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Lesson 10: Philip as Missionary *

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!

  1. The Persecution

    1. Read Acts 7:59-Acts 8:1. Would you ask forgiveness for those hurting and killing you with stones?

      1. Why do you think the stoning death of Stephen started a great persecution? (Perhaps it was some sort of blood lust encouraged by Satan.)

    2. Read Acts 8:2-4. Is this an unmitigated disaster for the church? (It caused the gospel to spread.)

  2. Samaria

    1. 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 Samaritans.)

      1. How is Philip received in this city in Samaria? (Very well! He brings joy to the city.)

    2. Read Acts 8:9-11. How is life going for Simon? (People call him the "Great Power" and consider him "the divine power.")

      1. What is the source of Simon's power? (Satan. Simon practiced sorcery.)

    3. 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.)

  3. The Holy Spirit

    1. Read Acts 8:14-17. Has Philip been baptizing in the name of the Holy Spirit? (Apparently not.)

      1. 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?

      2. Why does it take Peter and John to bring the Holy Spirit?

    2. 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.)

      1. 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.)

      2. We read that Simon has just been baptized. What is his spiritual condition? (His heart is "full of bitterness and captive to sin.")

        1. Is it appropriate to baptize people like that?

        2. 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 Simon?

    3. Read Acts 8:24. Is Simon's heart now converted? (He seems mostly concerned about avoiding bad consequences.)

    4. 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.)

  4. The Ethiopian

    1. 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?

    2. Read Acts 8:27-29. Who else is giving Philip direction? (The Holy Spirit!)

      1. 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.)

    3. Read Acts 8:30. Is the Ethiopian a good reader? (He reads out loud. This is very unusual today.)

    4. Read Acts 8:31-33. What is so difficult about understanding this passage?

    5. 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 Jerusalem.)

    6. 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 explains it.)

      1. Note to readers: there is some issue about the extent to which a eunuch could participate in the sanctuary service. See Deuteronomy 23:1.

    7. 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!)

      1. 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 Sorcerer.)

    8. 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.)

      1. Do you believe in coincidences when it comes to sharing the gospel?

      2. Do you pray that the Holy Spirit will lead you to share the gospel with a willing listener?

    9. Read Acts 8:39-40. What kind of transportation does Philip use? (The Holy Spirit transports him!)

      1. 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.)

    10. 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 every day!

    11. 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.)

    12. 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 God's will?

  5. Next week: Paul: Background and Call.
* Copr. 2015, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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