God’s Saving Word: Faith
Acts 8:4-25: The followers of Jesus begin to preach the Good News outside of Jerusalem. Philip goes to Samaria and preaches to the people there. Peter and John also arrive in Samaria, and the Samaritans receive the Holy Spirit when Peter and John place their hands on them. Simon, a magician, offers Peter and John money in order to obtain the same power that Peter and John possessed, and Peter rebukes him.
The Gospel Is Preached in Samaria
4 The believers who were scattered went everywhere, preaching the message. 5 Philip went to the principal city[a] in Samaria and preached the Messiah to the people there. 6 The crowds paid close attention to what Philip said, as they listened to him and saw the miracles that he performed. 7 Evil spirits came out from many people with a loud cry, and many paralyzed and lame people were healed. 8 So there was great joy in that city.
9 A man named Simon lived there, who for some time had astounded the Samaritans with his magic. He claimed that he was someone great, 10 and everyone in the city, from all classes of society, paid close attention to him. “He is that power of God known as ‘The Great Power,’” they said. 11 They paid this attention to him because for such a long time he had astonished them with his magic. 12 But when they believed Philip’s message about the good news of the Kingdom of God and about Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 13 Simon himself also believed; and after being baptized, he stayed close to Philip and was astounded when he saw the great wonders and miracles that were being performed.
14 The apostles in Jerusalem heard that the people of Samaria had received the word of God, so they sent Peter and John to them. 15 When they arrived, they prayed for the believers that they might receive the Holy Spirit. 16 For the Holy Spirit had not yet come down on any of them; they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.
18 Simon saw that the Spirit had been given to the believers when the apostles placed their hands on them. So he offered money to Peter and John, 19 and said, “Give this power to me too, so that anyone I place my hands on will receive the Holy Spirit.”
20 But Peter answered him, “May you and your money go to hell, for thinking that you can buy God’s gift with money! 21 You have no part or share in our work, because your heart is not right in God’s sight. 22 Repent, then, of this evil plan of yours, and pray to the Lord that he will forgive you for thinking such a thing as this. 23 For I see that you are full of bitter envy and are a prisoner of sin.”
24 Simon said to Peter and John, “Please pray to the Lord for me, so that none of these things you spoke of will happen to me.”
25 After they had given their testimony and proclaimed the Lord’s message, Peter and John went back to Jerusalem. On their way they preached the Good News in many villages of Samaria.
Today’s Key Verse: Acts 8:12
When they believed Philip’s message about the good news of the Kingdom of God and about Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.
Why did Simon the magician think that the Spirit of God was something that could be bought? What was his motive for wanting this power? Peter and John placed their hands on the believers, a gesture that was used in healing or giving a blessing (Mark 1:41; 10:16; Acts 28:8), choosing someone for a special task (Acts 6:6), or so that the Holy Spirit would come upon them (Acts 8:17; 19:6). Is the laying on of hands done in your community of faith? If so, when?
Lord God, thank you for the gift of your Holy Spirit. Help me to be guided by your Spirit each day so that all I do and say brings glory and honor to you. In your holy name, I pray. Amen.
Acts 8:26-40: Philip baptizes an Ethiopian official.