Samaritans Obey the Gospel

By Royce Frederick

Saul had recently cast his vote to stone Stephen. Without a trial, the murderous act had been carried out. Saul immediately seized the momentum and led raids on the believers in Jerusalem. Entering their houses, he dragged out both men and women and threw them into prison.

The Jerusalem church of more than 5,000 members fled from the city and scattered across the region. Philip had served as one of the deacons in Jerusalem (Acts 6:1-7; see I Tim. 3:8-13). Now he no longer had a ministry to fulfill as a deacon.

But Philip and the others did not abandon the faith or quit serving the Lord: “Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word” (Acts 8:4; see Phil. 1:12). Every person who receives salvation through the gospel has the responsibility to share that same saving message with others (Matt. 28:18-20; Mk. 16:15-16). “Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them. (6) And the multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. (7) For unclean spirits, crying with a loud voice, came out of many who were possessed; and many who were paralyzed and lame were healed. (8) And there was great joy in that city” (Acts 8:5-8; see 1:8).

The people had been following a man named Simon, who performed tricks of sorcery. Fortunately, when the people heard Philip, they turned away from Simon: “But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized(8:12). Could the woman at the well in Jn. 4 have been among the women who obeyed the gospel?

When Philip “preached Christ” (8:5) and “the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ” (8:12), his preaching included the Lord’s teaching about baptism. It led the people to be baptized. They obeyed the gospel the same way Jews had done in Acts 2 — they were saved by faith when they were baptized in water for the forgiveness of sins (see Acts 2:38; 8:35-39; 22:16; Rom. 6:3-4). Paul reminded Christians, “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Gal. 3:26-27).

When you hear “gospel” sermons today, do the preachers include the Lord’s instructions to be baptized for the forgiveness of sins? The message Philip preached to the Samaritans is the same message we must preach today. And it will have the same results, because “the gospel of the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes” (Rom. 1:16).