How many interpretations can there be?

Acts 8
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.

From my commentary:
Some say they were never truly born again (converted) under Philip’s preaching. When Peter and John came, they really trusted in Jesus and then received the Holy Spirit.

Some say they were truly born again. Then, in a subsequent experience, they received the Holy Spirit in a pattern that believers should follow today.

Some say they were converted in response to Philip’s preaching; yet God, in a unique move, withheld the gift of the Holy Spirit until Peter and John could bestow it on them. God’s purpose in this was to ensure continuity between the church in Jerusalem and the new church in Samaria, guarding against division.

The last option seems to best explain what happened. Whatever the Samaritans experienced, it seems to have been more than the “regular” bestowal of the Holy Spirit at salvation. This is a filling of the Holy Spirit we should always desire and seek.

It is sometimes hard to understand why there are so many divisions in the church, then I read interpretations like this, and it makes more sense.

We need the Holy Spirit to guide us while we read scriptures. Our eyes need to be supernaturally opened.

Holy Spirit Help?

Acts 8
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 Lord Jesus. 

From my commentary:
For as yet He had fallen upon none of them: Obviously, there was a subsequent experience with the Holy Spirit that these Samaritan believers did not know until the apostles came and ministered to them.

I wonder if it is noteworthy that even though Samaria had the Word of God, they needed the apostles help to get the Holy Spirit.

Sometimes there are certain men and women of God with special anointing’s. Learn how to receive from these individuals for added blessings.

Transformers

Acts 8
11 And they heeded him because he had astonished them with his [d]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.

In my commentary:
At this point – up to Acts 8:13 – there is nothing to indicate that Simon’s belief was false or insincere. Yet it will be tested by his conduct and response over time.

I am not sure why Simon was included in the bible. With my limited understanding I would only say that this dramatic transformation from a sorcerer to a man of God is comparable with Saul to Paul.

This man was working the dark evil magic of the enemy to amaze people, and met true power, the Holy Spirit at work in Philip and it made him a new creature in Christ.

Let us all be transformed.

Simon Says

Acts 8
But there was a certain man called Simon, who previously practiced [b]sorcery in the city and astonished the [c]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.”

From my commentary:
This Simon had a fair degree of local fame. He was honored as one who didn’t only have the power of God; they said of him “This man is the great power of God.”

The Samaritans wrongly assumed that because Simon had real spiritual power, it was from God – yet that simply wasn’t the case.

Whatever real power Simon had, it was from Satan, not God.

The enemy HAS real power, and on this earth he can use it. We have to have the presence of God to help us determine was is Spiritual and what is of the world. Do not be fooled. Do not be lead astray.

Bring Great Joy

Acts 8
Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word. Then Philip went down to [a]the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them. And the multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. For unclean spirits, crying with a loud voice, came out of many who were possessed; and many who were paralyzed and lame were healed. And there was great joy in that city.

I will never quit making the correlation between joy and good times, and healing and victory. The Lord and His power are for the FREEING of the captives. We are free from sickness, disease, bondage…

Our job as Christians is to preach the good news and usher in the presence of God. His presence heals and restores and brings about repentance.

Find Rest

Isaiah 30
15 For thus says the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel:

“In returning and rest you shall be saved;
In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.”

My beautiful wife has been trying to teach me these principles. I WILL learn them.

From my commentary:
Trusting God’s promise means rest. When we trust God, we don’t have to strive for ourselves. We don’t have to run all about trying to protect or guard ourselves. We have the best Protector, the best Guard in God. We can rest in Him, and when we do, it shows we are really trusting in God’s promise.

iii. Trusting God’s promise means quietness. You don’t need to argue for your side when God is on your side. Be quiet before Him and before others. It shows that you really trust Him.

iv. Trusting God’s promise means confidence. You aren’t given to despair or fear because you trust God’s promise. You know He can and will come through, and you have a profound confidence in the God who loves you.

The past, is the past.

Acts 8
As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison.

So Stephen has now been martyr and Saul is now wreaking havoc.

From my commentary:
He made havoc: This uses an ancient Greek word that could refer to an army destroying a city or a wild animal tearing at its meat. He viciously attacked Christians, including women.

i. “Not only did he not spare the women, but he did not stop short of seeking – and securing – his victims’ death 

There is no doubt, that Paul’s past haunted him, which is why he referred to himself as the worst sinner.

Although our pasts may be dark, we can still accomplish AMAZING things through Christ. Stay strong, do not allow your past to dictate your future. Victory is ours to have in the name of Jesus.

Great Lamentations

Acts 8
And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him.

A lamentation by definition: The act of bewailing; expression of sorrow; a mournful outcry.
Apparently you were not allowed to openly mourn someone who had been executed….
Yet GREAT lamentations were made for Stephen.

These are some interesting thoughts from my commentary:

And devout men: Seemingly, these Jews were horrified at Stephen’s murder. Perhaps this was Luke’s way of reminding us that not all Jewish people of that time were enemies of Christianity.

Made great lamentation over him: Since Jewish law prohibited open mourning for someone that had been executed, Luke’s record suggests that these devout men publicly repented of Stephen’s murder.

Persecution intensifies.

Acts 8
Now Saul was consenting to his death.

At that time 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 apostles. 

From my commentary:
Consenting describes Saul’s attitude, but the English translation probably isn’t strong enough. The idea behind the ancient Greek word suneudokeo is “to approve, to be pleased with.” Some people are reluctant persecutors, but Saul wasn’t one of these; he took pleasure in attacking Christians.

The resulting good of the spread of the gospel leads some to see this persecution as being the will of God. God can and will use pressing circumstances to guide us into His will. Sometimes we have to be shaken out of our comfortable state before we do what God wants us to do.

The end for Stephen.

Acts 7
57 Then they cried out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and ran at him with one accord; 58 and they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul.

I had to look up why they left their clothes with Saul.
From: https://hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/1277/why-did-the-witnesses-lay-their-coats-at-pauls-feet
The outer garments would have been heavy and constricting, so it would have been sensible to remove them in order to execute Stephen. These garments would have also been valuable, so it would be important that someone would be assigned the task of protecting them from thieves. An analogous situation, in my mind, is when you dump your sweatshirt on the ground next to a friend when playing a pickup game at a public park. You don’t want someone wandering off with your clothes.

Acts 7
59 And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

I contest that when you are full in the Spirit, the Lord shields you from some of the pain of being executed because the Lord is with you. Stephen in this moment, was more in the spirit then he was in the world. Even the text says “he fell asleep.” Be at peace as you fight for that which is righteous.