The Gospel Among Samaritans

The Samaritans were a very unlikely place for the gospel to be preached. Even though Christ went there in the famous story of meeting the woman at the well, there was still a lot of tension between those in the south and Samaria. There was a very long history with Samaritans where the Jews in the south wouldn’t even step foot inside Samaria. They were considered worse than heretics.

But while Saul was ravaging the church, Philip made a trip to Samaria to preach the word. Once again the Samaritans were receptive, just as they were with Jesus: “And the crowds with one accord paid attention to what was being said by Philip, when they heard him and saw the signs that he did. . . so there was much joy in that city” (Acts 8:6, 8 ESV). Simon the magician also believed. Interestingly, he had great credibility with the gospel because people had been amazed by him in the past because of his magic.

After being baptized, Simon continued with Philip and was amazed by the signs and wonders. Things took a dramatic turn when he tried to pay Philip for spiritual gifts. Philip rebuked him and told him to repent. He, in fact, did repent and asked Philip to pray for him that God would forgive him. Luke doesn’t record the outcome, but we can assume Philip does so. What happens next speaks to what happens when respected people repent: “Now when they had testified and spoken the word of the Lord, they returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel to many villages of the Samaritans” (vs. 25).