Bible Study Notes

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES

 (Bible Study)

THE CHURCH SCATTERED: MISSIONARY BEGINNINGS IN JUDEA AND SAMARIA,Acts 8:1-9:31

 Rev. Louis M. Murphy, Sr.

December 1, 2021

The Great Revival in Samaria: A Study on Revival

Acts 8:5-25

 

Introduction: The need of the hour is revival, a true movement of God in the hearts and lives of people, both within and without the church. This is an excellent study on revival.

 

Points:

  1. The preacher: Philip (v.5).
  2. The essentials for revival (v.6).
  3. The evidence of revival (v.7-25).

Deeper Study of Samaria:

Samaria was the central part of Palestine. Palestine was a small country, reaching only one hundred twenty miles north to south. The country was divided into three sections:

⇒    Judea, the southern section.

⇒    Galilee, the northern section.

⇒    Samaria, the central section, lying right between the two.

There was bitter hatred between the Jews and the Samaritans. Two things in particular caused this hatred.

  1. The Samaritans were mongrel or half-Jews, a mixed breed by birth. What had happened was this. Centuries before (about 720 B.C.), the King of Assyria had captured the ten tribes of Israel and deported a large number of the people, scattering them throughout Media (cp. 2 Kings 17:6-41). He then took people from all over the Assyrian empire and transplanted them into Samaria to repopulate the land. The result was only natural. Intermarriage took place and the people became a mixed breed, a breed including…
  • the transplanted people.
  • the weak of the land who had been left behind.
  • the outcast and irreligious who had intermarried with the original Samaritans.

The fact of a mixed breed, of course, infuriated the strict Jews who held to a pure race.

 

  1. The Samaritans were mongrel or half-Jews, a mixed breed by religion as well as by birth. The transplanted heathen, of course, brought their gods with them. The God of Israel eventually won out, but the religion of the Samaritans never became pure Judaism. Three things happened to cause this.
  2. When Ezra led the Jews back from exile in Babylon, the first thing the Jews did was to start rebuilding their temple. The Samaritans offered to help them but the Jews rejected their help, declaring that the Samaritans, through intermarriage and worship of false gods, had lost their purity and forfeited their right to worship the only true God. This severe denunciation, of course, embittered the Samaritans against the Jews in Jerusalem.
  3. The Samaritans built a rival temple on Mount Gerizim to stand in competition with the Jewish temple at Jerusalem (cp. John 4:20-21).
  4. The Samaritans twisted both the Scripture and history to favor their own people and nation.

⇒    They twisted Scripture by accepting only the first five books of the Bible, the Pentateuch. They missed all the richness and depth of the Psalms and prophets.

⇒    They twisted history by claiming that three great events took place on Mt. Gerizim, events that set it apart as a place of worship. It was the place where Abraham offered Isaac, where Melchizedek met Abraham, and where Moses built his first altar after leading Israel out of Egyptian bondage.

  1. (8:5) Philip: The preacher was Philip, a layman, one of the first deacons (Acts 6:5). This is important to note:

⇒  the first great evangelistic thrust outside Jerusalem was carried out by a layman.

⇒  the first time the term evangelist is used, it is used with a layman (Acts 21:8).

 

Philip preached and proclaimed Christ. Later on he is said to preach to announce the glad tidings, “the things concerning the kingdom of God” (Acts 8:12). Philip, the layman, was a true servant of the Lord, a lay believer who preached Christ. He was a layman who dedicated his time and energy to proclaiming the things concerning the kingdom of God.

Great revival necessitates great laymen sold out to Christ, laymen willing to preach Christ. Note that the following Scriptures are given to believers, not to the clergy.

“And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 10:7).

“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world” (Matthew 28:19-20).

 

“And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15).

  1. (8:6) Revival: the essentials for revival are twofold.
  2. The people must be of “one accord”: of one mind, spirit and purpose; in full cooperation; willing to hear the message and see the miracles. If people oppose and shut their ears and close their eyes to the messenger, they cannot have revival. There has to be an openness, a willingness and oneness of spirit with the preacher and his message.

 

  1. The people must give “heed”, keep their minds and hearts upon the message.

“But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear” (Matthew 13:16).

