Saul Persecutes the Church
Stephen has just been stoned to death and Saul stood there watching.
Verse 1 – Now 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.
Verse 2 – And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him.
Verse 3 – As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison.
Saul was a “zealot,” a Pharisee, who intensely persecuted the followers of Jesus. Saul was born to Jewish parents who possessed Roman citizenship. Saul’s family moved to Jerusalem in A.D. 10, where he began in-depth study of the Law.
Verse 4 – Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word.
Verse 5 – Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them.
Verse 6 – And the multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did.
Verse 7 – For unclean spirits, crying with a loud voice, came out of many who were possessed; and many who were paralyzed and lame were healed.
Did you read anywhere that these miracles stopped with the apostles? No, me either. Philip preached, and when the people opened their hearts to hearing the Gospel, miracles took place. Why do you think so few miracles are seen today? Do you know unbelief will stop a miracle from taking place?
Verse 8 – And there was great joy in that city.
Verse 9 – But 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,
Verse 10 – to whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, “This man is the great power of God.”
Verse 11 – And they heeded him because he had astonished them with his sorceries for a long time.
This man’s power did not come from God. He drew his power from Satan. We still have people today who are devoted to black magic and sorcery. It’s called witchcraft and forbidden by God.
verse 12 – 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.
Verse 13 – 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.
Please don’t ever let anyone convince you that these signs and wonders have stopped or that they were only done by the apostles. That same power is in each believer. Look at Mark 16:17, 18 – “And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; (Verse 18) “they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” That just about covers it. God is the power in us through the Holy Spirit!
Verse 14 – Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them,
Peter and John went to Samaria to confirm the doctrine of Philip, and establish the young converts in it.
Verse 15 – who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit.
Again, if they received the Holy Spirit when they believed, then why would they pray for them to receive Him?
Verse 16 – For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
Being water baptized was the only ordinance that had been administered to them. They had not yet received the gifts from the Holy Spirit, qualifying them for ministry.
Verse 17 – Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.
Verse 18 – Now when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostle’s hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money,
Verse 19 – saying, “Give me this power also, that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit.”
Back in verse 13, it says that Simon believed and was baptized. But Simon’s true heart is shown her, by asking to buy this power that came when the Holy Spirit comes upon a person.
Not everyone who goes through the motions of saying, “I believe,” or getting baptized in water, is truly saved. There has to be repentance!
Verse 20 – But Peter said to him, “Your money perish with you, because you thought the gift of God could be purchased with money!
Verse 21 – “You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God.
Verse 22 – “Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you.
Verse 23 – “For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity.”
Peter saw that there was nothing in Simon but the bitter root of sin, by his words and action.
Verse 24 – Then Simon answered and said, “Pray to the Lord for me, that none of the things which you have spoken may come upon me.”
Verse 25 – So when they had testified and preached the word of the Lord, they returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel in many villages of the Samaritans.
There is no indication that Simon ever truly repented. He asked the apostles to pray for him. Look, no one can repent for you. That is something a person has to do on their own. We, as Christians, can teach, explain what it means to repent, but that is a matter of mind and will, of the individual.
Verse 26 – Now an angel of he Lord spoke to Philip, saying, “Arise and go toward the south along the road which goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is desert.
Verse 27 – So he arose and went. and behold, a man of Ethiopia, and eunuch of great authority under Candace the queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all treasury, and had come to Jerusalem to worship,
Ethiopia was located in Africa south of Egypt. This man was an eunuch; which means he had been castrated, who was employed to guard a woman’s living area. This man was in charge of all the queen’s treasury. He was either a Jew or had been converted. One thing is for certain though, he worshiped the God of Israel.
Verse 28 – was returning. And sitting in his chariot, he was reading Isaiah the prophet.
Verse 29 – Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go near and overtake this chariot.”
Verse 30 – So Philip ran to him, and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah, and said, “Do yo understand what you are reading?”
Verse 31 – And he said, “How can I unless someone guides me?” And he asked Philip to come up and sit with him.
When someone is wanting to understand about Jesus or scripture, it is best to start on the level that they are on. You can’t jump all over the place in scripture and expect them to understand. Start with what they know and go from there. But that will require you, being a mature Christian, to know your Bible.
Verse 32 – The place in Scripture which he read was this: “He was led as a sheep to the slaughter, and like a lamb silent before its shearer, so He opened not His mouth.
Verse 33 – In His humiliation His justice was taken away. And who will declare His generation? For His life is taken from the earth.”
Verse 34 – So the eunuch answered Philip and said, “I ask you, of whom does the prophet say this, of himself or some other man?”
What I find ironic is that this man had just been to Jerusalem to worship God, no doubt to the temple, and he had heard nothing about Jesus. But then again, a lot of the Jews had become silent because of Stephen’s stoning.
Verse 35 – Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him.
Verse 36 – Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?”
Verse 37 – The Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”
Verse 38 – Now 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.
Verse 40 – But Philip was found at Azotus. And passing through, he preached in all the cities till he came to Caesarea.
This eunuch knew he needed to be baptized, as all believers should. That sprinkling you might have received as a baby, is not baptism. A person must believe that Jesus is the Son of God and a baby can’t acknowledge that.Water baptism is not a suggestion, it is commanded by Jesus because He is our example. We get baptized as a sign that the old you is dead and buried and the new you, is raised with Christ!