?Acts 8:5-17 Apostle Reading for Tuesday of the Third Week of Pascha
1* [At the time of Stephen's death]...a great persecution arose against
the church which was at
Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea
and Samaria, except the
2* And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great
lamentation over him.
3* As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and
dragging off men and
women, committing them to prison.
4* Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word.
5 Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them.
6 And the multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip,
hearing and seeing the
miracles which he did.
7 For unclean spirits, crying with a loud voice, came out of many who
were possessed; and many
who were paralyzed and lame were healed.
8 And there was great joy in that city.
9 But there was a certain man called Simon, who previously practiced
sorcery in the city and
astonished the people of Samaria, claiming that he was someone great,
10 to whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying,
"This man is the great
power of God."
11 And they heeded him because he had astonished them with his sorceries
for a long time.
12 But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning
the kingdom of God and
the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized.
13 Then Simon himself also believed; and when he was baptized he
continued with Philip, and
was amazed, seeing the miracles and signs which were done.
14 Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had
received the word of
God, they sent Peter and John to them,
15 who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive
the Holy Spirit.
16 For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been
baptized in the name of the
17 Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.
(*Although vss.1-4 are not appointed in the Lectionary, read them for
background and setting.)
Acts 8:5-17 (05/01 or 05/14)
Apostle Reading for Tuesday of the Third Week of Pascha
Opposition and Growth II ~ Preaching the Word, Acts 8:5-17, especially
vss 4, 5: "Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching
the word. Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached
Christ to them." Despite this world's darkness, and the evils that this
gloom spawns, God infuses His will into all that happens. His Deacon
Stephen is martyred (Acts 8:2); His enemies wreak havoc on His Church,
scattering its members (Acts 8:4). However, the Spirit of the Lord
indwells the hearts of the faithful, and they share the truth of the
Gospel, going "everywhere preaching the word" (Acts 8:4). Thus, Philip,
one of the new Deacons, travels to Samaria and evangelizes its people
(Acts 8:6-13). Through his preaching, God exorcises demons and heals
paralysis, and many people are baptized in Jesus' name.
Saint Luke records that Philip "preached Christ" (vs 5), and records
many associated results among the populace of Samaria: "the miracles
which he did" (Acts 8: 6), exorcisms and healings (vs 7), the joyful
heeding of the message (vs 8), and baptisms (vs 12).
This sort of 'preaching' is the true pattern of missionary work; it
demonstrates the power inherent in "the things concerning the kingdom of
God and the name of Jesus Christ" (vs 12). This is why, when Saint
Peter of Damaskos gave thanks for Christ's saints, he said, "Thou givest
thy servants the power to do even greater things, so that we may be
still more astonished...for through Thee Thy saints perform all their
God gave miracles by Philip so that the Samaritans might be united to
Christ, the Source of healing (vs 12). As Metropolitan Hierotheos
declares: "Christianity is neither philosophy nor 'natural' religion,
but mainly healing." Hence, the goal of Gospel-based ministry always is
to make persons whole, to give them life - to renew and free fallen and
Consider the Samaritans to whom Saint Philip brought the Gospel: their
way of life paralleled many of his values, practices, and assumptions,
giving the Saint common ground in his preaching of "Christ to them" (vs
5). Despite suspicion between Samaritans and Jews (Jn 4:9; 8:48), they
were well-known 'neighbors,' having in common many aspects of ethnicity,
culture, and religion. They and the Jews mostly shared the same
Scriptures, worshiped similarly, and alike, hoped in God. Similarly, we
have a great deal in common with many of our neighbors.
Consider our parallel: for the most part, we and many of our
non-Orthodox neighbors read nearly the same Old and New Testament
Scriptures, believe many of the teachings found in the Creed, and share
a common culture, with common values and practices. But, like Saint
Philip, we are Orthodox witnesses to the fullness of truth that God
would give to those around us.
The concluding portion of the present reading describes how the Apostles
completed the outreach that the Deacon Philip initiated. For "when the
Apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word
of God" (Acts 8:14), they went down and "prayed for them that they might
receive the Holy Spirit," laying their hands on them (vss 15-17).
Foremost, Orthodox outreach is friendship and attraction; yet, in the
end, it can only be completed within the apostolic life of the Church.
True evangelism is not individualistic, although it is personal. The
true Faith leads to Communion in the Holy Mysteries, participation in
the Apostles' fellowship and teaching. We may observe: without the
subsequent illuminating and indwelling of the Holy Spirit known in the
worship and common life of the Church, the healing that begins in the
Baptismal Mystery most often withers and is lost.
I will come into Thy house in the multitude of Thy mercy: Lead me, O
Lord, in Thy righteousness that with a clear mind I may glorify Thee
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