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Ac 8:1-4. PERSECUTION CONTINUED, IN WHICH SAUL TAKES A PROMINENT PART--HOW OVERRULED FOR GOOD.
1. Saul was consenting unto his death--The word expresses hearty
2. and devout men--pious Jews, probably, impressed with admiration for Stephen and secretly inclined to Christianity, but not yet openly declared.
3. Saul . . . entering into every house--like as inquisitor
4. they that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching--Though solemnly enjoined to do this (Lu 24:47; Ac 1:8), they would probably have lingered at Jerusalem, but for this besom of persecution which swept them out. How often has the rage of Christ's enemies thus "turned out rather unto the furtherance of the Gospel" (see Php 1:12, 13).
Ac 8:5-25. SUCCESS OF PHILIP'S PREACHING IN SAMARIA--CASE OF SIMON MAGUS.
5. Then Philip--not the apostle of that name, as was by some of the
Fathers supposed; for besides that the apostles remained at Jerusalem,
they would in that case have had no occasion to send a deputation of
their own number to lay their hands on the baptized disciples
It was the deacon of that name, who comes next after Stephen in the
catalogue of the seven, probably as being the next most prominent. The
persecution may have been directed especially against Stephen's
6-8. the people with one accord gave heed to . . . Philip--the way being prepared perhaps by the fruits of our Lord's sojourn, as He Himself seems to intimate (see on Joh 4:31-38). But "we may mark the providence of God in sending a Grecian, or a Hellenistic Jew, to a people who from national antipathy would have been unlikely to attend to a native of Judea" [WEBSTER and WILKINSON].
8. great joy in that city--over the change wrought on it by the Gospel, as well as the cures which attested its divine character.
10. To whom all gave heed . . . because of long time he had bewitched them--This, coupled with the rapidity with which they deserted him and attached themselves to Philip, shows the ripeness of Samaria for some religious change.
13. Then Simon himself believed also--Left without followers, he thinks
it best to join the man who had fairly outstripped him, not without a
touch of real conviction.
14-17. the apostles . . . sent Peter and John--showing that they regarded Peter as no more than their own equal.
15, 16. prayed . . . they might receive the Holy Ghost. (For only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus)--As the baptism of adults presupposed "the renewing of the Holy Ghost" (Tit 3:5-7; 1Co 12:13), of which the profession of faith had to be taken for evidence, this communication of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of the apostles' hands was clearly a superadded thing; and as it was only occasional, so it was invariably attended with miraculous manifestations (see Ac 10:44, where it followed Peter's preaching; and Ac 19:1-7, where, as here, it followed the laying on of hands). In the present case an important object was served by it--"the sudden appearance of a body of baptized disciples in Samaria, by the agency of one who was not an apostle, requiring the presence and power of apostles to perform their special part as the divinely appointed founders of the Church" [ALFORD]. Beautiful, too, was the spectacle exhibited of Jew and Samaritan, one in Christ.
18-24. offered them money--Hence the term simony, to denote trafficking in sacred things, but chiefly the purchase of ecclesiastical offices.
22. Repent . . . pray . . . if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven--this expression of doubt being designed to impress upon him the greatness of his sin, and the need of alarm on his part.
23. in the gall of bitterness and . . . bond of iniquity--expressing both the awfulness of his condition and the captivity to it in which he was held.
24. Pray ye to the Lord for me--Peter had urged him to pray for
himself: he asks those wonder-working men to do it for him; having no
confidence in the prayer of faith, but thinking that those men possessed
some peculiar interest with heaven.
25. and they--Peter and John.
Ac 8:26-40. THE ETHIOPIAN EUNUCH.
"With this narrative of the progress of the Gospel among the Samaritans is connected another which points to the diffusion of the doctrine of the Cross among the remotest nations. The simplicity of the chamberlain of Meroe forms a remarkable contrast with the craft of the magician just described" [OLSHAUSEN].
26-28. the angel of the Lord--rather, "an angel."
27. a man of Ethiopia--Upper Egypt, Meroe.
28. Was returning--Having come so far, he not only stayed out the days
of the festival, but prolonged his stay till now. It says much for his
fidelity and value to his royal mistress that he had such liberty. But
the faith in Jehovah and love of His worship and word, with which he was
imbued, sufficiently explain this.
29-31. the Spirit said--by an unmistakable voice within, as in
Ac 10:19; 16:6, 7.
30. Understandest thou what thou readest?--To one so engaged this would be deemed no rude question, while the eager appearance of the speaker, and the question itself, would indicate a readiness to supply any want of insight that might be felt.
31. How can I, except some man guide me?--Beautiful expression at once of humility and docility; the invitation to Philip which immediately followed, to "come up and sit with him," being but the natural expression of this.
32, 33. The place . . . was this, He was led as a sheep, &c.--One cannot but wonder that this, of all predictions of Messiah's sufferings in the Old Testament the most striking, should have been that which the eunuch was reading before Philip joined him. He could hardly miss to have heard at Jerusalem of the sufferings and death of Jesus, and of the existence of a continually increasing party who acknowledged Him to be the Messiah. But his question to Philip, whether the prophet in this passage meant himself or some other man, clearly shows that he had not the least idea of any connection between this prediction and those facts.
34-38. And the eunuch answered, I pray thee, &c.--The respect with which he here addresses Philip was prompted by his reverence for one whom he perceived to be his superior in divine things; his own worldly position sinking before this.
35. Then Philip opened his mouth--(See on
36. See, here is water--more simply, "Behold water!" as if already
his mind filled with light and his soul set free, he was eagerly looking
out for the first water in which he might seal his reception of the
truth and be enrolled among the visible disciples of the Lord Jesus.
39, 40. the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip--To deny
BLOOMFIELD] the miraculous nature of Philip's disappearance,
is vain. It stands out on the face of the words, as just a repetition of
what we read of the ancient prophets, in
And the same word (as BENGEL remarks) is employed
to express a similar idea in
2Co 12:2, 4;