ACTS - CHAPTER 8 - THE APOSTLE PHILIP
ACTS – CHAPTER 8 – APOSTLE PHILIP
Tuesday Morning Bible Study
March 15. 2022, the Year of Our Lord
Pastor Carolyn Sissom
In chapter 8, we meet the Apostle Philip. After this chapter, we do not hear of him again.
The mighty works of the great apostle are memorialized in 8:5,6,12:
The multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. When they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized.
Philip, the evangelist is mentioned in Acts 21:8, but he was one of the seven who were chose at the same time as Stephen. It was Philip the Apostle who made the decision to turn over the management of the food distribution to the seven.
We are so grateful to Dr. Luke for writing this story of the Acts of the Holy Spirit through the Apostles whom Jesus chose.
We begin chapter 8 with the burial of Stephen.
8:1-2: Saul was consenting to his (Stephen) death. At that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. Devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him.
As we discussed last week, Stephen’s death triggered a campaign of persecution against the church. It was lawful to bury Stephen, but not lawful for a lamentation to be made over an executed criminal. Stephen’s execution was illegal according to Roman law. Had Stephen been tried by the Sanhedrin, with the death sentence approved by Roman authority, the people would not have dared to honor Stephen publicly.
Armed with temple authority, Saul spearheaded the drive to wipe out Christianity. He believed it threatened the survival of Judaism. Like a wild beast tearing at a carcase, he broke into private homes, dragging the occupants off to jail. He not only beat them (22:19-20), he had many of them slain (22:4-5).
As always, the winds of persecution serve to fan the flames of truth. The winds of persecution sent the followers of Christ where the LORD wanted them to go.
For the present, the apostles stayed behind with the exception of Philip.
8:4-8: Those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word. Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them. The multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. For unclean spirits, crying with a loud voice, came out of many who were possessed; and many who were paralyzed and lame were healed. And there was great joy in that city.
I will interject the little information history records about the Apostle Philip.
He was an Israelite, but his name was Greek. He was from Bethsaida, a town in Galilee. Philp was asked by Jesus to go with him to Galilee (John 1:43). This so excited the young Israelite that he immediately went out, found his friend, Nathanael (Bartholomew) and persuaded him to come and meet this Jesus---the Messiah. Philip preached in Samaria as noted in this chapter. Legend has it that he traveled north to Scythia in southern Russia and established a church there. He left Scythia after twenty years and established another church in Hierapolis in Phrygia (a part of modern Turkey).
As the church of the 21st century is watching the rise of the prince of Gog, Magog, and Rosh over Russia. Let us pray that the seeds of the gospel sown into Russia by Philip and others who have followed after him will rise and bring salvation to the people of Russia and yes overthrow Putin in whom has entered the prince of Gog and the prince of Rosh.
But now we find Philip in Samaria. What better place? The LORD declared that region to be “white unto harvest” (Jo. 4:35). As a Grecian Jew, he would not be hindered by anti-Sematic feelings. The Samaritans would welcome him since both he and they were snubbed by the Jerusalem Jews. The Samaritans were a mixture of Jews and Assyrians, the Judeans looked on them as half-breeds. However, because they revered Moses and awaited the Messiah, they were not regarded as Gentiles. The LORD JESUS specified “Samaria” in the Great Commission.
I must confess that as one who has never had to deal with prejudice, that after 9-11, I have been very prejudice against the Arab nations who are Assyrian Muslims. Christ is not prejudiced. His Spirit transcends every man-made boundary. He is not a sexist or a racist. Neither is He a respecter of nations. The Church as well as other cultures have persecuted women as inferior. Christ is neither Jew nor Greek. It is now the Jew who has been persecuted for hundreds of years. We know of our own nation’s persecution of black vs white. Thankfully, we as a nation and certainly as Christians, have grown past that. Jesus loves men and women, and He died for all. Our God is a global God who loves all people. I say to all nations, if you have received Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you are my brother and sister. I can also confess that I have prejudice against political views that leave God out of their reckoning. However, I would never be unkind or rude to anyone who does not share my views. We are Christians first, Americans second with that said, we have freedom of speech and freedom of religion.
