Samaritans and the Scripture

“Philip went down to the city of Samaria and began proclaiming the Christ to them” (Acts 8:5).

What passages in the Old Testament do we use when we have opportunities to tell people about Jesus? Luke does not provide any details about the content of Philip's preaching to the Samaritans, but his options were quite limited. The Samaritans only accepted the Torah as the word of God, so most of our cherished passages from the Hebrew Bible were not on the menu that day (e.g., Isaiah 53; Psalm 22; Psalm 110; Zechariah 12; etc.). So what in the world did Philip preach? The Samaritans were, in fact, waiting for the coming of the “Prophet like Moses” whom they called the “Taheb” (the Returning One). Stephen's sermon in Acts 7, almost exclusively devoted to the Torah, offers rich insight into how early church demonstrated from the Torah how Jesus is that “Prophet like Moses” (see Acts 3:22; 7:37). Philip's ministry to the Samaritans reveals to us the extent to which the early church not only viewed the Torah as authoritative Scripture, but also as Scripture that authoritatively leads us to Jesus.

“So, having obtained help from God, I stand to this day testifying both to small and great, stating nothing but what the Prophets and Moses said was going to take place” (Acts 26:22).

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