ACTS CHAPTER EIGHT
Spreading the Word into wider regions
Suggested Teaching Objectives:
To show that it is better to be obedient to God than to suffer chastisement.
To teach the importance of being obedient to God (following His leading) even though it may not seem wise to us. (eg. Philip going to Gaza).
To show that we must be constantly on guard about allowing our fleshly desires to guide us. Example Simon.
To teach the value and importance of knowing the Scriptures.
To show what a saved person has that is cause for rejoicing.
To show how God is carrying out His Plan for the world to hear the Gospel message.
INTRODUCTION: The followers of Christ had been instructed to be witnesses unto the uttermost part of the earth (Acts 1:8). Up to this point in our study they had only witnessed in Jerusalem. We have seen in previous chapters God preparing the church by growth, by chastisement, by signs, by persecution and by experience, to go forth into all the world. In this lesson, we see the disciples spreading out with the Word from Jerusalem.
I. SPREADING THE WORD IN JERUSALEM -- VS. 1-3
Vs. 1 -- It is unfortunate that God had to bring a great persecution in order to get His followers to be obedient to His command (Acts 1:8; Matthew 28:18-20). Saul (Paul) at this time favored the death of Stephen. Note the Apostles stayed in Jerusalem. Here was the headquarters of Judaism and they were to stay there and witness of the resurrection and that salvation was wholly by Grace. Acts 1:22; Acts 15:1-29.
Vs. 2-3 -- The persecution magnified Christianity in that these believers were willing to even go to prison and be separated from their loved ones rather than denounce their faith in Christ. Would that we would be so grateful and dedicated!
II. SPREADING THE WORD IN SAMARIA -- VS. 4-25
Vs. 4-5 -- The disciples that left Jerusalem, left with a determination to keep on witnessing. This is why Christianity spread so rapidly and widely: because every disciple was a witness and preached the Word. They weren't all pastors, but they were all preachers. The Samaritans were despised by the Jews (John 4), but they needed the Gospel. So, Philip, who had been a deacon in the church at Jerusalem, went to them with the Gospel. All people need the Gospel.
Vs. 6-8 -- Philip had much success in Samaria. This may have been partly so because of the witness of the woman who Jesus converted in John 4. People watch converted people to see whether or not their change lasts.
Vs. 9-13 -- Many people believed and were saved including Satan's leading disciple and tool, Simon.
Vs. 14-17 -- Although these people were saved, it is believed they had not received the Holy Spirit as the believers in Jerusalem had and as we do now when we are saved. The reason this is different is that the Jews had to be visually shown that God's salvation through Christ was for the Samaritans, too. Therefore, God had these Samaritans of this time receive the Holy Spirit at their hand (the Jews) CF. John 7:37-39; John 14:16-18; 20:22.
Vs. 18-24 -- Simon was, it seems evident, a Christian. Yet a babe in Christ and one who still had a covetous spirit and a desire to be important. The flesh still ruled his life and it was manifested by this request. He was rebuked as he should have been and he showed he realized he was wrong and wanted forgiveness. I John 1:9.
Vs. 25 -- Note that now the wall of partition between Samaritans and Jews was destroyed and these Jewish disciples of our Lord preached warm-heartedly to those who had been recently the hated and despised Samaritans.
III. SPREADING THE WORD IN GAZA -- VS. 26-40
Vs. 26 -- The city of Samaria was about 40 miles north of Jerusalem and the desert region of Gaza was about 30 or 40 miles southwest of Jerusalem. Philip was having great success with his preaching in Samaria but the "Angel of the Lord" (some messenger from God -- an angel or as is most probable, the Holy Spirit) gave Philip direction that it was God's will that he go to Gaza.
Vs. 27-28 -- Perhaps Philip wondered about the wisdom of such a move for he full well knew there were hardly any people in Gaza. But he was obedient and went. And behold, he came upon a man who God wanted to hear the Gospel. This Eunuch had not been satisfied by religion, by ceremony, by ritual, by tradition. He still was seeking for something that would give him peace. He had a high position in the Ethiopian government.
Vs. 29 -- Philip was a Spirit led man.
Vs. 30 -- Philip was a man ready to witness for his Lord and he took advantage of his opportunity when he saw the Eunuch was interested in the scriptures.
Vs. 31-35 -- The Eunuch was reading Isaiah 53, which foretold graphically of Christ's coming. Philip preached unto him Jesus, using the Scriptures, which were available. We ought to know Scripture like Philip and be ready to begin at any point to preach Jesus from it. I Peter 3:15.
Vs. 36-39 -- The Eunuch knew that it was proper to be baptized if he was to be a follower of Christ, for Christ died, was buried, and rose again; Romans 6:3-5;
I Peter 3:21. A person becomes a follower or a disciple of Christ by believing with all his heart that Christ is the only way to heaven and he commits his soul to Him to get him to Heaven. John 14:6; Rom. 10:9,10. When the Eunuch was baptized, he went down into the water and they came up out of the water. This baptism was by immersion. The Eunuch went on his way rejoicing. He had been saved, his sins had been forgiven, he now had a home in Heaven. He had eternal life, he was a child of God, and he was a new creation. Acts 16:30,31; 13:38,39; John 14:1-3; John 3:16; 1:12; II Corinthians 5:17. No wonder he was rejoicing. Philip was rejoicing too. He had led a soul to Christ and thereby had hid a multitude of sins. James 5:20.
Vs. 40 -- Philip went up the coast about 60 miles and came to Caesarea. He became known as Philip the evangelist. He was a soulwinner.
CONCLUSION: As a result of the persecution in Jerusalem, the Gospel message was spread forth to regions beyond Jerusalem and Judea. Through the Eunuch, the message would go to Ethiopia and parts of Africa. In subsequent chapters, we'll see it spread into the uttermost parts of the earth. But God used individuals and if every Christian, today would witness, the churches of our day would greatly prosper and multitudes would be saved.