And so, (this is how it came about that) those who, at this time, were scattered took the good news message with them as they went. Philip went down to a city in Samaria, and announced (the coming of) the Christ to them. And the crowds (that gathered), when they heard what he had to say and saw the signs from his hands, gave very close attention to what Philip said. For many corrupting spirits came out of many who had been possessed (by them), making loud cries as they did so; and many who were crippled or walking feebly were also healed. So that was why there was much joy in that city. (Acts8:4-8/transliteration by Bruce C Wearne)

 

OUTREACH: The hills of Samaria. PICTURE: Wikipedia.


IN A NUTSHELL

Despite the persecution, the Good News continues to be spread far and wide. The Gospel goes to Samaria in fulfilment of Jesus' prediction.

Jesus taught mostly in and around Galilee. Samaria was between Galilee and Jerusalem. On His way "up" to Jerusalem in the final weeks of His life, Luke recounts His avoidance of Samaritan towns when they refused to give Him hospitality. This was their customary attitude toward those going up to Jerusalem to worship; Samaritans had their own temple at Mount Gerizim.

But Jesus had also begun to gather disciples from Samaria. Luke tells us that when James and John reported on the Samaritan's lack of hospitality, they suggested that their Master issue a condemnation. Jesus rebuke was to James and John, the sons of thundering denunciation. They showed their lack of understanding about the Son of Man's mission (Luke 9:51-56). Let's look at references to Samaria in the New Testament to help us understand what Luke is saying to us about Philip's work there. Look at the list below:

• Luke 9:52 - Jesus is on His way to Jerusalem and the disciples are alarmed that the Samaritans will not offer hospitality; Jesus moves on;


• Luke 10:29-37 - the merciful Samaritan parable: Go do what he did!;


• Luke 17:11-19 - Jesus heals a group of lepers and the one Samaritan among them returns to give thanks to God for this wonderful act;


• John 4:4,9,39-40 - returning to Galilee from Judea, Jesus meets the woman at the well, giving her good news and the local people believe;


• John 8:48 - Jesus accused of being a Samaritan and having a demon. He denies having a demon, but doesn't reject identification with Samaritans;


• Acts 1:8 - "you will be my witnesses in Samaria";


• Acts 8:1,5,14,25 - the aftermath of Philip's work in "a city" of Samaria; God's spirit comes to Samaria; the news is proclaimed throughout the region; and,


• Acts 9:31 - there is unity "in Judea, Galilee and Samaria" because the Holy Spirit has been at work there among those believing in Jesus Christ.

Something wonderful was beginning to happen despite the persecution and dispersion of the believers. Luke tells us that when the news of the coming of "the Christ" came to Samaria, it reversed a long-held and bitter rift between the children of Abraham waiting for the promises of Almighty God to be fulfilled. This also explains Jesus' rebuke. The Son of Man had also been sent as Deliverer for Samaria as well. When the Holy Spirit confirmed the Gospel, then flight. Jesus had come to give life, life in all its abundance.

Got a verse or a short passage you'd like us to look at? Just send an email to [email protected].