Blankety-Blank Immigrants? (Acts 8:4-25)
Oct 25, 2010 by Craig Blomberg | 0 Comments
“Philip went down to a city of Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah there.” (8:4; TNIV)
A retired friend recently commented that he wished the people that waited on him in fast-food restaurants would speak better English so that they could more consistently get his orders right! Of course, he quickly conceded that his grandparents were Italian immigrants who had faced similar challenges.
Samaritans in first-century Israel were the closest equivalents to the newest wave of immigrants to the U.S. in the twenty-first century, including undocumented ones. Though some of their families had lived in Samaria for centuries, they were the descendants of the illegal marriages between Jews and Gentiles, their real homelands (in the eyes of the Jews) were in neighboring countries, and they had their own language and traditions that could be very hard to understand.
The fledgling church mounted no effort to purge Samaria of its present residents. Instead they preached the gospel to them and many became followers of Jesus. There are a lot of fascinating details in Acts 8:4-25 worthy of attention. But if we miss this one main fact, we miss Luke’s whole point to the account: the Gospel is going out and having success among the hated foreigners living in the land!
Contemporary immigrants to the U.S., especially from Latin America, are already evangelical Christians to a higher degree than the rest of the nation. Those who are not our sisters and brothers need to hear the Good News of Jesus. Those who are need our welcome and empowerment for God’s work in our world.