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Summary: The gospel is not only for Jerusalem and Judea, but also for Samaria, and all the nations.

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REACHING OUT TO SAMARIA

Acts 8:5-25

I. ORIGINS OF THE SAMARITANS

1. The schism (1 Kings 11:26-40; 1 Kings 12)

2. The city of Samaria (1 Kings 16:23-24)

3. The province of Samaria (2 Kings 17:5-41)

People of the land unfriendly to returning Jews

1. Hindered building the Temple (Ezra 4:1-5)

2. Conspired against rebuilding walls of Jerusalem (Nehemiah 4:1-9)

3. Built their own temple at Mount Gerizim (John 4:20-22)

II. JESUS AND THE SAMARITANS

1. The gospel sent to the Jews first (Matthew 10:5-6)

2. A Samaritan village rejects Jesus (Luke 9:51-56)

3. Who is my neighbour? - the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:29-37)

4. Ten lepers healed, one of them a Samaritan(Luke 17:11-19)

5. The Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:9; John 4:27-28)

6. The white fields of Samaria (John 4:35; John 4:39-42)

Looking up from the well, Jesus pointed the disciples to a rare sight. Distinguished by their white turbans, He could see many Samaritans approaching. “Lift up your eyes,” said Jesus. “See how the fields are already white for harvest.”

7. Jesus accused of being a Samaritan (John 8:48)

The worst insult His enemies could think of:

“You are a Samaritan, and have a devil.”

8. The Great Commission (Acts 1:8)

The gospel is not only for Jerusalem and Judea, but also for Samaria, and all nations.

III. THE EVANGELISATION OF SAMARIA

Acts 8:5-25

1. The gospel is not only for Jerusalem and Judea. It is also for Samaria, and all the nations. So when the church was scattered by persecution, the deacon Philip went to Samaria and there preached Christ.

Philip's words were accompanied by signs and miracles. Demons were cast out, and the lame and the paralysed were healed. The Samaritans were willing to listen to what the evangelist had to say.

Prior to this the people of that city had been enthralled by a sorcerer called Simon. This unsavoury character bewitched his gullible public into imagining that he was a great man. Such was his impact upon the credulousness of his victims that they seem to have believed that he was some kind of manifestation of God Himself!

The people believed Philip's message concerning the kingdom of God, and they believed in the name of Jesus Christ, and were baptised. Simon the sorcerer also professed belief, was baptised, and followed Philip. Simon seemed fascinated by what he must have deemed Philip's superior magic.

2. In his Pentecost sermon Peter had taught, “Repent and be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ, and you shall receive the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). Paul would later teach, “If anyone has not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His” (Romans 8:9). Yet the Holy Spirit did not immediately fall upon the new Christians in Samaria.

There was nothing wrong with Philip's preaching, nor with the response to the gospel of the generality of the Samaritans. However, it was important to maintain the unity of the church in the face of the historical schism between Jews and Samaritans. The sovereign Holy Spirit withheld Himself until Philip received backup from Jerusalem!

Peter and John came up from Jerusalem and prayed over the converts, laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:15-17). At one time John had wanted to call down fire on the Samaritans (Luke 9:54), so it is nice to see him involved in their reception of the Holy Spirit here.

Such apostolic delegations were unusual, but punctuated each new phase of the church's mission. Even Peter himself would be called to account upon the conversion of the Roman centurion Cornelius' household, and later still Barnabas was sent to check out the evangelism that had been going on amongst the Greeks in Antioch.

3. When Simon saw people receiving the Holy Spirit at the imposition of the apostles' hands, he could not maintain his imposture any longer. Reverting to his true nature, he offered the apostles money for the purchase of this power! The term “simony” has since been coined for all attempts to buy ecclesiastical preferment.

Peter's response to Simon is characteristically forthright: “You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right with God” (Acts 8:21). This is not unlike the response of the repatriated Jews when some Samaritans feigned an interest in the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem: “You have nothing to do with us to build a house to to our God” (Ezra 4:3).

It was evident that the self-made magician was motivated by jealousy and greed, and was in bondage to powers opposed to the cause of Christ. Peter called upon Simon to repent, and to pray. Simon showed fear at the consequences of his sin, but not even a hint of remorse. Instead of praying for himself, he asked Peter to pray for him. We never hear of him again in the book of Acts.

4. Peter and John testified and preached the word of the Lord. They then preached the gospel in many Samaritan villages, and returned to Jerusalem.

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