Memory Verse: “Thus saith the Lord, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest?” Isaiah 66:1.
Daily Bible Readings: Acts 6:8-8:3; Acts 8:3-8:40; Deuteronomy 18:1-22; Isaiah 53:1-12; Isaiah 66:1-24; Amos 5:1-27
Scripture Reading: Acts 6:8-15
This lesson covers the martyrdom of Stephen and the spread of the Gospel to Samaria. Jesus had given His followers a road map to follow. They were to go from Jerusalem to Judea and Samaria, and then to the ends of the earth. Notice how God uses persecution to send the disciples outward from Jerusalem. Forced to leave their home, Christians went everywhere preaching the word (Acts 8:4).
First, the Jews in Jerusalem were reached with the Gospel. In this next phase of spreading the gospel, the word goes out to Jews and others in cities around Jerusalem. Luke gives us the story of Philip to demonstrate this evangelism effort. Philip was one of the seven chosen to serve the Grecian widows.
It is interesting that Philip goes to the “city of Samaria” to preach Christ. Given the enmity between Jews and Samaritans, we are amazed at Philip’s success! It once again shows the hand of our Heavenly Father in the spread of the Gospel. Could Jesus have laid the groundwork by the evangelism He did in Samaria? Who knows! We do not know that the area Philip evangelized is the same as Sychar where Jesus preached (John 4:39-41).
In any case, Philip was very successful. Luke records that the crowds “with one accord gave heed” to the message Philip spoke. They listened to his message and they were reached by the miracles done through Philip. Philip was seen as the “great power of God.”
As we see the example of Jewish Christians going to preach to the despised Samaritans, what is our response? Do we reach out to the “Samaritans” in our neighborhood? Is your church segregated with only “Jews” or “Samaritans”? “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus” Galatians 3:27-28.
Acts 6:8-7:60. The Martyrdom of Stephen
- What might Stephen’s family background be, given his name and his synagogue, and his selection as one of the seven to serve the Grecian widows? Acts 6:5, 8-9.
- What were the accusations against Stephen and were they true? Acts 6:11-15; 7:51-53.
- What does Stephen’s speech in Acts 7 say about his views of Abraham’s covenant? Acts 7:2-8. His view of God? Acts 7:9-16. Of the temple? Acts 7:44-50. About Christ? Acts 7:52-56.
- What did Stephen mean when he called the council members, “stiffnecked” and “uncircumcised in heart and ears”? Acts 7:51-53; Exodus 32:9, 33:3, 5; Deuteronomy 10:16; 30:6; Jeremiah 4:4.
- What does it mean that the hearers were “cut to the heart”? Acts 7:54. Does it have the same meaning as the words used in Acts 2:37 and 5:33?
Acts 8:1-25. The Gospel Spreads to Judea and Samaria
- Do you think there was an outward manifestation when the Samaritans received the Holy Ghost in Acts 8:14-18?
- Why was Simon the Sorcerer so wrong when he asked for the power of the Holy Ghost given by the laying on of hands? Acts 8:18-23.
- Do you think that Simon repented of his sin? Acts 8:24.
Acts 8:26-40. Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch
- What characteristic of the Ethiopian Eunuch, made him willing to accept the Gospel message from Philip? Acts 8:27-31.
- Does the story of the Ethiopian Eunuch tell us anything about the ordinance of Baptism? Acts 8:36-39 (Refer to the Introduction for comments).
Question for thought:
What is to be the Christian’s view of martyrdom? Contrast that with the attitude towards martyrdom of a follower of radical Islam. 2 Corinthians 4:11-12; Revelations 2:10, 13; 6:9-10.