Daily Bible Studies & Sermon Notes


Acts 8:18-31
Pastor Steve Schell
Sunday: Acts 8:18, 19
vs18-19: When Peter and John laid their hands on people, supernatural manifestations took place, and Simon’s unchanged heart was exposed. He was thrilled to see such genuine power in action and knew that if he too could administer this power he would become richer and gain even greater honor. Basically, he was asking Peter to teach him how to operate this kind of magic. He offered money saying, “Give me also this authority so that upon whomever I lay my hands he may receive the Holy Spirit” (literal). In his mind he was purchasing a new skill that would enhance his business. Yet such a response is amazingly hard-hearted. To be standing nearby when God’s love is moving so powerfully on people, yet not be drawn into worship by the holiness of that moment meant Simon was still spiritually blind. His confession and baptism (v13) must have been insincere. His heart still lusted after power and money.

Monday: Acts 8:20-24
vs20-24: Peter instantly recognized Simon’s spiritual condition. He says, “May your silver go with you into eternal destruction because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money” (literal). He tells Simon that he is not saved. He says, “You have no part or lot in this matter because your heart is not straight before God.” Then he warns Simon to repent and ask God to forgive his wicked attitudes. But the way Peter words this warning, “…if indeed you will be forgiven the thought of your heart” shows that he perceives Simon’s heart to be so hard he thinks it will be very difficult for him to sincerely repent. Finally Peter speaks prophetically, telling Simon he “sees” him being full of bitterness and enslaved to sin. Sadly, Simon responded like a magician, not a believer. Instead of repenting, he merely asked Peter to pray that such a curse would not come upon him.

Tuesday: Acts 8:25
v25: There was now a vital church in Samaria full of believers who had been water-baptized and were now baptized with the Holy Spirit. So before returning to Jerusalem Peter and John spent time with them laying a solid foundation of teaching. Luke says they “solemnly bore witness,” using a word which describes someone testifying in a courtroom. In other words, he’s telling us these two apostles stood in front of this new church and carefully described for them the things they had seen Jesus do and what they had heard Him say. Few of these Samaritans would have had firsthand information. They had to trust Peter and John to tell them the truth. Their eternal destinies depended on the accuracy of the information they received. Then “…having spoken the word of the Lord” the two apostles began walking back toward Jerusalem, stopping along the way to preach in the villages they passed. Undoubtedly, they would have tried to connect those that came to Christ in each village with the main church they had just left.

Wednesday: Acts 8:26
v26: Angels play a significant role in the Book of Acts. Peter was twice released from prison by an angel (Ac 5:19; 12:5-10); he saw an angel in a vision who directed him to the household of Cornelius (Ac 10:3-8); an angel struck down Herod Agrippa (Herod the Great’s grandson) in Caesarea (Ac 12:23); and an angel appeared to Paul during a storm at sea (Ac 27:23-25). In some cases the angel appears in a vision, but in others the angel takes on what looks like a physical body and speaks directly to the person. Luke doesn’t tell us which method this angel used to communicate with Philip, only that he gave him definite instructions. He was to “Rise up and go south down along the road that descends from Jerusalem to Gaza Deserta (a city built on the ruins of the old Philistine city that had been destroyed in 96 B.C.)” (J. Rawson Lumby, Acts of the Apostles, Cambridge Greek Testament, University Press, 1904, p.184).

Thursday: Acts 8:26, 27
v26 (continued): Philip may have traveled back to Jerusalem with Peter and John, or he may have remained in Samaria and received this instruction after they left. But whether he traveled alone or with the apostles, it would have been necessary for him to return to Jerusalem, and from there to walk south along the road that connected the city with the main coastal highway, called the Via Marisa that ran between Egypt and Asia. The two roads intersected at the city called Gaza Deserta. v27: Philip did as the angel commanded, and somewhere along the 50-60 mile stretch of road that ran between the two cities he overtook someone sitting in a carriage reading a passage of scripture from the prophet Isaiah. The man was the treasurer of the royal court of Ethiopia and was on his way home after worshiping in Jerusalem. Luke mentions that he served under a queen named Candace. At the time, the Ethiopians believed the sun-god was the father of each of their kings, so the king himself was considered too holy to be involved with secular matters. So the queen-mother was the person designated to manage the government, and each one was given the title “Candace,” much like Egypt’s kings were always called Pharaoh (F.F. Bruce, Acts, Eerdmans, 1974, p.186).

Friday: Acts 8:27
v27 (continued): Luke says the man was a “eunuch,” but it is not at all certain that he was actually a eunuch in the physical sense of the word, because the term could also be used as a general title applied to any trusted court official. If indeed he was a eunuch physically, his mutilation would have made him ceremonially unclean according to the Law of Moses (Dt 23:1). So even though he had traveled all this way to Jerusalem to worship, he would never have been permitted to enter the inner courts of the temple or take part in any of its worship services even if he had become a Jew. Yet, if he was physically a eunuch, that fact would make his encounter with Philip all the more remarkable. As we read about the miraculous process by which God guided Philip to find this man, we realize we are seeing the fulfillment of an ancient prophecy. Now, because the Messiah has come, ritual uncleanness is no longer a barrier that prevents people from coming to God. Everyone, regardless of their condition or history, is welcome. In fact, they are even pursued by Him! This fulfills a promise spoken by the prophet Isaiah which says that when the Messiah comes foreigners and eunuchs will be lovingly welcomed into God’s presence, even more enthusiastically than a parent welcomes a son or a daughter (Isa 56:3-8). “To them I will give in My house and within My walls a memorial, and a name better than that of sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name which will not be cut off” (Is 56:5).

Saturday: Acts 8:28-31
vs28-31: The angel had told Philip to walk down this particular road, but apparently gave him no further instructions. So as he walked along he must have continually listened for the Holy Spirit’s guidance. As each person passed by he must have asked if this were the one to whom he was sent. Anyone as powerful as a treasurer of Ethiopia would undoubtedly have a guard escorting him, yet the pace of the carriage was slow enough for Philip to overtake him on foot, and when he saw the carriage, the Spirit spoke to him and said, “Go up and keep pace beside that carriage” (paraphrase). He had to run to catch up, and then when he reached it, he walked or jogged alongside. Somehow he was able to draw close enough to hear the man reading out loud, and what he heard must have instantly confirmed that here indeed was his assignment. At that very moment the man was reading from the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah. Nowhere in the Bible is there a clearer explanation of the meaning of the cross of Jesus Christ. Philip must have been absolutely amazed at God’s ability to arrange such a divine appointment. He only listened to two verses before asking the man a question which would have sounded something like this, “So, do you know what that really means?” (paraphrased). This brief answer that came out of the official’s mouth indicates why God sent Philip on this mission. The man was neither offended nor annoyed to have this stranger challenge his comprehension of scripture. We hear a heart that was humble and teachable when he says, “Well, how could I unless someone guides me?” Then he invited Philip to come up and sit with him in the carriage.
 


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