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Acts 8:1-8 – The good news is proclaimed to the Samaritans

Saul of Tarsus approved Stephen’s execution. He is numbered among those who like wild animals attacked Stephen. However, Saul takes this action a step further and begins to ravage the church resulting the believers being scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria. A keen observer will notice that Jesus had said the gospel would be proclaimed first in Jerusalem and then in ‘Judea and Samaria’. Saul’s defiance of the Lord, unwittingly on his part, leads to the next stage in the proclamation of the gospel. (Later his obedience to the Lord will initiate the third stage – to the ends of the earth. Both in Saul’s defiance and obedience he is an instrument used by the Sovereign Lord). Those scattered proclaimed the Word wherever they went – and so Saul’s action rather than restraining the gospel causes its increase.

Philip, like Stephen, was one of the Seven. He begins to preach the word in Samaria – and once again the Word is accompanied by signs, specifically unclean spirits are driven out and the lame are raised. Why these two signs? Samaria was a land of mixing. The people were the descendants of the northern descendants of Israel who are intermarried with the nations. They worshipped the God of Israel but also the mixed occultic practices of the nations. The driving out of these unclean spirits points to Jesus as the true king from David’s line who purifies the old northern kingdom of its idolatry – a greater Josiah.

The raising of the lame out of the dust in which they lay points to Jesus being the one through whom God will raise the dead. The result of all of this is that there was much joy among the Samaritans. Joy is a key response in both Luke and Acts when one appreciates the salvation brought in by Jesus.

Lessons: The sovereignty of God in furthering the growth of the kingdom; the need to proclaim the Word even in unusual places, Jesus defeats and purifies evil, Jesus raises the dead, there is great joy in knowing these things.