In fulfillment of Jesus’ direction to take the gospel from Jerusalem to Judea, and then, to Samaria, Philip takes the message into the land of the Samaritans. The border of the country called Samaria, which lays north of Judea and south of Galilee, is a mere 16 miles from Jerusalem. The city of Samaria itself is about 35 miles north of Jerusalem.
Philip, one of the men selected early to distribute the food to the widows in the church, leads the Samaritans to a saving faith in Jesus by sharing the knowledge of the kingdom of God and the Messiah. When the Samaritans accept Jesus as the Messiah Philip confirms their faith with the act of baptism, a sign of separation from their past and an allegiance to their new association with Jesus Christ. These Samaritans have been saved, or born again and placed in the church, the body of Christ.
When news of this reaches the apostles in Jerusalem, Peter and John travel the short distance to Samaria, a land they are familiar with, at least, since the days of traveling with Jesus. In John 4
Peter and John saw the woman at the well lead her town out to meet Jesus and, later, when the Samaritans rejected Jesus in Luke 9:54, this same John wanted to call fire out of heaven
Elijah-style to consume the Samaritans. But, now Peter and John go to meet a group of
believing Samaritans that came to the faith through the ministry of Philip.
The text says the Samaritans had not yet received the Holy Spirit, but yet they have been born
again by the Spirit. According to Romans 8:9 the Holy Spirit is already dwelling in the
Samaritans when Peter and John arrive:
“If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.”
The Samaritans have received the Spirit of God just like Jesus said to the woman at the well concerning individual salvation when he compared the Holy Spirit to water:
“The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” – John 4:14
The manifestation of the Holy Spirit that occurs among the Samaritans when Peter and John
arrive is not the work of salvation, but instead, these believers are being filled with the Holy Spirit, which means the Holy Spirit is manifesting himself through them. The result of a believer being
filled with the Holy Spirit is actions of ministry.
Jesus also spoke of this work of the Holy Spirit in terms of water:
“Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ ” – John 7:39