November 3 I Thursday
“Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah there.” —Acts 8:5
Chapter 8 in the book of Acts begins with believers being scattered throughout regions of Judea and Samaria, except for the apostles, because of strong persecution against the church in Jerusalem. One of the seven leaders who was appointed over the distribution of food for the widows, Philip, took the gospel to the Samaritans. Acts 8:12 tells us, “When they believed Philip as he proclaimed the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptised, both men and women.” News of Samaritans coming to faith reached the apostles in Jerusalem and they sent Peter and John to bear witness that the Samaritans had placed their faith in Christ.
During the time of the early church, there was a lot of animosity between Jews and Samaritans. A self-respecting Jew would never associate with a Samaritan. The fact that Peter and John went to Samaria showed them going outside of Jewish cultural expectations. Peter and John prayed for the Samaritan believers to receive the Holy Spirit when they found that “the Holy Spirit had not yet come on any of them; they had simply been baptised in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 8:16). Both groups were able to witness, through the coming of the Spirit, the evidence of Christ’s acceptance of Samaritans.
Through the gospel, centuries of animosity, pain and hatred between Jews and Samaritans were on the path to healing. The early church may not have imagined the gospel reaching beyond God-fearing Jews, but Peter and John were able to understand that the Church Jesus was building consisted of every nation, tribe, people and language, reconciling the human race to God and to one another.
At the end of Acts 8, the angel of the Lord told Philip to head south on the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza. The Spirit led Philip to encounter an Ethiopian eunuch, who was reading a passage of Scripture from Isaiah. Through this divine appointment, Philip explained to the Ethiopian eunuch not only the passage he was reading, but also the good news of Jesus Christ. When they passed by some water, the Ethiopian eunuch said, “Look, here is water. What can stand in the way of my being baptised?” (Acts 8:36). Philip then baptized the Ethiopian eunuch and afterwards, the Spirit of the Lord carried Philip away and the eunuch returned to Ethiopia rejoicing.
The message of the gospel spread from Jerusalem, to Samaria and to the ends of the earth because people, like Philip, were faithful with sharing the gospel across cultural, ethnic and social boundaries. May we be faithful messengers of the gospel to the world.
Prayer: Lord God, thank You that Your gospel heals animosity, pain and hatred between people groups. May I be faithful in sharing Your gospel message to the world.