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Bible Commentaries

The Expositor's Greek Testament
Acts 8

 

 

Verse 1

Acts 8:1. σαῦλος δὲ κ. τ. λ., R.V. joins these words to the conclusion of the previous chapter, and thus brings them into a close and fitting connection with Acts 7:58. So too Wendt, Blass, Nösgen, Zöckler.— ἦν συνευδοκῶν: for this characteristic Lucan use of the imperfect of the substantive verb with a participle, see chap. Acts 1:10. The formula here indicates the lasting and enduring nature of Saul’s “consent”. The verb συνευδοκέω is peculiar to St. Luke and St. Paul, and is used by the former in his Gospel as well as in Acts, cf. Luke 11:48, Acts 22:20 (by St. Paul himself with reference to his share in the murder of St. Stephen), Romans 1:32, 1 Corinthians 7:12-13. The word is also found in 1 Maccabees 1:57 (Acts 4:28), 2 Maccabees 11:24; 2 Maccabees 11:35, signifying entire approval; it is also twice used by St. Clement, Cor(213), xxxv. 6; xliv. 3: “consent” does not express the force of the word—“was approving of his death” (Rendall).— ἀναιρέσει: used only here in N.T. (on St. Luke’s favourite word ἀναιρέω, see Friedrich, Das Lucasevangelium, p. 22); both verb and noun were frequent in medical language (Hobart, Zahn), see below on Acts 9:29, but the noun in LXX, Numbers 11:15, Judith 15:4, 2 Maccabees 5:13, and in classical Greek, e.g., Xen., Hell., vi., 3, 5.— ἐγένετο δὲ: another characteristic formula in St. Luke, Friedrich, u. s., p. 13; here introduces a new section of the history.— ἐν ἐκείνῃ τῇ ἡμέρᾳ: (R.V. “on that day” (A.V. “at that time”), cf. Acts 2:41; the persecution broke out at once, “on that very day” (so Wendt, Rendall, Hort, Hackett, Felten, Zöckler, Holtzmann), the signal for it being given by the tumultuous stoning of the first martyr (but see on the other hand Alford, in loco). Weiss draws attention to the emphatic position of ἐκείνῃ before τῇ ἡμέρᾳ.— ἐπὶ τὴν ἐκκλησίαν τὴν ἐν .: hitherto as, e.g., Acts 5:11, the Church has been thought of as one, because limited in fact to the one city Jerusalem, but here we have a hint that soon there would be new Ecclesiæ in the one Ecclesia, as it spread throughout the Holy Land (Hort, Ecclesia, pp. 53–56, 227, and Ramsay, St. Paul, etc., pp. 41, 127, 377).— πάντες τε: “ridiculum est hoc mathematica ratione accipere” (Blass)—it is evident from Acts 8:3 that there were some left for Saul to persecute. In Acts 9:26 we have mention of a company of disciples in Jerusalem, but there is no reason to suppose (Schnecken-burger, Zeller, Overbeck) that Luke has made a mistake in the passage before us, for there is nothing in the text against the supposition that some at least of those who had fled returned again later.— διεσπάρησαν: only in St. Luke in N.T., here and in Acts 8:4, and in Acts 11:19. This use of the word is quite classical, and frequent in LXX, e.g., Genesis 9:19, Leviticus 26:33, 1 Maccabees 11:47. Feine remarks that even Holtzmann allows that the spread of Christianity throughout Judæa and Samaria may be regarded as historical.— χώρας: here rendered “regions”: Blass takes the word as almost = κώμας, and see also Plummer on Luke 21:21, ἐν ταῖς χώραις “in the country,” R.V. The word is characteristic of St. Luke, being used in his Gospel nine times, and in Acts eight; it is used thrice by St. Matthew and by St. John, four times by St. Mark, but elsewhere in N.T. only once, James 5:4. It is found frequently in LXX and in 1, 2, 3 Macc.— τῆς ἰουδαίας καὶ σαμαρείας: thus the historian makes another step in the fulfilment of the Lord’s command, Acts 1:8, and see also Ramsay, St. Paul, etc., p. 41. St. Chrysostom remarks ὅτι οἰκουομίας διωγμὸς ἦν, since the persecution became the means of spreading the Gospel, and thus early the blood of the martyrs became the seed of the Church.— πλὴν τῶν ἀποστόλωνπλήν: characteristic of St. Luke, sometimes as an adverb, sometimes as a preposition with genitive as here and in Acts 15:28, Acts 27:22; elsewhere it is only found once as a preposition with genitive, in Mark 12:32, although very frequent in LXX. The word occurs at least thirteen times in the Gospel, four times in Acts, in St. Matthew five times, in St. Mark once, and in John 8:10; see Friedrich, Das Lucasevangelium, pp. 16, 91. This mention of the Apostles seems unlikely to Schneckenburger. Schleiermacher, and others, but, as Wendt points out, it is quite consistent with the greater steadfastness of men who felt themselves to be πρωταγωνισταί, as Œcumenius calls them, in that which concerned their Lord. Their position too may well have been more secure than that of the Hellenists, who were identified with Stephen, as they were held in favour by the people, Acts 5:13, and as regular attendants at the temple services would not have been exposed to the same charges as those directed against the proto-martyr. There was, too, a tradition (very old and well attested according to Harnack, Chronologie, i., 243) to the effect that the Apostles were commanded by Christ not to depart from Jerusalem for twelve years, so that none should say that he had not heard the message, Euseb., H. E., v., 18, 14; nor is there anything inconsistent with this tradition in the visit of St. Peter and St. John to Samaria, since this and other journeys are simply missionary excursions, from which the Apostles always returned to Jerusalem (Harnack). The passage in Clem. Alex., Strom., vi., 5, 43, limited the Apostles’ preaching for the time specified not to Jerusalem, but to Israel.— σαμαρείας: our Lord had recognised the barrier between the Samaritan and the Jew, Matthew 10:5; but now in obedience to His command (Acts 1:8) both Samaritan and Jew were admitted to the Church, for although the Apostles had not originated this preaching they very plainly endorsed it, Acts 8:14 ff. (cf. Hort, Judaistic Christianity, p. 54). Possibly the very fact that Philip and others were flying from the persecution of the Jewish hierarchy would have secured their welcome in the Samaritan towns.


