Acts 8 Church Scattered from Jerusalem
Summary

Acts 8 begins with a period of persecution against Christians by Saul. The preaching of Philip to people in Samaria follows. Many miracles were done which produced joy in that city. The church in Jerusalem sent Peter and John to lay hands on some brethren so that they could also do miracles. One of the believers named Simon, previously a sorcerer, maliciously desired to obtain the ability possessed by Peter and John to distribute miraculous power to others. He was severely rebuked and told to repent. Philip was then called to go toward Gaza where he would find an Ethiopian nobleman. He was to preach to him the gospel. When he did, the man was baptized and went on his way rejoicing.

Saul Ravages the Church

8And 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. 2Devout men buried Stephen and made great lamentation over him. 3But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison.

Question 1

To what extent did Saul persecute Christians? Are we persecuted today?

Philip Proclaims Christ in Samaria

4Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word. 5Philip went down to the city[1] of Samaria and proclaimed to them the Christ. 6And 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. 7For unclean spirits, crying out with a loud voice, came out of many who had them, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. 8So there was much joy in that city.

Question 2

What did Philip preach to the people of Samaria that led them to Christ?

Simon the Magician Believes

9But there was a man named Simon, who had previously practiced magic in the city and amazed the people of Samaria, saying that he himself was somebody great. 10They all paid attention to him, from the least to the greatest, saying, “This man is the power of God that is called Great.” 11And they paid attention to him because for a long time he had amazed them with his magic. 12But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 13Even Simon himself believed, and after being baptized he continued with Philip. And seeing signs and great miracles[2] performed, he was amazed.

14Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, 15who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16for he had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit. 18Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles' hands, he offered them money, 19saying, “Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” 20But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! 21You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. 22Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you. 23For I see that you are in the gall[3] of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity.” 24And Simon answered, “Pray for me to the Lord, that nothing of what you have said may come upon me.”

Question 3

What was Simon’s great sin? What did he need to do to correct?

25Now when they had testified and spoken the word of the Lord, they returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel to many villages of the Samaritans.

Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch

26Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Rise and go toward the south[4] to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is a desert place. 27And he rose and went. And there was an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure. He had come to Jerusalem to worship 28and was returning, seated in his chariot, and he was reading the prophet Isaiah. 29And the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and join this chariot.” 30So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” 31And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. 32Now 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.”

Question 4

What was the Ethiopian doing when Philip found him? What was he reading?

34And the eunuch said to Philip, “About whom, I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?” 35Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus. 36And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?”[5] 38And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him. 39And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord carried Philip away, and the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing. 40But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he passed through he preached the gospel to all the towns until he came to Caesarea.

Question 5

How does this passage help our understanding of what baptism is?

People
  • Saul
  • Persecuting Christians

  • Philip
  • Preaching in Samaria

  • Simon
  • Believing and then selfishly sinning

  • Peter and John
  • going to Samaria to enable miracles there

  • Ethiopian
  • Receiving the gospel from Philip

Places
  • Jerusalem
  • Burial of Stephen

  • Samaria
  • Gospel preaching and miracles

  • Road to Gaza
  • To the Southwest into former Philistine country; where the road back to Ethiopia took the nobleman

Saul Ravages the Church

8And 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. 2Devout men buried Stephen and made great lamentation over him. 3But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison.

Acts 8:1

This Saul is the same as in 7:58. He will later be called Paul and become one of the apostles.

Philip Proclaims Christ in Samaria

4Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word. 5Philip went down to the city[1] of Samaria and proclaimed to them the Christ. 6And 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. 7For unclean spirits, crying out with a loud voice, came out of many who had them, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. 8So there was much joy in that city.

Acts 8:4

Notice the zeal of early Christians to share the gospel wherever they went.


Acts 8:5

Samaria was north of Jerusalem (about 35 miles in a straight line; perhaps 42 miles by road).

Simon the Magician Believes

9But there was a man named Simon, who had previously practiced magic in the city and amazed the people of Samaria, saying that he himself was somebody great. 10They all paid attention to him, from the least to the greatest, saying, “This man is the power of God that is called Great.” 11And they paid attention to him because for a long time he had amazed them with his magic. 12But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 13Even Simon himself believed, and after being baptized he continued with Philip. And seeing signs and great miracles[2] performed, he was amazed.

Acts 8:9

“Sorcery” is sometimes translated “magic”; thus Simon is sometimes called Simon Magus. Simon’s sorcery may have included such things as witchcraft, astrology, “occult” activities, etc.


Acts 8:12

Philip preached the kingdom of God. That would include the rule of God in each life and in his body of people (the church/kingdom). He also preached the name (authority and word) of Jesus.


Acts 8:13

Because they were baptized, we may also infer that he preached baptism to them.

Notice that Simon was baptized and thus would have become a Christian like all the rest.

14Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, 15who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16for he had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit. 18Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles' hands, he offered them money, 19saying, “Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” 20But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! 21You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. 22Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you. 23For I see that you are in the gall[3] of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity.” 24And Simon answered, “Pray for me to the Lord, that nothing of what you have said may come upon me.”

Acts 8:15

Receiving miraculous ability was only given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands (18).


Acts 8:16

It did not come at baptism. We know because the Holy Spirit had not come on any of them.


Acts 8:19

Simon not only wanted to do miracles, but to convey them to others; i.e., to control them.


Acts 8:20

Spiritual things in God’s kingdom are not purchased with earthly money.


Acts 8:22

Simon is not told to be baptized again. When Christians sin, they repent and pray forgiveness.

25Now when they had testified and spoken the word of the Lord, they returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel to many villages of the Samaritans.

Acts 8:25

Notice that the gospel has transitioned beyond Jerusalem into Samaria (see Acts 1:8).

Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch

26Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Rise and go toward the south[4] to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is a desert place. 27And he rose and went. And there was an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure. He had come to Jerusalem to worship 28and was returning, seated in his chariot, and he was reading the prophet Isaiah. 29And the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and join this chariot.” 30So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” 31And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. 32Now 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.”

Acts 8:27

Ethiopia was to the south of Egypt and bounded on the east by the Red Sea and Indian Ocean.

Candace was the royal name of the queens of Ethiopia (like “Pharoah” was royal name in Egypt).


Acts 8:27

The Ethiopian was something like our Secretary of Treasury; no doubt either a Jew or proselyte.


Acts 8:32

He was reading fromIsaiah 53:7-8.

34And the eunuch said to Philip, “About whom, I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?” 35Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus. 36And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?”[5] 38And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him. 39And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord carried Philip away, and the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing. 40But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he passed through he preached the gospel to all the towns until he came to Caesarea.

Acts 8:36

The picture presented conforms exactly to baptism being an immersion in water (see v. 38-39).


Acts 8:37

Baptism requires belief that Jesus is the Son of God.

Perspectives

Gospel preaching includes knowing about the kingdom of God, the name (authority) of Jesus Christ, and baptism (v. 12)

The gift of God cannot be purchased with money (v. 20).

When Jesus is preached, men should believe in Him and be baptized (v. 34-38).