Samaria Opened to the Gospel: Acts 8:25
“25) So, when they had solemnly testified and spoken the word of the Lord, they started back to Jerusalem, and were preaching the gospel to many villages of the Samaritans.” Acts‬ ‭8‬:‭25‬ ‭
All of Samaria was now open for preaching the Gospel. Traditions and prejudices are hard to overcome. You would think that the disciples had learned a lesson from Jesus and His ministry to the Samaritan woman and the Samaritan city of Sychar in John 4, but their hearts were still hard and their minds blind. Suddenly, with the ministry of Philip and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in Samaria, a mental stronghold was pulled down. Everything changed.
According to Acts 8:25, their return trip to Jerusalem was very different. Instead of traveling with blinders to the needs around them, “they were preaching the gospel to many villages of the Samaritans.”
Had God suddenly open new doors for the gospel or had He merely opened their eyes and minds to harvest fields previously unseen? I maintain the change was within them.
It was their perspective and mindset that changed. They were no more doing “buisness as usual” like buying food and provisions for Jesus in total silence and indifference. They should have learned this lesson earlier from Jesus in John 4:1-45. His food was to do the will of Him who sent Him. He said the harvest fields of Samaria were ripe!
We have the same closed minds today. We are conditioned into thinking that ministry only happens a few hours a week when we are in church. The rest of the week we go through our routine in silence. But sharing the gospel should be a lifestyle. That became the new approach of the apostles as they returned to Jerusalem.
But we need to wrestle with a few more questions. What is involved in “preaching the gospel?” How do we attract an audience? Why would anyone want to listen to our message?
First, the context screams that they were sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Acts 8:25 says; “And the Spirit said to Philip, “Go up and join this chariot.” They learned to obey the leading and promptings of the Holy Spirit. He is active in the life of every believer. He wants to lead us in the same way today.
Second, Jesus modeled an approach to sharing the gospel that challenges my thinking. It shakes my norms. It stretches my understanding of preaching the gospel. It was first recorded in Matthew 4:23-25. Please read the full context, but let me quote only verse 23; “Jesus was going throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people.” Was He modeling an approach to sharing the gospel that included healing and casting out unclean spirits?
The next two verse are profound. News about Him spread quickly and crowds gathered around Him to hear the gospel. It might be easy to write this off, but in Matthew 10:7-8 and Luke 10:8-9 He instructed His disciples to do the same thing… and they did! Shockingly, this authority for healing people and casting out demons was bestowed on them before the day of Pentecost… and they were very effective!
The same approach accompanied the spread of the gospel in the early church. Read Acts 4:29-31; 5:12; 6:8; 8:6-7, 6:12-13; 9:40-42 and many other texts. God is starting to open my heart and mind to a Samaria I have previously considered “off limits.”
My recent in depth study of the book of Matthew followed by this study of the book of Acts is leading me to a shocking realization: “God wants us to heal the sick and set captives free from demonic oppression in the name and authority of Jesus Christ as we spread the gospel.” They are closely connected in the New Testament.
Over the years, I’ve seen Jesus set numerous captives free, but healings have been rare and I feel awkward ministering in this area. My root problem is that this is not part of my tradition or training. I don’t know how to minister in this “Samaria” and I sincerely believe that many so called “faith healers” are fraudulent today.
But my biblical perspective is beginning to change. My norms are being challenged. I am beginning to realize that the big change has to take place within me! I feel like I am missing something.
I am also searching for answers as to why so many people are prayed for today with so few actual healings. That was not the testimony of the disciples in the four gospels nor was it the standard in the early church. Something is missing.
Pray for me as my faith journey continues. I am trying to get my experience to line up with Scripture. I am tired of the modern western church twisting Scripture to excuse and accommodate our “powerless” experience related to the subject of healings. I am beginning to believe that ministering effectively in this Samaria is part of our biblical calling… but I’m not sure how to move forward. I am sincerely seeking God and studying the Word for answers.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global