Introduction: How do you solve problems in the church? Is it with
gifted plans or gifted people? If you had to choose, which would be
more important? This week we study a man who was part of the solution
to one of the most explosive problems in the early church. He
apparently did well in his service to the church for God made him a
powerful evangelist. Let’s jump into our study of Philip and learn
about the ideal life in service for God.

  1. Deacon Philip

    1. Read Acts 6:1. Assume I came to you with this problem.
      What would be your first suggestion as to the source of
      the problem and how to solve it?

      1. Would you first find out if the charges were true?

        1. Does it matter if they are true? Or, is
          perception more important?

      2. Since they mention cultural distinctions, my first
        reaction would be that this was discrimination based
        on culture. Would the solution be education or
        replacement of personnel?

        1. Let’s run this through in our minds. Assume that
          you begin to solve the problem by determining
          whether the food distributors are discriminating
          or whether the complainers are guilty of falsely
          claiming discrimination. Either way, one side is
          showing that they discriminate based on
          ethnicity. When you figured out who was in the
          wrong, what would you be facing? (One side is
          going to be upset and probably claiming more

    2. Read Acts 6:2-4. How do the early leaders handle the
      problem? (They assume the problem arises from not paying
      close enough attention. They don’t assign blame. They
      don’t challenge the complainers. They say they have more
      important things to do. No one is found to be culturally

      1. What if the problem is cultural discrimination?
        (Whatever the source of the problem, this will fix

      2. Have they created a committee to deal with the

    3. Read Acts 6:5-6. What do you notice about the names of the
      new deacons? (Most of them have Greek names.)

      1. What do you conclude from this? (The apostles refuse
        to admit there was any intentional discrimination
        against the Greek Jews. However, when the church
        chooses the new deacons, it chooses mostly Greek

        1. What does the handling of this explosive problem
          teach us for our missionary activities today?

        2. To go back to our introduction, which turns out
          to be most important: gifted plans or gifted
          people? (They are both important. This is a
          false dichotomy.)

    4. Look again at Acts 6:3. Our lesson this week is about
      Philip. What do we learn about him from our first
      introduction? (That he is “full of the Spirit and

  2. Healer Philip

    1. Read Acts 8:1-5. What has happened to the church in
      Jerusalem? What has happened to Philip? Is he now out of
      a job? (With the persecution, the leaders and members fled
      to other cities. Philip went to a city in Samaria. He is
      now out of the food distribution business.)

      1. Recall our lesson two weeks ago (Lesson 10)about
        Jesus meeting the Samaritan woman at the well? Why
        would Philip choose to go to Samaria? (Certainly the
        Jewish authorities had little influence there. Jesus
        pioneered sharing the gospel with the Samaritans.)

    2. Read Acts 8:6-8. The office of deacon means different
      things in different churches. What did it mean in
      Philip’s case? (He performed miracles and brought “joy in
      that city.”)

      1. What connection do the miracles have to the message?
        (It caused the people to “pay close attention.”)

        1. What lesson do we find in this or our missionary
          activities today?

    3. Read Acts 8:9-11. If you were an outside observer, how is
      Simon like Philip? (He did amazing things. The people gave
      him their attention.)

      1. How are Philip and Simon not alike? (Simon took the
        credit for himself. He was “the Great Power.” Philip
        gave the glory to God.)

      2. Read Mark 16:20 and Acts 14:3. These texts say the
        gospel is “confirmed” by miracles. Notice the
        different sources of power for Simon and Philip. How
        could you know the source of the power when the
        results seem similar?

        1. Is sorcery confirmed by Simon’s amazing work?
          (Read Matthew 7:22-23. Doing amazing things is
          not the test of righteousness.)

      3. Read 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12. How does this say we can
        distinguish the true from the false? (We must look at
        the message of the miracle worker. Simon’s message
        was personal power and glory.)

    4. Read Acts 8:12-13. What attracted Simon to the gospel? (He
      was astonished by the signs and miracles.)

    5. Let’s skip down to Acts 8:18-23. Wait a minute! This is
      Philip’s new convert. How can Peter say Simon’s heart is
      “not right” and is “full of bitterness and captive to

      1. Is there a lesson in this for our missionary
        activities? (Read Acts 8:24. Simon comes into the
        church for the “wrong reasons.” His heart is still
        not right, even though he is baptized. He reacts to
        Peter based on fear. Yet I believe he is on the road
        to righteousness. People who want to be baptized
        should be baptized. We need not wait until they are

  3. The Holy Spirit

    1. Let’s go back to those verses that we skipped over. Read
      Acts 8:14-16. How can Philip, a man who does great
      miracles and is himself ( Acts 6:3) “full” of the Holy
      Spirit, baptize without the Holy Spirit? Is this some sort
      of technical failure on Philip’s part? Did he forgot part
      of the required message because he is new to this?

      1. Look again at Acts 8:15-16. The first step in
        receiving the Holy Spirit is to pray for the Spirit.

    2. Read Acts 8:17. What additional step do we see?

    3. Read Acts 9:17. What procedure was used to have Saul
      filled with the Holy Spirit? (In both cases we see that
      laying hands on the person is the method by which the Holy
      Spirit is conferred.)

    4. Read Acts 10:44-47. How did this group receive the Holy
      Spirit? Did it precede or follow baptism? (It came before

    5. What do these texts teach us about receiving the Holy
      Spirit? (It can clearly be something separate from
      baptism. It comes in different ways. But, it is clearly
      manifest in the believer. In Acts 8:14-16 it was clear the
      Holy Spirit had not come on the believers.)

      1. What does this teach us about our missionary efforts?
        (We need to pray to have the Holy Spirit be manifest
        in those we baptize.)

  4. The Ethiopian

    1. Read Acts 8:26-29. How would you like to have such a
      relationship with God that He points out a specific road
      and a specific car for you to contact? Is such a
      relationship possible today?

      1. We are always interested in bringing in influential
        new members. How important was this Ethiopian? (He
        was the treasurer of the country. If this were
        America, he would be Secretary of the Treasury.)

        1. What does this tell us about his relationship
          with the Queen of Ethiopia? (You are going to
          find the most trustworthy person to be in charge
          of your money!)

      2. What else do we know about this Ethiopian? (He was
        interested in spiritual matters. He not only had
        been to Jerusalem to worship, but he was reading the
        Bible on his trip home.)

    2. Read Acts 8:30-31. What else do we learn about God’s
      interest in the affairs of humans? (He brought Philip and
      the Ethiopian together at the very point where the
      Ethiopian was having trouble understanding the Bible!)

    3. Read Acts 8:32-34. If you wanted to convert a Jew, with
      what Old Testament text would you start? (God has arranged
      for the Ethiopian to be reading the perfect text to
      introduce Jesus the Messiah.)

    4. Read Acts 8:35-38. How does Philip begin his evangelist
      efforts with this man? (He follows the lead of the Holy
      Spirit. He answers the questions presented. He does not
      start with a “prepared” witnessing speech.)

    5. Read Acts 8:39-40. Would you like to live a life in the
      Spirit like Philip?

    6. Friend, if you would like a life in the Spirit, why not
      ask God right now to use you like this?

  5. Next week: “Here Am I! Send Me:” The Prophet Isaiah.