Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them.(Acts 8:4-5)
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.(Acts 8:12)
Phillip, as we have noted earlier was not one of the apostles, nor at this point was he a noted evangelist. Rather, he was a servant of Jesus Christ, in practical matters of the church, involved in the distribution of relief to widows.
But when a very zealous Pharisee named Saul of Tarsus, instigated a fierce persecution of the church, Phillip, and many other christians were driven out of Jerusalem into Samaria and the surrounding areas. It may well be that one of the reasons the Lord allowed this persecution to spread the christians like seed in order for the Word to go forth, for that is exactly what these earliest christians did.
Phillip ended up in Samaria. The Samaritans were a people much despised by the Jews, and the antagonism was mutual, for they shared a long history of hatred, rejection and outrage. Samaritanism came about because of the Assyrian policy of uprooting whole peoples out of their native lands and replanting others in their place.
When the Northern Kingdom of Israel, also called Samaria finally came under judgment, the Assyrians uprooted most of them, and replaced them with a mixture of Philistines, Edomites, Moabites and various other subject people’s. The new settlers into the land intermarried with the remnant of Israel that were left behind.
When lions became a problem to the re-settlers, The Assyrian king ordered a Jewish Priest in to teach the mixed multitude the “religion of the land”. As a result Samaritan religion was a hybridized mixture of Judaism,and paganism. The Samaritans had their own temple, holidays and priesthood, none of which were biblical, but similar to Judaism.
These were the people, centuries later, that Phillip was sent to preach to, with great results. What was Phillip’s message?
* He, along with the other scattered and persecuted christians, preached the Word.Martyn Lloyd Jones, in his excellent study of Acts points out that the expression The Word, is a specific designation. It is The Word of God, not a Word, or how I feel or what happened to me but a specific message.
That message would be that of the cross of Jesus, the need for it, the reality of man’s sin and looming judgment, the Incarnation, and why it was necessary. The Word, is that which Jesus commanded us to preach everywhere, the gospel of Jesus!
* He also preached Christ. This means to show by the scriptures that Jesus is the Christ, the long awaited “anointed One” spoken of by the Hebrew prophets, and fulfilled in Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. The Samaritans believed in the coming Christ, just as the Jews did although like the Jews the Samaritans also had many misapprehensions of Him.
Jesus preached Christ also, All through his ministry, and dramatically in the final week before he was crucified, he took the time to clear up misunderstandings about Messiah, wrong beliefs and expectations that were blinding the Jews to the reality of Messiah..
And Jesus answered and said, while he taught in the temple, How say the scribes that Christ is the son of David?For David himself said by the Holy Ghost, The LORD said to my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool.David therefore himself calleth him Lord; and whence is he then his son? And the common people heard him gladly.(Mark 12:35-37)
Jesus preached Christ also after his resurrection-
Then He said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?” 27 And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.(Luke 24:25-27)
Preaching Christ is showing the prophecies of the Messiah, and proclaiming how that Jesus is the fulfillment of them.
* He preached the Kingdom of God-This is the proclamation of the long awaited “rule of God”, the end of the current “Kingdoms of this World” to be replaced by the “Kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ”.
The message of the Kingdom of God has a strong call to repentance, because it is the proclamation also that the current world system is Satanic, corrupt, under Judgment. It is the call to come now under the rule of God, in every area of life.
It involves a change of worldview, a total “meta-noia” , that is a profound change of mind about everything, particularly of how you see ‘the world’. The World is not going to improve, it is under wrath and God’s attitude towards it is uncompromising. it is hostile towards God, ruled by the devil, thinks like the devil and teaches all men everywhere to rebel against God and His Anointed.It is destined to be supplanted by the Kingdom of God at the coming of our Lord and Saviour Jesus.
Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying,Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the LORD shall have them in derision.Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure.Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth.Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.(Psalm 2)
* Finally Phillip preached The name of Jesus Christ.In biblical thought, the expression, ‘the name’ refers to the whole person and his work. Phillip proclaimed that Jesus of Nazareth, the carpenter’s son, was in fact much more, he was and is the Son of God, the Messiah of Israel, the Saviour, deliverer from sin and from the wrath of God.
Why should anyone believe in this name? Because after he had been falsely accused of blasphemy and treason by men, and crucified, God vindicated his claims by raising him from the dead on the third day.
To preach the name of Jesus would be to preach Him, Jesus, his life, his words, his work on the cross, his promises,His holy life, the mercy of Jesus, the meekness of Christ, his healings and their significance, his words, teaching, preaching, and of course what he is doing now as High priest for his people.
It also means to preach that it is only in that name, that anyone can be saved, that whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord in faith, shall obtain forgiveness of sins and eternal life. Prayer in that name s heard, because the Father himself regards that name, and all of the promises to Israel are fulfilled in the name of Jesus.
Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. (Acts 4:12)
Phillip preached Christ, he didn’t put on a skit or a play or hold a concert or try to find some innovative way to attract the Samaritans, he preached Jesus Christ. This is because God has chosen that through something as ‘foolish’ as preaching, to reveal His Son to the lost world. As we will see, Jesus was revealed to them indeed.