Verse 2

Acts 8:2. Spitta connects Acts 8:2 with Acts 11:19-21, and all the intermediate section, Acts 8:5 to Acts 11:19; forms part of his source (so also Sorof, Clemen, who joins his H.H., Acts 8:1 to Acts 11:19; but on the other hand see Hilgenfeld, Zeitschrift für wissenschaft. Theol., p. 501 (1895), and Jüngst, Apostelgeschichte, p. 79). According to Spitta the whole narrative of Philip’s ministry in 8 ought not to be connected so closely with the death of Stephen, but should fall after Acts 9:31. The only reason for its earlier insertion is the desire to connect the second deacon with the first (but Hilgenfeld, u. s., pp. 413, 414 (1895), as against both Spitta and Clemen, regards the account of Philip and that of Stephen as inseparable). Spitta strongly maintains that Philip the Apostle, and not the deacon, is meant; and if this be so, he would no doubt help us to answer the objection that in Acts 8:14-17, and indeed in the whole section 9–24 we have an addition of the sub-Apostolic age inserted to show that the Apostles alone could bestow the Holy Spirit. But it cannot be said that Spitta’s attempt at the identification of Philip in 8 with the Apostle is in any way convincing, see, e.g., Zöckler, Apostelgeschichte, p. 212; Hilgenfeld, u. s., p. 416 (note), and Jüngst, u. s., p. 81. Feine’s objection to Acts 8:14-17 leads him, whilst he admits that the meeting with Simon Magus is historical, to regard the conversion of the sorcerer as doubtful, because the whole passage presupposes (Acts 8:18-24) that the laying on of the Apostles’ hands bestowed the Spirit; so Clemen refers the whole representation in its present form of the communication of the Spirit, not through Baptism, but through the laying on of the Apostles’ hands, to his Redactor Antijudaicus (cf. Acts 19:6), and to the same hand he attributes the πλὴν τῶν ἀποστόλων, Acts 8:1, and cf. Acts 8:25, introduced for the purpose of showing that the Apostles Peter and John sanctioned the Samaritan mission from the central home of the Christian Church.— συνεκόμισαν: in its primary sense the verb means to carry or bring together, of harvest; to gather in, to house it; so also in LXX, Job 5:26; in a secondary sense, to help in burying; so Soph., Ajax, 1048; Plut., Sull., 38. The meaning is not “carried to his burial,” as in A.V., but rather as R.V., “buried,” for, although the Greek is properly “joined in carrying,” the word includes the whole ceremony of burial—it is used only here in the N.T., and in LXX only in l. c.εὐλαβεῖς: only found in St. Luke in N.T., and used by him four times, once in Luke 2:25, and in Acts 2:5; Acts 22:12 ( εὐσεβής, T.R.). The primary thought underlying the word is that of one who handles carefully and cautiously, and so it bears the meaning of cautious, circumspect. Although εὐλάβεια and εὐλαβεῖσθαι are both used in the sense of caution and reverence towards the gods in classical Greek, the adjective is never expressly so used. But Plato connects it closely with δίκαιος (cf. Luke 2:25), Polit. 311 A and 311 (214) (so εὐσεβῶς and εὐλαβῶς are used together by Demosthenes). In the LXX all three words are found to express reverent fear of, or piety towards, God; εὐλαβεῖσθαι, frequently, εὐλάβεια in Proverbs 28:14, where σκληρὸς τὴν καρδίαν in the second part of the verse seems to point to the religious character of the εὐλαβ., whilst εὐλαβής is found in Micah 7:2 as a rendering of חסיד (cf. Psalms of Solomon, p. 36, Ryle and James’ edition); cf. also Sirach 11:17 (but see for both passages, Hatch and Redpath); in Leviticus 15:31 we find the word εὐλαβεῖς ποιήσετε τοὺς υἱοὺς . ἀπὸ τῶν ἀκαθαρσιῶν αὐτῶν, נָוַר hi. The adverb εὐλαβῶς is found once, 2 Maccabees 6:11. St. Luke uses the word chiefly at all events of O.T. piety. In Luke 2:45 it is used of Simeon, in Acts 2:5 of the Jews who came up to worship at the feasts in Jerusalem, and in Acts 22:12, although Ananias was a Christian, yet the qualifying words εὐλ. κατὰ τὸν νόμον point again to a devout observance of the Jewish law. Trench, N. T. Synonyms, i., pp. 38, 198 ff.; Westcott, Hebrews, on Acts 5:7; Grimm-Thayer, sub v., and sub v. δειλία.— ἄνδρες εὐλ.: much discussion has arisen as to whether they were Jews or Christians. They may have been Christians who like the Apostles themselves were still Jews, attending the temple services and hours of prayer, some of whom were doubtless left in the city. But these would have been described more probably as ἀδελφοί or μαθηταί (so Felten, Page, Hackett). Or they may have been devout Jews like Nicodemus, or Joseph of Arimathea, who would show their respect for Stephen, as Nicodemus and Joseph for Jesus (so Holtzmann, Zöckler). Wetstein (so too Renan and Blass) explains of Gentile proselytes, men like Cornelius, who rendered the last offices to Stephen out of natural respect for the dead, and who stood outside the jurisdiction of the Sanhedrim, so that the funeral rites need not have been performed in secret. But St. Luke as a rule uses other words to denote Gentile proselytes, and the Sanhedrim would probably not have interfered with the burial, not only on account of the known Jewish care for the dead, but also because devout Jews would not have been obnoxious in their eyes to the charges brought against Stephen, Acts 6:14 (so Nösgen). The word might therefore include both devout Jews and Jewish Christians who joined together in burying Stephen.— κοπετὸν μέγαν, from κόπτω, κόπτομαι, cf. planctus from plango, to beat the breast or head in lamentation. Not used elsewhere in N.T., but frequent in LXX cf., e.g., Genesis 1:10, 1 Maccabees 2:70; 1 Maccabees 4:39; 1 Maccabees 9:20; 1 Maccabees 13:26, for the same allocation as here, and for ποιῆσαι κοπετόν, Jeremiah 6:26, Micah 1:8, and cf. also Zechariah 12:10. In classical Greek κομμός is found, but see Plut., Fab., 17, and Kennedy, Sources of N. T. Greek, p. 74, for reference to the comic poet Eupolis (cf. also Blass), and Grimm-Thayer, sub v. For the Jewish customs of mourning cf. Matthew 9:23, Hamburger, Real-Encyclopädie des Judentums, i., 7, 996, “Trauer”; Edersheim, Jesus the Messiah, i., p. 616, and Sketches of Jewish Social Life, p. 172 ff. If the mourners included Jews as well as Jewish Christians, it may well have been that the lamentation was not only a token of sorrow and respect, but also in the nature of a protest on the part of the more moderate section of the Pharisees (see also Trench’s remarks, u. s., p. 198). According to the tradition accepted by St. Augustine, it is said that both Gamaliel and Nicodemus took part in the burial of Stephen, and were afterwards laid in the same grave (Felten, Apostelgeschichte, p. 167, and Plumptre in loco).


Verse 3

Acts 8:3. ἐλυμαίνετο: deponent verb, used in classical Greek of personal outrage ( λύμη), of scourging and torturing, of outraging the dead, of the ruin and devastation caused by an army (Wetstein). In the LXX it is found several times, cf. especially Psalms 79(80):13, of a wild boar ravaging a vineyard, and cf. also Sirach 28:23. As the word is used only by St. Luke it is possible that it may have been suggested by its frequent employment in medical language, where it is employed not only of injury by wrong treatment, but also of the ravages of disease, Hobart, Medical Language, pp. 211, 212. R.V. renders “laid waste,” A.V. (so Tyndale) “made havoc of,” but the revisers have rendered πορθέω by the latter, cf. Acts 9:21, Galatians 1:3. St. Paul’s description of himself as ὑβριστής, 1 Timothy 1:13, may well refer to the infliction of personal insults and injuries, as expressed here by λυμαίνομαι (cf. Paley, Horæ Paulinæ, xi., 5).— τὴν ἐκκλησίαν, i.e., the Church just mentioned at Jerusalem—Saul’s further persecution, even to Damascus, probably came later (Hort, Ecclesia, p. 53).— κατὰ τοὺς οἴκους εἰσπορ.: the expression may denote “entering into every house,” R. and A.V., or perhaps, more specifically, the houses known as places of Christian assembly, the ἐκκλησίαι κατʼ οἶκον, see on Acts 2:46. In any case the words, as also those which follow, show the thoroughness and relentlessness of Saul’s persecuting zeal.— σύρων: haling, i.e., hauling, dragging (schlappend), cf. James 2:6. The word is used by St. Luke three times in Acts (only twice elsewhere in N.T.), and he alone uses κατασύρω, Luke 12:58, in the same sense as the single verb (where St. Matthew has παραδῷ). For its employment in the Comic Poets see Kennedy, Sources of N. T. Greek, p. 76, and also Arrian, Epict., i. 29, 22, and other instances in Wetstein; cf. LXX, 2 Samuel 17:13, 4 Maccabees 6:1, ἔσυραν ἐπὶ τὰ βασανιστήρια τὸν ἐλ.— γυναῖκας: repeated also in Acts 9:2, and Acts 22:4, as indicating the relentless nature of the persecution. Some of the devout and ministering women may well have been included, Luke 8:2-3, Acts 1:14.


Verse 4

Acts 8:4. οἱ μὲν οὖν: marking a general statement, δὲ in following verse, introducing a particular instance (so Rendall, Appendix on μὲν οὖν, Acts, p. 162, and see also p. 64).— διῆλθον: the word is constantly used of missionary journeys in Acts, cf. Acts 5:40; Acts 11:19; Acts 9:32 (Luke 9:6), cf. Acts 13:6, note.— εὐαγγελιζόμενοι: it is a suggestive fact that this word is only used once in the other Gospels (Matthew 11:5 by our Lord), but no less than ten times in St. Luke’s Gospel, fifteen in Acts, and chiefly elsewhere by St. Paul; truly “a missionary word,” see Acts 8:12. Simcox, Language of the N. T., p. 79, speaks of its introduction into the N.T. with “such a novel force as to be felt like a new word”. It is used several times in LXX, and is also found in Psalms of Solomon, Acts 11:2 (cf. Isaiah 40:9; Isaiah 52:7, and Nahum 1:15). On its construction see Simcox, u. s., p. 79, and Vogel, p. 24.


Verse 5

Acts 8:5. φίλιππος δὲ: the Evangelist, cf. Acts 21:8, and note on Acts 6:5.— εἰς πόλιν: if we insert the article (see above on critical notes), the expression means “the city of Samaria,” i.e., the capital of the district (so Weiss, Wendt, Zöckler, see Blass, in loco), or Sebaste, so called by Herod the Great in honour of Augustus, σεβαστή (Jos., Ant., xv., 7, 3; 8, 5; Strabo, xvi., p. 860), see Schürer, Jewish People, div. ii., vol. 1, p. 123 ff., E.T., and O. Holtzmann, Neutest. Zeitgeschichte, p. 93.— ἐκήρυσσεν: the revisers distinguish between this verb and εὐαγγελ. in Acts 8:4, the latter being rendered “preaching,” or more fully, preaching the glad tidings, and the former “proclaimed” (see also Page’s note on the word, p. 131), but it is doubtful if we can retain this full force of the word always, e.g., Luke 4:44, where R.V. translates κηρύσσων, “preaching”.— αὐτοῖς, i.e., the people in the city mentioned, see Blass, Grammatik, p. 162, and cf. Acts 16:10, Acts 20:2.


Verse 6

Acts 8:6. προσεῖχοντοῖς λεγ., cf. Acts 16:14, 1 Timothy 1:4, Titus 1:14, 2 Peter 1:9, see note on Acts 5:35, used in classical Greek sometimes with νοῦν, and sometimes without as here; frequent in LXX, cf. with this passage, Wisdom of Solomon 8:12, 1 Maccabees 7:12.— ὁμοθυμαδόν, see above on Acts 1:14.