8:9-11: Now in the same city, there was a certain man called Simon, who previously practiced sorcery in the city and astonished the people of Samaria, claiming that he was someone great to whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, “This man is the great power of God.” They heeded him because he had astonished them with his sorceries for a long time.
Simon was a magician, probably bringing the secret witchcraft from the East. His magic was no doubt similar to that of the Egyptian sorcerers who battled Moses. He was probably a spiritist medium. He had everyone in the city of Samaria under his spell.
8:12-13: But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized.
Then Simon himself also believed, and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and was amazed seeing the miracles and signs which were done.
We learn in verse 21 that Simon had no part in the salvation which came to many after Peter and John ministered to them. Simon quickly recognized Philip’s miracles as the real thing, but his motive was for the gifts not for the Savior.
8:14-16: When the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them, who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. For as yet, He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.
I don’t know how denominational Christians could possibly interpret this scripture any other way that what is written. Yes, there is the experience of salvation and water baptism, but there is more and that is the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Prayer to receive the Holy Spirit is part of the gospel program.
We can suppose the Samaritans had a faith based on seeing miracles and on the miracles themselves instead of a faith based on a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. There are some who are still living in that deception today. Yes, we will take all the miracles, healings, signs and wonders we can get from our Lord and Savior, but our faith is not in the miracles, it is in Jesus Christ.
8:17: Then Peter and John laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.
Laying-on-of-hands is also disputed by some denominations. It is as natural to me as breathing. When I lay hands on people to pray for them, I can feel the Spirit of God being transferred from my hands to the people. Obviously on the day of Pentecost, no one laid hands on the disciples, the Holy Spirit fell and entered them. Now the apostles have the Holy Spirit indwelling and they are able to impart that to others.
8:18-21: When Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money, saying “Give me this power also, that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” But Peter said to him, “Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money! You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God.”
Simon the Sorcerer had formally identified himself with Christianity by submitting to baptism; but his heart was “not right in the sight of God.” He was after the secret of the Apostles power for his own “trade.” Our modern word “simony” is derived from this man. It has to do with exploiting sacred things to make money.
8:22-24: Repent, therefore, of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity. Then Simon answered and said, “pray to the Lord for me, that none of the things which you have spoken may come upon me.”
Judas sold the Lord for money. Now Simon is trying to buy the Holy Spirit with money. This is the second rebuke Peter has delivered concerning money and religious hypocrisy. Ananias also sought to use money to secure prestige and influence. Simon did not have the Spirit; else why would he try to buy Him?
Simon’s plea for prayer is humble enough. The Greek texts interprets that he wept uncontrollably. But there is no confession of sin. His only concern, like millions who dabble in religion, is to escape punishment. Simon is asking for prayer but has no desire to face God in the matter of his sin.
I want to believe that Simon was able to be forgiven and saved, but the scripture does not tell us that.
8:25: When they (Peter and John) had testified and preached the word of the LORD, they returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel in many villages of the Samaritans.
They are also fulfilling the Lord’s commission to preach in all of Samaria.
8:26-29: Now, an angel of the LORD spoke to Philip, saying, “Arise and go toward the south along the road which goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is desert. So, he arose and went. And, behold a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candance the queen of the Ethiopians, who had charge of all her treasury, and come to Jerusalem to worship, was returning. He was sitting in his chariot, reading Isaiah the prophet. Then the Spirit said to Philip, go near and overtake this chariot.”
Notice how Dr. Luke differentiates between an angel of the Lord speaking to Philip and the Holy Spirit speaking to him.
I believe that angels still speak to us and I believe the Holy Spirit speaks to us. I am not sure that I can always discern the difference. Notice the angel gave Philip a directive and directions. The Holy Spirit gave him an assignment. Not sayin’ that this is a precedent for either, just making notice.
Brother Finis J. Dake (1902-2987) gives us an interesting legend that bears telling. Wikipedia also confirms:
“The Eunuch was a worshiper of the God of Israel, perhaps getting his knowledge by tradition from the queen of Sheba. It has been held by the Abyssinians that this queen of Sheba, called Balkis by some and Maqueda by others, not only was taught Solomon’s religion, but also established it in her realm on her return home; that she had a son by Solomon named Menilek 1, who succeeded her in the kingdom; and that her people have preserved the Jewish religion” (Dake). “Abyssinia was the first Christian nation in Africa. Yohannes IV (1837-1871)-was supposedly a member of the House of Solomon from a branch of the Gon Darine dynasty. The Solomonic dynasty, also known as the House of Solomon, was a dynasty of the Ethiopian Empire formed in the thirteenth century. Its members claim lineal descent from King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. The Zagwe dynasty overthrew that dynasty, but they also claimed descent from Solomon. The Zagwe dynasty lasted until 1974 (Wikipedia – the Solomon Dynasty).
