Bible Society of South Africa

Everybody is welcome – 28 June 2022

By Ben Fourie

Bible text(s)

14The apostles in Jerusalem heard that the people of Samaria had received the word of God, so they sent Peter and John to them.

To really grasp the significance of what happened here, one needs to know something about the relationship between the Jews and the Samaritans. After the death of King Solomon in 930 BC, the kingdom of Israel split into two different kingdoms. The Northern Kingdom kept the name Israel and the Southern Kingdom became Judah. The word “Jew” derives from this name.

King Omri of Israel built a new capital city named Samaria. In 722 BC, King Sargon of Assyria conquered the city and many of the inhabitants were sent into exile. Some of them stayed behind and continued to worship at the temple in Jerusalem. Judah was also conquered by Nebuchadnezzar in 587 BC and many were sent into exile. King Cyrus allowed Ezra and Nehemiah to return to Jerusalem and much enmity about the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem, mostly political, developed between them and the rulers in Samaria. The inhabitants of Samaria became a mixed nation by accepting people from other nations and eventually even dedicated the temple they had built on Mount Gerizim to Zeus. All of these things were anathema to the Jews.

In the time of Jesus, the Jews despised the Samaritans. When Jesus talked to the Samaritan woman at the well, his disciples were astonished that he would talk to a Samaritan. When Jesus sent out the disciples to spread the word in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the end of the world (Acts 1:8), it must have seemed like a strange idea to them, but they obeyed him. According to Acts, it was Phillip who spread the word in Samaria. When the news that the Samaritans had accepted the word of God reached the apostles in Jerusalem, they immediately sent Peter and John to Samaria.

The word of God is never stopped by political or religious differences and especially not by people’s preferences. The Holy Spirit is like the wind that blows everywhere and nothing or nobody can stop him. The Spirit carries the word of God across the oceans and the borders of all countries.

Prayer: We thank you, Lord, that no boundary in the world can prevent people from hearing your word. Amen

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