Verse 7

Acts 8:7. πολλῶν γὰρ κ. τ. λ.: if we accept reading in R.V. (see critical notes above), we must suppose that St. Luke passes in thought from the possessed to the unclean spirits by which they were possessed, and so introduces the verb ἐξήρχοντο (as if the unclean spirits were themselves the subject), whereas we should have expected that ἐθεραπεύθησαν would have followed after the first πολλοί as after the second, in the second clause of the verse. Blass conjectures that should be read before βοῶντα, which thus enables him, while retaining ἐξήρχοντο, to make πολλοί in each clause of the verse the subject of ἐθεραπ. One of the most striking phenomena in the demonised was that they lost at least temporarily their own self-consciousness, and became identified with the demon or demons, and this may account for St. Luke’s way of writing, as if he also identified the two in thought, Edersheim, Jesus the Messiah, i., 479, 647, ff. As a physician St. Luke must have often come into contact with those who had unclean spirits, and he would naturally have studied closely the nature of their disease. It is also to be noted that πολλοί with the genitive, τῶν ἐχόντων (not πολλοὶ ἔχοντες), shows that not all the possessed were healed, and if so, it is an indication of the truthfulness of the narrative. Moreover, St. Luke not only shows himself acquainted with the characteristics of demoniacal possession, cf. his description in Luke 8:27; Luke 9:38-39, but he constantly, as in the passage before us, distinguishes it from disease itself, and that more frequently than the other Evangelists. Hobart draws special attention to Luke 6:17; Luke 8:4; Luke 13:32, which have no parallels in the other Gospels, and Acts 19:12. To which we may add Luke 4:40, Acts 5:16 (Wendt); see further on Acts 19:12.— βοῶντα, cf. Mark 1:26, Luke 4:33.— παραλελυμένοι: St. Luke alone of the Evangelists uses the participle of παραλύειν, instead of παραλυτικός, the more popular word; and here again his usage is exactly what we should expect from a medical man acquainted with technical terms (Hobart, Zahn, Salmon), cf. Acts 9:33 and Luke 5:18; Luke 5:24 ( παραλυτικῷ, W.H(215) margin). Dr. Plummer, St. Luke, Introd., 65, points out that Aristotle, a physician’s son, has also this use of παραλελυμένος (Eth. Nic., i., 13, 15), but he adds that its use in St. Luke may have come from the LXX, as in Hebrews 12:12, where we have the word in a quotation from Isaiah 35:3 (cf. also Sirach 25:23). It may be added that the participle is also found in 3 Maccabees 2:22, καὶ τοῖς μέλεσι παραλελυμένον, and cf. 1 Maccabees 9:15, where it is said of Alcimus, καὶ παρελύθη. But the most remarkable feature in St. Luke’s employment of the word is surely this, that in parallel passages in which St. Matthew and St. Mark have παραλυτικός he has παραλελυμένος, cf. Luke 5:18, Matthew 9:2, Mark 2:3; in Luke 5:24 this same distinction is also found in the Revisers’ text (but see W.H(216) above), when this verse is compared with Matthew 9:6 and Mark 2:10.


Verse 8

Acts 8:8. This detail, and indeed the whole narrative, may have been derived by St. Luke from the information of St. Philip himself, cf. Acts 21:8, Acts 24:27, or from St. Paul as he travelled through Samaria, Acts 15:3.


Verse 9

Acts 8:9. σίμων: very few of the most advanced critics now dismiss Simon as an unhistorical character, or deny that the account before us contains at least some historical data; see McGiffert’s note, Apostolic Age, p. 100. Hilgenfeld and Lipsius may be reckoned amongst those who once refused to admit that Simon Magus was an historical personage, but who afterwards retracted their opinion. But it still remains almost unaccountable that so many critics should have more or less endorsed, or developed, the theory first advocated by Baur that the Simon Magus of the Clementine Homilies is none other than the Apostle Paul. It is sufficient to refer for an exposition of the absurdity of this identification to Dr. Salmon “Clementine Literature” (Dict. of Christ. Biog., iii., pp. 575, 576; see also Ritschl’s note, Die Entstehung der altkatholischen Kirche, p. 228 (second edition)). This ingenuity outdid itself in asking us to see in Simon’s request to buy the power of conferring the Holy Ghost a travesty of the rejection of Paul’s apostolic claims by the older Apostles, in spite of the gift of money which he had collected for the poor Saints in Jerusalem (Overbeck). No wonder that Spitta should describe such an explanation as “a perfect absurdity” (Apostelgeschichte, p. 149). Before we can believe that the author of the Acts would make any use of the pseudo-Clementine literature in his account of Simon, we must account for the extraordinary fact that an author who so prominently represents his hero as triumphing over the powers of magic, Acts 13:6-12, Acts 19:11-19, should have recourse to a tradition in which this same hero is identified with a magician (see Spitta, u. s., p. 151; Salmon, “The Simon of Modern Criticism,” Dict. of Christian Biog., iv., p. 687; Zöckler, Apostelgeschichte, p. 212, and Wendt’s note, p. 201). In Acts 21:8 we read that St. Luke spent several days in the house of Philip the Evangelist, and if we bear in mind that this same Philip is so prominent in chap. 8, there is nothing impossible in the belief that St. Luke should have received his narrative from St. Philip’s lips, and included it in his history as an early and remarkable instance of the triumph of the Gospel—we need not search for anymore occult reason on the part of the historian (see Salmon, u. s., p. 688). Simon then is an historical personage, and it is not too much to say that to all the stories which have gathered round his name the narrative of Acts always stands in a relation of priority—the two facts mentioned in Acts, that Simon was a magician, and that he came into personal antagonism with St. Peter, always recur elsewhere—but Acts tells us nothing of the details of Simon’s heretical preaching, and it draws the veil entirely over his subsequent history. But “the hero of the romance of heresy” comes into prominence under the name of Simon in Justin Martyr, Apol., i., 26, Irenæus, i., 23 (who speaks of Simon the Samaritan, from whom all heresies had their being), and in the Clementine literature. But there is good reason for thinking that St. Irenæus, whilst he gives us a fuller account, is still giving us an account dependent on Justin, and there is every reason to believe that the Clementine writers also followed the same authority; see further, Salmon, “Simon Magus,” u. s., 4, p. 681 ff., and for a summary of the legends which gathered round the name of the Samaritan magician Plumptre’s note, in loco, may be consulted. To the vexed question as to the identification of the Simon of Justin with the Simon of the Acts Dr. Salmon returns a decided negative answer, u. s., p. 683, and certainly the Simon described by Justin seems to note rather the inheritor and teacher of a Gnostic system already developed than to have been in his own person the father of Gnosticism. Simon, however, was no uncommon name, e.g., Josephus, Ant., xx., 7, 2, speaks of a Simon of Cyprus, whom there is no valid reason to identify with the Simon of the Acts (although famous critical authorities may be quoted in favour of such an identification). On the mistake made by Justin with reference to the statue on the Tiberine island with the words Semoni Sanco Deo Fidio inscribed (cf. the account of the marble fragment, apparently the base of a statue, dug up in 1574, marked with a similar inscription, in Lanciani’s Pagan and Christian Rome) in referring it to Simon Magus, Apol., i, 26, 56, Tertullian, Apol., c. xiii., and Irenæus, i., 23, whilst in reality it referred to a Sabine god, Semo Sancus, the Sabine Hercules, see further, Salmon, u. s., p. 682, Rendall, Acts, p. 220. (Van Manen, followed by Feine, claims to discover two representations of Simon in Acts—one as an ordinary magician, Acts 8:9; Acts 8:11, the other as a supposed incarnation of the deity, Acts 8:10—so too Jüngst, who refers the words from μαγεύων to σαμαρίας to his Redactor; but on the other hand Hilgenfeld and Spitta see no contradiction, and regard the narrative as a complete whole.)— μαγεύων: only here in N.T., not found in LXX (but cf. μάγος in Daniel 1:20; Daniel 2:2), though used in classical Greek. The word μάγος was used frequently by Herodotus of the priests and wise men in Persia who interpreted dreams, and hence the word came to denote any enchanter or wizard, and in a bad sense, a juggler, a quack like γόης (see instances in Wetstein). Here (cf. Acts 13:6) it is used of the evil exercise of magic and sorcery by Simon, who practised the charms and incantations so extensively employed at the time in the East by quacks claiming supernatural powers (Baur, Paulus, i, p. 107; Neander, Geschichte der Pflan zung, cf. i., 84, 85 (fifth edit.); Wendt, Apostelgeschichte, p. 202; Blass, in loco; Deissmann, Bibelstudien, p. 19, and see below on Acts 13:6.— ἐξιστῶν, from ἐξιστάω ( ἐξίστημι); so ἐξιστάνων, W. H. from ἐξιστάνω (hellenistic), see Blass, Grammatik, pp. 48, 49, transitive in present, future, first aorist active, cf. Luke 24:22—so ἐξεστακέναι, Acts 8:11, perfect active, hellenistic form, also transitive; see Blass, u. s. (also Winer-Schmiedel, p. 118, and Grimm-Thayer, sub v.) (in 3 Maccabees 1:25 ἐξιστάνειν also occurs).— ἵσταμαι, intransitive, Acts 8:13, Blass, u. s., p. 49—the revisers have consistently rendered the verb by the same English word in the three Acts 8:9; Acts 8:11; Acts 8:13, thus giving point and force to the narrative, see on Acts 8:13.— λέγων κ. τ. λ., cf. Acts 5:36 Blass, Grammatik, p. 174, regards μέγαν as an interpolation, and it is not found in the similar phrase in Acts 5:36 (so too Winer-Schmiedel, p. 243), cf. Galatians 2:6; Galatians 6:3, and the use of the Latin aliquis, Cicero, Att., iii., 15, so too vii. 3, etc. It may be that Simon set himself up for a Messiah (see Ritschl’s note, p. 228, Die Entstehung der altkatholischen Kirche, second edition), or a Prophet, Jos., Ant., xviii., 4, 1, but Acts 8:14 points to a definite title, and it is likely enough that the people would repeat what Simon had told them of himself. His later followers went further and made him say, “Ego sum sermo Dei, ego sum speciosus, ego paraclitus, ego omnipotens, ego omnia Dei” Jerome, Commentar. in Matt., c. Acts 20:24 (Neander, Geschichte der Pflan zung, cf. i., 85, note).— ἑαυτὸν: contrast Philip’s attitude; he preached Christ, not himself (cf. Revelation 2:20).


