Where Jesus Christ is preached and the gospel is embraced, Satan is forced to quit his hold of men, and those are restored to their right mind who, while they were blinded by Satan, were distracted and dissatisfied. The bringing of Christ’s gospel to any place or individual is a matter of great joy to that place or person.
1 And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles.
2 And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him.
3 As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison.
4 Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.
5 Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them.
6 And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did.
7 For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed.
8 And there was great joy in that city.
9 But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one:
10 To whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God.
11 And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries.
12 But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.
13 Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done.
14 Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John:
15 Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost:
16 (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)
17 Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.
18 And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money,
19 Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost.
20 But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.
21 Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God.
22 Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.
23 For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity.
24 Then answered Simon, and said, Pray ye to the Lord for me, that none of these things which ye have spoken come upon me.
25 And they, when they had testified and preached the word of the Lord, returned to Jerusalem, and preached the gospel in many villages of the Samaritans.
26 And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert.
27 And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship,
28 Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet.
29 Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot.
30 And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest?
31 And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him.
32 The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth:
33 In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth.
34 And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man?
35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.
36 And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?
37 And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
38 And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.
39 And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.
40 But Philip was found at Azotus: and passing through he preached in all the cities, till he came to Caesarea.
Acts 8:1 – J. Vernon McGee
Acts 8:2-4 – J. Vernon McGee
Acts 8:5-12 – J. Vernon McGee
Acts 8:13-17 – J. Vernon McGee
Acts 8:18-25 – J. Vernon McGee
Acts 8:26-28 – J. Vernon McGee
Acts 8:29-34 – J. Vernon McGee
Acts 8:35-40 – J. Vernon McGee
Acts 8:1-13 – Fruits of the Scattered Seed
Evidently Stephen was beloved outside the precincts of the Church, for it would seem that the devout men who lamented his early death and carried his poor body to its burial were godly Jews who had been attracted by his earnest character. In the furious persecution that ensued under the leadership of Saul, neither sex nor age was spared. According to the subsequent statement of the arch-persecutor, the disciples of Jesus were dragged before the magistrate, thrust into prison, exposed to cruel torture, and compelled to blaspheme His holy Name. During those terrible days scenes were enacted which were destined to fill the heart of the future Apostle with most poignant sorrow.
This persecution was overruled to scatter the Church, which had grown too prosperous and secure, and needed to be reminded of the Lord’s injunction to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. The light must be diffused; the salt must be scattered. How often God has to drive us by trouble to do what we ought to have done gladly and spontaneously! It was impossible to keep the deacons to the office of serving tables. Philip must needs go to Samaria, and that city welcomed what Jerusalem had refused. Here we enter upon the second circle of Acts 1:8. —Through the Bible Day by Day
Acts 8:14-25 – Confirming New Believers
Simon attracted people to himself; he posed as a man of power and mystery. The gospel fixes our thoughts exclusively upon Jesus. We preach Him as Lord, and ourselves as servants for His sake. Simon’s faith was spurious; he believed about rather than in Christ. John was sent with Peter to bring the fire of Pentecost to the very locality where formerly he and his brother had suggested that they should call fire from heaven to destroy. See Luke 9:54. May we not learn from this mission that some are specially qualified to lead others into the enjoyment of pentecostal blessing? In this service Peter used the power of the keys entrusted to him by the Master; and we may all do likewise when we lead others forward to claim that which awaits them in Christ Jesus.
Simon saw what an additional source of influence would accrue to him if only he could exert the same powers, but he had no idea of the spiritual conditions on which alone they could be obtained. Simony is the name for the practice of making gain by means of religion, I Timothy 6:5. Perhaps in Acts 8:22 does not indicate a doubt upon God’s side, but upon Simon’s side—whether his treacherous heart would ever be able to conform to the divine conditions. —Through the Bible Day by Day
Acts 8:26-40 – Winning a Traveler
From the great city revival in Samaria Philip was led to the desert to minister to one seeking soul. It seems strange that God should be able to spare him from his busy and fruitful ministry in Samaria; but probably the comparative retirement was needed for soul and body after the strain of that successful campaign. How certain these Spirit-filled men were of the heavenly impulse! Every appearance suggested that this man of God was needed in the city, but the inner voice was the deciding factor, and his journey was so timed as to bring him in contact with a soul that was groping its way toward Christ.
The Bible is good as a traveling companion. Take it on your journeys. Read it as other men do their newspapers; not exclusively but boldly. There are many stories afloat of bullets being stopped by pocket Testaments; and it is certain that many a desperate thrust of the devil has been warded off by the Word of God being hidden in the heart and worn as a breastplate. Live in touch with God, and He will put you in touch with souls. This conversion of a son of Ham was a worthy fulfillment of Isaiah 56:3-8. —Through the Bible Day by Day
Acts 8:26—Which is desert.
Desert means uninhabited. It seemed a strange providence that took Philip thither. He had been chosen to the honorable office of deacon, and there was probably plenty of work to do in connection with the scattered Church. Moreover, he had just completed a most successful mission in Samaria, where the multitude had given heed with one accord to the things he had spoken; but now he was suddenly landed in these lonely solitudes, where only chance travellers could be eneountered. Did he not count it strange, and wish to get home to his four little daughters (Acts 21:9)?
There are many deserts in life! The solitude of a new country, in which you do not know the language. The solitude of a sick-chamber, in which the earnest worker suddenly discovers the limitations of physical weakness. The solitude of suspicion and dislike, which contrast strangely with some large and devoted circle. Thither God brings us not infrequently. No flower can thrive in unbroken light.
But in every solitude, if we wait patiently on the Lord, there are opportunities of service. There is always some inquiring soul in need of the precise help we can give. There is an old story of some monks to whom the Book of Revelation was being read. At the end each was asked to choose the promise he loved best. One said I will take this, “God shall wipe away all tears” (Revelation 21:4). Another chose, “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne” (Revelation 3:21). The third replied, “I would choose, ‘His servants shall serve him’” (Revelation 22:3). This latter was Thomas à Kempis, who afterwards wrote “The Imitation.”
“Not caring how to serve Thee much,
But to please Thee perfectly.” —Our Daily Homily