Jesus often went through Samaria travelling between Jerusalem and Galilee. On several occasions he spent time with the people there. On one occasion he heeded their request to stay and teach, and as a result some said, “we know that this is indeed the saviour of the world” (John 4:42). So we can see that the Samarians were ready for the Gospel harvest. Jesus commissioned his disciples to “be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Only today is the message really reaching “the end of the earth”.
At first they were slow to carry out his commission. Preaching was concentrated on Jerusalem until Stephen was killed, but after Stephen’s death the believers “were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles” (verse 1). Philip made a particular effort to preach in Samaria (verse 5) “and the crowds with one accord paid attention to what was being said … and saw the signs that he did … so there was much joy …” (verses 6,8).
“When they believed Philip as he preached the good news about the kingdom of God, they were baptised … now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God they sent to them Peter and John” (verses 12,14).
Receive is a key word that we will encounter in the book of Acts and apostolic writings; for example when we come to Acts 11 it starts, “Now the apostles and the brothers who were throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God” (verse 1). The point is, it is one thing to read and to hear about the message of the kingdom and of Christ’s return to establish it – but it is another to receive it into our heart and mind.
Look up the words in Acts 17:11 as a special example. If you “receive” a message it becomes part of your thinking and motivates you into action. Have you “received” the word of God – or do you only just know about it? To find it interesting is only a stepping stone – the journey to conviction has to be completed and it is a fascinating, exciting and totally rewarding journey.