A few things to note in this passage:
- This passage follows the stoning of Stephen (Acts 7) – the first martyr in the new Christian church. His death sparks a great persecution against the church and results in many Christians leaving Jerusalem and spreading the Gospel wherever they went (verse 4).
- One of the reasons this passage is significant for building biblical, multi-ethnic community is because it shows how the early Jewish Christians witnessed to the Samaritans (verses 5, 25) and welcomed those who believed into the church (verses 14-17). Why is that significant? Because there was enormous hatred between Jews and Samaritans during that time. Their decision to love the Samaritans and welcome them into the church despite this reality was a clear statement of the power of the Gospel and an example that we should follow.
Click here to learn the author, date, theme, etc. of the Book of Acts. Have a thought about this passage? Please add your comment at the bottom. Some sections which are especially significant when discussing biblical, multi-ethnic community have been highlighted in blue.
1And Saul was there, giving approval to his death.
The Church Persecuted and Scattered
On that day a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. 2Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him. 3But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off men and women and put them in prison.
Philip in Samaria
4Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went. 5Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Christ[a]there. 6When the crowds heard Philip and saw the miraculous signs he did, they all paid close attention to what he said. 7With shrieks, evil[b] spirits came out of many, and many paralytics and cripples were healed. 8So there was great joy in that city.
Simon the Sorcerer
9Now 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, 10and all the people, both high and low, gave him their attention and exclaimed, “This man is the divine power known as the Great Power.” 11They followed him because he had amazed them for a long time with his magic. 12But 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. 13Simon himself believed and was baptized. And he followed Philip everywhere, astonished by the great signs and miracles he saw.
14When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. 15When they arrived, they prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16because the Holy Spirit had not yet come upon any of them; they had simply been baptized into[c] the name of the Lord Jesus. 17Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.
18When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money 19and said, “Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.”
20Peter answered: “May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! 21You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God. 22Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord. Perhaps he will forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. 23For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.”
24Then Simon answered, “Pray to the Lord for me so that nothing you have said may happen to me.”
25When they had testified and proclaimed the word of the Lord, Peter and John returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel in many Samaritan villages.
- Acts 8:5 Or Messiah
- Acts 8:7 Greek unclean
- Acts 8:16 Or in
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