Acts 8:5, Was the Gospel Given to the Samaritans?

Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them. 

//One confusing aspect of the Gospel story is the relationship between the Jesus movement and the Samaritans. We all know the story of the Good Samaritan, and many have heard about Jesus meeting the Samaritan woman at the well. You can probably quote other verses that hint that Jesus respected and cared about them, including today’s verse, where Philip preaches directly to them.

Yet it must not have been easy. The Samaritans were in general despised and distrusted, even feared, and looked down upon because of their intermarriage with gentiles. Samaritans had their own version of the scriptures, and their own holy places, which most definitely did not include Jerusalem! 

In Luke 9, Jesus has a bad experience with Samaritans, who will not welcome him. In Matthew 10, when Jesus sends his disciples out to preach, he directs them to stay away from Samaria. But John’s Gospel is quite sympathetic to the Samaritans, telling of a time when they did welcome Jesus, and when Jesus did preach to them (see John, chapter 4). Jesus is so sympathetic, in fact, that in John, the Jews accuse Jesus of being a Samaritan!

While the evidence is a bit hazy, it does appear that one of the more controversial aspects of Jesus’ ministry is his acceptance of Samaritans.

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