Summary of passages: Acts 8:1-8 On the day Stephen was executed a persecution against the church so all the believers except the Apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. Stephen was buried and Saul began a relentless drive to destroy the church. Philip went to Samaria and began to preach the word there. Great job was brought to that city because of Philip’s deeds.
John 4:6-42: Jesus, tired from his travels, sits down at a well in the Samaritan town of Sychar. When a Samaritan woman comes to draw water, Jesus speaks to her. Shocked, the woman asks why he is speaking to her since Jews do not associate with Samaritans. Jesus explains everyone who drinks living water will never thirst again. Indeed, the water will well up inside of you and lead to eternal life.
The woman accepts his offer. Jesus tells her to go and get her husband. She replies she had none. Jesus tells her a time is coming where everyone will worship the Father in spirit and truth and not just at certain holy places. He tells her he is the Messiah.
The woman runs back into town and fetches the people, telling them the Christ is here. Meanwhile, Jesus tells his disciples his food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. He also says they are reaping the hard work of others and will have eternal life.
So many Samaritans were converted that day and Jesus stayed 2 more days with them.
3a) Because of Stephen’s death all believers except the Apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria and they preached the word wherever they went (Verse 1 & 4)
b) God has sent Assyria against the kingdom of Israel (Northern Kingdom) for their idol worship. Assyria deports the Israelites to Assyria. God’s reasons are listed in 2 Kings 7-23. Then the King of Assyria brought people from Babylon, Cuthah, Avva, Hamath, and Sepharvaim to settle the former lands of the Israelites (Samaria). They took over Samaria and lived in its towns. They did not worship the Lord either. This was a war strategy of the Assyrians. Mixing peoples up made it harder for them to re-group and rebel against them.
From all these mixed races of peoples the Assyrians imported to the land of Israel descends the Samaritans. They looked different, spoke different, and held different beliefs. They intermixed with the remaining Israelites.
As the rest of 2 Kings passage shows, they bring their religion mixed with the One, True God (verses 29-33). They worshipped the Lord but also served their own gods as well.
The Jerusalem Jews (those living in Judah. Israel had split into two countries, Israel and Judah, around 930 BC. I am dating this time period where Sargon II King of the Assyrians invaded Israel around 722 BC) still remained relatively faithful to the One, True God with only a minimal amount of idolatry creeping in at this time. Judah also did not experience the intermixing of races as they still adhered to God’s law of not marrying foreigners; hence staying relatively homogenous.
This is why God only punished Israel at this point in history but Judah’s time is coming.
4) Jesus himself had visited Samaria in his teachings as we see from the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4:1-26. In John 4:39-42 we also see how many Samaritans were converted from Jesus’ teachings. He also told the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37. And we know from the previous question that the Samaritans still worshipped the One, True God along with other gods so it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to convince them of the power and fortitude of the One, True God. Also, the Jews remaining after the deportation intermarried the foreigners so they probably kept a portion of their heritage and worship culture intact.
So when Philip showed up and started performing miracles, the stage was set for him to reap the rewards from Jesus’ work.
This can be applied throughout the Bible and throughout time into today. We reap what others have sown. The Old Testament prepared the people of the New Testament to be saved. Every small step has been planned by God for His purposes and we (and everyone after us) reap the benefits of this as we continue to plant seeds for the next generation.
1 Corinthians 3:6-8: “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow… The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose and each will be rewarded according to his labor.”
5a) Previously, they had only preached within Jerusalem but with Stephen’s death a new persecution broke out in Jerusalem so the believers were forced to scatter throughout Judea and Samaria. Even though Jesus had commissioned them to preach everywhere (Acts 1:8), they had resisted due to prejudices.
The Jews and the Samaritans had a long history of despising one another (please see link in concluding notes). The Jews thought them the lowest of the low and unworthy to know the Good News. James and John had once asked Jesus if he wanted them to call down fire from heaven to destroy the Samaritans (Luke 9:54), which speaks to how little the Samaritans were thought of by the Jews. I think the Samaritans would have been the last people on Earth the Jews would have converted. So, God in His infinite wisdom made them because as we all know they were special in His eyes too.
b) Personal Question. My answer: Not let our prejudices stand in our way of telling those who otherwise would have no opportunity to hear about Jesus about him (such as homeless, poor, and minority sects). Basically, speak in your community where God plants you.
Conclusions: The beauty of BSF in action. I had to start this day and leave off due to lack of time. But I couldn’t stop thinking about Assyria and Israel. So during the day I started researching–learning more and more–and filling my soul with each passing word. Great stuff!
Awesome site with the history of the Samaritans here. If you read nothing else, you gotta read this!
Question 5 made me wonder if the Jews were perhaps getting a little cocky and feeling quite special about being believers and the chosen ones to spread God’s word. Well, God solved that problem, didn’t He!
Also, today’s lesson was a great opportunity to remember God’s infinite wisdom and how He had planned history throughout. We are reapers of previous people’s sowing, which can be applied in many different ways: spiritually, historically, etc. America herself is a product of countless people’s sweat and toil–our ancestors hard-work. We need to remember and be grateful for those that have come before us and continue to prepare those who will come after us.
Map of Israel and Judah, showing Samaria: HERE
Note on the Map: Sychar is next to Shechem where Jesus met with the woman at the well. You can see it here at this map but it’s not as definitive as the one above.
Final thought: My study Bible points out the fact that the conversion of the Samaritans is the first time non-Jews followed Jesus. Awesome fact!