Christians driven from Jerusalem; so many conversions | Acts 8

Scripture: Acts 8

Commentary: Part 1 (verses 1-3) starts when Christians are driven out of Jerusalem. With the killing of Stephen, persecution broke out against the Christians in Jerusalem. The Pharisees did not favor the Christians anymore, and Saul led the persecution. The Christians were attacked, imprisoned, or driven violently from the city, but they did not deny their faith. They went to the Temple daily before, however, they saw now the truth of Stephen’s teachings, and were prepared to suffer because of it. Only the Hellenist/Grecian Christians were driven away from the city. The other ones (probably the Aramaic speaking ones) were allowed to stay. This would only make Church growth more difficult.

Part 2 (verses 4-25) speaks about Philip, the Grecian/Hellenist, who appeared to have been the first one to teach or preach in Samaria. Because of his preaching and miraculous works, many Samaritans believed and were baptized. Simon, the local mage/magician, was quite impressed that he was baptized, as well. He did this to learn the secret of Philip’s power. When the Apostles in Jerusalem heard of so many conversions in Samaria, they had sent Peter and John to Samaria to pray that the Samaritans would receive the Holy Ghost. Apparently, the Samaritans did not receive the Spirit immediately on belief in God is because God probably wanted the Apostles to be convinced that the Samaritan believers shared similar privileges as Jewish believers. There was quite a hostility between the Jews and Samaritans, and therefore, they did not want that carried over into the Church. God demonstrated publicly then that the Samaritans were accepted into the Church, by using the Apostles to administer the Holy Ghost unto the Samaritans.

Part 3 (verses 26-40) talks about Christianity’s introduction into Philistia, to which, from Samaria, Philip headed south toward Philistia. On the way there, he had met another non-Jew who liked his preaching. The one who liked his preaching was a government official from Ethiopia, who was already a studious one on God. When Philip had explained the Scriptures to him, the man learned about Jesus’ death, and then became a believer receiving baptism also. He was overjoyed and continued to journey home; probably talking about Jesus along the way. Philip preached around the area of Philistia, and then moved north until he arrived in Caesarea.

“As for Saul…He made havock of the Church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison.” This is explained as treating the Christians shamefully, injuring them, take revenge against them as a ferocious animal seeking its prey; dragging them out into the streets wither they be male or female, young or old, and forcing before the magistrates of the land. Romans could put them to death, but the Sanhedrin of which Paul was employed could not imprison them. Some were killed, but only by permission from the Romans. Paul admits his wrongdoing on several occasions.

Philip was one of the Twelve Disciples, and comes forward as the chief witness abroad after the death of Stephen. He journeyed down to Samaria. Revival broke out in Samaria with many miracles, signs and unclean spirits came out, and people with palsies and the lame were healed as well. Great joy came to this city. A Jew was preaching to the Samaritans and racial barriers were removed. In steps Simon the sorcerer/magician, for he used sorcery and bewitched people of Samaria. People gave tribute as if he had great powers of God. Simon decides to convert, however, and as the revival breaks out, they turn from Simon and believe Philip. They are baptized in water, and Simon believes also. Simon was captivated by the miracles and thus he had believed. He followed because of the miracles or magic in that moment. Simon then became baptized and also became a good friend of Philip. He wasn’t truly converted, however, for he wanted to pay for the gift of the Holy Ghost that he might use it for profit and publicity.

It was great to see that the Lord moved so well upon an area, and through time, many things were exposed as working and not working. One thing that obviously didn’t work is trying to buy a free gift, The Holy Ghost – but then to try and use it as profit and publicity was even more crazier. No wonder why it didn’t work.

In Samaria, we see the Holy Ghost being poured out upon people. However, first they were saved, but didn’t receive the Spirit immediately. Apparently, the Samaritans did not receive the Spirit immediately on belief in God is because God probably wanted the Apostles to be convinced that the Samaritan believers shared similar privileges as Jewish believers. There was quite a hostility between the Jews and Samaritans, and therefore, they did not want that carried over into the Church. God demonstrated publicly then that the Samaritans were accepted into the Church, by using the Apostles to administer the Holy Ghost unto the Samaritans.

Deacons being appointed | Acts 6

Scripture: Acts chapter 6

Commentary: There were two types of Jews normally, it seems, ones brought up in Palestine who spoke Aramaic, and ones brought up in other places (such as Jews of the Dispersion) who only spoke Greek. These were known as Hellenists or the Grecians. The Grecians were Hebrews with a background in Greek culture, and speaking Greek.

