The dispersion brought Philip, the companion of Stephen, the second of the seven, to a city of Samaria. He came with the power of miracles and with the message of salvation. The Samaritans were convinced by what they saw and they listened to what he said, "and there was great joy in that city." When the news came to Jerusalem, Peter and John were sent by the Apostles, and the same miraculous testimony attended their presence, which had been given on the day of Pentecost.
The Divine Power in Peter rebuked the powers of evil, which were working among the Samaritans in the person of Simon Magus, as Paul afterwards, on his first preaching to the Gentiles, rebuked in Cyprus Elymas the Sorcerer. The two Apostles returned to Jerusalem, preaching as they went "in many villages of the Samaritans" the Gospel which had been welcomed in the city.
Once more we are permitted to see Philip on his labor of love. We obtain a glimpse of him on the road which leads down by Gaza Jerusalem, and reading in his chariot the prophecies of Isaiah. Ethiopia is "stretching out her hands unto God " (Psalm 68:31) and the suppliant is not unheard. A teacher is provided at the moment of anxious inquiry. The stranger goes "on his way rejoicing" a proselyte who had found the Messiah, a Christian baptized "with water and the Holy Ghost." The Evangelist, having finished the work for which he had been sent, is called elsewhere by the Spirit of God. He proceeds to Caesarea, and we hear of him no more, till, after the lapse of more than twenty years, he received under his roof in that city one who, like himself, had traveled in obedience to the Divine command "preaching in all the cities."
Our attention is now called to that other traveler. We turn from the "desert road" on the south of Palestine to the desert road on the north; from the border of Arabia near Gaza, to its border near Damascus "From Dan to Beersheba" the Gospel is rapidly spreading. The dispersion of the Christians had not been confined to Judea and Samaria (see Acts 9:1, 11:19, 26:11).
Saul (Paul) went of his own accord to the high priest, and desired of him letters to the synagogues in Damascus, where he had reason to believe that Christians were to be found. And armed with this "authority and commission," (Acts 26:12) intending "if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women," (Acts 9:2) to "bring them bound unto Jerusalem to be punished," (Acts 22:5) he journeyed to Damascus.