Today, someone wrote to ask about Acts 8:12-18. Looking at the passage to help the inquirer left me again amazed at how wonderful our God is. Hoping that your own consideration of the passage will do the same for you, I reprint my response here:

Up to this point in Acts (and also later in ch 10), the immediate tangible evidence of receiving the Spirit was speaking in tongues or doing miracles. It takes time for the fruit of the Spirit to develop, so in His providential mercy, God granted this sign as something that could be seen immediately.

It is apparent that although Philip himself had done signs and miracles, God had reserved the ability to confer gifts of signs for the apostles only, and so it was necessary for Peter and John to come and lay hands. I had never noticed this before, but it is another strong argument for tongues being a sign that is specific to the apostolic age. Which of the twelve (or the apostle Paul?) has come and laid his hands upon anyone today who claims this gift?

It’s a wonderful contrast, between Philip and Simon Magus. Although Philip’s miracle gifts amaze Magus in how they outclass his magic, Philip is content to defer to the apostles in humility, while Magus seeks to advance himself by means of money.

And it is wonderful that what is mentioned as great to receive was not whatever the sign was, but the Holy Spirit Himself as a Person.
Up to this point in Acts (and also later in ch 10), the immediate tangible evidence of receiving the Spirit was speaking in tongues or doing miracles. It takes time for the fruit of the Spirit to develop, so in His providential mercy, God granted this sign as something that could be seen immediately.
It is apparent that although Philip himself had done signs and miracles, God had reserved the ability to confer gifts of signs for the apostles only, and so it was necessary for Peter and John to come and lay hands. I had never noticed this before, but it is another strong argument for tongues being a sign that is specific to the apostolic age. Which of the twelve (or the apostle Paul?) has come and laid his hands upon anyone today who claims this gift?
It’s a wonderful contrast, between Philip and Simon Magus. Although Philip’s miracle gifts amaze Magus in how they outclass his magic, Philip is content to defer to the apostles in humility, while Magus seeks to advance himself by means of money.
And it is wonderful that what is mentioned as great to receive was not whatever the sign was, but the Holy Spirit Himself as a Person.
How much more, then, should we rejoice not only over having a completed Bible, but over the Holy Spirit, the Person, who gave it and continues to use it. And how much more, then, should we rejoice not only over growing in the fruit of the Spirit (the most excellent way, the greater gift), but over the Holy Spirit, the Person, who is producing in us this fruit!
This brings me to one last point about a verse later in the passage: in v20 “the gift of God” can grammatically mean “the gift that is from God” or “the gift that is God,” and in the context of the passage, the latter is actually more likely!
Isn’t it glorious?
God the Father has given us two great gifts: the Son and the Spirit whom He sent to bring us to Himself.
God the Son has given us two great gifts: the Father to Whom He brings us, and the Spirit whom He sent, by Whom to bring us to the Father.
God the Spirit has given us two great gifts: the Father to Whom He brings us, and the Son in Whom He brings us to the Father.
Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!

God’s Indescribable Gift Is God (some thoughts on Acts 8:12-18)
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