The Expanding Church

The Holy Spirit Gives Power and Direction for Ministry

Acts 8:1 says, because of severe persecution of the church in Jerusalem, all the believers were scattered from Jerusalem throughout Judea and Samaria, “except the apostles.” This is the first mention in Acts about the church expanding beyond Jerusalem. This lesson tells of this church expansion, through the ministry of Philip the evangelist to Samaria and Africa; and through the ministry of the apostle Peter in the city of Lydda (Lod) about 25 miles from Jerusalem, and on the Mediterranean coast at Joppa, about 35 miles from Jerusalem, and at Cesaria, about 50 miles from Jerusalem, where Gentile believers first received the baptism in the Holy Spirit.

…….I can’t even begin this lesson without reading the very beginning of the chapter.

Act 8:1  And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles.

Act 8:2  And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him.

Act 8:3  As for Saul (prior to being the Apostle Paul), he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison.

…….If we can, before we get into the lesson, stop right here and imagine how we would react if a minister friend of ours was dragged out of his place of ministry, and stoned to death for preaching the Gospel! Where would our minds be? How much heartache would come? Would we even dare to leave our homes for the sake of public worship? What would our thought processes be about even mentioning our personal beliefs in a society such as this? The Apostles Spirit-led and empowered reactions in society such as this is what caused the church to explode! Dear Lord please give us a dedicated and devoted life just like the Apostles for the sake of the growth of the church!!!


A. Samaritan’s Receive the Gospel

Act 8:4  Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.

…….My goodness what a response!

Act 8:5  Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them.

Act 8:6  And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did.

Act 8:7  For unclean spirits (usually induced by sin), crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed.

Act 8:8  And there was great joy in that city.

…….There was a new freedom that had been manifested, an inward deliverance that had been sought after for centuries that no one ever understood until now, and that was relationship! There was an inward and “true” freedom from sin! There was deliverance from addiction! There was an immediate comfort that had never been felt before, and for once, everything was going to be ok! The true peace in the saying “It is well with my soul” could actually be understood!

Act 8:9  But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one:

Act 8:10  To whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God.

…….This man of sorcery was apparently good enough, and for long enough, with his tricks that people followed him and gave offerings to his false ministry.

Act 8:11  And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries.

Act 8:12  But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.

Act 8:13  Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done.

…….The ministry of Phillip was so impactful that even the false religious were trying to comply to stay on track with their livelihood! Though Simon was baptized, he never truly converted as a Christian, and found himself trying to use the name of Christ to persuade the crowd and draw the attention back to himself. 8:18 And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money,

Act 8:19  Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost.

Act 8:20  But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.

Act 8:21  Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God.

Act 8:22  Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.

B. Witnessing to One African Man

Act 8:26  And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert.

Act 8:27  And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship,

…….The ministry of the Apostles was so great that people from all over were traveling to see what all the noise was about! This man had traveled over 2500 miles away to hear about this Jesus and Messiah!

Act 8:28  Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet.

Act 8:29  Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot.

Act 8:30  And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest?

…….This is discipleship! When we give help to those who are trying to find an understanding of something we already understand.

Act 8:31  And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him.

Act 8:32  The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth:

Act 8:33  In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth.

Act 8:34  And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man?

Act 8:35  Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.

Act 8:36  And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?

Act 8:37  And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.

Act 8:38  And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.

Act 8:39  And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.

Act 8:40  But Philip was found at Azotus: and passing through he preached in all the cities, till he came to Caesarea.


A Dead Woman Raised to Life.

Act 9:36  Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, which by interpretation is called Dorcas: this woman was full of good works and almsdeeds which she did.

Act 9:37  And it came to pass in those days, that she was sick, and died: whom when they had washed, they laid her in an upper chamber.

Act 9:38  And forasmuch as Lydda was nigh to Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent unto him two men, desiring him that he would not delay to come to them.

Act 9:39  Then Peter arose and went with them. When he was come, they brought him into the upper chamber: and all the widows stood by him weeping, and shewing the coats and garments which Dorcas made, while she was with them.

Act 9:40  But Peter put them all forth, and kneeled down, and prayed; and turning him to the body said, Tabitha, arise. And she opened her eyes: and when she saw Peter, she sat up.

Act 9:41  And he gave her his hand, and lifted her up, and when he had called the saints and widows, presented her alive.

