"Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them. And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed. And there was great joy in that city" (Acts 8:5-8).
The first non-Jewish region of the world to hear the gospel was Samaria (Acts 1:8). From the standpoint of a Jew it was the last place to go after having been everywhere else (cf. Luke 17:16-18; John 4:9). The disciples of Christ had negative feelings toward Samaritans (Luke 9:51-54). These attitudes may have been reinforced by restrictions concerning where they should go to preach the Gospel during our Lord's ministry (Matt. 10:5).
Through His interview of the Samaritan woman the Lord convinced the men of Samaria that He was "indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world" (John 4:42). Jesus commissioned His vanguard of disciples to make Samaria the first stop on the long journey to bless "the kindreds of the earth" by "turning away every one of you from his iniquities" (Acts 3:24-26).
Philip came to Samaria preaching Christ (Acts 8:5). This message consisted of declaring the Church of Christ, the authority of Christ and baptism into Christ (Acts 8:12). This is Great Commission preaching (Luke 24:44-48). Men cannot be saved except they believe that Jesus is the Son of God (John 8:21-24). They must know that He is the crucified, resurrected and glorified Lord of Lords (Acts 2:26). This is what Philip preached when he preached the "name" of Jesus Christ.
Neither can they be saved without having been added to the one church (Acts 2:47). Jesus is the one who identified the church as His eternal Kingdom (Matt. 16:18,19). He announced the new birth was the only means of entrance thereto (John 3:3-5), shed His blood for the purchase thereof (Acts 20:28) and added men to it as they were saved (Acts 2:47). Baptism into Christ is where one is born again (Titus 3:3-7) and raised a new creature (Rom. 6:3-6). When we are added to the church (Acts 2:47; Col. 1:13) we become citizens of the heavenly commonwealth (Eph. 2:16-21) and the purchased possession of the Son of God (Eph. 5:23-27).
The people of Samaria had been under the influence of a sorcerer named Simon for a long time (Acts 8:11). Simon had seduced them with error and bewitched them with slight of hand. However, Philip shook the kingdom of Satan to its very foundations with the confirmed word of God (Acts 8:13; cf. Mark 16:17-20). So much so, that the whole church of the Devil and its senior "pastor" were converted to Christ (Acts 8:12,13).
Today, we need to be confident that the same Gospel, preached with the same clarity and force will convert those in error and those that brought them their provided Truth is given a fair and impartial hearing.
In the midst of this evangelistic success Satan was still working. Simon while new in the faith and still weak in the flesh offered the apostles money for the power to give the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:14-19). Peter rebuked Simon severely for his thoughtless error (8:20-23) and Simon, because his heart was still tender, quickly turned and sought God's mercy (8:24).
Satan is always seeking to thwart the peaceful and prosperous growth of the local church. He makes Christians, young and old, the objects of his loathsome ploys (1 Peter 5:8). Satan's objective is to halt evangelism. We must all remember that we are men of "like passions" (James 5:17). As long as we are in the flesh we will be tempted (Jam. 1:13-15). Some will sin. In those desperate hours what we need are men who will readily repent and pray (John 1:7-9).
While severely challenged by their previous error and Simon's transgression the Church in Samaria became a center for evangelism throughout the province (Acts 8:25). Peter and John remained in Samaria long enough to confirm the Disciples in the faith and impart to them the necessary spiritual gifts (Acts 8:14,15).
They then continued their success in many of the villages of the Samaritans. If every Church would do what this Church did, world evangelization would again be possible. Too often, we let Church problems and people problems stop our efforts in saving the lost. We need to keep our primary mission before us at all times -- seek and save the lost.
The Samaritan Church was a tremendous Church. In both its trials and success, it stands as an example to congregations today.