Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. The two went down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit (for as yet the Spirit had not come upon any of them; they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus). Then Peter and John laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 8:14-17)

I am not sure if the Samaritans would be considered Gentile or note; as I understand it, the history of the two including where and when the schism came is pretty involved. It was, however, a big deal then that Peter and John were sent to them. Not as big a deal at Peter ministering to Cornelius and his household, or like Paul going out to the Gentiles. But still, an overture of unity between the new believers.

And it was also probably a major eye-opener that baptism of the Spirit was given to them. Now, I do not know what that would involve, and how it would manifest itself outwardly. Talking in tongues, I imagine. Praising the Lord in a different way, maybe. I guess it would depend on how we would for ourselves determine if we had been baptized in the Spirit. We know water baptism – drips of water and the words of the officiate being said over us. In how current experience it might be that baptism of the Spirit might be more internal than external. I know it was for me. And it was not a “sudden” feeling but a growing awareness that something within me was changing.

Christianity has changed over the decades and centuries. What was normative and expected in one era changed in the next. I still remember when a spiritual “experience” was definitely an outer experience – that is, pretty obvious to the viewer. Now I think spirituality is more inner but the effects are clear to see, and in a manner of speaking easier to maintain and regain. And maybe that is for the best.

For the most part, water baptism is a once-in-a-lifetime experience; it only happens once. Spiritual baptism, on the other hand, can happen over and over. Going ever deeper into our Christian, and deepening & expanding our Fruits of the Spirit. I would hope that the believers in Samaria found this to be true for them. And for you, beloved reader.

Epiphany Epistle Passage

This is the reason that I Paul am a prisoner for Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles– for surely you have already heard of the commission of God’s grace that was given me for you, and how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I wrote above in a few words, a reading of which will enable you to perceive my understanding of the mystery of Christ. In former generations this mystery was not made known to humankind, as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit: that is, the Gentiles have become fellow heirs, members of the same body, and sharers in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. Of this gospel I have become a servant according to the gift of God’s grace that was given me by the working of his power. Although I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given to me to bring to the Gentiles the news of the boundless riches of Christ, and to make everyone see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things; so that through the church the wisdom of God in its rich variety might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 3:1- 10)

I decided at the last minute, beloved reader, to include the Epistle passage that is used for Epiphany. This post comes before my discourse on Epiphany, but in the history of the gospels & the bible – it comes after. That is because Paul gave discourse on theme that Epiphany highlights, and makes plain what was hinted at – so to speak. It will make more sense tomorrow. Just remember these last two verses when you read my larger discourse on Epiphany.

“This was in accordance with the eternal purpose that he has carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have access to God in boldness and confidence through faith in him.” (Verses 11 – 12)