The Grecians felt neglected and demanded more provisions for their widows; to be equal with the Hebrews or those still following the Mosaic Law. The Apostles were having issues attending to those needs and trying to pray and preach. Therefore, they appointed seven deacons to help out with the everyday tasks (such as attending to the provisions table), while they, the Apostles, could attend more to prayer and preaching.

Qualifications of these deacons include: Men of honest report, Full of the Holy Spirit, Full of wisdom – which is application of spiritual truth, Men of conviction, and Full of faith. The seven deacons were: Stephen, Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas.

The anointing designated these men for office and representation of the corporate body of believers, which was similar to Moses’ anointing to Joshua in Numbers 27: 18-23, “And the LORD said unto Moses, Take thee Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is the spirit, and lay thine hand upon him; And set him before Eleazar the priest, and before all the congregation; and give him a charge in their sight. And thou shalt put some of thine honour upon him, that all the congregation of the children of Israel may be obedient. And he shall stand before Eleazar the priest, who shall ask counsel for him after the judgment of Urim before the LORD: at his word shall they go out, and at his word they shall come in, both he, and all the children of Israel with him, even all the congregation. And Moses did as the LORD commanded him: and he took Joshua, and set him before Eleazar the priest, and before all the congregation: And he laid his hands upon him, and gave him a charge, as the LORD commanded by the hand of Moses.”

Stephen was preaching, and there were a large number of priests (not Sadducees) that bound closely in ties with the Temple. The preaching of Stephen saw those ties break soon, especially the Grecians. Stephen was one of seven men who administered the church’s work, and he was also a prominent preacher and miracle-worker. He saw that Christianity and Judaism couldn’t be together, and therefore, with Jesus’ death and resurrection, Judaism was finished. The Jewish Religious System, along with laws, ceremonies, priests, and the Temple had fulfilled its purpose and should now have something new (Christianity). When the Jews heard Stephen preaching (especially thinking he was preaching against them), they went and reported him to the Sanhedrin for preaching against Judaism. The Sadducees had an accusation that could gain popularity against the Christians, because they knew that the people wouldn’t tolerate his threat to their national religion.

Jesus Begins Galilean Ministry (Journey 11)

Part 1: Jesus ministers in Galilee preaching repentance

The Scriptures we visit (which you don’t have to read all, but feel free to read as much as you want): Mark 1:14b-15; Matthew 4:17; Luke 4:14-15; John 4:43-45. Jesus left Sychar and went into Galilee. Jesus preaches repentance and the Kingdom. He teaches in their synagogues, and was received.

John the Baptist is imprisoned, to which, Jesus meanwhile continued north into Galilee, where the people’s joyful welcome for Him was a surprise compared to the previous treatment from some suspicious people.

Jesus pointed out, nonetheless, that the Kingdom He was announcing was not for those that wanted political or material things, but for those who would humbly and sincerely turn from their sins.

What can we learn from this?

This tells us that we must leave our sin and come unto Him who will forgive us and grant upon us righteousness to ready us for the Kingdom of God! This is what people must do if they want to see the Kingdom of God!

Part 2: The Nobleman’s Son Healed

We read here in John 4:46-54. Jesus comes to Cana of Galilee. A Nobleman from Capernaum begs for his son’s deliverance. Jesus rebukes everyone for lack of simple faith, but grants the father’s request.

Jesus was in Cana when a government official had come from Capernaum. He had an urgent request for Jesus to heal his son, to which, Jesus was unsure whether performing miracles would be good right now, because He wanted to avoid being labeled a miracle worker (as to not arouse suspicion of Him—at least, just yet…).

However, Jesus saw the man’s distress, knowing that they labored hard for his son to be healed, and therefore, Jesus accepted the little faith of the man, and announced that the son of this man would live. The man accepted Jesus’ word on the matter and went home to find that his son was in healing, and soon the man came to complete faith and led his household to faith in Christ as well!

What can we learn from this?

We must not be afraid to come to Jesus, especially in dire circumstances, to which, He is willing to help—especially now that He is in Heaven making intercession for us at the Right Hand of the Father. He is willing to make intercession for us; helping us in the time of need, and letting us know that He cares. We can have faith in Him that He will help us!

What does faith involve? Here it is as we learn from this situation:

  • Belief in Jesus’ power of miracle-working
  • Faith enough to seek Jesus
  • Faith in Jesus as the Messiah; the one who does what He says He will do, especially in fulfilling all that He’s promised!
  • Faith to confess Jesus to others, which is proof of the strength of faith!

Other articles about faith:

Let us greatly appreciate the glory of the Lord! Hallelujah!