“But he that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty” (Matthew 13:23).

  1. (8:7-25) Revival: the evidences of revival are eightfold.
  2. Evidence one: lives are changed—miraculously. People who cannot help themselves are healed. Note that people possessed with evil spirits were changed: the evil spirits were cast out. People with diseased and crippled bodies were healed. The power of God was clearly witnessed.

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Cor. 5:17).

“Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever” (1 Peter 1:23).

 

  1. Evidence two: great joy is experienced. A man who truly came to know Christ was filled with joy, the joy…
  • of sins forgiven
  • of deliverance
  • of power to live
  • of hope for eternity
  • of knowing God’s presence
  • of security and assurance and confidence

“These things [the gospel] have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full” (John 15:11).

“Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory” (1 Peter 1:8).

 

 

  1. Evidence three: deliverance from great depths of sin, from false prophets and religion and sorcery. The depth of sin can reach no deeper than these people found themselves. They were gripped and enslaved by error, false teaching, and false hope.
  2. The people had been enslaved by a false prophet, a religious imposter, Simon.

⇒  He used sorcery: magical arts, witchcraft, spirit mediums, astrology, charms, spells, divination or fortune-telling.

⇒  He bewitched people: amazed, astonished, and secured their following.

⇒  He claimed that he was “some great one.”

  1. The people had been enslaved by a false religion: “all” gave heed; all followed his leadership and teaching; all “from the least to the greatest” confessed, “this man is the great power of God.”

Think how gullible people are in following false prophets and their teaching.

  1. The people had been enslaved for a long time. They had been held in bondage to the false prophet and false religion for a long time. But now, they had been freed by the power of Christ.

Thought: False prophets and false religions differ in their teachings and methods of enslaving people. But they are all false, and their followers can be delivered only by the power of Christ.

“Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves” (Matthew 7:15).

“And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many” (Matthew 24:11).

 

“For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect” (Matthew 24:24; cp. Mark 13:22).

 

“For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple” (Romans 16:18).

 

“For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist” (2 John 7).

  1. Evidence four: believing the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, and being baptized.
  2. Philip preached two major subjects.

⇒  He preached the kingdom of God.

 

The Kingdom of Heaven and the Kingdom of God are interchanged. Eternal life and salvation belong to the very same concept.

 

“And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 10:7).

“Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:14-15).

 

The Kingdom of Heaven and of God is revealed in four different stages throughout history.

 

  1. There is the spiritual kingdom that is at hand; it is present right now (Matthew 4:17; Matthew 12:28).
  2. The present kingdom refers to God’s rule and reign and authority in the lives of believers.

“Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son” (Col. 1:13).

  1.   The present kingdom is offered to the world and to men in the person of Jesus Christ.
  2. The present kingdom is experienced only by the new birth.

“Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3).

  1.  The present kingdom is a spiritual, life-changing blessing.

“For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost” (Romans 14:17).

  1.   The present kingdom is to be the first thing sought by believers.

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33).

  1. There is the millennial kingdom that is future. It is the actual rule of Christ or the government of Christ that is to come to this earth for a thousand years.

“And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years” (Rev. 20:4-6).

  1. There is the perfect kingdom of the new heaven and earth that is future.
  2. The eternal kingdom is the rule and reign of God in a perfect universe for all eternity.

“And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away” (Rev. 21:1).

⇒  He preached the name of Jesus Christ. To call upon the name of someone means to call upon the authority, power, office, nature, and character of the person. The person’s name stands for all that the person is.

  1. When the people heard the message…

⇒  they believed

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life” (John 5:24).

 

“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:9-10).

⇒  they were baptized.

Baptism: is the outward sign, the immediate sign of repentance. It is the physical sign that a person is identifying with Christ. It is the immediate sign that a person is to show before the world that he is really repenting and is now going to obey and live for God. Baptism and repentance are both…

  • outward signs.
  • signs that have to do with behavior.
  • signs that show the world that a person is turning his life over to God.

 

  1. Evidence five: false professions. It is doubtful that Simon was making a genuine confession of Christ (cp. Acts 8:18-24). When people experience true revival there will always be counterfeits. The existence of counterfeits and hypocritical professions dramatize and cause the genuine confessions to stand out even more.

