Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them.
Philip went to Samaria and preached something different than what everyone else was preaching. Actually, he didn’t do that. He preached Christ, the Word made flesh, unto the people of Samaria.
This town had been taught by Jesus, and Philip has the privilege of bringing them the news of what Christ had now definitively accomplished.
And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed.
Philip worked miracles. Demons were removed from those possessed with them, and many were healed of their diseases and ailments. God uses miracles throughout the Bible to establish his prophets, and did so here as the New Testament church began its spread throughout the land.
It is not only the validity of the messenger that is established by God through miracles, but also the authority of God.
The authority of God is established through the working of miracles, such that the witnesses of the miracles and the hearers of the message are accountable for their response to the contents of the message. These Samaritans were given a greater light of revelation through both the miracles and message of Philip. The light is a grace, but it will be found to be a greater curse for those who reject the message.
This principle applies to all that God gives to sinners in this world. Every gift is grace, and if it is not used unto God’s glory, and if we are not covered by the One who has purchased for us the favor of God, it will be seen as a talent buried in the ground, wasted, squandered. God will hold sinners accountable for every good gift not used for His purposes.
The people gave heed to Philip’s preaching. And based on the continuation of this account later in chapter 8, we know that this meant they came to saving faith in Christ and were subsequently baptized (Acts 8:12). God worked salvation in these Samaritans through the power of the gospel preached by Philip.
Ultimately, what is the result of Saul and the other Jews persecuting the church? The good news of the gospel went forth to all the al da surrounding Jerusalem. Saul tried to put out a fire and then realized he was using gasoline to do so. The gospel went from one town to many, and as it was preached the church of God grew beyond Saul’s worst nightmare.
For the Christian, it is always victory. We are in Christ, who has brought the message of salvation we preach. When we die like Stephen, God will use it to bring about unimaginably glorious purposes, and He will delight in our work. When we see great fruit in our ministry like Philip, we have the privilege of rejoicing first hand at God’s saving work in the world.
Stephen and Philip, at this point in their ministries, saw polar opposite responses to their preaching. They preached the same Word, the same Christ, but saw dramatically different reactions. The lesson for us is to leave results to God’s good and wise purposes, and to never compromise on the truth of God’s Word.
And there was great joy in that city.
Philip came preaching the good news of Christ. True, everlasting joy only comes through having peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
We don’t need more downtime, we don’t need more entertainment, we don’t need more money or a better job or a more content spouse or less difficult children. We need Christ. We need Christ to permeate all of our lives, to be our greatest and only hope, and to be our portion. If we have Christ, we have joy. If we are apart from Christ, even what we have will be taken from us.
Without Him, we have nothing. With Him, we have the fullness of God’s blessing, and therefore a fullness of joy.