Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, for he had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit.
Summary – In fulfillment of John the Baptist’s proclamation in Luke 3 that “he who is mightier than I is coming. . . . he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit” (Luke 3:16), Peter and John travel to Samaria to meet with new believers that they might receive the Holy Spirit. Clear from this episode is that the gift of the Holy Spirit comes along with baptism into Christ. Galatians 3:27 tells us that as many as have been baptized into Christ “have put on Christ.” Acts 2:38 has Peter telling his audience, “Repent and be baptized . . . and you will receive the Holy Spirit.” Through baptism, a believer is clothed in Christ and indwelled by the Holy Spirit. It seems strange that these people, who surely seemed to be believers, didn’t have the Spirit through their baptism then. We notice in verse 12, though, that these people “believed Philip” and not necessarily the Gospel. Next we notice that Simon, who was said to believe just like these others, ends up offering money to the apostles in order to get their power. Peter’s response to this offer is telling, and he seems to imply that Simon never had a true faith in Christ, but was more taken by the signs and wonders (vs. 13). So it seems that these baptized believers had not fully placed their trust in Christ yet, and what they needed was true faith–a true first experience of Christ–rather than a 2nd one.
Insight – What do you think of when you say, in the creed, “I believe in the Holy Spirit”? What is the Holy Spirit? Is He a ghost? It can be hard sometimes to grasp what the Holy Spirit is, and to try to understand what it means that He lives inside us. What we need to learn from this passage in Acts is that the Holy Spirit is a gift that God has graciously given to His followers. It is a privilege to have the Spirit to help us to live lives that are pleasing to God, because trying to serve God on our own strength will not end well. Thank the Lord today for not leaving you alone, but sending a Helper (the Spirit) to you.
Child Catechism – Who is the third member of the Trinity? The Holy Spirit.
Discussion – How do you know if the Holy Spirit is helping you? How have you seen God’s hand in your life?
Prayer – Father, in this season as we remember your Son’s baptism, we recall your goodness in sending Him to us to bring redemption and life. Thank you that in Him we can be endowed by your Spirit to overcome our sinful habits. Work in us by your Spirit to continually mold our lives into conformity with your sovereign will. We pray in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Amen.