seek your
God, as ye do; and we do sacrifice unto him since the days of
Esarhaddon king of Assur, which brought us up hither.
But Zerubbabel, and Jeshua, and the rest of the chief of the
fathers of Israel, said unto them, Ye have nothing to do with us to
build an house unto our God; but we ourselves together will build
unto the LORD God of Israel, as king Cyrus the king of Persia hath
Then the people of the land weakened the hands of the people
of Judah, and troubled them in building,
But when the Jews
refused to hear the Gospel, the Gentiles were blessed to have it
preached unto them. All
through the ages, we have record where Gentiles were saved, but this
was a special time, and we still are living in the time of the
Gentiles today. Jesus
traveled to the city of Samaria during His ministry.
He declared that the fields were white unto harvest.
And he must needs go through Samaria.
Then cometh he to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar,
near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph.
Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh
harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the
fields; for they are white already to harvest..
We see in verse 5
that Philip did not preach a “social gospel”, but the truth
about the Lord Jesus Christ. When
we preach the true gospel, it divides men.
But our responsibility as the church is to preach Christ, and
1 Cor 1:18
For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish
foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.
1 Cor 1:19
For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and
will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.
1 Cor 1:20
Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer
of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?
1 Cor 1:21
For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew
not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them
1 Cor 1:22
For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after
1 Cor 1:23
But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a
stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;
1 Cor 1:24
But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ
the power of God, and the wisdom of God.
1 Cor 1:25
Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the
weakness of God is stronger than men.
were definitely not in vain, as we see many gave heed to those
things which he spake. Never
should we doubt the power of God’s Word as it pierces the heart of
man. And because he
preached the gospel, it says this city was filled with great joy.
Simon the Sorcerer
Simon was what we
would call a magician today. He
bewitched the people of Samaria, and made them believe he was
someone special. But
the bible warns that we should not praise ourselves, but let another
man praise us. But because of his trickery, many followed after him,
from the least to the greatest.
We see a lot of
people like Simon on the television claiming great powers over
illness, sometimes saying they are doing it in the name of Jesus.
Don’t misunderstand me, Jesus is the Great Physician, and
He heals today just like He did in those early days.
The difference is that it is done by God when we pray
believing. It is not
done by magic or by laying on of hands, or by someone seeking to
make a name for themselves. A
true worker and preacher of the Cross will give God the honor and
glory, not pour praise upon himself.
Philip preached the gospel, people responded, and they were
Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto
thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none
other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is
given unto me in heaven and in earth.
Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the
name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have
commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of
the world. Amen.
No doubt many who
had followed Simon got saved and baptized, and Simon wanted this
great power to gain back his people and to make the crowds marvel. But that is not what the Gospel is all about.
We can have a head knowledge from history about Christ and
never be saved.
8:14 Now when the
apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the
word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John:
8:15 Who, when they
were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy
8:16 (For as yet he was
fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the
8:17 Then laid they
their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.
8:18 And when Simon saw
that through laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was
given, he offered them money,
8:19 Saying, Give me
also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the
8:20 But Peter said
unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that
the gift of God may be purchased with money.
8:21 Thou hast neither
part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight
8:22 Repent therefore
of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of
thine heart may be forgiven thee.
8:23 For I perceive
that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of
8:24 Then answered
Simon, and said, Pray ye to the Lord for me, that none of these
things which ye have spoken come upon me.
8:25 And they, when
they had testified and preached the word of the Lord, returned to
Jerusalem, and preached the gospel in many villages of the
When the apostles
heard that Samaria had heard the word and believed, they sent Peter
and John unto them. We
see that by the laying on of the apostle’s hands, the Holy Spirit
was given unto them. This
was the only record we had of anyone receiving the Holy Spirit is by
the laying on of the hands of an apostle until the house of
Cornelius. Here, it is
said that He came upon them while Peter yet spoke the Word.
Today, the Holy Spirit comes into us and dwells in us the
moment we are saved. Our
bodies are the temple of the Holy Ghost.
Here are some things to note about
He was convinced of the truth in verses