Acts 6 & 8
Introduction: How do you solve problems in the
church? Is it with gifted plans or gifted people? If
you had to choose, which would be more important?
This week we study a man who was part of the
solution to one of the most explosive problems in
the early church. He apparently did well in his
service to the church for God made him a powerful
evangelist. Let's jump into our study of Philip and
learn about the ideal life in service for God.
Assume I came to you with this problem. What would
be your first suggestion as to the source of the
problem and how to solve it?
Would you first find out if the charges were
Does it matter if they are true? Or, is
perception more important?
Since they mention cultural distinctions, my
first reaction would be that this was discrimination
based on culture. Would the solution be education or
replacement of personnel?
Let's run this through in our minds. Assume
that you begin to solve the problem by determining
whether the food distributors are discriminating or
whether the complainers are guilty of falsely
claiming discrimination. Either way, one side is
showing that they discriminate based on ethnicity.
When you figured out who was in the wrong, what
would you be facing? (One side is going to be upset
and probably claiming more discrimination!)
How do the early leaders handle the problem? (They
assume the problem arises from not paying close
enough attention. They don't assign blame. They
don't challenge the complainers. They say they have
more important things to do. No one is found to be
What if the problem is cultural
discrimination? (Whatever the source of the problem,
this will fix it.)
Have they created a committee to deal with
What do you notice about the names of the new
deacons? (Most of them have Greek names.)
What do you conclude from this? (The apostles
refuse to admit there was any intentional
discrimination against the Greek Jews. However, when
the church chooses the new deacons, it chooses
mostly Greek Jews.)
What does the handling of this explosive
problem teach us for our missionary activities
To go back to our introduction, which turns
out to be most important: gifted plans or gifted
people? (They are both important. This is a false
Look again at
Our lesson this week is about Philip. What do we
learn about him from our first introduction? (That
he is "full of the Spirit and wisdom.")
What has happened to the church in Jerusalem? What
has happened to Philip? Is he now out of a job?
(With the persecution, the leaders and members fled
to other cities. Philip went to a city in Samaria.
He is now out of the food distribution business.)
Recall our lesson two weeks ago (Lesson
10)about Jesus meeting the Samaritan woman at the
well? Why would Philip choose to go to Samaria?
(Certainly the Jewish authorities had little
influence there. Jesus pioneered sharing the gospel
with the Samaritans.)
The office of deacon means different things in
different churches. What did it mean in Philip's
case? (He performed miracles and brought "joy in
What connection do the miracles have to the
message? (It caused the people to "pay close
What lesson do we find in this or our
missionary activities today?
If you were an outside observer, how is Simon like
Philip? (He did amazing things. The people gave him
How are Philip and Simon not alike? (Simon
took the credit for himself. He was "the Great
Power." Philip gave the glory to God.)
These texts say the gospel is "confirmed" by
miracles. Notice the different sources of power for
Simon and Philip. How could you know the source of
the power when the results seem similar?
Is sorcery confirmed by Simon's amazing work?
Doing amazing things is not the test of
2:9-12. How does this say we can
distinguish the true from the false? (We must look
at the message of the miracle worker. Simon's
message was personal power and glory.)
What attracted Simon to the gospel? (He was
astonished by the signs and miracles.)
Let's skip down to
Wait a minute! This is Philip's new convert. How can
Peter say Simon's heart is "not right" and is "full
of bitterness and captive to sin?"
Is there a lesson in this for our missionary
Simon comes into the church for the "wrong reasons."
His heart is still not right, even though he is
baptized. He reacts to Peter based on fear. Yet I
believe he is on the road to righteousness. People
who want to be baptized should be baptized. We need
not wait until they are perfect!)
The Holy Spirit
Let's go back to those verses that we skipped
How can Philip, a man who does great miracles and is
Acts 6:3) "full" of the Holy Spirit,
baptize without the Holy Spirit? Is this some sort
of technical failure on Philip's part? Did he forgot
part of the required message because he is new to
Look again at
The first step in receiving the Holy Spirit is to
pray for the Spirit.
What additional step do we see?
What procedure was used to have Saul filled with the
Holy Spirit? (In both cases we see that laying hands
on the person is the method by which the Holy Spirit
How did this group receive the Holy Spirit? Did it
precede or follow baptism? (It came before baptism!)
What do these texts teach us about receiving
the Holy Spirit? (It can clearly be something
separate from baptism. It comes in different ways.
But, it is clearly manifest in the believer. In
it was clear the Holy Spirit had not come on the
What does this teach us about our missionary
efforts? (We need to pray to have the Holy Spirit be
manifest in those we baptize.)
How would you like to have such a relationship with
God that He points out a specific road and a
specific car for you to contact? Is such a
relationship possible today?
We are always interested in bringing in
influential new members. How important was this
Ethiopian? (He was the treasurer of the country. If
this were America, he would be Secretary of the
What does this tell us about his relationship
with the Queen of Ethiopia? (You are going to find
the most trustworthy person to be in charge of your
What else do we know about this Ethiopian?
(He was interested in spiritual matters. He not only
had been to Jerusalem to worship, but he was reading
the Bible on his trip home.)
What else do we learn about God's interest in the
affairs of humans? (He brought Philip and the
Ethiopian together at the very point where the
Ethiopian was having trouble understanding the
If you wanted to convert a Jew, with what Old
Testament text would you start? (God has arranged
for the Ethiopian to be reading the perfect text to
introduce Jesus the Messiah.)
How does Philip begin his evangelist efforts with
this man? (He follows the lead of the Holy Spirit.
He answers the questions presented. He does not
start with a "prepared" witnessing speech.)
Would you like to live a life in the Spirit like
Friend, if you would like a life in the
Spirit, why not ask God right now to use you like
Next week: "Here Am I! Send Me:" The