Auxano Ministry 
By the grace of God I am what I am: 
 1 Cor. 15:10a​
HomeTeaching SeriesArchives InformationFrom the HeartCharts

Acts 8

A Microcosm

When Premiere Marshall Philippe Petain saw that the French Army was defeated, barely a month after the invasion by Germany, in May of 1940, he arranged for an Armistice with Germany. That same day many Frenchmen went to ground and formed the French resistance.

When a country is conquered by a superior force it is common for a resistance movement to spring up and go to ground. The purpose is to harass their enemy with the hope of eventually driving the enemy from their land.

“Go to ground” is an idiom that means to go into hiding, to conceal yourself so that those pursuing you cannot find you. Therefore, the French resistance of World War II went to ground. It is considered a smart defensive move on the part of a weaker force.

Acts 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.

To persecute is to chase vigorously with the intent to harm, to afflict, to injure. Those who believed in Jesus as the Christ were under a great, megas in Greek, persecution. It was led by the man named Saul from Acts chapter 7.

The word “scattered” in verses 1 and 4 is the compound Greek word diaspeiro. It comes from dia, meaning through, but in this case better translated throughout and speiro meaning to sow seed. These were scattered like seed throughout certain areas to plant the Gospel pertaining to Jesus Christ. 

This would indicate that where these witnesses went was by design. Rather than a panicked exodus of the city of Jerusalem due to persecution. They were not running with fear in their hearts. Those who were scattered accepted a commission to spread the Gospel pertaining to Jesus Christ. In Acts chapter 8 these believers went witnessing, they were on offense, they did not “go to ground.” 

Acts 8:4
Therefore, they that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the word.

When resistance to a stronger power goes to ground, they go quietly and remain quiet. Stealth is how they operate. Fear is what they seek to instill. But the sowers in Acts 8 “went everywhere preaching the word.” Love is what they sought to establish. The Greek word for preaching is to evangelize. Ever heard an evangelist? They are not quiet.

They were being persecuted, pursued. But God’s Word was in their hearts, not fear and on their lips, the gospel. They were not silent!

Sowing seed is a methodical process. It is not thrown just anywhere; the right land must be selected. The ground must also be prepared to receive the seed.

What was the seed these witnesses carried? 

Luke 8:11
Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God.

1 Peter 1:23
Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by [dia = through] the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever.

James 1:21
Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.

The seed they planted was the Word of God, the Gospel pertaining to Jesus Christ.

Where is the seed sown?

Matthew 13:19
When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the wayside.

 Luke 8:15
 But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.

The ground where the seed is sown is the heart.

Who would have sent these believers and how would they know where to send them? The who that would have sent them is the apostles, as with the seven in Acts 6. We know they were sent because the word diaspeiro is in the passive voice.

Acts 11:19
Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only.

How did the apostles decide where to send these sowers of the gospel? 

Acts 18:9-10
Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace: For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city.

The Word of God does not tell us how cities were selected, but it shows us Jesus Christ knew how to direct Paul to the correct place. The same principle can apply to the twelve apostles. 

God does not share with us everything that takes place during these years after the day of Pentecost. But we have the record in Acts of God working, through Jesus Christ, with the Apostle Peter. Some information is added about the Apostle James, the Lord’s brother, and the Apostle John. In Acts 12 we learn of the death of one of the twelve apostles. As for the other apostles we have no information. Yes, we have mythology and unfounded traditions, but nothing provided by God. 

Were other believers called to minister as prophets or apostles? We have the record of the Lord’s brother identified as an apostle. We have the record in Acts 15 of Judas and Silas as prophets. As the work of the ministry grew God called others as ministers.

Were others ordained or commissioned to help with the work of the ministry as the seven were in Acts 6? It is a logical conclusion. 

Did the twelve apostles eventually separate, going to different cities and different countries? Again, it is a logical conclusion since we see Peter writing his epistles from the nation of Babylon and John writing the Book of Revelation from Asia Minor.

What God has given us in the early chapters of Acts is a microcosm of the outreach of the Gospel pertaining to Jesus Christ in the Revealing Administration.

What is a microcosm?

Microcosm means a small world. A microcosm shows a small portion of something that is happening on a much larger scale.

Cambridge English Dictionary defines a microcosm as, “a small place, society, or situation that has the same characteristics as something much larger.”

The Free Dictionary says of microcosm, “a small representative system having analogies to a larger system in constitution, configuration, or development.”

In other words, what God is showing us in these early chapters of the Book of Acts is representative of what happened in every area witnesses spoke the Gospel pertaining to Jesus Christ. 

If help is needed the apostles will ordain others to help with the work of the ministry as in Acts 6. Into each city the witnesses go they will encounter the logic and system of the world and religious opposition. These witnesses will move with the manifested power of God and with signs and miracles. Some that hear will believe the Gospel pertaining to Jesus Christ, and some will not.

