Day 179: June 28 (Acts 8:1-25)
After Stephen is martyred, persecution is unleashed against the church, with Saul at the heart of it, and the believers are scattered.
Far from being a setback, we will see that this is a breakthrough. All the apostles are now dispersed from Jerusalem and the power of God spreads widely! Now the limits are off, and the battle with religion goes to a new level.
Philip goes to the previously off-limits area of Samaria (the people who compromised on religion and became outcasts). Of course, Jesus had said they would be His witnesses in Judea and Samaria, so this would be no surprise to Jesus! But it seems it was no surprise to Philip either, because there were many miracles, healings, deliverances, and salvations. Simon, who was a sorceror, gets saved, and there is much joy! I wonder how many of the converts were among those who were drawn to the Messiah by the woman at the well telling them “come see the man who told me everything I ever did”?
In response the apostles send Peter and John to check what is happening, and they immediately pray for the new believers to receive the Holy Spirit, because they had only been baptized in the name of Jesus (although Luke does not tell us why). When Simon sees the power released by the prayer to receive the Holy Spirit, he offers the apostles money for such a gift. Peter has dealt with such sin and greed before (recall Ananias and Sapphira in chapter 6?) and tells Simon to repent, because his heart is not right with God. And Simon does repent – asking Peter to pray for him. So Peter and John return to Jerusalem after this remarkable breakthrough toward the gospel going to the whole world.
Have a great day!