The Philip Approach: Acts 8:9-13
“9) Now there was a man named Simon, who formerly was practicing magic in the city and astonishing the people of Samaria, claiming to be someone great; 10) and they all, from smallest to greatest, were giving attention to him, saying, “This man is what is called the Great Power of God.” 11) And they were giving him attention because he had for a long time astonished them with his magic arts. 12) But when they believed Philip preaching the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were being baptized, men and women alike. 13) Even Simon himself believed; and after being baptized, he continued on with Philip, and as he observed signs and great miracles taking place, he was constantly amazed.” ‭‭Acts‬ ‭8‬:‭9‬-‭13‬ ‭
We now encounter Simon the magician. Like the sorcerers and magicians in Egypt, he was claiming to be someone great and was astonishing the people with his craft. Satan has counterfeit power. According to 2 Thessalonians 2:9-10, some will come with false signs and wonders and will deceive many in the end times.
But Philip had greater signs and wonders and a message of life and hope. God is infinitely more powerful than Satan. After the forth miracle of Moses in Egypt, the magicians recognized the finger of God working through Moses. (See Exodus 8:18-19) “The Battle of the Gods” is a constant theme throughout the whole Bible.
Those in spiritism, the occult or false mystic religions are fair targets for the gospel. They are full of deception, but recognize the reality of the spiritual realm. There is often a power encounter between truth and deception, God and the devil; but God always wins. He has never lost a battle with the enemy.
As the people of Samaria responded to the gospel and believed, they were being baptized. I often wonder how many had previously been exposed to the gospel through those in Sychar who came to Jesus through the witness of the Samaritan women and the crowd subsequently won to faith by Jesus Himself in John 4:7-45. He had sowed abundant seeds in Samaria.
It is especially noteworthy that Simon also believed and was baptized. He was persuaded by both the preaching of Philip and his extraordinary signs and wonders. (Vs 13) He continued with Philip and as he observed the signs and great miracles taking place, he was constantly amazed.
This hints at a problem in Simon. He was more drawn to the power of the signs and wonders than a deep personal relationship with Jesus Christ. As the story continues, we discover he had a void for power and the spot light. He needed subsequent deliverance from his inner brokenness and jealousy.
Becoming a Christian starts the journey to inner healing and freedom. Simon wanted to step right into leadership, but Peter quickly recognized the bondage that still gripped him. (See Vs 22-23) We must grant time for spiritual growth, inner transformation and healing. Every new believer needs time to lay aside the old self, be renew their mind and put on the new self which is based on truth encounter and a deep relationship with Jesus Christ that produces a righteous life. (See Ephesians 4:22-24)
An important take away from this text is that the gospel quickly took center stage in the city of Samaria. Philips ministry was not “under the radar”, it became “the main attraction.” I fully recognize some situations in persecuted countries require caution, but much of the world would benefit from a Philip approach.
One might wonder; “What caused Philip and the gospel to quickly grab the attention of the people?” I can no longer deny the importance of signs and wonders to the spread of the gospel in the book of Acts. They went hand in hand!
The same is happening in many countries today. They read the Bible and take it at face value. Their faith does not need to overcome the theological agnosticism so prevalent in the western church. They recognize God still does miracles today. They do not quench or grieve the Holy Spirit. They expect God to work according to the record and witness of the Bible.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global