“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21).

  1. Evidence 6: the reception and manifestation of the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:14-17). The apostles were the leaders, the supervisors of the church. Therefore, when they heard of the revival at Samaria, they sent Peter and John to investigate. Why was an investigation necessary? Because of the bitter enmity and racial prejudice between the Samaritans and Jews.

When Peter and John arrived, they discovered that the Samaritans had believed and been baptized, but the Holy Spirit had not “fallen upon” any of them.

 

Holy Spirit: this is a puzzling passage to some because the Samaritans are said to have already believed and been baptized, yet the Holy Spirit had not fallen upon them. They had not yet received Him.

 

Note four points.

  1. There is no legitimate question about the Samaritans being truly saved. Philip knew the Lord and was filled with the Spirit himself (Acts 6:3, 5). He possessed the power of the Spirit (Acts 8:6-7) and preached the gospel in clear terms. He knew how people were saved and what was involved in salvation. Therefore, two things seem unthinkable and impossible…
  • that Philip actually did not proclaim the full gospel (this position would be contrary to what the Scripture says).
  • that Philip could be deceived by all the people (this position would be contrary to the Spirit’s leadership in Philip’s life).

 

  1. Scripture declares, “Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His” (Romans 8:9). If a person is truly saved, the Holy Spirit has entered his heart and life. Scripture is abundantly clear on this point.

 

  1. In light of the above two facts, the Samaritans apparently had two experiences with the Holy Spirit.
  2. The Holy Spirit actually entered their hearts and lives when they believed and were baptized (Acts 8:12, 16). When they believed, they were actually born again, becoming new creatures in Christ (John 3:5-8; 2 Cor. 5:17).

 

  1. The Holy Spirit fell upon, poured Himself out, infilled, and manifested His presence and power on the very special occasion when Peter and John visited the new believers. Christ taught there would be special manifestations and infillings of the Holy Spirit.

 

The experience of the apostles and of the church throughout the Book of Acts demonstrates clearly there is more than just one significant experience with the Holy Spirit. The early believers experienced periodic manifestations or special infillings. They had need for such experiences, and down through history as the need has arisen, God has given special manifestations or infillings of His Spirit to all obedient believers.

 

  1. There was a very special need existing between the Samaritans and Jewish believers. The Jews and Samaritans were bitter enemies. They despised each other. The Holy Spirit needed to fall upon the Samaritans as much for the sake of the Jews as for the Samaritans. The Jews, especially the Jewish leaders, needed to see and experience the Holy Spirit falling upon the Samaritans. By witnessing the sight, they would know and testify to God’s reception of the Samaritans. A wedge would be driven into the barrier that had separated the two nations for so long. And the Jerusalem Church would have to accept the Samaritans because of the evidence of God’s acceptance.

 

There is also perhaps some significance in the fact that God sent the Holy Spirit upon the Jews first (Acts 2). Then, to progressively break the entrenched barrier of racial prejudice between the Jews and Gentiles, He sent the Spirit upon the half-Jews and half-Gentiles (Acts 8). Finally, He was able to send the Spirit upon the full-blooded Gentiles (Acts 10). In other words, there is some truth to the fact that there was…

  • a Jewish Pentecost (Acts 2).
  • a Samaritan Pentecost—a half-Jew and half-Gentile Pentecost (Acts 8).
  • a Gentile Pentecost (Acts 10).
  1. Evidence 7: the rebuke of hypocrisy. The point is clearly seen in the incident with Simon.

Note Simon’s request for the apostles to pray for him. It seems that he did not pray himself nor confess and repent to the Lord Jesus. This was the same approach Pharaoh took with Moses, begging for prayer, but never repenting (Exodus 8:8; Exodus 10:17).

 

  1. Evidence 8: the opening of hearts for evangelism. Note…
  • how open the Samaritans were to the Jewish preachers of the gospel.
  • how the apostles went into the villages of the Samaritans to preach.

The fruit of revival is more revival, the opening of hearts for both the preaching and receiving of the gospel.

“We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak” (2 Cor. 4:13).

“Come and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will declare what he hath done for my soul” (Psalm 66:16).