Scripture: Acts 8:1
Summary: Not every believer is supposed be in a position of leadership in the Church, but every Christian should be an evangelist. Philip was an evangelist. His business was telling others of Jesus.
Philip was a deacon (Acts 6:1-7) and he was an evangelist (Acts 8:1-40) ?- he is referred to by the Holy Spirit as “the Evangelist” (Acts 21:8). Not every believer is supposed be in a position of leadership in the Church, but every Christian should be an evangelist. Philip was an evangelist. His business was telling others of Jesus, and that should be your business and mine. Evangelism is not a profession, it is a passion. Philip was a layman.
1. Philip lived close to the Lord.
Compare Acts 8, verses 26 and 29 ?- “The angel said…?” “The Spirit told?…” and Philip heard! God does not shout His instructions or bark out orders like a General. We must be living near enough to Him to hear His voice
2. Philip obeyed God.
Look at verse 26 ?- “The angel said…?Arise?”; and in verse 27 ?- Philip “started out…?” Then look at verse 29 ?- “The Spirit said, Go to that chariot…?”; and in verse 30, “Philip ran…?”
3. Philip did not easily get discouraged with the times he lived in.
Reference to Acts 8 – Philip brings salvation and New Life to the Samaritans
Things you should know about Samaria: 600 years before Christ was born, the Assyrians conquered this area of northern Israel and deported all the wealthy and middle-class Jews from the area. Then they moved in an ungodly (pagan) population from another area. These pagans intermarried with the lowest classes of remaining Jews in northern Israel. These people became the Samaritans.
The Jews of that day hated the Samaritans because of interracial marriages. The Jews considered the Samaritans as half-breeds who corrupted the worship of Jehovah, the true God. There was prejudice and hatred, between the Jews and the Samaritans for hundreds of years.
James and John (and the other disciples) once thought that the Samaritans were only good for being burned by God’s judgment (Luke 9:51-56). The men Jesus chose to be His disciples were actually bigots (racist). Jesus knew that, but He chose each of the disciples in spite of their negativity and hatred. Jesus saved the disciples from themselves and their shortcomings.
In John chapter 4, Jesus’ experience with the Samaritan woman at the well shows to us the racial tension (and hatred) between the Jews and Samaritans of that time. Jesus conquered bigotry.
Philip knew all about these attitudes from the Jews, the New Believers, and even the Samaritans. And yet, Philip preached Christ to the Samaritans. Jesus had changed Philip’s life and Phillip changed the lives and hearts of the Samaritans.
Truthfully, what Phillip did in the Book of Acts has changed my life, as well! Phillip said what had to be said and did what had to be done!!!
He simply told everyone about Jesus.
There were other things going on with the Jews and New Believers. There was a Jew named Saul who was filled with hatred and he persecuted the New Believers, in Christ . Actually, there was hatred and racism and bigotry everywhere you looked. Angry People killing innocent people.
Why is this so important to us this morning?
Personally, I have never seen hatred and bigotry and violence and fear any greater in my life!
The result of these destructive things in the time of Acts was the church was persecuted and scattered.
TEXT Acts 8:1
Now Saul was consenting to his (Stephen’s) 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.
Now Saul was consenting to his (Stephen’s) death: In Philippians 3:6, Paul spoke of his life (before he met Jesus)that he was so zealous in his religious faith that he persecuted the church. Saul’s supervision of the execution (in Acts 7) of Stephen was just one example of the many persecutions.
“Consenting” describes Saul’s attitude. The idea behind the ancient Greek word is “to approve, to be pleased with.” Saul took pleasure in attacking Christians. Saul’s anger was a result of the anger of the Jews, the disciples, and the Samaritans.
Saul of Tarsus – whom most of us know by his Roman name, Paul – later came to regret this persecution of the church. He wrote in I Corinthians 15:9, For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.
In Acts 26:11 describes what Paul regretted most:
And I punished them often in every synagogue and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly enraged against them, I persecuted them even to foreign cities. Paul suffered many sleepless nights thinking about all those innocent men and women and children whom he persecuted.
Acts 8 records early church history. A great persecution arose against the church:
Stephen’s death was only the beginning. Saul was only one of many persecutors of Christians.
This was the first persecution of the Christians as a whole. Before, the apostles had been arrested and beaten and persecuted; but now every believer was threatened with violence and perhaps even death.
That violence and bloodshed continues today.
Stephen’s death (Acts 7) might seem sort of meaningless at first glance. His life and young ministry of power and eloquence was cut short.
His ministry seemed to end in failure – no one became a believer because of Stephen’s death. All that came was more persecution against the church.
Nevertheless, the Gospel of Christ was not dead. The blood of the martyrs became the seed of the church.
TEXT – Acts 8:5 – 8
They were scattered throughout the regions: Finally the Christians were forced to do what they had been reluctant to do – that is, get the message of Jesus out to the surrounding regions.
Remember – In Acts 1:8 Jesus clearly told His followers to look beyond Jerusalem and bring the gospel to Judea, Samaria, and the whole world. But to this point, (Before Acts 8) Jesus’ followers had not done this. The new believers of Christianity were stuck on hold in Jerusalem. The Gospel of Christ had not gotten any further than the city limits of Jerusalem. They loved Jesus but they were not making any effort to get the gospel into the world.
The spread of the gospel would take place due to the persecution of the believers. No one wanted to suffer and die like Stephen did. Some say that the persecution and suffering was the will of God.
God can and will use pressing (Difficult) circumstances to guide us into His perfect will. Sometimes we have to be shaken out of our comfort zone before we do what God has told us to do.
Can you imagine The burial of Stephen by the New Believers? Verse 2 says,
And devout men carried Stephen to his burial and made great lamentation over him.
a. And devout men: Seemingly, these men had to be Jews. They were horrified at Stephen’s murder. Perhaps not all Jewish people were enemies of Christianity.
b. Made great lamentation over him: Since Jewish law prohibited open mourning for someone that had been executed, Luke’s record (here in Acts) suggests that these devout men publicly repented of Stephen’s murder.
Nevertheless – Saul continues his persecution.
(Verse 3) As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison. Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word.
Saul viciously attacked Christians, including women.
Those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word: The persecution simply caused the New Believers to spread the message. We shouldn’t think that those who left Jerusalem left as formal preachers. Most were “accidental missionaries” who talked about Jesus wherever they went.
“The statement that they preached the word is misleading; the Greek expression means that they simply shared the good news.”
We can be just like these early Christians. We can share the good news of what Jesus has done in our lives. Most people don’t come to Jesus through a professional preacher or an evangelist; they come to Jesus through people just like us.
In verse 5-8, Philip brings the gospel to the Samaritans.
CLOSE AND TEXT: ACTS 8:5 – 8 (AGAIN)
In verse 6 – Hearing and seeing the miracles which he did: Philip came presenting the gospel, with signs and wonders. When the people found Jesus, there was great joy in that city.
One good reason there was such Joy was because Jesus had sown the seed in Samaria during His ministry (John 4:1-26). And now, Philip reaped the harvest. Jesus evangelized Samaria. Phillip evangelized Samaria.
The great joy in that city came from great sorrow and pain in Jerusalem. It came from the reality of spiritual power (the miracles which he did). But it especially came as Philip preached Christ to them.