Saul agreed that the killing of Stephen was good. On that day the church of Jerusalem began to be persecuted, and all the believers, except the apostles, were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria.
And some religious people buried Stephen and cried loudly for him.
Saul was also trying to destroy the church, going from house to house, dragging out men and women and putting them in jail.
And wherever they were scattered, they told people the Good News.
Philip went to the city of Samaria and preached about the Christ.
When the people there heard Philip and saw the miracles he was doing, they all listened carefully to what he said.
Many of these people had evil spirits in them, but Philip made the evil spirits leave. The spirits made a loud noise when they came out. Philip also healed many weak and crippled people there.
So the people in that city were very happy.
But there was a man named Simon in that city. Before Philip came there, Simon had practiced magic and amazed all the people of Samaria. He bragged and called himself a great man.
All the people -- the least important and the most important -- paid attention to Simon, saying, "This man has the power of God, called 'the Great Power'!"
Simon had amazed them with his magic so long that the people became his followers.
But when Philip told them the Good News about the kingdom of God and the power of Jesus Christ, men and women believed Philip and were baptized.
Simon himself believed, and after he was baptized, he stayed very close to Philip. When he saw the miracles and the powerful things Philip did, Simon was amazed.
When the apostles who were still in Jerusalem heard that the people of Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them.
When Peter and John arrived, they prayed that the Samaritan believers might receive the Holy Spirit.
These people had been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus, but the Holy Spirit had not yet come upon any of them.
Then, when the two apostles began laying their hands on the people, they received the Holy Spirit.
Simon saw that the Spirit was given to people when the apostles laid their hands on them. So he offered the apostles money,
saying, "Give me also this power so that anyone on whom I lay my hands will receive the Holy Spirit."
Peter said to him, "You and your money should both be destroyed, because you thought you could buy God's gift with money.
You cannot share with us in this work since your heart is not right before God.
Change your heart! Turn away from this evil thing you have done, and pray to the Lord. Maybe he will forgive you for thinking this.
I see that you are full of bitter jealousy and ruled by sin."
Simon answered, "Both of you pray for me to the Lord so the things you have said will not happen to me."
After Peter and John told the people what they had seen Jesus do and after they had spoken the message of the Lord, they went back to Jerusalem. On the way, they went through many Samaritan towns and preached the Good News to the people.
An angel of the Lord said to Philip, "Get ready and go south to the road that leads down to Gaza from Jerusalem -- the desert road."
So Philip got ready and went. On the road he saw a man from Ethiopia, a eunuch. He was an important officer in the service of Candace, the queen of the Ethiopians; he was responsible for taking care of all her money. He had gone to Jerusalem to worship.
Now, as he was on his way home, he was sitting in his chariot reading from the Book of Isaiah, the prophet.
The Spirit said to Philip, "Go to that chariot and stay near it."
So when Philip ran toward the chariot, he heard the man reading from Isaiah the prophet. Philip asked, "Do you understand what you are reading?"
He answered, "How can I understand unless someone explains it to me?" Then he invited Philip to climb in and sit with him.
The portion of Scripture he was reading was this: "He was like a sheep being led to be killed. He was quiet, as a lamb is quiet while its wool is being cut; he never opened his mouth.
He was shamed and was treated unfairly. He died without children to continue his family. His life on earth has ended."
The officer said to Philip, "Please tell me, who is the prophet talking about -- himself or someone else?"
Philip began to speak, and starting with this same Scripture, he told the man the Good News about Jesus.
While they were traveling down the road, they came to some water. The officer said, "Look, here is water. What is stopping me from being baptized?"
Then the officer commanded the chariot to stop. Both Philip and the officer went down into the water, and Philip baptized him.
When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord took Philip away; the officer never saw him again. And the officer continued on his way home, full of joy.
But Philip appeared in a city called Azotus and preached the Good News in all the towns on the way from Azotus to Caesarea.