Verse 10

Acts 8:10. δύναμις το͂ υ θεοῦ μεγάλη: in R.V. the power of God which is called ( καλουμένη) Great, see above, critical notes. T.R. may have omitted the word because it appeared unsuitable to the context; but it could not have been used in a depreciatory sense by the Samaritans, as if to intimate that the person claimed was the so-called “Great,” since they also gave heed to Simon. On the other hand it has been argued that the title “Great” is meaningless in this relation, for every divine power might be described by the same epithet (so Wendt, in loco, and Blass: “mirum maxime καλ. quasi δύναμις θ. μικρά quoque esse possit”. This difficulty leads Blass in his notes to introduce the solution proposed by Klostermann, Problem im Aposteltexte, pp. 15–20 (1883), and approved by Wendt, Zöckler, Spitta, and recently by Zahn, Einleitung in das N. T., ii. 420; see also Salmon’s remarks in Hermathena, xxi., p. 232), vix., that μεγάλη is not a translation of the attribute “great” רב, but rather a transcription of the Samaritan word מגלי or מגלא meaning qui revelat (cf. Hebrew גָּלָה, Chaldean גְּלָא גְּלַה, to reveal). The explanation would then be that in contrast to the hidden essence of the Godhead, Simon was known as its revealing power. Nestle however (see Knabenbauer in loco) objects on the ground that καλουμένη is not read at all in many MSS. But apart from Klostermann’s explanation the revised text might fairly mean that amongst the “powers” of God (cf. the N.T. use of the word δυνάμεις in Romans 8:38, 1 Peter 3:22, and cf. Book of Enoch lxi. 10) Simon was emphatically the one which is called great, i.e., the one prominently great or divine. The same title was assigned to him in later accounts, cf. Irenæus, i., 23 (Clem. Hom., ii., 22; Clem. Recog., i., 72; ii, 7; Tertullian, De Præscr., xlvi.; Origen, c. Celsum, v.). But whatever the claims made by Simon himself, or attributed to him by his followers, we need not read them into the words before us. The expression might mean nothing more than that Simon called himself a great (or revealing) angel of God, since by the Samaritans the angels were regarded as δυνάμεις, powers of God (cf. Edersheim, Jesus the Messiah, i., 402, note 4, and De Wette, Apostelgeschichte, p. 122, fourth edition). Such an explanation is far more probable than the attribution to the Samaritans of later Gnostic and philosophical beliefs, while it is a complete answer to Overbeck, who argues that as the patristic literature about Simon presupposes the emanation theories of the Gnostics so the expression in the verse before us must be explained in the same way, and that thus we have a direct proof that the narrative is influenced by the Simon legend. We may however readily admit that Simon’s teaching may have been a starting-point for the later Gnostic developments, and so far from Acts 8:10 demanding a Gnostic system as a background, we may rather see in it a glimpse of the genesis of the beliefs which afterwards figure so prominently in the Gnostic schools (Nösgen, Apostelgeschichte, in loco, and p. 186, and see McGiffert, Apostolic Age, p. 99, and “Gnosticism,” Dict. of Christ. Biog., ii., 680). On the close connection between the Samaritans and Egypt and the widespread study of sorcery amongst the Egyptian Samaritans see Deissmann, Bibelstudien, pp. 18, 19. In Hadrian’s letter to Servianus we find the Samaritans in Egypt described, like the Jews and Christians there, as all astrologers, sooth sayers and quacks (Schürer, Jewish People, div. ii., vol. ii., p. 230 E.T.): no doubt an exaggeration, as Deissmann says, but still a proof that amongst these Egyptian Samaritans magic and its kindred arts were widely known. In a note on p. 19 Deissmann gives an interesting parallel to Acts 8:10, ἐπικαλοῦμαί σε τὴν μεγίστην δύναμιν τὴν ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ ( ἄλλοι· τὴν ἐν τῇ ἄρκτῳ) ὑπὸ κυρίου θεοῦ τεταγμένην (Pap. Par. Bibl. nat., 1275 ff.; Wessely, i., 76) (and he also compares Gospel of Peter, Acts 8:19, δύναμίς μου (2)). The expression according to him will thus have passed from its use amongst the Samaritans into the Zauber-litteratur of Egypt.


Verse 11

Acts 8:11. ἱκανῷ χρόνῳ: dative for accusative, cf. Acts 13:20, and perhaps Luke 8:29, Romans 16:25—the usage is not classical, Blass, Grammatik, p. 118, but see also Winer-Moulton, xxxi. 9 a. St. Luke alone uses ἱκανός with χρόνος, both in his Gospel and in Acts (Vogel, Klostermann).— μαγείαις: only here in N.T., not found in LXX or Apocryphal books, but used in Theophrastus and Plutarch, also in Josephus. It is found in a striking passage in St. Ignatius (Ephes., xix., 3) in reference to the shining forth of the star at the Incarnation, ὅθεν ἐλύετο πᾶσα μαγεία καὶ τᾶς δεσμός, and it is also mentioned, Didache 1, v., 1, amongst the things comprised under “the way of death,” and so in Acts 2:1 we read οὐ μαγεύσεις οὐ φαρμακεύσεις.— ἐξεστακέναι, see above on Acts 8:9.


Verse 12

Acts 8:12. εὐαγγελ. περὶ: only here with περί, cf. Romans 1:3 (Jos., Ant., xv., 7, 2). Amongst the Samaritans Philip would have found a soil already prepared for his teaching, cf. John 4:25, and a doctrine of the Messiah, in whom the Samaritans saw not only a political but a religious renewer, and one in whom the promise of Deuteronomy 18:15 would be fulfilled (Edersheim, Jesus the Messiah, i., 402, 403; Westcott, Introduction to the Study of the Gospels, pp. 162, 163).— ἄνδρες τε καὶ γυναῖκες, cf. Acts 5:14 : “etiam mulieres quae a superstitionibus difficilius abstrahuntur,” Wetstein, cf. John 4:35 ff.


Verse 13

Acts 8:13. καὶ αὐτὸς: characteristic of St. Luke, see Friedrich, Das Lucasevangelium, p. 37.— βαπτισθεὶςἐβαπτίσθη ἀλλʼ οὐκ ἐφωτίσθη (St. Cyril).— ἦν προσκαρτερῶν: on ἦν with a participle as characteristic of St. Luke see on Acts 1:10, and Friedrich, u. s., p. 12; on προσκαρτ. see on Acts 1:14. Here with dative of the person (cf. Acts 10:7); the whole expression shows how assiduously Simon attached himself to Philip.— θεωρῶν: the faith of Simon rested on the outward miracles and signs, a faith which ended in amazement, ἐξίστατο—but it was no permanent abiding faith, just as the amazement which he had himself inspired in others gave way before a higher and more convincing belief. The expression δυνάμεις μεγάλας may have been purposely chosen; hitherto men had seen in Simon, and he himself had claimed to be, δύν. μεγάλη (Weiss).— ἐξίστατο: “Simon qui alios obstupefaciebat, jam ipse obstupescit,” Wetstein. ἐξίσταμαι, intransitive, Blass, Grammatik, p. 49. Irenæus speaks of him as one who pretended faith, Acts 1:23 (so too St. Cyril, St. Chrysostom, St. Jerome, St. Ambrose): he may have believed in the Messianic dignity of Christ, and in His Death and Resurrection, constrained by the miracles which Philip wrought in attestation of his preaching, but it was a belief about the facts, and not a belief in Him whom the facts made known, a belief in the power of the new faith, but not an acceptance of its holiness, Acts 8:18 (see further, Rendall’s note in loco, and on the Baptism of Simon, “Baptism,” in Hastings’ B.D.).


Verse 14

Acts 8:14. σαμ.: here the district; Weiss traces the revising hand of St. Luke (but see on the other hand Wendt, in loco). There is nothing surprising in the fact that the preaching of the Gospel in the town should be regarded by the Apostles at Jerusalem as a proof that the good news had penetrated throughout the district, or that the people of the town should themselves have spread the Gospel amongst their countrymen (cf. John 4:28).— δέδεκται τὸν λόγον τοῦ θ.: the phrase is characteristic of St. Luke, as it is used by him, Luke 8:13, Acts 11:1; Acts 17:11, but not by the other Evangelists—it is found once in St. Paul, 1 Thessalonians 1:6 (cf. Acts 2:13 and James 1:21). In the mention of John here, as in Acts 3:4, Weiss can only see the hand of a reviser, since the beloved disciple is mentioned with Peter in a way for which, as Weiss alleges, no reason can be assigned, Acts 3:4; Acts 3:11, Acts 4:13; but nothing was more likely than that Peter and John should be associated together here as previously in the Gospels, see Plumptre’s note on Acts 3:1.


