Focus Text: Acts 8.12-25
Luke continues His epilogue to the story of the Samaritan woman and we continue our study of how God treats sinners: “But when they [the Samaritans] believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized.” (Acts 8.12). Though it is implied on earlier occasions, this is the first biblical passage which explicitly states that women were baptized. Perhaps it is significant in that Jesus’ first encounter with a Samaritan believer was with the Samaritan woman (see John 4).
“Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them…” (Acts 8.14). As Luke had previously recorded, a mass evangelistic exodus had occurred from Jerusalem directly after the stoning of Stephen, but the apostles remained there (see Acts 8.1-4). When the news of the conversion of Samaritans reached Jerusalem, a more important mission became apparent to the church, and for that reason, they dispatched Peter and John to the region where once a Jew was loathe to go! Peter and John could not say more than Philip in as much as they were all three inspired, but the two well-known apostles could do more; whereas Philip was not an apostle, he could not impart the Holy Spirit (and the miraculous works that went along with that gift) to others; the apostles could.
After arriving in Samaria, Peter and John prayed for their new brothers in Christ and “…Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 8.17). God wanted the Samaritans to be on absolutely equal ground with all other believers and come short in no gift (see 1 Corinthians 1.7). For that reason He honored the prayer of the apostles and by the imposition of their hands, imparted a miraculous measure of the Holy Spirit unto the Samaritans. This act itself is but another assurance, if one be needed, that God fully honored the Samaritans and their abundant entrance into His Kingdom.
“So 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.” (Acts 8.25). Years of anticipation by those who had otherwise sat in darkness were met in this great evangelistic effort by the Peter and John; the fertile ground of good and honest hearts in the region of Samaria was evidence of that fact. However, remember that it all started a few years earlier when Jesus cared enough to engage a Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well! His example paved the way for Philip, Peter, John, and the others that subsequently went there. It should be no surprise that Jesus accurately predicted the role of the apostles in taking the gospel to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and even to the end of the earth (Acts 1.8).
The conversion of the Samaritans is but an illustration of how God treats sinners. It can be stated unequivocally that it is God’s will that every sinner be saved; He gave His only begotten that WHOEVER believes might be saved (John 3.16); that’s why the Spirit and the Bride invite WHOEVER desires to do so to come and take of the water of life freely (Revelation 22.17). We must always be careful with barriers, but never should we erect one which God has torn down!
1. What point was made with the fact that Luke explicitly recorded the baptism of women?
2. What did the apostles (Peter and John) do for the believing Samaritans?
3. What did they do for those who had not yet believed? What prophecy of Jesus did this fulfill?
4. From Acts 8, cite all the evidence you can think of that supports the proposition that God wanted the Samaritans to be saved.
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