“When they arrived, they prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit,”
The next few verses are used to debate the subject of the baptism of the Holy Spirit as a secondary experience to conversion.
Some hold to the fact that the Samaritans were not believers, they were only believers in Philip and Peter and John were coming to bring them into a true conversion experience, that of the Holy Spirit.
The problem with that is it shows Philip wasn’t doing such a good job if Samaria were only believing him and not Jesus! Actually the next verse shows that they had been baptised into the name of Jesus. Further, these people were being delivered and set free from many demons in the name of Jesus which would indicate salvation abounded.
So is this a model of practice? Conversion first and then receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit? That’s certainly what happened to me and that is what I have taught as a Pastor through my church ministry years. But today I’m not so sure about most things!
I don’t think we can keep a formula in how God works.i think He breaks all formulas and as soon as we think we know how God works He does the opposite just to shake us up again!
This is what I think about this verse:
Peter and John had many experiences of the Holy Spirit coming upon them and the Jerusalem church, of course especially the day of Pentecost.
Peter and John identify (probably through asking them) that the Samaritans have not had similar experiences of the Holy Spirit, involving the gifts and the passion for the gospel into the world.
So they pray that the Samaritans receive what they have.
Peter and John have something that they want others to have.
That last point is the challenge for each of us. Apart from your belief, do you have something that others need to receive? What is it? How do they know if they have received what you have?