I. "AND THEY, WHEN THEY HAD TESTIFIED AND PREACHED THE WORD OF THE LORD, RETURNED TO JERUSALEM."
A. The "they" would be Peter and John.
1. Their mission had been accomplished in Samaria. The Samaritans now have the power of the Holy Spirit, and were established in the gospel.
2. What did they preach? The word of the Lord.
a. In Paul's first letter to the Corinthians he wrote:
But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;
Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;
By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.
For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
b. In His second letter he said:
For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake.
1. One of the big problems today is that so many, especially on TV are preaching themselves.
2. They talk more about themselves and their ministry than of Jesus Christ.
3. And rather than ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake, it is you, our supporters, to help us maintain our limos and jets, and expensive wines for our sake.
c. Paul wrote to Timothy to preach the word.
B. The word gospel means good news. There are two major themes in our preaching.
1. Jesus Christ, crucified for our sins, raised for our justification.
2. The coming kingdom of God.
C. As Peter and John returned to Jerusalem, they preached the gospel in many cities of the Samaritans.
1. The word gospel means good news. What is the good news?
a. That Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures but rose from the dead on the third day.
b. That the kingdom of God will come on the earth, and the will of God will be done on the earth even as it is in heaven.
2. God is beginning to break down the walls of prejudice in their hearts.
a. They are beginning to realize the gospel is not just for the Jews only, but also the Samaritans.
b. Later Peter will have the walls broken down even more as he takes the gospel to the Gentiles.
3. Man builds walls of separation.
4. God breaks down those walls.
5. Normally the Jews had no dealings with the Samaritans.
a. They were sort of viewed as half-breeds.
b. The Samaritans were from the Northern tribes of Israel. When they were taken captive by the Assyrians, and scattered throughout the world, the Assyrians brought other nations to occupy the land. Those brought in to occupy the land complained that they were being over run by wild beasts because they did not know the customs of the gods of the land. So the Assyrians sent some of the Israelites back to teach them of God. In time they had intermarried with the different nationalities that had occupied the land, and were considered outcasts by the Jews.
c. When the Jews had returned from their Babylonian captivity, these Samaritans volunteered to help them rebuild the temple. This offer to help was refused by the Jews and this is where the real breach began. The Samaritans being spurned did everything possible to hinder their rebuilding project.
d. Jesus began to break down that wall with the Samaritans as He talked with the woman at the well, and revealed Himself to her as the Messiah. She in turn brought many of the villagers out to hear Him. We then read:
So when the Samaritans were come unto him, they begged him to tarry with them: and he stayed there two days.
And many more believed because of his own word;
And they said to the woman, Now we believe, not because of your saying: for we have heard [him] ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Messiah, the Saviour of the world.
II. NOW BACK TO PHILIP. "THE ANGEL OF THE LORD SPOKE TO HIM."
A. What an experience, having an angel of the Lord speak to you.
1. I would certainly love to have that experience. I would love to have an angel direct me as to God's will.
2. But there could be certain problems with that. I would need the gift of discernment to know if it was truly an angel of the Lord or Satan disguising himself as an angel of light.
a. Paul warned:
But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.
3. It is interesting to note the activity of angels in the early church.
a. Twice angels helped them escape from prison.
b. In the text we find an angel directing Philip to leave Samaria and go to Gaza.
c. An angel appeared to Cornelius, a Roman centurion and directed him to send for Peter, and told him where he could be found. Acts 10
d. An angel of the Lord smote Herod that he died.
e. In Acts 27
, Paul spoke of an angel of God standing by him and assuring him of his safety.
III. WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT ANGELS FROM THE SCRIPTURES?
A. They are created beings.
1. Satan in the scripture is described as;
You were perfect in your ways from the day that you were created, till iniquity was found in you.
For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether [they be] thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
B. They are a higher order of created beings than man.
1. Speaking of Jesus the writer of Hebrews said:
But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.
2. Peter said:
Whereas angels, which are greater in power and might, bring not railing accusation against them before the Lord.
3. David said:
Bless the LORD, ye his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word.
4. One angel wiped out the Assyrian army in one night.
And it came to pass that night, that the angel of the LORD went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians a 185,000: and when the Israelites arose early in the morning, they saw all the dead corpses.
C. They are spirit beings.
1. It seems that they can at times take on a human form.
2. We are also told not to forget to entertain strangers for you might be entertaining an angel without knowing it.
3. In the book of Hebrews we read that they are ministering spirits who have been sent forth to minister for them who are to be heirs of salvation.
4. PSA 104:4
: Who maketh his angels spirits; his ministers a flaming fire:
D. Angels are mentioned in the scriptures just over 290 times.
1. They number into the millions.
And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the cherubim and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands;
E. Some of the angels have fallen.
How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! [how] art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!
And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.
For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast [them] down to hell, and delivered [them] into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment;
1. The scriptures seem to hint that as many as 1/3 of the angels joined with Satan in his fall.
And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.
F. In the text it seems that the angel is instructing Philip to do something, that on the surface doesn't seem to make sense.
1. Why would God want him to leave this great revival in Samaria to go to a desert area?
2. If Philip tried to reason this out, he would been at a loss.
3. I can hear myself trying to reason this out with the angel.
G. Philip's obedience, "And he arose and went."
1. We now see the reason. "And, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem to worship."
a. We read in the scriptures that the queen of Sheba had come to visit king Solomon and when she returned we read that Solomon gave her all her desire. According to tradition that included an impregnation and that she had a son of Solomon who became the king of Ethiopia, and that many of the Ethiopians converted to Judaism.
b. They claim that from that time on, the king of Ethiopia was an actual descendant of Solomon, Hali Salassi, being the last of the line to rule in Ethiopia.
c. Further tradition declares that Jeremiah when he knew that Nebuchadnezzer was coming again to Jerusalem at the revolt of the Jews, that he took the Ark of the Covenant to Ethiopia for safekeeping and today they claim that they have the Ark under constant guard.
d. So it would not be unlikely for an Ethiopian to come to Jerusalem to worship.
e. Here was a hungry soul searching for the true and living God, who had come all the way from Ethopia in his quest, and was now returning home still searching. For he was reading the scriptures as he rode along in his chariot.
f. God saw this thirsty soul and sent Philip from this successful revival in Samaria to reach this man for the kingdom. This is how important one soul is to God.
2. Then the Spirit said to Philip, "Go, join yourself to the chariot."
a. Note this is step two in the direction of God on his life.
b. First, it was the angel of the Lord directing him and now the Spirit.
c. An important note, he did not get step two until he had taken step one.
d. I think many who seek the will of God make a mistake at this point. They want to know step two and three before they will take step one.
e. God usually leads us one step at a time.