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.
The Philip here is not the apostle Philip, who remained in Jerusalem, but the Philip here was one of the seven (Acts 6:5). Acts 21:8 gives him the title “evangelist.” He was a pioneer for the cause of Christ.
went down to the city of Samaria and preached [the] Christ [Messiah] to them.
Persecution forced Philip, a Hellenist, out of Judea into Samaria, an area where half-Jews and half-Gentiles lived. This city was 40 miles north of Jerusalem and was the ancient capital of the northern kingdom of Israel. When the city fell to Shalmaneser V, an Assyrian, in 722 B.C., it ended the northern kingdom. The Assyrians resettled the area with both Jews and Gentiles, who became known as Samaritans. Their culture and religion were syncretistic. Samaritans were not fully Jew or Gentile; they were half-breeds. They were originally from the northern tribes of Israel, but when the northern kingdom was taken into captivity, they married Canaanites, making a mixture of Jew and Gentile. Jews despised these people. They had their own Pentateuch and temple on Mount Gerizim.
Thus, Philip’s ministry moved the gospel from the Jews only to a different group altogether, half-Jew and half-Gentile. Ministering to this group of people was a bold and strategic move on Philip’s part. Jesus set the example for He ministered to the Samaritan woman in John 4:25f.
Since Philip was from a Gentile background, he had a platform to minister to both Jews and Gentiles. This background was an important gospel move to the world beyond Jerusalem. Although the Jews despised the Samaritans and had little dealings with them, Philip offered them the gospel, which was a stark contrast to their previous experience. This move was a radical advancement of the gospel, a breakthrough in missions.
Note Philip’s approach was to preach first and foremost. His emphasis was on the content of his message, not the miracles he performed.
And the multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip,
The Samaritans had positive volition towards Philip’s gospel message. Remember, Philip was a Greek-speaking Jew (a Hellenist). Apparently, most of those scattered from Jerusalem were Hellenists.
hearing and seeing the miracles [sign miracle] which he did.
Philip, one of the “seven,” performed miracles to authenticate his message. A “sign” miracle, as here, pointed to the credibility or validity of his message. Philip had the same ability as the apostles to perform sign miracles, which confirmed his message as authentic.
For unclean spirits, crying with a loud voice, came out of many who were possessed;
Verse 7 specifies the kinds of “miracles” Philip performed in verse 6. Philip performed miracles of exorcism and healing.
and many who were paralyzed and lame were healed.
Philip’s ministry included healing those paralyzed and lame. The Samaritans could see for themselves the physical miracles he performed.
And there was great joy in that city.
The ministry of Philip caused great joy in the city of Samaria. Their “joy” came from confirming Philip’s message by sign miracles (v. 6). Their “joy” came from their faith.
God has authority over the physical and supernatural realms.
Historically, although people persecuted the church, the church grew (2 Co 2:14; Php 1:12-14). The church grew among people deemed half-breeds; the gospel is not biased against anyone. It makes no difference who or what a person may be. God offers them the unadulterated gospel of salvation.