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STUDIES IN ACTS      Studies in Acts


8. PHILIP - a powerful evangelist


"Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed Christ there" (Acts 8:5).

Introduction
The death of Stephen marked the beginning of a period of persecution for the church in Jerusalem. Luke informs us that as a result "those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went" (Acts 8:4).

Consider the person
There are four Philips in the New Testament: the apostle (Mk.3:18), the son of Herod the Great (Lk.3:19), the tetrarch (Lk.3:1), and the evangelist (Acts 6:3). Philip provides an example of an evangelist and their ministry (cf. 2 Tim.4:5).

Study the Scriptures
Philip's ministry in Samaria was very powerful. He preached Christ, and the Lord confirmed the message by miracles and exorcisms (Acts 8:5-8; cf. Mk.16:17-20). Philip illustrates the ministry of the evangelist (Eph.4:11). Notice the gifts of the Spirit that equipped him for his ministry. Exorcisms require the operation of two gifts: discerning of spirits and the gift of faith (see 1 Cor.12:7-11). Mental illness is not demon possession (note how Scripture differentiates seizures from demonisation, e.g., Mt.4:24). Philip's obedience to the Lord must be noted. He left a successful city-wide crusade (perhaps in Persepolis) to witness to a court official from Ethiopia. The Spirit directed him to his chariot as he was returning home on the busy Jerusalem-Gaza road (Acts 8:29). After baptising the official Philip went on to preach from Azotus to Caesarea (Acts 8:40). The details of this itinerary are not supplied (cf. Peter's travels in Acts 9:32).


Ask questions

1. Philip commenced his public ministry with the Seven as a server at tables. How did his gifting develop like Stephen's? It developed with responsibility (Acts 6:5; note 1 Tim.3:12,13).

2. The Acts places great importance on the use of God's Word in worship and outreach. How do the Old Testament Scriptures feature in Acts chapters 6 - 8?

3, Philip was obviously a good spiritual father (see Acts 12:9). How can we encourage our children (as parents or grandparents) to go on with the Lord?

4. What is the sin of simony? Consider the story of Simon the sorcerer in Acts 8:9-24.


Apply some thoughts

1. Pray for persecuted believers. Be guided by your study of Stephen and Philip. God can work in, and through, all things, including persecution with purpose (Rom.8:28,29).

2. Pray that churches will thrive in their time of trouble. "The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church" (Tertullian).





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Copyright 2008 Vernon Ralphs

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