This chapter of Acts can best be thought of as an inversion of Acts 1:8. In 1:8 Jesus declares that when the disciples receive power from on high, they have the Holy Spirit and be empowered to be his witnesses. From chapters 1-7, the main work of the gospel centered around Jerusalem, but now, amidst greater persecution, the disciples will begin to take the gospel to fare away places.
When I preached this text I said, “When God moves—move!”
And that is not a bad to remember Acts 8, God went on the move, and the disciples moved with him.
Paul makes his first appearance under his former name “Saul.” He is on the wrong side of God’s movement. Later as the Apostle Paul, he mentioned deep remorse and repentance at his actions against Christ and the church.
Here is a list of Paul’s remorse:
- Acts 5:38, Paul went against the advice of Gamaliel, his mentor and teacher.
- Acts 16:10, Paul confessed to murder.
- I Corinthians 15:9, Paul confessed to persecuting the church, it was for this reason he claims to not be worthy to be called an Apostle.
- Galatians 1:13, Paul confessed a desire to destroy the church.
- Philippians 3:6, Paul confessed a zeal to destroy the church.
Al the above references were example of Paul’s repentance, a willingness to admit his sin.
The gospel now comes to Samaria.
Jerusalem hated Samaria to the point of religious terrorism.
Jesus told a great story to Jewish listeners in an attempt to poke at them, it’s called the parable of the good Samaritan. In the parable a man from Samaria is the hero and the Jews are terrible sinners. Jesus became a master storytellers to draw the Jews into the light.
God chose Philip as his fulcrum with the Samaritan people. Great power came upon him and unclean spirit came out of people allowing them to see the power of Christ and bring glory to God.
Simon appears in the chapter as a confused new convert. He was a magician, but whether he into the black arts, or was an illusionist is not known. But after coming to faith and seeing the Holy Spirit at work in new believers he offered money to the Apostles so that he could have the power.
Peter seriously rebuked, and I encourage to re-read the text, it is sobering and scary.
A Word About The Baptism
The Holy Spirit came to the Samaritans later because God wanted to unite Jerusalem and Samaria. He sent Jerusalem Jews, Peter and John, to lay hands on them so they could receive the Holy Spirit. They had become believers but were not yet immersed in the Holy Spirit. The question is not whether there are second baptismal experiences with the Holy Spirit, but whether they countless many.
The gifts of the Holy Spirit are in the hands of God. Some folks will become believers but need much further teaching and discipleship so that they can walk in fulness, others will be a sovereign move of God come to that place almost immediately. But whether sooner or later, each person baptized in the Spirit will have the privilege of enjoying countless wonderful movements on the Holy Spirit in their life. Some will arrive by way of the laying on of hands, others will arrive through silent prayer.
It is the desire of God to bless all with the baptism of the Holy Spirit.