The Apostle's Visit to Samaria
Acts 8:14-25
Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John:…

I. THE EFFACEMENT OF PHILIP. Like the Baptist; before our Lord, Philip retires when Peter and John come on the scene: There is something touching in this willingness to be eclipsed. Philip might naturally have felt that he had borne the burden and heat of the day, and that the apostles' success was due to his efforts. "He had laboured" (words spoken about Samaria), "and they had entered into his labours." He had dug the soil, sown the seed, watered it, until the field was white; and now it only remained for the apostles to reap. Nor is he in the least jealous. His aim was the reverse of Simon's, and accordingly any increase and confirmation of faith was a matter of joy. Only those who after honest labour have been superseded by men of more brilliant gifts can appreciate the trial and the grace to bear it.


1. The men chosen.

(1) Peter's presence was required by his position in prophecy and providence. Our Lord had entrusted him with the keys of the kingdom of heaven, indicating that he was to throw open the gates of the gospel dispensation.

(2) John is so constantly associated with Peter, that we are not surprised to find them companions here. But it is a striking coincidence that he who, giving vent to the prevailing hostility against the Samaritans, called for fire from heaven to consume them, should, now that a more loving spirit actuated him, be selected to call down the fire of God's illuminating and quickening grace.

2. Their official act.

(1) This forms the scriptural ground for the rite of confirmation. Baptism is in the nature of a contract into which Christ enters with the soul, and the practice of infant baptism makes it almost a necessity to have some period at which a baptized child may consciously, and of his own accord, enter into this contract. How suitable, then, that they should receive the completion of their baptism by prayer and the imposition of hands. This consecrates, as it were, the baptized person to the royal priesthood, and sets him apart solemnly for the service of Christ. Yet, while we discover in holy Scripture the germ of this rite, we do not regard confirmation as having the universal necessity or virtue of a sacrament. For the gift of the Spirit was vouchsafed independently of the imposition of hands, as in the cases of Cornelius, Saul, and the Ethiopian eunuch.

3. Their treatment of Simon. Once before bad money been offered to Peter, in order to gain a fair reputation. Ananias had laid money down at his feet, wishing it to be understood as the whole. Simon now does the same thing to win power and influence. The secret of the apostles' power was just what he wanted to regain his lost influence and eclipse Philip. What he coveted was not the Holy Spirit, but the power of communicating the Spirit to others. And what he cared to communicate was not the grace of the Spirit, but His gifts, And there can be little doubt that what he offered money for, he intended to win money by. Peter's reproof, and his insinuation of the difficulty of saving a character so far gone in evil ("perhaps") was not too strong for the occasion. Had there been a single stirring of conscience, a single aspiration after goodness, the rejoinder would have been far more lenient.

4. The contrasts of character in the Church. Here is Simon the apostle, a man of the most intense disinterestedness, who had forsaken all to follow his Master, confronted with Simon the sorcerer, who had nominally embraced Christianity as a possible means of wealth and power. What a natural repulsion must there be between the minds of the two when each gets an inkling of the other.

(Dean Goulburn.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John:

WEB: Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them,

Warnings from Simon Magus
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