This requires stepping out of our comfort zones.
Christians are very familiar with the Great Commission Christ gave to us after the resurrection. We are called upon to “go and make disciples of all nations”. I think we can all agree this requires stepping out of our comfort zones. Even those first century Christians found staying in Jerusalem much more comfortable than venturing outside the city walls. In fact, it was the persecution of Christians led by Saul (later called Paul) that forced these early Christians to move! “On that day a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem, and all accept the Apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria…those who had been scattered preached the Word wherever they went.” Acts 8: 1 & 4 It was Philip, filled with the Holy Spirit, who traveled to Samaria where he proclaimed the Christ, and won many converts.
Philips efforts are especially noteworthy when we remember the century’s long animosity between Jerusalem and Samaria. In ancient times, it was the Assyrians who brought in foreigners to Samaria. These foreigners intermarried with the Jews living there, which led to them than being considered less than “true Jews”. The Jewish leader, John Hycanus I, destroyed Samaria in 134 BC. Ancient Jewish writings lump the Samaritans with the Philistines as detested people. Remember the insult the Jews hurled at Jesus: “…aren’t we right in saying that you are a Samaritan and demon-possessed?” (John 8: 48) With this background, we can’t help but wonder what kind of success Philip could have among the Samaritans. But the Bible tells us, that many accepted the Good News, and were baptized in the name of Jesus.
“When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the Word of God, they sent Peter and John to them.” (Acts 8: 14) We can be amazed at the effect this one man, led by the Holy Spirit, had in Samaria, and we can only speculate how the Good News was spread from this beginning. But, I can’t help but think of the effect this revival would have on Peter and John. Remember, it was John who once asked Jesus if he should call down fire from heaven on the unbelieving Samaritans. (Luke 9: 52-54) For this, he was rebuked by Jesus. Now when Peter and John arrived in Samaria they prayed for them, they placed their hands on them, and “When they had testified and proclaimed the Word of the Lord, Peter and John returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel in many Samaritan villages.” (Acts 8: 25)
About The Author
Originally from Erie, Pennsylvania, Dan is a graduate of Otterbein College (now University). He graduated with a degree in education. From time to time Dan still substitute teaches. His interest in history led him to investigate the historical accuracy of the Bible. This, in turn, led to a full investigation of Apologetics.