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ACTS – Chapter  8              

Memory verses for this week:  Psa 44:20  If we have forgotten the name of our God, or stretched out our hands to a strange god; Psa 44:21  Shall not God search this out? for he knoweth the secrets of the heart.

 Introduction:   In Chapter 7, we saw Stephen addressing the Sanhedrin council, and they were so incensed by his preaching of the truth concerning Jesus Christ, they stoned him to death.  We saw at the end of the chapter where Stephen looked up and saw Christ standing at the right hand of God.  I believe Jesus stood to welcome this great saint home.   Saul (who later became the apostle Paul after being saved). Witnessed all of this, and I believe that Paul never forgot what happened.


I.   The Fourth Persecution (from Saul)

Acts 8:1  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.

Acts 8:2  And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him. 

We know from chapter 1 of Acts that the Lord Jesus Christ laid out a program to evangelize the whole world.  Following the death of Stephen, intense persecution came upon the first church there in Jerusalem, and it drove the apostles and church members to areas away from Jerusalem.  From this, we see that God can make good from things that are bad.    

Acts 1:8  But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

Acts 1:9  And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. 

We see from verse 1 that great persecution came upon the church.   We know when Jesus appeared to Saul on the road to Damascus, Jesus said that he was persecuting Him.  That means that when people are against the church, they are against God.   

Acts 9:4  And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?

Acts 9:5  And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. 

Acts 8:3  As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison.

Acts 8:4  Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word. 

In Warren Wiersbe’s commentary on Acts, he noted how unlikely a candidate Paul was to be chosen as the apostle unto the gentiles.    

“He was born in Tarsus in Cilicia (Acts 22:3), he was a “Hebrew of the Hebrews”, the son of a Pharisee, and a Roman citizen.  He was educated in Jerusalem by Gamaliel.  Measured by the Law, his life was blameless. (Phil 3:6).  He was one of the most promising young Pharisees in Jerusalem, well on his way to becoming a great leader for the Jewish faith.  Saul’s zeal for the Law was displayed most vividly in his persecution of the church.  He really thought that persecuting the believers was one way of serving God , so he did it with a clear conscience. (2 Tim 1:3)  And Saul made havock of the church.  He was a man with great authority whose devotion to Moses completely controlled his life, and almost destroyed his life.  He did it “Ignorantly in unbelief.”


1 Tim 1:13  Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.

1 Tim 1:14  And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.

1 Tim 1:15  This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.

 We can learn from Saul’s life that not everyone who comes in God’s name is a Christian, and we need to be careful of what we believe by those who teach anything contrary to the Word of God.   We know that by Saul’s persecution of the church, the members were driven to many remote areas where they continued to preach the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.  We should remember that no matter what happens to us, we need to never forget God, and never stop preaching the Gospel.  It is the power of salvation to all that believe. 

Rom 1:16  For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

Rom 1:17  For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith. 

Paul gave the same charge to young Timothy to be out and preaching the Word. 

2 Tim 4:1  I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;

2 Tim 4:2  Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. 

II.                  The Ministry of Philip

Acts 8:5  Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them.

Acts 8:6  And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did.

Acts 8:7  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.

Acts 8:8  And there was great joy in that city. 

Philip was one of the seven chosen to serve as a deacon of the church. (Acts 6:5)  Most likely Philip had surrendered to the ministry and was an evangelist.  We find that he visited Paul years later and was called an evangelist.   

Acts 21:8  And the next day we that were of Paul's company departed, and came unto Caesarea: and we entered into the house of Philip the evangelist, which was one of the seven; and abode with him. 

We see that Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and was the first (after Christ) to preach the Gospel to this group of people.   The Samaritans were not liked by the Jews, and they had little to do with one another.   We know from reading in Ezra that when Judah refused to let the Samaritans help rebuild the temple, they became the enemies of the Jews. 

Ezra 4:1  Now when the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the children of the captivity builded the temple unto the LORD God of Israel;

Ezra 4:2  Then they came to Zerubbabel, and to the chief of the fathers, and said unto them, Let us build with you: for we seek your God, as ye do; and we do sacrifice unto him since the days of Esarhaddon king of Assur, which brought us up hither.

Ezra 4:3  But Zerubbabel, and Jeshua, and the rest of the chief of the fathers of Israel, said unto them, Ye have nothing to do with us to build an house unto our God; but we ourselves together will build unto the LORD God of Israel, as king Cyrus the king of Persia hath commanded us.

Ezra 4:4  Then the people of the land weakened the hands of the people of Judah, and troubled them in building, 

But when the Jews refused to hear the Gospel, the Gentiles were blessed to have it preached unto them.   All through the ages, we have record where Gentiles were saved, but this was a special time, and we still are living in the time of the Gentiles today.  Jesus traveled to the city of Samaria during His ministry.  He declared that the fields were white unto harvest. 

John 4:4  And he must needs go through Samaria.

John 4:5  Then cometh he to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph.


John 4:35  Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest..

We see in verse 5 that Philip did not preach a “social gospel”, but the truth about the Lord Jesus Christ.  When we preach the true gospel, it divides men.  But our responsibility as the church is to preach Christ, and Him crucified. 

