Introduction: What would you say if you were not getting your fair
share of food? For some, this is called being on a diet, but in the
early church it was called racial discrimination. According to Acts
6:1-2, allegations were made that widows of one race were not being
given equal food under the church feeding program. The church decided
to select seven deacons to take care of this “wait[ing] on tables”
problem. These deacons, according to Acts 6:3-4, were to be men “full
of the Spirit and wisdom.” Stephen and Philip were chosen. Shortly
thereafter, Stephen was killed by Jewish leaders in Jerusalem for
sharing the gospel. Let’s plunge into our Bible study by picking up
the story of Philip!
- The Persecution
- Read Acts 7:59-Acts 8:1. Would you ask forgiveness for
those hurting and killing you with stones?
- Why do you think the stoning death of Stephen started
a great persecution? (Perhaps it was some sort of
blood lust encouraged by Satan.)
- Read Acts 8:2-4. Is this an unmitigated disaster for the
church? (It caused the gospel to spread.)
- Read Acts 8:5-8. As a result of Stephen’s death and the
subsequent persecution, the seven deacons scatter. Philip
goes to a city in Samaria. What did we learn about the
Jews and the Samaritans a couple of weeks ago when Jesus
encountered the woman at the well? (They did not like each
other because the Jews looked down on the Samaritans.
Despite that, Jesus began the conversion of the
- How is Philip received in this city in Samaria? (Very
well! He brings joy to the city.)
- Read Acts 8:9-11. How is life going for Simon? (People
call him the “Great Power” and consider him “the divine
- What is the source of Simon’s power? (Satan. Simon
- Read Acts 8:12-13. How do you think Satan views Philip?
(Philip is not only removing Satan’s evil spirits from
humans ( Acts 8:7), he now converts what appears to be
Satan’s main representative in the country.)
- The Holy Spirit
- Read Acts 8:14-17. Has Philip been baptizing in the name
of the Holy Spirit? (Apparently not.)
- How do you explain this since Philip was chosen to be
a deacon because he was known to be “full of the
Spirit” ( Acts 6:3), and the Holy Spirit had been
doing great miracles through him?
- Why does it take Peter and John to bring the Holy
- Read Acts 8:18-23. We are not sure how the power to
transmit the Holy Spirit is given. For example, why Philip
did not transmit the Holy Spirit, but Peter and John did.
But, we know how it is not transmitted. What is the wrong
way? (By offering to buy it.)
- What is wrong with that? If people get it for free,
why not be able to give money and get it? (The Holy
Spirit is God! Is God for sale? Of course, not.)
- We read that Simon has just been baptized. What is
his spiritual condition? (His heart is “full of
bitterness and captive to sin.”)
- Is it appropriate to baptize people like that?
- The context strongly suggests that Philip
baptized Simon. Since the Holy Spirit was
powerfully using Philip, and since one of the
reasons he was chosen as a deacon was his
wisdom, did he make an error in baptizing
- Read Acts 8:24. Is Simon’s heart now converted? (He seems
mostly concerned about avoiding bad consequences.)
- What are the lessons for today regarding the Holy Spirit?
Is the transmission of the gift controlled by humans? For
example, Peter and John can transmit it, but Philip
cannot? How can a person, such as Philip, be filled with
the Holy Spirit but unable to transmit it? (While I do not
believe that God is controlled by humans, I do believe
that God allows us to choose. Look again at Acts 8:16. It
appears that Philip’s failure to baptize “in the name of
the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew
28:19)is the source of the problem. For further
discussion, consider Acts 2:38.)
- The Ethiopian
- Read Acts 8:26. Consider Philip’s life. An angel gives him
instructions in the morning for his travel during the day!
Have you ever considered asking God to let your angel give
you directions in life?
- Read Acts 8:27-29. Who else is giving Philip direction?
(The Holy Spirit!)
- What have we learned about this Ethiopian eunuch? (He
is head of the national treasury(bank)of Ethiopia. He
must have been Jewish because he worshiped in
Jerusalem. He is interested in learning more about
God because he is reading his Bible.)
- Read Acts 8:30. Is the Ethiopian a good reader? (He reads
out loud. This is very unusual today.)
- Read Acts 8:31-33. What is so difficult about
understanding this passage?
- Scan Isaiah 53. Assume that you are the Ethiopian
returning from Jerusalem where you offered a sacrifice for
your sins. Tell me what stands out about Isaiah 53? (This
is an odd passage. It talks about a man, but it refers to
him as if he were a sheep being sacrificed. This must
remind the Ethiopian of what is done in the temple in
- Read Acts 8:34-35. What is the Ethiopian reading? (He is
reading a prophecy about Jesus. Jesus fulfills the
sacrificial system that the Ethiopian just experienced.
The lesson about the work of Jesus is obvious when Philip
- Note to readers: there is some issue about the extent
to which a eunuch could participate in the sanctuary
service. See Deuteronomy 23:1.
- Read Acts 8:36-38. What do you think will be the impact of
this event on Ethiopia? (The gospel will be presented by a
very high official!)
- Should Philip have responded, “I don’t know, you need
more lessons about the various teachings of the
church before baptism?” (We know Philip does not
require lessons because he baptized Simon the
- Tell me about all of the moving parts that brought Philip
and the Ethiopian together? (The directions of the angel,
the instruction of the Holy Spirit, the willingness of
Philip to respond, the international travel of the
Ethiopian, and the Holy Spirit’s inspiration to read this
specific prophecy about Jesus.)
- Do you believe in coincidences when it comes to
sharing the gospel?
- Do you pray that the Holy Spirit will lead you to
share the gospel with a willing listener?
- Read Acts 8:39-40. What kind of transportation does Philip
use? (The Holy Spirit transports him!)
- Philip started out with an appointment to a job that
required attention to detail. Being wise and filled
with the Holy Spirit were the stated qualifications,
so it seems that Philip must have been a man of
order. How does that fit the adventures of this day?
(Order and plans are out the door! The angel gives
directions, the Holy Spirit tells him what to do and
then transports him to another town. This is living
moment by moment by faith.)
- Is this a life that you would like to have? You have no
plans but those God brings to you every day through the
Holy Spirit or angels. You never know where you will be or
how you will get there. Witnessing is completely original
- Read Acts 21:7-9. Consider this additional information
about Philip. He has a house, presumably a wife, and four
daughters. Is this consistent with a life that changes
every day? (I used to think that Philip lived this
amazingly original life, with the Holy Spirit flying him
around to different evangelistic opportunities. But, this
suggests that Philip is more like you and me. He leads a
regular life, with a house and family, but his primary
work is that of an evangelist. Sometimes God does some
amazing things with him.)
- Friend, would you like the Holy Spirit to be more active
in your life? Why not ask right now that the Holy Spirit
will lead you to people who want to better understand
- Next week: Paul: Background and Call.