I have chosen Acts chapter 8 to demonstrate this microcosm.

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

Philip did not preach the gospel of John the Baptist, nor did he preach the Law given to Moses, for there is salvation in only one name. Philip preached Christ! The same logic would be true in all the cities the diaspeiro entered.

What if they needed help as Philip did in Samaria?

Consider Luke 10 when Jesus sent out the seventy. Jesus would follow them to the cities to which they travelled. It would not be surprising to know apostles were ready to move if they heard of any issue in any city to which the diaspeiro had been sent.

Even without knowing of a problem, when the leaders in Jerusalem heard Samaria had received God’s Word Peter and John were sent forth.

Acts 8:14
Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: 

The same truth can be seen in Acts 11 concerning Antioch.

Acts 11:22
Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem: and they sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch.

Acts shows us a microcosm of the movement of God’s Word as the Revealing Administration opens. We see the successes and the failures. We see the opposition and the solutions to overcoming all obstacles. 

Acts 8:6-8
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. And there was great joy in that city.

Philip, one of the seven from Acts chapter 6, walked forth with power and authority. 

How do we know this? Because of the laying on of hands.

Acts 6:3
Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.

Acts 6:6
Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them.

The laying on of hands in Israel is symbolic of a blessing.

Genesis 48:14
And Israel stretched out his right hand, and laid it upon Ephraim's head, who was the younger, and his left hand upon Manasseh's head, guiding his hands wittingly; for Manasseh was the firstborn.

Laying on of hands was also a symbol of a transfer of authority, as we saw in Acts 6 with the seven.

Numbers 27:18-23
And the LORD said unto Moses, take thee Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is the spirit, and lay thine hand upon him; And set him before Eleazar the priest, and before all the congregation; and give him a charge in their sight. And thou shalt put some of thine honour upon him, that all the congregation of the children of Israel may be obedient. And he shall stand before Eleazar the priest, who shall ask counsel for him after the judgment of Urim before the LORD: at his word shall they go out, and at his word they shall come in, both he, and all the children of Israel with him, even all the congregation. And Moses did as the LORD commanded him: and he took Joshua, and set him before Eleazar the priest, and before all the congregation: And he laid his hands upon him, and gave him a charge, as the LORD commanded by the hand of Moses.

Moses transferred some of his authority to Joshua by the laying on of hands. Laying on of hands was also used in healing and to set an animal or person apart for a specific responsibility. In Acts chapter 6 the apostles laid their hands on the seven giving them authority to perform miracles, and to cast out devil spirits, and to minister healing. This also would have taken place with the diaspeiro.

Acts 8:9-11
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: To whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, this man is the great power of God. And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries.

Who is this Simon?

Well, to begin with God identifies him as a sorcerer. The Greek word for sorcery is mageuo. Depending on the translation you are reading, Simon may be described as Simon the Sorcerer, or Simon the Magician, or Simon Magnus.

The word sorcery is derived originally from a Babylonian word. To the Babylonians, and the Persians, this group of men, mageuo, were teachers, priests, astronomers, and seers. These men would spend many years in learning and training. Does this mean Simon learned the knowledge of the Babylonians? It is doubtful. Simon’s method of acquiring these things seems to be money, not disciplined study.

Acts 8:18-19
And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, saying, give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost.

The word “give” is in the imperative mood and can mean either a command or a request. It is a command when the one speaking has authority over the one spoken to, it is a request when there is no such authority. 

Did Simon command the apostles or make a request of the apostles?

Simon made a request. Simon is asking for the authority that the apostles already have, and he lacks. The general example of someone giving a command is that of the military. The officer says do this and the private acts in accordance with the command. The officer does not offer money with his order. Simon offered money to the apostles. In this case, the imperative mood needs to be understood as a request. 

Acts 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.

The Greek word for “perish” is apoleia, which means, utter destruction or ruin. But there are three words in the Greek text translated into this word perish. The text reads, eie eis apoleian, and should be translated, may it be unto destruction.

Acts 8:20
And Peter said unto him, `Thy silver with thee -- may it be to destruction! because the gift of God thou didst think to possess through money.
Young’s Literal Translation

Why would Peter say such a harsh thing to Simon when Acts 8 tells us Simon believed? 

Remember, receiving God’s gift of holy spirit in the Revealing Administration does not guarantee salvation. 

Matthew 10:22
And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.

Matthew 24:13
But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.

Those who believe in the Revealing Administration must endure until the end to receive their salvation. Until the end of the administration or the end of their days.

Do you remember the prophecy of Joel that Peter quoted on the day of Pentecost?

