Acts Chapter 8

March 3, 2011

This Preaching in Shorts Bible study is on the Book of Acts. Each chapter is read verse by verse with the major points highlighted and discussed.

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Acts Chapter 8 from Preaching In Shorts on Vimeo.

Acts 8:1-40 (NIV)
1 And Saul was there, giving approval to his death. On that day a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. 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 men and women and put them in prison. 4 Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went. 5 Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Christ there. 6 When the crowds heard Philip and saw the miraculous signs he did, they all paid close attention to what he said. 7 With shrieks, evil spirits came out of many, and many paralytics and cripples were healed. 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 the divine power known as the Great Power.” 11 They followed him because he had amazed them for a long time with his magic. 12 But when they believed Philip as he preached 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 them. 15 When they arrived, they prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16 because the Holy Spirit had not yet come upon any of them; they had simply been baptized into 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. Perhaps he will forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. 23 For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.” 24 Then Simon answered, “Pray to the Lord for me so that nothing you have said may happen to me.” 25 When they had testified and proclaimed the word of the Lord, 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 Candace, 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 The eunuch was reading this passage of Scripture: “He was led like a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before the 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.” 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. Why shouldn’t I be baptized?” 37 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.

Acts Chapter 8

Acts Chapter 8 is tied closely with the events in Chapters 6 and 7. The death of Stephen marks the beginning of a great persecution against the church. The chapter also records the ministry of Philip, who was one of the seven like Stephen. In verse 5 they were listed in the order that Luke writes about them. Stephen in chapters 6 and 7, Philip in Chapter 8. This chapter brings up some interesting concepts for us to ponder as you will see as we unpack it together.

Acts 8:1-3

Stephen is buried and mourned for while Saul sets out to try and violently destroy the church. There is a huge contrast here about one who died for the church and one who is trying to destroy it. This Saul will have an encounter with the Lord that will change his life and the church in the next chapter. In response to the persecution the church is scattered throughout Judea and Samaria, except for the Apostles who remain in Jerusalem.

Probably what happens is that the Greek speaking converts, who are the most easily identifiable in the Aramaic speaking city, take off.

Acts 8:4-8

Before we jump into this section I want you to remember the words of Jesus in Acts 1:8 just before He ascended into heaven

Acts 1:8 (NIV)
8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

I love what happens in verse 4

Acts 8:4 (NIV)
4 Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went.

This persecution moves the church into the fulfillment of the words of Jesus.

They are moving out of Jerusalem and into Judea and Samaria.

Philip is ministering with great impact and Samaria and many people are healed and delivered bringing great joy to the city.

Acts 8:9-13

Simon, Lets come back to this in a minute

Acts 8:14-17

The Apostles hear what is happening in Samaria and they send Peter and John to check it out. When they get there they pray that these people would receive the Holy Spirit as they had at Pentecost, and when they pray and lay their hands on them they receive the Holy Spirit.

This brings up a lot of discussion in the church, but I think one of the most significant things that this event points to is this fulfillment of Jesus words in Acts 1:8. The Holy Spirit will come on you and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria and the ends of the earth. The Holy Spirit came in Jerusalem, now He comes in Samaria, and in the next few chapters we will see Him come again to “the ends of earth” as He comes to the gentiles as well. It is a picture of the progression of the church that Jesus spoke of in Acts 1:8 being verified by the presence of the Holy Spirit.

Acts 8:9-13 and 18-24

Simon. These verses can raise some pretty interesting debate as well. Simon was a magician or sorcerer in Samaria with a pretty big following and he was known as the Great Power.

Simon is astonished, along with much of Samaria at the works and power of the Holy Spirit in the ministry of Philip. Verse 13 says this about Simon:

Acts 8:13 (NIV)
13 Simon himself believed and was baptized. And he followed Philip everywhere, astonished by the great signs and miracles he saw.

In verse 18 and 19 though, a problem arises.

Acts 8:18-19 (NIV)
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.”

Peter rebukes him strongly with these verses:

Acts 8:20-23 (NIV)
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. Perhaps he will forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. 23 For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.”

Here is the debate. How do these verses fit with what happened in verse 13. Believed and baptized.

Acts 8:26-40

Philip is instructed by an angel to head out of town. I think it is important to note that Philip doesn’t feel the need to hang on to what the Lord had started with him in Samaria. He leaves that to Peter and John and goes where the Lord sends him. On the way he runs into an Ethiopian official who is riding along in a chariot reading Isaiah 53. The Holy Spirit then tells Philip to hang out by the chariot. It is cool to note that Philip was guided by an angel in verse 26 and the Holy Spirit in verse 29. Philip sees this as a divine appointment and leads the man through the scripture to Jesus.

The Ethiopian official wants to be baptized and so Philip obliges him. When they come up out of the water, Philip is gone. He shows up miles away at Azotus. Kind of like a Star Trek translator moment only better.

Just a note. Azotus is in the same vicinity as Ceasarea, and it appears that Philip ends up settling in this area. Look at this account from the book of Acts about 20 years later:

Acts 21:8 (NIV)
8 Leaving the next day, we reached Caesarea and stayed at the house of Philip the evangelist, one of the Seven.

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