Verse 15

Acts 8:15. οἵτινες: on this form of the relative see Rendall, in loco; Blass however regards it as simply = οἵ, Grammatik, p. 169, cf. Acts 12:10.— καταβάντες, cf. Acts 24:1 (Luke 2:42), Acts 11:2, Acts 21:12; Acts 21:15. Wendt defends the historical character of this journey to Samaria as against Zeller and Overbeck.— προσηύξαντο περὶ: here only with περί; the verb is characteristic of St. Luke, and he alone has the construction used in this verse, cf. Luke 6:28, W.H(217) The exact phrase is found in St. Paul’s Epistles four or five times (and once in Hebrews), but often in LXX, and cf. Baruch 1:11; Baruch 1:13; 2 Maccabees 1:6; 2 Maccabees 15:14. The laying on of hands, as in Acts 6:7 and Acts 13:3, is here preceded by prayer, see Hooker, Eccles. Pol., v., chap. lxvi., 1–4.— ὅπως λάβωσι πν. ἅγιον: the words express the chief and highest object of the Apostles’ visit: it was not only to ascertain the genuineness of the conversions, or to form a connecting link between the Church of Samaria and that of Jerusalem, although such objects might not have been excluded in dealing with an entirely new and strange state of things—the recognition of the Samaritans in a common faith. It has been argued with great force that the expression Holy Spirit is not meant here in its dogmatic Pauline sense; Luke only means to include in it the ecstatic gifts of speaking with tongues and prophecy. This view is held to be supported by ἰδών in Acts 8:18, intimating that outward manifestations which meet the eye must have shown themselves, and by the fact that the same verb, ἐπέπεσε, is used in cases where the results which follow plainly show that the reception of the Holy Ghost meant a manifestation of the outward marvellous signs such as marked the day of Pentecost, Acts 10:44; Acts 10:46, Acts 11:15 (cf. Acts 19:6). In the case of these Samaritans no such signs from heaven had followed their baptism, and the Apostles prayed for a conspicuous divine sanction on the reception of the new converts (Wendt, Zöckler, Holtzmann, and see also Hort, Ecclesia, pp. 54, 55). But even supposing that the reception of the Holy Ghost could be thus limited, the gift of tongues was no mere magical power, but the direct result of a super natural Presence and of a special grace—of that Presence speaking with tongues, prophesyings, and various gifts, 1 Corinthians 14:1; 1 Corinthians 14:14; 1 Corinthians 14:37, were no doubt the outward manifestations, but they could not have been manifested apart from that Presence, and they were outward visible signs or an inward spiritual grace. In a book so marked by the working of the Holy Spirit that it has received the name of the “Gospel of the Spirit” it is difficult to believe that St. Luke can mean to limit the expression λαμβάνειν here and in the following verse to anything less than a bestowal of that divine indwelling of the spirit which makes the Christian the temple of God, and which St. Paul speaks of in the very same terms as a permanent possession, Galatians 3:2, Romans 8:15 (Gore, Church and the Ministry, p. 258). St. Paul’s language, 1 Corinthians 12:30, makes it plain that the advent of the Holy Spirit was not of necessity attested by any peculiar manifestations, nor were these manifestations essential accompaniments of it: “Do all speak with tongues?” he asks, “Are all prophets?” See further on Acts 8:17.


Verse 16

Acts 8:16. ἐπιπεπτωκός: the verb is characteristic of St. Luke, and used by him both in his Gospel and in Acts of the occurrence of extraordinary conditions, e.g., the sudden influence of the Spirit, cf. Luke 1:12, Acts 10:44; Acts 11:15; Acts 19:17, cf. Revelation 11:11 (Acts 10:10 cannot be supported, and in Acts 13:11 read ἔπεσεν). Similar usage in LXX, Exodus 15:16, 1 Samuel 26:12, Psalms 54:4, Judith 2:28; Judith 11:11, etc. Friedrich, Das Lucasevangelium, p. 41 For the word as used by St. Luke in another sense also characteristic of him, see below on Acts 20:37, and Plummer on Acts 15:20. On the formula of baptism see above p. 91, and “Baptism,” B.D.2, p. 352, and Hastings’ B.D.— ὑπῆρχον here perhaps = “made a beginning,” took the first step (Lumby).


Verse 17

Acts 8:17. There cannot be any reason to doubt the validity of St. Philip’s baptism, and it is therefore evident that the laying on of hands (cf. Acts 19:6) is here distinct from baptism, and also from the appointment to any Church office (as in Acts 6:6, Acts 13:3), or the bestowal of any special power of healing as in the person of Ananias, Acts 9:12; Acts 9:17, although gifts of healing might no doubt accompany it. But both here and in Acts 19:6 (cf. Hebrews 6:2) it follows closely upon baptism, and is performed by Apostles, to whom alone the function belongs, although it is reasonable to suppose that the prophets and teachers who were associated with them in their Apostolic office, and who could lay on hands in Acts 13:1-3, could do so in other cases also for the reception of the Holy Ghost (Gore, Church and the Ministry, p. 258). The question why St. Philip did not himself “lay hands” upon his converts has been variously discussed, but the narrative of Acts supplies the answer, inasmuch as in the only two parallel cases, viz., the verse before us and Acts 19:6, the higher officers alone exercise this power, and also justifies the usual custom of the Church in so limiting its exercise (“Confirmation,” Dict. of Christian Antiq. (Smith & Cheetham), i., p. 425; B.D.1, iii., App.; and Hooker, Eccles. Pol., v., ch. lxvi. 5, and passage cited; Jerome, Advers. Lucif., c. 4, and St. Cyprian, Epis. 73, ad Jubaianum (reference to the passage before us)). Undoubtedly there are cases of baptism, Acts 2:41; Acts 16:15; Acts 16:33, where no reference is made to the subsequent performance of this rite, but in these cases it must be remembered that the baptiser was an Apostle, and that when this was the case its observance might fairly be assumed. For the special case of Cornelius see below on Acts 10:44, see further “Confirmation,” B.D.2, i., 640]. Weizsâcker contrasts this account in 8., Acts 5:16, which he describes as this crude conception of the communication of the Spirit solely by the imposition of the Apostles’ hands (Apostolic Age, ii., 254 and 299, E.T.), and which represents baptism as being thus completed, with the account of baptism given us by St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 1:14-17. But in the first place we should remember that Acts does not describe baptism as being completed by the laying on of hands; the baptism was not invalid, the Samaritan converts became by its administration members of the Church; and the laying on of hands was not so much a completion of baptism as an addition to it. And, in the next place, Hebrews 6:2 certainly indicates that this addition must have been known at a very early period (see Westcott, in loco). It may also be borne in mind that 2 Corinthians 1:21 is interpreted of confirmation by many of the Fathers (cf. too Westcott’s interpretation of 1 John 2:20; 1 John 2:27), and that St. Paul is writing a letter and not describing a ritual.— ἐλάμβανον: Dr. Hort, who holds that the reception of the Holy Spirit is here explained as in Acts 10:44 by reference to the manifestation of the gift of tongues, etc., points out that the verb is not ἔλαβον, but imperfect ἐλάμβανον, and he therefore renders it “showed a succession of signs of the Spirit” (sec also above). But this interpretation need not conflict with the belief in the gift of the Spirit as a permanent possession, and it is well to remember that ἐπετίθεσαν ( ἐπετίθουν) is also imperfect. Both verbs may therefore simply indicate the continuous administration of the laying on of hands by the Apostles, and the continuous supernatural result (not necessarily external manifestation) which followed upon this action; cf. ἐβαπτίζοντο in Acts 8:12, imperfect, and so in Acts 18:8.


Verse 18

Acts 8:18. θεασάμενος: the word would seem to point on (so ἰδών, see critical notes) to some outward manifestation of the inward grace of the Spirit, so Weiss, Wendt, Zöckler; so Felten, although he does not of course limit the reception of the Holy Spirit to such outward evidences of His Presence. The word may further give us an insight into Simon’s character and belief—the gift of the Spirit was valuable to him in its external manifestation, in so far, that is, as it presented itself to ocular demonstration as a higher power than his own magic.— διὰ τῆς ἐπιθ. τῶς χ. τῶν ἀποστ., see above on Acts 8:17, cf. διά, “the laying on of hands” was the instrument by which the Holy Ghost was given in this instance: “Church,” Hastings’ B.D., i., 426.— προσήνεγκεν αὐτοῖς χρήματα: Simon was right in so far as he regarded the gift of the Spirit as an ἐξουσία to be bestowed, but entirely wrong in supposing that such a power could be obtained without an inward disposition of the heart, as anything might be bought for gold in external commerce. So De Wette, Apostelgeschichte, p. 124 (fourth edition), and he adds: “This is the fundamental error in ‘Simony,’ which is closely connected with unbelief in the power and meaning of the Spirit, and with materialism” (see also Alford in loco). (See further on “Simony,” Luckock, Footprints of the Apostles as traced by St. Luke, i., 208.) Probably Simon, after the manner of the time, cf. Acts 19:19, may already have purchased secrets from other masters of the magical arts, and thought that a similar purchase could now be effected.