Acts 2:18
And on my servants and on my handmaidens, I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy [Greek – propheteuo].

Matthew 7:21-23
Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied [Greek – propheteuo] in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

Those who believe in the Revealing Administration must endure, they must believe unto the end.

Therefore, Peter says to Simon…

Acts 8:21
Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter [logos = Word]: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God.

Acts 8:23
For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity.

Simon believed what Philip taught but his mind still operated along the lines of his previous manner of life, bewitching and tricking people into following him. Simon was willing to “buy” this power. He had not yet seen he needed to learn the Gospel given by Jesus Christ. 

Yet, verse twenty-two is also very revealing.

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

Repent means to change the way you have been living to a new or different manner of life. Then Peter says, “pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.” This statement is a first-class conditional clause, which means, if you do repent, then God will forgive you. 

Now see Simon’s heart endeavoring to change.

Acts 8:24
Then answered Simon, and said, pray ye to the LORD for me, that none of these things which ye have spoken come upon me.

Simon asks for prayer. Repentance is happening in Simon’s heart and life. Whether or not Simon endured unto the end, God’s Word does not tell us. Many who hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ will be confronted with their lifestyle. God wants all who hear and believe to receive a life that is more than abundant. 

God confronts Simon, through the ministry of Peter, so that Simon can change, so that Simon can grow. It is a confrontation based in love.

Hebrews 12:5-7
And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, my son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?

Confrontations like this would have occurred in every city as new believers acquired knowledge but with little understanding. Like children, instruction is necessary and old habits need to be left behind.

After ministering God’s Word to many villages of the Samaritans, the apostles returned to Jerusalem.

Philip received a different assignment from God.

Acts 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. 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, was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet.

How could Philip witness to this Ethiopian if Jews had such a hard time witnessing to Gentiles? The answer is realizing that this man was a proselyte. He could not have come to Jerusalem to worship if he had not been a proselyte. 

Acts 8:27-35
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, was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet. Then the Spirit said unto Philip, go near, and join thyself to this chariot. And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest? 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. 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: In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth. And the eunuch answered [asked or said to] Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man? Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.

First, recognize that Philip had a command of Old Testament scriptures. Next, recognize that what Philip preached in Samaria and what he preached to the Ethiopian are different.

In Samaria Philip preached Christ unto the people and all who believed received holy spirit. To the Ethiopian Philip preached Jesus and rather than receive God’s gift of holy spirit the Ethiopian was baptized with water.

Acts 8:36, 38 
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? And he [the Ethiopian] commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.

You will notice I skipped verse thirty-seven. I skipped over verse thirty-seven because it is not in the Critical Greek Text. 

Why did Philip switch from preaching Christ to preaching Jesus? 

Philip was being a respecter of persons. Because the Ethiopian was a Gentile Philip gave him a different doctrine, a wrong doctrine.

James 2:1-3
My brethren have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons. For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool:

Giving the Ethiopian a different doctrine because he was a proselyte is being a respecter of persons.

Was the Ethiopian saved from his encounter with Philip? 

No! It is not in the name of Jesus, nor by baptism with water that brings salvation to a person during the Revealing Administration.

Acts 4:10-12
Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. This is the stone, which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

Peter declares salvation is the name of Jesus Christ. Jesus declared baptism in the spirit had replaced water.

The wrong doctrine does not produce right results.

Acts 8:39-40
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. But Philip was found at Azotus: and passing through he preached in all the cities, till he came to Caesarea.

Acts chapters 2 through 12 are a microcosm of the Word of God moving in the Revealing Administration. Into each city the witnesses went they encountered the logic and system of the world and religious opposition. There will always be resistance from the world for the system of the world has been orchestrated by the Adversary. These witnesses moved with the Word of God on their lips and the manifested power of God in their walks.

Some of the obstacles they encountered, they failed to overcome, because they were the obstacle. Their failure to take God’s Word to the Gentile world or teaching inaccurate doctrine, like to the Ethiopian were obstacles. But even these obstacles will be overcome when God begins the Revealing Administration once again. When the Revealing Administration is completed the number of those who believed will be so great a multitude that no man can count the number.

Revelation 7:9
After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands.

The Revealing Administration will continue to fade, to be held in abeyance, through the lifetimes of the twelve apostles and the other witnesses who remain faithful. But the desire to leave the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to return to the Law given to Moses grows in Israel during these years. As we saw in Acts chapter 7 with Stephen, the Nation of Israel was still too hard-hearted to receive what God had provided.

Acts 21:18-20
And the day following Paul went in with us unto James; and all the elders were present. And when he had saluted them, he declared particularly what things God had wrought among the Gentiles by his ministry. And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord, and said unto him, thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the law:

©  Auxano Ministry 2021
A Journey through the Book of Acts