Act 9:42  And it was known throughout all Joppa; and many believed in the Lord.

Act 9:43  And it came to pass, that he tarried many days in Joppa with one Simon a tanner.

…….Miracles follow ministry. Period. When we think of miracles, we immediately think of dead people being raised, and extremely sick people being healed. Unlike the the days of those in the Bible, we live in a time where doctors can assist the body in healing and fighting fevers and sicknesses. The absolute greatest miracle a person can experience is the miracle of salvation. When we see the Lord totally transform a person who has given up on life, one that is begging for death to come because he/she is done with trying within themselves, become transformed by the healing mercy of God through salvation, we have truly seen a miracle! The greater miracles (in my honest opinion) are the ones of deliverance of sin and addiction, and mental bondage. We can not be hung up on the specific miracles we think should be taking place today. The miracles that will assist the church are the ones that God will perform!


A. God Hears a Devout Gentile

Act 10:1  There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band,

Act 10:2  A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway.

…….Within this chapter, in between verses 2 and 19, a significant lesson is explained about all people who seek the Lord. The Jews had no dealings with Gentiles. Peter had before condemned the Apostle Paul for preaching to gentiles. This was not an issue with racism or ethnical discrimination, but a personal struggle within Peter of not being able to see beyond the old fleshy learned standards. Peter was raised to believe, as were all Jews, that no one except Jews could have a relationship with the Lord. The Lord showed Peter in a vision (vs 10) that the things (and People) that he has been taught to consider unclean, can not be discriminated any more.

Act 10:19  While Peter thought on the vision, the Spirit said unto him, Behold, three men seek thee.

Act 10:20  Arise therefore, and get thee down, and go with them, doubting nothing: for I have sent them.

Act 10:21  Then Peter went down to the men which were sent unto him from Cornelius; and said, Behold, I am he whom ye seek: what is the cause wherefore ye are come?

Act 10:22  And they said, Cornelius the centurion, a just man, and one that feareth God, and of good report among all the nation of the Jews, was warned from God by an holy angel to send for thee into his house, and to hear words of thee.

…….This is the beauty of how the Lord brings people together; a devout Jew is commanded by the Lord to speak with a devout Gentile about the Lord. As Peter preached to them, they began to worship him. They had probably never before heard the word of God taught with such anointing! Peter corrected them for worshiping him, and further explained.

Act 10:28  And he said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.

Act 10:30  And Cornelius said, Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and, behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing,

Act 10:31  And said, Cornelius, thy prayer is heard, and thine alms are had in remembrance in the sight of God.

Act 10:32  Send therefore to Joppa, and call hither Simon, whose surname is Peter; he is lodged in the house of one Simon a tanner by the sea side: who, when he cometh, shall speak unto thee.

Act 10:33  Immediately therefore I sent to thee; and thou hast well done that thou art come. Now therefore are we all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God.

…….Knowing and experiencing the Grace of God, causes us to display and extend the Grace of God. We as Christians after some time take lightly of the grace that has been shed on our lives. We are all guilty. Though it is at times easy to fall into complacency, let it be just as easy for the Lord to continue to speak to our hearts, and let it always be our absolute duty to obey what He has commanded. You WILL have opportunity to speak to those in need of help. May we at all times be willing vessels, prepared to be the messengers of the Lord.

B. Gentiles Baptized in the Spirit

Act 10:34  Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:

Act 10:35  But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.

Act 10:36  The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all:)

Act 10:37  That word, I say, ye know, which was published throughout all Judaea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached;

Act 10:38  How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.

Act 10:39  And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree:

Act 10:40  Him God raised up the third day, and shewed him openly;

Act 10:41  Not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead.

Act 10:42  And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead.

Act 10:43  To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.

Act 10:44  While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.

Act 10:45  And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Act 10:46  For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter,

Act 10:47  Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?

Act 10:48  And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.

…….While every person is an individual, and has a uniquely personal relationship with God, the fact remains that there are strong similarities in the ways we experience God, and the similarities enable us to identify one another as believers in Christ. There will always be some who profess to be Christians, and are not. Nevertheless, when the Jewish believers in Christ, and then the Gentile believers in Christ, received the baptism in the Holy Spirit, they clearly understood that they all had received the same experience of God. As believers in Christ, we have an obligation to God and Christ to welcome into our fellowship all who God and Christ accept.

About the Author

Leave a Reply