Verse 19

Acts 8:19. ἵνα ἐὰν ἐπιθῷ: “that on whomsoever I lay my hands,” i.e., quite apart from any profession of faith or test of character; no words could more plainly show how completely Simon mistook the essential source and meaning of the power which he coveted.


Verse 20

Acts 8:20. τὸ ἀργύριόν σου κ. τ. λ.: the words are no curse or imprecation, as is evident from Acts 8:22, but rather a vehement expression of horror on the part of St. Peter, an expression which would warn Simon that he was on the way to destruction. Rendall considers that the real form of the prayer is not that Simon may perish, but that as he is already on the way to destruction, so the silver may perish which is dragging him down, to the intent that Simon himself may repent and be forgiven: so Page, “thy money perish, even as thou art now perishing,” cf. Œcumenius, in loco (and to the same effect St. Chrys.): οὔκ ἐστι ταῦτα ἀρωμένου ἀλλὰ παιδεύοντος, οὔκ ἐστι ταῦτα ἀρωμένου ἀλλὰ παιδεύοντος ὡς ἄν τις εἴποι· τὸ ἀργύριον σου συναπόλοιτό σοι μετὰ τῆς προαιρέσεως. But see also on the optative of wishing, Burton, N. T. Moods and Tenses, p. 79, where he speaks of Mark 11:14 and Acts 8:20 as peculiar, being imprecations of evil, and cf. also Blass, Grammatik, p. 215.— εἴη εἰς ἀπώλειαν: a frequent construction, “go to destruction and remain there,” see Felten, Wendt, Page, and cf. Acts 8:23, εἰς χολὴνὄντα. The noun occurs no less than five times in St. Peter’s Second Epistle, cf. also 1 Peter 1:7. εἰς ἀπώλ. occurs five times elsewhere, Romans 9:22, 1 Timothy 6:9, Hebrews 10:39, Revelation 17:8; Revelation 17:11, and it is frequent in LXX cf. 1 Chronicles 21:17, Isaiah 14:23; Isaiah 54:16, Daniel 3:29; Daniel 2:5, Theod., etc.; 1 Maccabees 3:42, Bel and the Dragon, Acts 8:29, and several times in Ecclus.— τὴν δωρεὰν: and so, not to be bought, cf. Matthew 10:8, and our Lord’s own words in Samaria, John 4:10, εἰ ἤδεις τὴν δωρεὰν τοῦ θεοῦ κ. τ. λ.— ὅτιἐνόμισας διὰ χ. κτᾶσθαι: “because thou hast thought to obtain,” to acquire, gain possession of, κτᾶσθαι, deponent verb, so in classical Greek, not passive as in A.V., see Matthew 10:9, and elsewhere twice in St. Luke’s Gospel, Acts 18:12, Acts 21:19, and three times in Acts 1:18; Acts 8:20; Acts 22:28, and once in St. Paul, 1 Thessalonians 4:4, frequent in LXX, and in same sense as here of acquiring by money.— ἐνόμ.: it was not a mere error of judgment, but a sinful intention, which had come from a heart not right before God, Acts 8:21; cf. Matthew 15:19.


Verse 21

Acts 8:21. μερὶς οὐδὲ κλῆρος, cf. Deuteronomy 12:2; Deuteronomy 14:27; Deuteronomy 14:29; Deuteronomy 18:1, Isaiah 57:6, and instances in Wetstein, see on Acts 1:17.— λόγῳ τούτῳ: both A. and R.V. “in this matter,” i.e., in the power of communicating the Holy Spirit, but Grotius, Neander, Hackett, Blass, Rendall and others refer it to the Gospel, i.e., the word of God which the Apostles preached, and in the blessings of which the Apostles had a share. λόγος is frequently used in classical Greek of that de quo agitur (see instances in Wendt). Grimm, sub v., compares the use of the noun in classical Greek, like ῥῆμα, the thing spoken of, the subject or matter of the λόγος, Herod., i., 21, etc.— γὰρ καρδίαεὐθεῖα, cf. LXX, Ps. 7:10, 10:3, 35:10, 72:1, 77:37, etc., where the adjective is used, as often in classical Greek, of moral uprightness (cf. εὐθύτης in LXX, and Psalms of Solomon, Acts 2:15, ἐν εὐθύτητι καρδίας), so also in Acts 13:10, where the word is used by St. Paul on a similar occasion in rebuking Elymas; only found once in the Epistles, where it is again used by St. Peter, 2 Peter 2:15.


Verse 22

Acts 8:22. κακίας: not used elsewhere by St. Luke, but it significantly meets us twice in St. Peter, cf. 1 Peter 2:1; 1 Peter 2:16.— ἀφεθ.: if we read above, κυρίου, the meaning will be the Lord Jesus, in whose name the Apostles had been baptising, Acts 8:16, and ἀφεθ. may also point to the word of the Lord Jesus in Matthew 12:31 (so Alford, Plumptre).— εἰ ἄρα, Mark 11:13 (Acts 17:27). R. and A.V. both render “if perhaps,” but R.V. “if perhaps … shall be forgiven thee”; A.V. “if perhaps … may be forgiven thee”. St. Peter does not throw doubt on forgiveness after sincere repentance, but the doubt is expressed, because Simon so long as he was what he was (see the probable reading of the next verse and the connecting γάρ) could not repent, and therefore could not be forgiven, cf. Genesis 18:3. “If now I have found favour in thine eyes,” εἰ ἄρα ( אִם־נָא), which I hope rather than venture to assume; see also Simcox, Language of N. T. Greek, pp. 180, 181, and compare Winer-Moulton, xii., 4 c., and liii., 8 a; and Viteau, Le Grec du N. T.; cf. Jeremiah 20:10, Wisdom of Solomon 6:16, etc., 2 Maccabees 12:45, 4 Maccabees 17:2, and often in classical Greek.


Verse 23

Acts 8:23. εἰς γὰρ χολὴν: The passages in LXX generally referred to as containing somewhat similar phraseology are Deuteronomy 29:18; Deuteronomy 32:32, Lamentations 3:15. But the word χολή is found in LXX several times, and not always as the equivalent of the same Hebrew. In Deuteronomy 29:18; Deuteronomy 32:32, Psalms 69:21, Jeremiah 8:14; Jeremiah 9:15, Lamentations 3:19, it is used to translate ראֹשׁ ( רוֹשׁ, Deuteronomy 32:32), a poisonous plant of intense bitterness and of quick growth (coupled with wormwood, cf. Deuteronomy 29:18, Lamentations 3:19, Jeremiah 9:15). In Job 16:14 (where, however, AS2 read ζωήν for χολήν) it is used to translate מְרֵרָה, bile, gall in Acts 20:14 of the same book it is the equivalent of מְרֹרָה in the sense of the gall of vipers, i.e., the poison of vipers, which the ancients supposed to lie in the gall. In Proverbs 5:4 and Lamentations 3:15 it is the rendering of לַעֲנָה, wormwood; and in the former passage we have πικρότερον χολῆς. If we take the most usual signification of χολή in the LXX, viz., that of the gall plant (see R.V., margin, in loco, gall, or a gall root), the thought of bitterness would naturally be associated with it (in the passage which presents the closest parallel to the verse before us, Deuteronomy 29:18, ἐν χολῇ καὶ πικρίᾳ, πικρία is a translation of the Hebrew word for wormwood); ἐν χολῇ πικρίας might therefore denote the intefnse malignity which filled the heart ο Simon. (On the word χολή its sense here, and in Matthew 27:34, see Meyer-Weiss, Matth., p. 546.) The preposition εἰς is generally taken as = ἐν in this passage; but Rendall suggests that here, as is sometimes elsewhere, it = ὡς, and he therefore renders: “I see that thou art as gall of bitterness,” denoting the evil function which Simon would fulfil in the Church if he continued what he was. Westcott’s note on Hebrews 12:15 should also be consulted.— σύνδεσμον ἀδικίας: R.V. translates “thou art … in the bond of iniquity”. But if the passage means that Simon “will become … a bond of iniquity,” R.V., margin, or that he is now as a bond of iniquity (Rendall), the expression denotes, not that Simon is bound, but that he binds others in iniquity. Blass refers to Isaiah 58:6, where a similar phrase occurs, σύνδ. ἀδικ., and explains: “improbitate quasi vinctus es”; so Grimm, while pointing out that the phrase in Isaiah 58:6 is used in a different sense from here, explains “vinculum improbitatis, i.e., quod ab improbitate nectitur ad constringendos animos”. Others again take the expression to denote a bundle, fasciculus (Wetstein) (cf. Hdian., iv., 12, 11), Simon being regarded “quasi ex improbitate concretum,” cf. especially Cicero, in Pison., ix., 21; but such a rendering is rejected by Grimm, as no examples can be adduced of this tropical use of the noun, and by Wendt, on the ground that ἀδικία is not in the plural, but in the singular. Combinations with ἀδικία are characteristic of St. Luke; cf. Luke 13:27; Luke 16:8-9; Luke 18:6; cf. Acts 1:18; the word only occurs once elsewhere in the Gospels, John 7:18; Friedrich, Das Lucasevangelium, p. 23.


