Devotional on Acts 8 (NIV). We have seen the sad yet triumphant story of Stephen. The only other one of the seven (Ac. 6:5) that we read about is Philip. After the death of Stephen, there was great persecution, and the new church in Jerusalem was scattered. Saul had witnessed and approved the death of Stephen and became a militant activist against this new movement called “the Way.” Saul would later totally embrace the cause of Christ, and one can only surmise that the way Stephen died had prepared Saul to become a follower of the Way that he had tried to eliminate.
Philip was one who was “scattered.” He “proclaimed the good news of the Kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ” (8:12) to a Samaritan city, and many were baptized after they were healed of demons and illnesses. Luke wrote a summary statement: “There was great joy in that city” (8:8). The story of Simon, who offered money for the ability to do the powerful things that God was doing through Peter and John, should warn any modern-day spiritual charlatan about the danger of their practices. What was proclaimed to Simon could be said to them: “You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God” (8:21). This is also a warning to all of us: God does not bless our fleshly efforts to serve Him; He blesses what He begins and accomplishes through His Holy Spirit in us!
Philip demonstrated this so beautifully! At the Spirit’s urging, he went into the desert where he encountered a man from Ethiopia who was reading about Jesus’s sacrifice as predicted by the prophet Isaiah. Philip used the passage of scripture the man was reading to “tell him the good news about Jesus” (8:35). The Ethiopian believed and when they arrived at some water, Philip baptized him. We learn some things about baptism. It is done after one has expressed their faith in Jesus Christ. They “went down into” and “came up out of” the water, which is a description of immersion as a symbol of death and resurrection with Christ. Baptism is a prelude to joy! The Ethiopian “went on his way rejoicing” (8:39). Philip is an inspiration to us. He “traveled about, preaching the gospel in all the towns” (8:40).