Acts 8 – Philip Preached “the Christ”
According to Luke’s record in Acts 8, following the death of Stephen, a severe persecution broke out against the Jerusalem church. The disciples, with the exception of the apostles, were scattered throughout the regions of Samaria and Judea.
As these noble saints fled the Jewish abuse, they declared the gospel of the Son of God. Philip went to the city of Samaria and “proclaimed unto them the Christ,” and we are subsequently informed that “the multitudes gave heed with one accord” to his message.
“And Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and proclaimed unto them the Christ. And the multitudes gave heed with one accord unto the things that were spoken by Philip, when they heard, and saw the signs which he did” (Acts 8:5-6).
There are several valuable points to be gleaned from this text.
First, the evangelist was preaching “the Christ.” What does that signify? It has to do with facts regarding Jesus, and one’s responsibility to obey the Lord. Consider the Hebrews writer:
“though he was a Son, yet learned obedience by the things which he suffered; and having been made perfect, he became unto all them that obey him the author of eternal salvation” (5:8-9).
This latter point, often overlooked by expositors, is evidenced by the fact that the multitudes “gave heed” to Philip’s message.
Compare with this the case of the Ethiopian eunuch later in the chapter.
“And Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture, preached unto him Jesus. And as they went on the way, they came unto a certain water; and the eunuch saith, Behold, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?” (8:35-36).
When Philip “preached Jesus” to the traveler, the man inquired: “What hinders me to be immersed?” How would the Ethiopian treasurer have known about “baptism,” if preaching “Jesus” had not included that instruction? Clearly, then, “preaching Christ” involves a proclamation of the divine commands necessary to becoming a Christian.
Thus, by the side of verses 5-6, write: See 35-36.
Second, notice another vital point. In 8:12, the text states that
“when they believed Philip preaching good tidings concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.”
Circle the term “believed,” and connect it with “gave heed” in verse 6. This represents a wonderful illustration of the fact that belief is more than a mere mental phenomenon. To genuinely believe is to obey!
Further note that “when they believed … they were immersed.” If one refuses to submit to baptism, how can it be said, from a realistic point of view, that he has “believed” the gospel?
Make marginal notes to this effect. This is a powerful refutation of the notion that baptism is unrelated to salvation.