Verse 24

Acts 8:24. δεήθητε: the verse is often taken (as by Meyer and others) as a further proof of the hollowness of Simon’s belief, and his ignorance of the way of true repentance—he will not pray for himself, and he only asks for deliverance from fear of the penalty and not from hatred of the sin (so Bengel). But on the other hand Wendt, in criticising Meyer, objects to this further condemnation of Simon as not expressed in the text. So far as the petition for the Apostles’ prayers is concerned, it is of course possible that it may have been prompted by the belief that such prayers would be more efficacious than his own (so Blass, Wendt, see also conclusion of the story in ); he does not ask them to pray instead of himself but ὑπέρ, on his behalf.— ἐπέλθῃ: not used by the other Evangelists, but three times in St. Luke’s Gospel and four times in Acts, with ἐπί and accusative both in Gospel (Luke 1:35. cf. Luke 21:35) and Acts.


Verse 25

Acts 8:25. οἱ μὲν οὖν: the μὲν οὖν and δέ in Acts 8:26 may connect the return of the party to Jerusalem and the following instructions to Philip for his journey, and so enable us to gather for a certainty that Philip returned to Jerusalem with the Apostles, and received there his further directions from the Lord; see Rendall’s Appendix on μὲν οὖν, Acts, p. 164, but cf. on the other hand, Belser, Beiträge, pp. 51, 52. On the frequent and characteristic use of μὲν οὖν in Luke, see above on Acts 1:6, etc.— ὑπέστρεψαν: if we read the imperfect, we have the two verbs in the verse in the same tense, and the sense would be that the Apostles did not return at once to Jerusalem, but started on their return (imperfect), and preached to the Samaritan villages on the way (as Belser also allows)—the τε closely unites the two verbs (Weiss). The verb is characteristic of St. Luke: in his Gospel twenty-one or twenty-two times; in Acts, eleven or twelve times; in the other Evangelists, only once, Mark 15:40, and this doubtful; only three times in rest of N.T. (Lekebusch, Friedrich).


Verse 26

Acts 8:26. ἄγγελος: on the frequency of angelic appearances, another characteristic of St. Luke, see Friedrich, Das Lucasevangelium, pp. 45 and 52 (so Zeller, Acts, ii., 224, E.T.), cf. Luke 2:9 and Acts 12:7, Luke 1:38 and Acts 10:7, Luke 24:4 and Acts 1:10; Acts 10:30. There can be no doubt, as Wendt points out, that St. Luke means that the communication was made to Philip by an angel, and that therefore all attempts to explain his words as meaning that Philip felt a sudden inward impulse, or that he had a vision in a dream, are unsatisfactory.— ἀνάστηθι, as Wendt remarks, does not support the latter supposition, cf. Acts 5:17, and its frequent use in Acts and in O.T. see below.— δὲ may be taken as above, see Acts 8:25, or as simply marking the return of the narrative from the chief Apostles to the history of Philip. As in Acts 8:29; Acts 8:39, πνεῦμα and not ἄγγελος occurs; the alteration has been attributed to a reviser, but even Spitta, Apostelgeschichte, p. 153, can find no reason for this, and sees in the use of πνεῦμα and ἄγγελος here nothing more strange than their close collocation Matthew 4:1; Matthew 4:11.— ἀνάστηθι καὶ πορεύου, words often similarly joined together in LXX.— κατὰ μεσημβρίαν: towards the south, i.e., he was to proceed “with his face to the south,” cf. Acts 27:12 (Page).— ἐπὶ τὴν ὁδὸν (not πρός), on, i.e., along the road (not “unto,” A.V.). R.V. margin renders κατὰ μεσ. “at noon”; so Rendall, cf. Acts 22:6, as we have κατά not πρός; so Nestle, Studien und Kritiken, p. 335 (l892) (see Felten’s note, Apostelgeschichte, p. 177; but as he points out, the heat of the day at twelve o’clock would not be a likely time for travelling, see also Belser, Beiträge, p. 52, as against Nestle). Wendt, edition 1899, p. 177, gives in his adhesion to Nestle’s view on the ground that in LXX, cf. Genesis 18:1, etc., the word μεσημβρ. is always so used, and because the time of the day for the meeting was an important factor, whilst there would be no need to mention the direction, when the town was definitely named (see also O. Holtzmann, Neutest. Zeitgeschichte, p. 88).— αὕτη ἐστὶν ἔρημος: opinion is still divided as to whether the adjective is to be referred to the town or the road. Amongst recent writers, Wendt, edition 1899, p. 178; Zahn, Einleitung in das N. T., ii., 438 (1899); Belser, Rendall, O. Holtzmann, u. s., p. 88, Knabenbauer (so too Edersheim, Jewish Social Life, p. 79; Conder in B.D.2 “Gaza,” and Grimm-Thayer) may be added to the large number who see a reference to the route (in Schürer, Jewish People, div. ii., vol. i., p. 71, E.T., it is stated that this view is the more probable). But, on the other hand, some of the older commentators (Calvin, Grotius, etc.) take the former view, and they have recently received a strong supporter in Prof. G. A. Smith, Historical Geog. of the Holy Land, pp. 186–188. O. Holtzmann, although referring αὕτη to ὁδός, points out that both Strabo, xvi., 2, 30, and the Anonymous Geographical Fragment (Geogr. Græc. Minores, Hudson, iv., p. 39) designate Gaza as ἔρημος. Dr. Smith strengthens these references, not only by Jos., Ant., xiv., 4, 4, and Diodorus Siculus, xix., 80, but by maintaining that the New Gaza mentioned in the Anonymous Fragment was on the coast, and that if so, it lay off the road to Egypt, which still passed by the desert Gaza; the latter place need not have been absolutely deserted in Philip’s time; its site and the vicinity of the great road would soon attract people back, but it was not unlikely that the name ἔρημος might still stick to it (see also Acts 8:36 below). If we take the adjective as referring to the road, its exact force is still doubtful; does it refer to one route, specially lonely, as distinguished from others, or to the ordinary aspect of a route leading through waste places, or to the fact that at the hour mentioned, noon-day (see above), it would be deserted? Wendt confesses himself unable to decide, and perhaps he goes as far as one can expect to go in adding that at least this characterisation of the route so far prepares us for the sequel, in that it explains the fact that the eunuch would read aloud, and that Philip could converse with him uninterruptedly. Hackett and others regard the words before us as a parenthetical remark by St. Luke himself to acquaint the reader with the region of this memorable occurrence, and αὕτη is used in a somewhat similar explanatory way in 2 Chronicles 5:2, LXX, but this does not enable us to decide as to whether the explanation is St. Luke’s or the angel’s. Hilgenfeld and Schmiedel dismiss the words as an explanatory gloss. The argument sometimes drawn for the late date of Acts by referring ἔρημος to the supposed demolition of Gaza in A.D. 66 cannot be maintained, since this destruction so called was evidently very partial, see G. A. Smith, u. s., and so Schürer, u. s.


Verse 27

Acts 8:27. καὶ ἀναστὰς ἐπορεύθη: immediate and implicit obedience.— καὶ ἰδού, see on Acts 1:11; cf. Hort, Ecclesia, p. 179, on the force of the phrase; used characteristically by St. Luke of sudden and as it were providential interpositions, Acts 1:10, Acts 10:17, Acts 12:7, and see note on Acts 16:1.— εὐνοῦχος: the word can be taken literally, for there is no contradiction involved in Deuteronomy 23:1, as he would be simply “a proselyte of the gate” (Hort, Judaistic Christianity, p. 54). The instances sometimes referred to as showing that the exclusion of eunuchs from the congregation of the Lord was relaxed in the later period of Jewish history can scarcely hold good, since Isaiah 56:3 refers to the Messianic future in which even the heathen and the eunuchs should share, and in Jeremiah 38:7; Jeremiah 39:15 nothing is said which could lead us to describe Ebed Melech, another Ethiopian eunuch, as a Jew in the full sense. On the position and influence of eunuchs in the East, both in ancient and modern times, see “Eunuch,” B.D.2, and Hastings’ B.D. St. Luke’s mention that he was a eunuch is quite in accordance with the “universalism” of the Acts; gradually the barriers of a narrow Judaism were broken down, first in the case of the Samaritans, and now in the case of the eunuch. Eusebius, H. E., ii., i., speaks of him as πρῶτος ἐξ ἐθνῶν, who was converted to Christ, and even as a “proselyte of the gate” he might be so described, for the gulf which lay between a born Gentile and a genuine descendant of Abraham could never be bridged over (Schürer, Jewish People, div. ii., vol. ii., p. 326, E.T.). Moreover, in the case of the Ethiopian eunuch, descended from the accursed race of Ham, this separation from Israel must have been intensified to the utmost (cf. Amos 9:7). No doubt St. Luke may also have desired to instance the way in which thus early the Gospel spread to a land far distant from the place of its birth (McGiffert, Apostolic Age, p. 100).— δυνάστης: noun in apposition to ἀνὴρ αἰθ., only used by St. Luke here and in his Gospel, Luke 1:52, and once again by St. Paul, 1 Timothy 6:15. In LXX frequent (used of God, Sirach 46:5, 2 Maccabees 15:3; 2 Maccabees 15:23, etc.; so too of Zeus by Soph.), for its meaning here cf. Genesis 1:4, Latin, aulicus.— κανδάκης: not a personal name, but said to be a name often given to queens of Ethiopia (cf. Pharaoh, and later Ptolemy, in Egypt), Pliny, N. H., vi., 35, 7. In the time of Eusebius, H. E., ii., 1, Ethiopia is said to be still ruled by queens, Strabo, xvii., I., 54; Bion of Soli, Ethiopica (Müller, Fragm. Hist. Græc., iv., p. 351). According to Brugsch the spelling would be Kanta-ki: cf. “Candace,” B.D.2, and “Ethiopia,” Hastings’ B.D.— γάζης: a Persian word found both in Greek and Latin (cf. Cicero, De Off., ii., 22; Virg., Æn., i., 119; and see Wetstein, in loco). In LXX, Ezra 6:1 (Esther 4:7), treasures; Acts 5:17, Acts 7:20, treasury; Acts 7:21, treasurers; cf. also Isaiah 39:2, and γαζοφυλάκιον in LXX, and in N.T., Luke 21:1, Mark 12:41 (2), 43, John 8:20. “Observat Lucas, et locum, ubi præfectus Gazæ Philippo factus est obviam, Gazam fuisse vocatum” Wetstein; see also on the nomen et omen Felten and Plumptre, and compare on the word Jerome, Epist., cviii. 11. If the second ὅς is retained (R.V.) it emphasises the fact that the eunuch was already a proselyte Weiss).— προσκυνής ων: proves not that (he was a Jew, but that he was not a heathen (Hackett). The proselytes, as well as foreign Jews, came to Jerusalem to worship. We cannot say whether he had gone up to one of the feasts; St. Chrysostom places it to his credit that he had gone up at an unusual time.


