Vs. 1, “On that day a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria.” While the stoning death of Stephen is tragic to the church, notice how this incident would actually help the Christians finally start spreading out to Judea and Samaria (Acts 1:8). Notice how we now focus in on Samaria as Philip (one of the seven chosen in Acts 6) goes down from Jerusalem. Question: How could Philip go down when Samaria was north of Jerusalem? Because when Jerusalem was higher elevation and Samaria was in a valley, so literally, Philip went down. Anyways, we see Philip bring the Gospel to the Samaritans and also run into Simon the Sorcerer (vs. 5-25). It’s interesting to note how they believed and were baptized, but it wasn’t until Peter and John came that the Holy Spirit would fill those who truly believed. I say “truly” believe, because Simon the Sorcerer confessed belief, but did not truly believe. There is also the issue of the “Pentecost” like experience with the Holy Spirit to the Samaritans. There is not an agreed consensus on how to explain this. In my Seminary class, we talked about how this was still the early church and the outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit was not yet normative at that time as our present age when we accept with belief and the Holy Spirit comes into our life. We then come to an interesting encounter with Philip and an Ethiopian (vs. 26-40). We see an angel of the Lord specifically command Philip to go south and while traveling he runs into an Ethiopian eunuch (high official). Geographically, this would be fulfilling the aspect of going out finally to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). The Ethiopian just happens to be reading the text from Isaiah 53 (referring to Jesus the suffering servant). What a wonderful example of NT Scripture fulfilling OT scripture! God would use Philip as quite the missionary evangelist!
Regarding application…Opportunities to Share. Vs. 29, “The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.” When we are walking with the Lord, He undoubtedly will give us opportunities to share our faith! Just this Monday, I was at LA Fitness and relaxing after working out in the spa & swimming pool area. There was a gentleman that happened to be finishing up a business trip and driving back to Arizona the next day. We acknowledged each other, but then a very interesting conversation ensued. We talked about what each of us currently do and He was sharing with me how he is a Jew. We talked for about 15 minutes, I had the opportunity to share my faith. He had his own skeptical responses, but I could see that there was emptiness in his life. This story in our passage today reminded me of my encounter with the traveling Jewish salesman. You see, God will give us opportunities when we are pursing Him! Your schools, workplaces, hangouts, places you frequent…they are all opportunities to strike up conversation and even share your faith! That’s one of the main reasons we are still here! To be witnesses of Jesus Christ!