Daily Bible Studies & Sermon Notes


Acts 8:9-17
Pastor Steve Schell
Sunday: Acts 8:9-11
vs9-11: Before Philip arrived in Samaria, a man named Simon had been spiritually dominating the people of that region for a long time. Luke says he achieved such influence by practicing magic, meaning he was what is commonly called a “shaman” or a “witch-doctor.” He used magical arts (sacrifices, incantations, special ceremonies, etc.) to curse or protect, prosper or impoverish, cast spells or break spells, and his magic had an observable effect. When he cursed someone, trouble came. When he protected someone, things got better. So people paid him to do this kind of spiritual work. And he was good at what he did so his reputation had grown. Young and old, rich and poor called him “the great power of God” (v10). Somehow he had convinced them he was God’s representative, so if they wanted help from God, they had to come to him. To allow himself to be revered to this degree shows he had no fear of the true God, because the people of Samaria did have some knowledge about the true God (Jn 4:25, 42).

Monday: Acts 8:12
v12: Philip baptized the men and women who believed his message, and Like says his message focused on two important topics: the “kingdom of God” and “the name of Jesus Christ.” In this case, by the term “kingdom of God” Luke means he showed them God’s plan of salvation as it is revealed in the Old Testament, in particular the five books of the Law of Moses, because the Samaritans considered these five books (1:6) sacred but did not accept the writings of the prophets. Then he would have explained how Jesus of Nazareth fulfilled God’s plan through His cross and resurrection. And finally he would have urged them to call on the “name of Jesus Christ” to be saved (Ac 2:21-24).

Tuesday: Acts 8:12
v12 (continued): The Samaritans were the remnant of the ten northern tribes of Israel which had been conquered by the Assyrians in 721 B.C. Over the course of seven centuries their culture and religion had been subjected to many outside influences but there was still a sizable portion of the population who worshipped the God of the Bible (Jn 4:12, 20, 25, 29, 42). They continued to believe in one God, in Moses, in the five books of the Law (Torah), in a future day of judgement, and that Moses would someday return as a powerful restorer (Dt 18:15, 18, Ac 3:22; 7:37) (A. Gelston, The New Bible Dictionary, J.D. Douglas, ed., Eerdmans, 1971, p. 1130, 1131). When we read this passage we should keep in mind the fact that Jesus Himself spent two days preaching in the village of Sychar, about seven miles to the southeast and John says of Sychar, “From that city many of the Samaritans believed in Him…” (Jn 4:39). So this may not be the first time they had heard about Jesus. Some may have had neighbors who already believed He is the Messiah (Jn 4:25, 26).

Wednesday: Acts 8:13, 14
v13: When Philip began to minister, it immediately became obvious he had much more power than Simon. The signs and powerful miracles that took place through him made Simon look weak by comparison. Amazed by what he saw, Simon soon said he believed in Jesus and was baptized. v14: When the report about Philip’s ministry reached the apostles in Jerusalem they sent Peter and John as their representatives to greet these new believers and ensure that a good foundation was being laid for their faith. It appears they knew Philip well enough to know that he was a zealous evangelist, and also that he was someone who was not yet able to minister the baptism of the Holy Spirit effectively, and that was indeed the condition of Phillip’s converts when they arrived.

Thursday: Acts 8:15-17
vs15-17: The first thing Peter and John did was pray, asking God that these believers “might receive the Holy Spirit, for He was not yet fallen upon any one of them but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus” (literal). In other words, they had been baptized in water, but not baptized with the Holy Spirit (Ac 1:5). At this point in time, there was no doubt in the apostles’ minds that God desired to give these Gentiles “the same gift as He gave to us after believing in the Lord Jesus Christ” (Ac 11:17). Peter himself was the one who proclaimed on the day of Pentecost that “the promise is… for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God shall call to Himself” (Ac 2:39). Yet, as more and more people with legalistic backgrounds joined the church in Jerusalem, a controversy would arise in the future as to whether or not Gentiles could be saved without first becoming Jews, let alone that they could be baptized with the Holy Spirit (Ac 11:1-3, 17-18; 15:1, 4-9).

Friday: Acts 8:15-17
vs15-17 (continued): Thankfully, such confusion had not yet effected the apostles, and Peter and John arrived in Samaria confident that it was God’s will to give this gift to these new believers. They humbly asked God to pour out His blessing and undoubtedly spent time spiritually preparing themselves to minister effectively. We should also note that there does not appear to be a moment’s thought given to the idea that since the Holy Spirit hadn’t come in power already, maybe it was not God’s will. They simply assessed the situation as an unfinished work, and began to wait on God. The next thing they did was to place their hands on them, and “they received the Holy Spirit.” Luke does not tell us what manifestations occurred, but he does indicate by Simon’s reaction, that whatever it was could be observed or heard, and that everyone upon whom they laid their hands received (vs18-19).

Saturday: Acts 8:15-17
vs15-17 (continued): There are two verbs in this passage that need to be defined as carefully as possible: “receive” and “fall upon.” The verb “fall upon” is used twice in the description of the Spirit coming upon Cornelius’ household (Ac 10:44-11:18). Luke says, “…the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening…” (Ac 10:44), and then he later quotes Peter saying, “…the Holy Spirit fell upon them just as He did upon us, as at the beginning” (Ac 11:15). When we read the entire passage it becomes unmistakably clear that when the Spirit “falls upon” someone that person is given the same gift which the apostles received at Pentecost. Peter and those who were with him knew the Spirit had “fallen upon” these Gentiles because “…they were hearing them speaking in tongues and exalting God” (Ac 10:46). In the next verse Peter says they “received the Holy Spirit just as we did…”, again referring to the day of Pentecost (Ac 10:47). Later on when he reports to the leaders in Jerusalem he leaves no doubt what the term “falling upon” means. He said, “The Holy Spirit fell upon them just as He did upon us at the beginning. And I remembered the word of the Lord, how He used to say, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit’” (Ac 11:15, 16). What had fallen upon these Romans in Caesarea was “the same gift as He gave to us after believing in the Lord” (Ac 11:17). 


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