Acts 8:8

Governor’s Public Reception Room. State Capitol, Texas.

Monday, 13 June 2022

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

Note: You can listen to today’s commentary courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen)

You can also read this commentary, with music, courtesy of our friends at “Discern the Bible” on YouTube. (Click Here to listen), or at Rumble (Click Here to listen).

The words now being presented are based on the location given in verse 8:5, meaning the city of Samaria, and on the events described in verses 8:6 & 7 concerning the preaching and miraculous signs done by Philip. With those things described it now says, “And there was great joy in that city.”

This is not, as some commentators may say, joy in the Holy Spirit. The reason for this is found in the coming verses –

“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 Lord Jesus. 17 Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.” Acts 8:14-17

The joy was at the preaching of the gospel, believing what it conveyed, and finding relief in the forgiveness of sins that comes from what Christ Jesus has done. Accompanying that, there was certainly joy at the spiritual and physical healings that had been performed among the people. The city was in a state of joy because of what had happened. It is a state which is easily contagious as people experience the happiness of simply seeing others happy. Hence, the city was filled with elation over all that was happening among them.

Life application: As was noted, those in Samaria who have believed have not yet received the Holy Spirit. This is in contradistinction to those who had already believed in Acts 2, and who immediately received the Spirit in an outward display of tongues of fire alighting upon them and then through speaking in tongues (2:3, 4). The others who listened were told that if they repented and were baptized, they would receive the Holy Spirit. Many did. Of those who believed and received the Spirit, it says nothing of tongues of fire or speaking in tongues.

Now, something entirely different is taking place. The people have believed, but the Holy Spirit has not been given. This is a problem because people in various denominations and churches follow the words of Acts 2 and mandate repentance and baptism for salvation. But that is not taught here in Acts 8. These people are now believers. They just have not yet received the Spirit. Why is it ok to follow Acts 2, but not Acts 8? And more, in Acts 10 (and elsewhere) there will be a completely different set of events that occur. Why are those patterns not prescribed in churches? But more, if they were, there would be a contradiction to Acts 2 then, wouldn’t there?

What is happening in these passages clearly shows us that the events are not prescriptive. In other words, nothing is prescribed in Acts. It is a historical account of what transpired, but it does not set the pattern for the church to emulate. Indeed! It cannot. If it did, then the church would be in complete confusion as to what is supposed to occur. But wait! It already is. And this is because Acts is used in a pick and choose manner to prescribe that which is only intended to describe.

The city of Samaria has seen the miracles, they have believed the gospel, and they are reconciled to God through that belief. The reason for the order of events here is not yet revealed, but it is to teach us about the early establishment of the church, and why God has done the things He has done. To find out what is prescribed for the church, we are to go to the church epistles. That is where doctrine is to be derived from. The book of Acts is not intended to be used for this purpose.

If you are in an “Acts 2 church,” or if your church has “Acts 2 experiences,” you are following a false teaching. Acts 2 is directed to the Jews. The Gentiles are not even addressed in a specific manner until Acts 10. Avoid the sensationalism found in hyped-up churches and stick to what is doctrinally sound. Anything can be made to say anything unless a systematic and logical approach is taken to understand doctrine. God is the originator of logic. Nothing He does will be illogical or contradictory.

Almighty and glorious God! Thank You for Your word that reveals to us how You are accomplishing things in redemptive history. Your word is logical and orderly, and it gives us direction and purpose to live out our lives in a holy and responsible manner before You. Thank You, above all, for Christ Jesus who has done all that is necessary to bring us back to You. Yes, thank You for Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.