Many thanks to LIllian and Debby who added their two cents into our last discussion on persecution in the church. If you missed the lesson and have some cents of your own to put in you can find our previous classes on my House On Fire Page http://wp.me/P39vIx-Gh
Now let’s begin today’s discussion in Acts chapter 8: 4-25
Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went. 5 Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah there. 6 When the crowds heard Philip and saw the signs he performed, they all paid close attention to what he said. 7 For with shrieks, impure spirits came out of many, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. 8 So there was great joy in that city.
Simon the Sorcerer
9 Now for some time a man named Simon had practiced sorcery in the city and amazed all the people of Samaria. He boasted that he was someone great, 10 and all the people, both high and low, gave him their attention and exclaimed, “This man is rightly called the Great Power of God.” 11 They followed him because he had amazed them for a long time with his sorcery. 12 But when they believed Philip as he proclaimed the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 13 Simon himself believed and was baptized. And he followed Philip everywhere, astonished by the great signs and miracles he saw.
14 When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to Samaria. 15 When they arrived, they prayed for the new believers there that they might receive the Holy Spirit,16 because the Holy Spirit had not yet come on any of them; they had simply 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 When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money 19 and said, “Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.”
20 Peter answered: “May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money!21 You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God. 22 Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord in the hope that he may forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. 23 For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.”
24 Then Simon answered, “Pray to the Lord for me so that nothing you have said may happen to me.”
25 After they had further proclaimed the word of the Lord and testified about Jesus, Peter and John returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel in many Samaritan villages.
The story of Philip in Samaria is a fairly well-known passage of Scripture. Apocryphal stories of Simon the Sorcerer abound. But I don’t want to spend much time focusing on Simon. I would like to focus on the immensity of these events extended to a people who were not Jewish. The church is branching out.
Please also note verse 12 … both men and women were baptized in Samaria. I think the mention of women being baptized is significant because the church here is beginning to break down the barrier between men and women. While the Jews of the the first century were praying daily “God thank you that I am not a Gentile or a woman” Paul was beginning to preach to the Gentiles : “So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” Gal. 3:26-29
Does the Acts 8:12 and the Galatians 3 passage effect or change the roles of men and women in the eyes of God? How?
I cannot wait to hear your answers on this one!