Sunday Jun 19, 2022

Acts 8:14

Sunday, 19 June 2022

 

Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them, Acts 8:14

 

The previous verse noted Simon’s belief and baptism. This followed after the belief and baptism of “both men and women” of Samaria noted in verse 8:12. However, what has gone unnoted is any hint of the giving of the Spirit to these people. This is then a different occurrence than that which occurred in Acts 2 where Peter said to the people –

 

“Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Acts 2:38

 

Nothing has been said of repenting here in Acts 8. Further, the Spirit was promised to come upon baptism by those in Acts 2. That has neither been promised nor has it occurred. These things will be recorded in the verses to come, and an explanation of what occurs will be made.

 

For now, it is simply to be noted that this is the case, demonstrating that Acts is providing a description of what occurs at the establishment of the early church, but no individual account is to be taken as either normative or prescriptive. As for the ongoing account, it next records, “Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard.”

 

In the scattering of the church because of the persecution that was taking place (Acts 8:1 & 8:4), the apostles had remained in Jerusalem as an anchor for the church to remain united under their teaching. Eventually, the word got back to them “that Samaria had received the word of God.”

 

It is an important point that is dismissed by several heretical teachings that have infected the church. How often it is for false teachers to point to the words of Jesus and insist that there is one message to the Jews and another to the Gentiles –

 

“These twelve Jesus sent out and commanded them, saying: “Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter a city of the SamaritansBut go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Matthew 10:5, 6

 

&

 

“Then Jesus went out from there and departed to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 22 And behold, a woman of Canaan came from that region and cried out to Him, saying, ‘Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed.’

23 But He answered her not a word.

And His disciples came and urged Him, saying, ‘Send her away, for she cries out after us.’

24 But He answered and said, ‘I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.’” Matthew 15:21-24

 

Such verses are pulled out of their intended context, which is Jesus’ ministry to Israel to first hear and accept or reject their Messiah. It is clear and plainly evident from this verse in Acts that either the apostles were disobedient to the words of Jesus in Matthew 10:5, or they are being obedient to the commission that the one and only gospel is to go out from Jerusalem to “Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

 

The latter is correct. Those who teach that there are two gospels, that baptism is not a commandment (even if not required for salvation) for those who come to Christ, or that the church began with Paul are heretics and have failed to take in the whole counsel of God. They divide the church and the message of Christ to the harm of those they teach. With this clearly seen, it next says that “they sent Peter and John to them.”

 

With these words, another point of poor doctrine is argued against. It is one that will be further clarified as Acts and the epistles continue to demonstrate. By noting that the “apostles” sent Peter and John, it clearly indicates that the body has come to a mutual decision, and it argues against the idea that Peter was established by Jesus as the first leader (pope) of the church as Roman Catholicism claims.

 

The reason for the Holy Spirit’s influence in this decision will be seen as Acts continues, but these words wholly argue against Peter as being a leading figure within the body of the apostles. Though not as egregious an error as the one stated above, the Roman Catholic Church has purposefully twisted its history in order to justify innumerable other faulty claims and doctrines, such as in this case concerning Peter.

 

Under the influence of the Holy Spirit (as can be assumed though not specifically stated) Peter and John were selected by the body of apostles to go to Samaria.

 

Life application: Jesus’ ministry to Israel alone was for a set and determined purpose. The covenant at Sinai was given to them. The prophets spoke to them. The promises were given to them. And the promise of a New Covenant was given to them (see Jeremiah 31:31). It was right and fitting that the earthly ministry of the Messiah was to be to Israel alone. And thus, it was.

 

However, the gospel was always intended to go out to the Gentiles after this time (see Isaiah 42:6, for example). This was not thwarted in Israel’s rejection of Jesus. Rather, it was carried out exactly as was known by God all along. Even the Song of Moses from Deuteronomy explained this, in advance, to Israel –

 

“Rejoice, O Gentiles, with His people;
For He will avenge the blood of His servants,
And render vengeance to His adversaries;
He will provide atonement for His land and His people.” Deuteronomy 32:43

 

Paul cites this in Romans 15:10, explaining such things. Pay attention to the details in Acts! Think about what God is doing. He is giving a descriptive account of how the church was established, but in this process, He is taking into consideration everything recorded in the Old Testament, fairly treating Israel according to His word and according to their acceptance or rejection of it. And it is all based on one, unified, gospel message that is given to all people of the world. As Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:11 concerning the united ministry of all of the apostles, including himself, “Therefore, whether it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.”

 

Further, there is one Leader of the church, Jesus, and there are set offices below Him that are given in accord with the instructions in the epistles. There is no single authority within the faith that is set to direct the masses concerning the continuance of the church. Roman Catholicism is to be rejected based on this.

 

Heavenly Father, help us to think rightly concerning Your word as it unfolds before us. May we not get misdirected by those who have failed to rightly divide what is clearly presented when things are taken in context. May our doctrine be pure, and may we be pleasing followers of You as we await Your coming for us. Amen.

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