Saul approved of putting Stephen to death. On that day widespread persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem. Most believers, except the apostles, were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria.
Devout men buried Stephen as they mourned loudly for him.
Saul tried to destroy the church. He dragged men and women out of one home after another and threw them into prison.
The believers who were scattered went from place to place, where they spread the word.
Philip went to the city of Samaria and told people about the Messiah.
The crowds paid close attention to what Philip said. They listened to him and saw the miracles that he performed.
Evil spirits screamed as they came out of the many people they had possessed. Many paralyzed and lame people were cured.
As a result, that city was extremely happy.
A man named Simon lived in that city. He amazed the people of Samaria with his practice of magic. He claimed that he was great.
Everyone from children to adults paid attention to him. They said, "This man is the power of God, and that power is called great."
They paid attention to Simon because he had amazed them for a long time with his practice of magic.
However, when Philip spread the Good News about the kingdom of God and the one named Jesus Christ, men and women believed him and were baptized.
Even Simon believed, and after he was baptized, he became devoted to Philip. Simon was amazed to see the miracles and impressive things that were happening.
When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that the Samaritans had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them.
Peter and John went to Samaria and prayed that the Samaritans would receive the Holy Spirit.
(Before this the Holy Spirit had not come to any of the Samaritans. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)
Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and the Samaritans received the Holy Spirit.
Simon saw that the Spirit was given to the Samaritans when the apostles placed their hands on them. So he offered Peter and John money
and said, "Give me this power so that anyone I place my hands on will receive the Holy Spirit."
Peter told Simon, "May your money be destroyed with you because you thought you could buy God's gift.
You won't have any share in this because God can see how twisted your thinking is.
So change your wicked thoughts, and ask the Lord if he will forgive you for thinking like this.
I can see that you are bitter with jealousy and wrapped up in your evil ways."
Simon answered, "Pray to the Lord for me that none of the things you said will happen to me."
After they had boldly spoken about the message of the Lord, they spread the Good News in many Samaritan villages on their way back to Jerusalem.
An angel from the Lord said to Philip, "Get up, and take the desert road that goes south from Jerusalem to Gaza."
So Philip went. An Ethiopian man who had come to Jerusalem to worship was on his way home. The man was a eunuch, a high-ranking official in charge of all the treasures of Queen Candace of Ethiopia.
As the official rode along in his carriage, he was reading the prophet Isaiah out loud.
The Spirit said to Philip, "Go to that carriage, and stay close to it."
Philip ran to the carriage and could hear the official reading the prophet Isaiah out loud. Philip asked him, "Do you understand what you're reading?"
The official answered, "How can I understand unless someone guides me?" So he invited Philip to sit with him in his carriage.
This was the part of the Scriptures that the official was reading: "He was led like a lamb to the slaughter. He was like a sheep that is silent when its wool is cut off. He didn't open his mouth.
When he humbled himself, he was not judged fairly. Who from his generation will talk about his life on earth being cut short?"
The official said to Philip, "I would like to know who the prophet is talking about. Is he talking about himself or someone else?"
Then Philip spoke. Starting with that passage, Philip told the official the Good News about Jesus.
As they were going along the road, they came to some water. The official said to Philip, "Look, there's some water. What can keep me from being baptized?"
The official ordered the carriage to stop. He and Philip stepped into the water, and Philip baptized him.
When they had stepped out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away. The official joyfully continued on his way and didn't see Philip again.
Philip found himself in the city of Azotus. He traveled through all the cities and spread the Good News until he came to the city of Caesarea.