1 Cor 1:18  For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.

1 Cor 1:19  For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.

1 Cor 1:20  Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?

1 Cor 1:21  For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.

1 Cor 1:22  For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:

1 Cor 1:23  But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;

1 Cor 1:24  But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.

1 Cor 1:25  Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. 

Philip’s efforts were definitely not in vain, as we see many gave heed to those things which he spake.  Never should we doubt the power of God’s Word as it pierces the heart of man.  And because he preached the gospel, it says this city was filled with great joy. 

III.     Simon the Sorcerer 

Simon was what we would call a magician today.  He bewitched the people of Samaria, and made them believe he was someone special.  But the bible warns that we should not praise ourselves, but let another man praise us.   But because of his trickery, many followed after him, from the least to the greatest.

We see a lot of people like Simon on the television claiming great powers over illness, sometimes saying they are doing it in the name of Jesus.  Don’t misunderstand me, Jesus is the Great Physician, and He heals today just like He did in those early days.  The difference is that it is done by God when we pray believing.  It is not done by magic or by laying on of hands, or by someone seeking to make a name for themselves.  A true worker and preacher of the Cross will give God the honor and glory, not pour praise upon himself.  Philip preached the gospel, people responded, and they were baptized. 

John 3:3  Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

 Acts 4:12  Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

 Mat 28:18  And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.

Mat 28:19  Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

Mat 28:20  Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. 

No doubt many who had followed Simon got saved and baptized, and Simon wanted this great power to gain back his people and to make the crowds marvel.  But that is not what the Gospel is all about.  We can have a head knowledge from history about Christ and never be saved. 

Acts 8:14  Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John:

Acts 8:15  Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost:

Acts 8:16  (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)

Acts 8:17  Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.

Acts 8:18  And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money,

Acts 8:19  Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost.

Acts 8:20  But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.

Acts 8:21  Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God.

Acts 8:22  Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.

Acts 8:23  For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity.

Acts 8:24  Then answered Simon, and said, Pray ye to the Lord for me, that none of these things which ye have spoken come upon me.

Acts 8:25  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. 

When the apostles heard that Samaria had heard the word and believed, they sent Peter and John unto them.  We see that by the laying on of the apostle’s hands, the Holy Spirit was given unto them.  This was the only record we had of anyone receiving the Holy Spirit is by the laying on of the hands of an apostle until the house of Cornelius.  Here, it is said that He came upon them while Peter yet spoke the Word.   Today, the Holy Spirit comes into us and dwells in us the moment we are saved.  Our bodies are the temple of the Holy Ghost. 


         Here are some things to note about Simon.  

              He was convinced of the truth in verses 12-13   

           He was baptized by a man of God in verse 13.

            He tried to buy the power of God in verse 18.  

          He wanted to use the Spirit for personal gain rather  than be used by the Spirit.  (Verse 19)

       His heart was not right with God in verse 21.   

      He was still chained to his sins (in the bond of iniquity) verse 23  

     He thought the prayers of others would allow him to escape the judgment of God. (Verse 24)


IV.  Philip and the Ethiopian

Acts 8:26  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.

Acts 8:27  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,

Acts 8:28  Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet.

Acts 8:29  Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot.

Acts 8:30  And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest?

Acts 8:31  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.

Acts 8:32  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:

Acts 8:33  In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth.

Acts 8:34  And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man?

Acts 8:35  Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.

Acts 8:36  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?

Acts 8:37  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.

Acts 8:38  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.

Acts 8:39  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.

Acts 8:40  But Philip was found at Azotus: and passing through he preached in all the cities, till he came to Caesarea.

 We see that God called Philip, His servant, fro ma great revival meeting to go out to the desert.  Just because God is blessing in a certain place is evidence that is where God wants us to be.  Philip did not argue, but went out and caught himself up the eunuch who had come to Jerusalem to worship and was now returning to Ethiopia.   While he had been at a religious meeting, he came away confused.  (verses 27-31).  Just being in church never guarantees that what we hear will make sense.  We may need to ask questions to others to help us understand.   We know from verse 28 that he was reading Isaiah Chapter 53, and he could not understand what he read.   Many of you know that Rick Lewis and I had a similar experience with a young man about 10 years ago who was reading that very chapter.   We came to visit the man, explained the verses, and he was directly responsible for this church coming into existence.  What Rick and I did not know at that time, and we found out several months later, that this young man had been reading his bible, was very depressed, and asked God to send someone to answer his questions.   And if He did not, he intended to take the pistol beside the bible and kill himself.  Rick remembers vividly how we had been visiting cards given to us by the pastor, and it was time to quit that night, but I reached to the bottom of the stack, and said we needed to go and make one more visit.   What if we had not went that night?   I just know this, we need to be tender to the leading of the Holy Spirit, because none of us know how our lives fit into God’s master plan.  And the lost man can not understand the scriptures because they are spiritually discerned unto them. 

1 Cor 2:14  But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.


That day, the eunuch was saved and was baptized after he publicly professed that he knew Christ as His Savior.   The young man that I mentioned in my story was Eumont Smith. 

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Prov 4:18  But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.


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