Saturday, June 4, 2022
“Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost” (Acts 8:14-17 KJV).
What is going on in today’s Scripture? Is it something we should practice?
The Samaritans were ethnically, religiously, and politically distinct from the pure-blooded Jews: hence, “the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans” (John 4:9). Samaritans, although sharing Israel’s patriarch Jacob as their own forefather (verse 12), resulted from Gentile-Jewish marriages during the centuries before Christ. The Samaritans had a hybrid religious system (syncretism), some Law of Moses mixed with heathen beliefs. Instead of worshipping at Jerusalem (Mount Zion), the Samaritans worshipped at Mount Gerazim to the north (verses 20-22). Samaritans vehemently opposed the Jews visiting Jerusalem for religious reasons (read Luke 9:51-56). Lastly, Samaritans (Northern Kingdom) had broken from David’s house or dynasty (Southern Kingdom).
Consequently, during the first installment of the so-called “Great Commission:” “These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 10:5,6). Like the Gentiles (non-Jews), the Samaritans (half-Jew/half-Gentile) were spiritually unclean. The full-blooded Jews were to be reached first with the Gospel of the Kingdom. Later, the Lord expanded the commission in Acts 1:8: “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”
Their order was to convert Jerusalem first, then Judaea (region surrounding Jerusalem, or Southern Kingdom), next Samaria (Northern Kingdom), and finally the world or the Gentiles (also, see Luke 24:47 and Matthew 28:19,20). However, with Philip and today’s Scripture, there was a radical departure from that sequence….