Overcoming Human Barriers

MEMORY VERSE: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” —Galatians 3:28

ACTS 8:18-31

THE use of the power of the Holy Spirit in the days of the Early Church was a very sacred thing. This gift of the Holy Spirit; that is, the impartation of the power of God, was not given to all who professed belief in Chirst, but only to those being fully dedicated and worthy of it. By the use of this gift of the spirit, miracles were performed. The apostles possessed the gift and had the power to pass it on to other faithful believers.

This was apparently being done, as indicated in the opening verse of our lesson, and one named Simon, a sorcerer, offered Peter money to bestow this gift upon him. “Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Spirit.”

But the discerning Peter knew that Simon was not a proper one to receive such a sacred gift, and he said to him, “Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God.” To this Peter added, “Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee. For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity.”—vss. 20-23

While Peter was very outspoken in his refusal to bestow the gift of the Spirit upon Simon, he nevertheless left the way open for Simon to repent of his wrongdoing. Peter apparently realized that here was a man unacquainted with the Gospel of Christ, unenlightened concerning its standards of righteousness, and that his sin would not, therefore, be as culpable as it would have been in the case of one who had made some progress in the knowledge of the Lord.

It would appear that there was a “company” working with Peter on this occasion, and that shortly after the encounter with Simon they returned to Jerusalem and preached the Gospel in many villages of the Samaritans. Philip, another of those who had been appointed a deacon to serve tables, was apparently with this group, seeking to enlarge his opportunities to serve the Lord and the truth. The Lord honored this desire.

We read, “Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert” It was in obedience to this directive that Philip came into contact with the Ethiopian, “an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship.” This steward under Candace was returning to Ethiopia riding in a chariot, and when Philip first saw him he was reading from the prophecy of Isaiah.

“Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot “ Philip did this, and when he asked the Ethiopian if he understood what he was reading, his reply was, “How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him” Philip gladly accommodated the Ethiopian and explained the Gospel to him—the Gospel of Christ, which is the power unto salvation. This Ethiopian was apparently by nature a Gentile, and probably a proselyte to the Jewish faith. He had taken his adopted religion seriously, and a good heart, and wanted right away to do what he could to seal this new-found relationship with God. Philip must have explained many points to him, because the Ethiopian asked to be baptized. He saw a pond of water near, and he and Philip agreed that there was no time like the present thus to symbolize his consecration to do God’s will.

Our memory verse suggests that in some way the controversy in the Early Church concerning Jew and Gentile converts enters into this lesson. Actually, as the verse states, God does not consider that there should be any division between Jew and Gentile, and no difference between bond and free. Even male and female are equally acceptable to God, for as Paul declares, “Ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”—Gal. 3:28

In this third chapter of Galatians Paul reminds us of the promise God made to Abraham that through his seed all the families of the earth should be blessed. (vs. 8) Verse 16 points out that Jesus is this Seed, and verses 29-31 reveal that those who are in Christ Jesus are also a part of this seed of promise that will later be used by God to bless all the families of the earth, and this larger seed will be made up of both Jews and Gentiles.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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