God’s Word for You
Acts 8:24-25 Many villages of the Samaritans
by Pastor Timothy Smith on Wednesday, January 15, 2020
24 But Simon, weeping loudly and without stopping, answered, “Pray to the Lord for me, that none of the things which you have spoken may come upon me.”
Although some later traditions about Simon claim otherwise, Luke’s inspired text clearly shows that Simon was afraid about what the Apostles said and wanted their help in praying to God for forgiveness. He was looking to the Lord to be rescued from his sin. This is the very definition of repentance. This is what we all should do when we are shown our sins. The gospel turns us away from ourselves and our own works, whether good or evil, and it turns us to Christ. The gospel shows us our Lord Jesus and the forgiveness of our sins in his blood. We are brought out of our dismal failures and our dreadful wickedness into the arms of our dear heavenly Father through the love of Jesus, the mediator. David describes this regular pattern of being crushed and revived, crushed and revived with tender and thankful words: “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18). When I am crushed by the law and revived by the gospel, I am truly and completely renewed; I am made alive in Christ (Romans 6:11). And what does “alive in Christ” mean? It simply means that he forgave all of our sins (Colossians 2:13). What has died in me when I am shown my sin is not my Christian spirit, but the Old Adam in me which needs to be put down and drowned again and again every day.
25 So then, after they had testified and preached the word of the Lord, they returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel in many villages of the Samaritans.
Peter and John were now free to return to Jerusalem where they had a congregation of their own to look after. Philip’s work in Samaria was excellent; he did not need their supervision or further approval. In fact, with the Samaritans already well-versed at least in the writings of Moses, they could be taught the fulfillment won by Jesus without much of the additional instruction that might otherwise have been required among Gentiles. The Samaritans had and still have their own edition of the Hebrew Pentateuch (the five books of Moses) known as the Samaritan Pentateuch.
It is likely that Peter and John went into the vicinity of Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim on their way south, stopping at villages like Sychar, Nablus, Salim, and even Shechem on their way home. We can’t say for certain when this return journey took place. Acts 9:1 begins with the word “Meanwhile” (Greek ἔτι, eti, “still”), so that we understand that while Saul was starting his persecutions in Jerusalem and in Judea, this mission work was going on in Samaria and the old territory of Philistia (see Acts 8:26, 8:40).
In Luke’s Gospel, late in the ministry of Jesus, the Lord was traveling to Jerusalem and was going along through a part of Samaria, perhaps the northern or eastern border. Luke tells us that “the people there (of Samaria) did not welcome him” (Luke 9:53), but Jesus kept the disciples from calling down fire from heaven to destroy them. His response was: “You don’t know what kind of spirit is influencing you. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them” (Luke 7:55-56, author’s translation). Since the Lord had spared these cities, even when they rejected him, he left the door open for the gospel to return a few years later through Philip and the apostles. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy (James 5:11). Because of his mercy, the gospel has come even to us. Thank him in your prayers today and ask that his mercy be extended to all the people you know—even those who do not love you. Praise God that his good will does not depend upon ours!
Pastor Timothy Smith