Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Acts 8

     Two stories of the doings of Deacon Phillip that follow the stoning of Stephen and the persecution of the Church:
     1. He makes his way to Samaria and preaches the Gospel to the Samaritans. Many of them believe in Jesus. In Samaria we encounter Simon the magician (sometimes called Simon Magus). When the Apostles send Peter and John down to Samaria to see what is happening and to have them baptized and immersed in the Holy Spirit, Simon is so impressed that he offers the Apostles money to be given the power that they have. From this experiences comes a word (an Eponym) "Simony": which is the practice of making a profit out of sacred things. The Apostles reject this offer and go on to preach in many of the Samaritan villages.
    2. Philip is then sent by the Holy Spirit to preach to Word to an Ethiopian who is on his way home from worshiping at the temple in Jerusalem. This Ethiopian is unnamed but is identified as the Treasurer for the Queen of Ethiopia (no small office). Philip, like any good evangelist, begins where the Ethiopian is and explains the claim and the way of Christ to him. The Ethiopian chooses to follow Jesus and is baptized by Phillip in some water they find along the way. The Ethiopian goes his way rejoicing and Philip is sent elsewhere.
     In Ethiopia today, the Christian Church identifies this unnamed man as the founder of the Christian church in Africa. He would be the first African Christian, to the best of our knowledge. It is worth noting that the Acts 1:8 trajectory: Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the Earth is being lived out. Philip in Samaria, Philip with the Ethiopian and, as we shall see in later chapters the gospel will spread to many more global places before the end of the book.

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