Philip’s assignment by the angel and reinforced by the Holy Spirit was to one man, which resulted in converting an entire nation to Christianity. Ethiopia is still a Christian nation.
8:30-33: So, Philip ran to him, and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah, and said, “do you understand what you are reading?” He said, “how can I, unless someone guides me?” He asked Philip to come up and sit with him. The place in the Scripture which he read was this:
He was led as a sheep to the slaughter,
And as a lamb before its shearer is silent,
So, He opened not His mouth.
In His humiliation His justice was taken away;
And who will declare His generation?
For His life is taken from the earth. (Isa. 53: 7-8).
Jesus was expected to come in great glory and establish His kingdom. It remained for Jesus to identify Himself as the Suffering Servant. He alone connected His own sufferings with this prophecy (Mark 10:45).
It is certainly significant that the Ethiopian would be reading this scripture when His nation was one of the nations chosen to declare Christ’s generation to the generations even until now.
“We speak of the progeny of Christ. He was cut off from the land of the living, leaving no one to declare “His generation.” But God, nevertheless, made room for a generation. God even left a blank space for the generation of Christ in the genealogy of Matthew. There are exactly 41 generations from Abraham to Jesus, and not 42 as Matthew would seem to indicate (14”14”14). However, Matthew did not compute the generations unto Jesus, but “until Christ” (Mt. 1:17). This makes all the difference. There are but 13 generations from the carrying away unto Babylon unto Jesus. But Matthew said “until Christ” because “Christ” includes the Body which would declare his generation. “For as the body is one…So, also is Christ (1 Co. 12:12). Not: so also, is the body of Christ,” but “so also is Christ.” “Christ” includes the body, because “Christ” means “Anointed One” and we share the “same anointing” (1 Jn. 2:27), we are partakers of the same Spirit, and therefore become “of his flesh, and of his bones” (Eph. 5:30).
Let us always appreciate the accuracy of Holy Scripture and we must honor the honesty of the translators, who might very easily have changed the figure to read 41 generations to make it conform to reason. But the original said “42 generations 14+14+14)” and that is how they translated it, regardless of the seeming discrepancy.” (George H. Warnock)
Acts 8:34-36: The eunuch answered Philip, and said, I ask you, of whom does the prophet say this, of himself or of some other man?” then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him. Now, as they went down the road, they came to some water. The eunuch said, ‘See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?”
It seems the Eunuch had heard of Jesus, his death and resurrection, his mighty miracles and the miracles of the Apostles. Yet it is clear from the text that the Ethiopian didn’t understand it at all. The same Holy Spirit who sent Philip is the same Holy Spirit who was guiding his reading. The same Holy Spirit moved on the heart of the Eunuch and according to history, the Eunuch carried the message of the gospel back to Ethiopia.
8:37:40: Then Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may. “He answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” So, he commanded the chariot to stand still. Both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him. When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, so that the eunuch saw him no more, and he went on his way rejoicing. Philip was found at Azotus, passing through, he preached in all the cities until he came to Caesarea.
He was translated after baptizing the Ethiopian. Philip is then found at Azotus. There is a strong tradition that he made it to France where he witnessed to the Gauls. However, it was in Hierapolis, Turkey that Philip was martyred. The priests of the old god of war, Mars, took Philip, tied him to a cross and stoned him to death.
To be clear, there was the Apostle Philip and the Evangelist Philip who was one of the seven, who had four daughters who prophesied. (Acts 21:8). Many confuse these two men. Philip was one of the twelve and an Apostle.
Carolyn Sissom, Pastor
Eastgate Ministries Church
Scripture from NKJV. I entered into the labors of Dr. C. S. Lovett (1917-2012). and George Warnock (1917-2016). Comments and conclusions are my own and not meant to reflect the views of those who I entered into their labors