And Saul fully approved of his murder. At this time a great persecution broke out against the Church in Jerusalem, and all except the Apostles were scattered throughout Judaea and Samaria.
A party of devout men, however, buried Stephen, and made loud lamentation over him.
But Saul cruelly harassed the Church. He went into house after house, and, dragging off both men and women, threw them into prison.
Those, however, who were scattered abroad went from place to place spreading the Good News of God's Message;
while Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed Christ there.
Crowds of people, with one accord, gave attention to what they heard from him, listening, and witnessing the signs which he did.
For, with a loud cry, foul spirits came out of many possessed by them, and many paralytics and lame persons were restored to health.
And there was great joy in that city.
Now for some time past there had been a man named Simon living there, who had been practising magic and astonishing the Samaritans, pretending that he was more than human.
To him people of all classes paid attention, declaring, "This man is the Power of God, known as the great Power."
His influence over them arose from their having been, for a long time, bewildered by his sorceries.
But when Philip began to tell the Good News about the Kingdom of God and about the Name of Jesus Christ, and they embraced the faith, they were baptized, men and women alike.
Simon himself also believed, and after being baptized remained in close attendance on Philip, and was full of amazement at seeing such signs and such great miracles performed.
When the Apostles in Jerusalem heard that the Samaritans had accepted God's Message, they sent Peter and John to visit them.
They, when they came down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit:
for He had not as yet fallen upon any of them. They had only been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus.
Then the Apostles placed their hands upon them, and they received the Holy Spirit.
When, however, Simon saw that it was through the laying on of the Apostles' hands that the Spirit was bestowed, he offered them money.
"Give me too," he said, "that power, so that every one on whom I place my hands will receive the Holy Spirit."
"Perish your money and yourself," replied Peter, "because you have imagined that you can obtain God's free gift with money!
No part or lot have you in this matter, for your heart is not right in God's sight.
Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord, in the hope that the purpose which is in your heart may perhaps be forgiven you.
For I perceive that you have fallen into the bitterest bondage of unrighteousness."
"Pray, both of you, to the Lord for me," answered Simon, "that nothing of what you have said may come upon me."
So the Apostles, after giving a solemn charge and delivering the Lord's Message, travelled back to Jerusalem, making known the Good News also in many of the Samaritan villages.
And an angel of the Lord said to Philip, "Rise and proceed south to the road that runs down from Jerusalem to Gaza, crossing the Desert."
Upon this he rose and went. Now, as it happened, an Ethiopian eunuch who was in a position of high authority with Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, as her treasurer, had visited Jerusalem to worship there,
and was now on his way home; and as he sat in his chariot he was reading the Prophet Isaiah.
Then the Spirit said to Philip, "Go and enter that chariot."
So Philip ran up and heard the eunuch reading the Prophet Isaiah. "Do you understand what you are reading?" he asked.
"Why, how can I," replied the eunuch, "unless some one explains it to me?" And he earnestly invited Philip to come up and sit with him.
The passage of Scripture which he was reading was this: "Like a sheep He was led to slaughter, and just as a lamb before its shearer is dumb so He opened not His mouth.
In His humiliation justice was denied Him. Who will make known His posterity? For He is destroyed from among men."
"Pray, of whom is the Prophet speaking?" inquired the eunuch; "of himself or of some one else?"
Then Philip began to speak, and, commencing with that same portion of Scripture, told him the Good News about Jesus.
So they proceeded on their way till they came to some water; and the eunuch exclaimed, "See, here is water; what is there to prevent my being baptized?"
So he stopped the chariot; and both of them--Philip and the eunuch--went down into the water, and Philip baptized him.
But no sooner had they come up out of the water than the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again. With a glad heart he resumed his journey;
but Philip found himself at Ashdod. Then visiting town after town he everywhere made known the Good News until he reached Caesarea.