Verse 28

Acts 8:28. ἄρματος: the chariot was regarded as a mark of high rank: very frequent word in LXX, but in N.T. only here, and in Revelation 9:9; cf. Revelation 18:13. “Chariot,” Hastings’ B.D., properly in classics a war-chariot, but here for ἁρμάμαξα, a covered chariot (Blass), Herod., vii., 41.— ἀνεγίνωσκεν: evidently aloud, according to Eastern usage; there is no need to suppose that some slave was reading to him (Olshausen, Nösgen, Blass). As the following citation proves, he was reading from the LXX, and the widespread knowledge of this translation in Egypt would make it probable a priori (Wendt), cf. Professor Margoliouth, “Ethiopian Eunuch,” Hastings’ B.D. It may be that the eunuch had bought the roll in Jerusalem “a pearl of great price,” and that he was reading it for the first time; Acts 8:34 is not quite consistent with the supposition that he had heard in Jerusalem rumours of the Apostles’ preaching, and of their reference of the prophecies to Jesus of Nazareth: Philip is represented as preaching to him Jesus, and that too as good news. “The eunuch came to worship—great was also his studiousness—observe again his piety, but though he did not understand he read, and after reading, examines,” Chrys., Hom., xix., and Jerome, Epist., liii., 5. See also Corn. à Lapide, in loco, on the diligence and devotion of the eunuch.


Verse 29

Acts 8:29. τὸ πνεῦμα εἶπεν: nothing inconsistent with the previous statement that an angel had spoken to him, as Weiss supposes by referring the angel visit to a reviser. There was no reason why the angel should accompany Philip, or reappear to him, whilst the inward guidance of the Spirit would be always present, as our Lord had promised.— κολλήθητι, cf. Acts 5:13, in Acts five times, and in each case of joining or attaching oneself closely to a person, of social or religious communion with a person, twice in Luke’s Gospel, cf. Acts 15:15 for its sense here, and elsewhere only once in the Evangelists, Matthew 19:5, and that in a quotation, Genesis 2:24, cf. its use three times in St. Paul, Romans 12:9, 1 Corinthians 6:16-17. In classical Greek similar usage, and cf. LXX, Ruth 2:8, Sirach 2:3; Sirach 19:2, 1 Maccabees 3:2; 1 Maccabees 6:21, etc. Hebrew דָּבַק, see Wetstein on Acts 10:28.


Verse 30

Acts 8:30. προσδραμὼν δὲ: rightly taken to indicate the eagerness with which Philip obeyed.— αρά γε—the γε strengthens the ἆρα, dost thou really understand? num igitur? ἆρα without γε is only found elsewhere in Luke 18:8, and in Galatians 2:17 (W.H(218), and also Lightfoot, Galatians, l.c.), see Blass, in loco, and Grammatik, p. 254. In LXX very rare, see Hatch and Redpath, sub v., and Viteau, Le Grec du N. T., p. 22 (1893).— γιν. ἀναγ.: for paronomasia, see Blass, Gram., p. 292, where other instances in N.T. are given, and also Wetstein, in loco. Julian’s well-known saying with reference to the Christian writings, and the famous retort, are quoted by Alford, Plumptre, Page, Meyer-Wendt, in loco.


Verse 31

Acts 8:31. γὰρ; “elegans particula hoc sensu quid quaeris?” implies, Why do you ask? for how should I be able? (cf. Matthew 27:23, Mark 15:14, Luke 23:22); see Simcox, Language of N. T. Greek, p. 172; Grimm-Thayer, sub v., I.— ἂν δυναίμην: optative with ἂν; occurs only in Luke, both in his Gospel and Acts, expressing what would happen on the fulfilment of some supposed condition: see, for a full list of passages, Burton, N. T. Moods and Tenses, p. 80; Simcox, u. s., p. 112: twice in direct questions, here and in Acts 17:18, but only in this passage is the condition expressed, cf. also Viteau, Le Grec du N. T., pp. 33 and 66 (1893).— ὁδηγήσῃ, see critical notes, and Blass, Grammatik, p. 210; if we read future indicative it will be an instance of a future supposition thus expressed with more probability, Burton, u. s., pp. 104, 105, 109, and see also Simcox, note on the passage, u. s., p. 112. Burton compares Luke 19:40 (W.H(219)), see also Viteau, u. s., pp. 4, 111, 226, whilst Blass maintains that there is no one certain example of this usage of εάν with future indicative. The word used here (“insignis modestia eunuchi,” Calvin) is used also by our Lord Himself for the Holy Spirit’s leading and guidance, John 16:13, and also in the LXX, as in the Psalms, of divine guidance.— παρεκάλεσέν: “he besought,” R.V. (“desired” A.V.), the word is rightly taken to denote both the humility and the earnestness of the eunuch (Bengel): a verb frequent both in St. Luke and St. Paul, six or seven times in Gospel, twenty-two or twenty-three times in Acts.— τε: note the closing connecting particle, showing the necessary result of the question (Weiss).


Verse 32

Acts 8:32. περιοχὴ τῆς γραφῆς “the contents of the passage of Scripture” i.e., the one particular passage, Isaiah 53:7-8 (so Meyer-Wendt, Holtzmann, Hackett), cf. Acts 1:16, and 1 Peter 2:6 : περιέχει ἐν τῇ γραφῇ and ταύτης in Acts 8:35 below; περιοχή has been taken to mean a section, as in Cicero, Epist. ad Att., xiii., 25 (so in Codex (220), before the Gospel of St. Mark, its περιοχαί, i.e., sectiones, are prefixed), but in Cicero also Meyer-Wendt take the word to mean the contents of a passage, cf. notes, edit. 1888 and 1899; see also Felten and Plumptre, in loco. St. Chrysostom apparently takes γραφή here as = αἱ γραφαί, “totum corpus scripturae sacræ,” see Blass, in loco, but if so, the plural would be used as always; see above references and Light-foot on Gal., Galatians 3:22. The fact that the eunuch was reading Isaiah is mentioned by St. Chrysostom as another indication of character, since he had in hand the prophet who is more sublime than all others, Hom., xix.


Verse 33

Acts 8:33. ἐν τῇ ταπεινώσει κ. τ. λ., cf. Isaiah 53:7-8, “in his humiliation his judgment was taken away” (LXX), so A. and R.V., generally taken to mean by his humbling himself his judgment was cancelled, cf. Philippians 2:6-7, so Wendt in seventh and eighth editions: cf. Grimm-Thayer, sub v., κρίσις, the punishment appointed for him was taken away, i.e., ended, and so sub v., αἴρω = to cause to cease, Colossians 2:14. But the words “in his humiliation” etc., may also fairly mean that in the violence and injustice done to him his judgment, i.e., the fair trial due to him, was withheld, and thus they conform more closely to the Hebrew “by oppression and by (unjust) judgment he was taken away,” so Hitzig, Ewald, Cheyne and R.V. So to the same effect Delitzsch takes the words to mean that hostile oppression and judicial persecution befel him, and out of them he was removed by death (cf. R.V. margin). (The words have been taken to mean that by oppression and judgment he was hurried off and punished, raptus est ad supplicium.)— τὴν ( δὲ) γενεὰν αὐτοῦ τίς διηγήσεται; (LXX), “his generation who shall declare?” R.V., the words may mean “who shall declare the wickedness of the generation in which he lived?” (see Grimm-Thayer, sub v., γενεά)—their wickedness, i.e., in their treatment of him; so De Wette (and Meyer in early editions), and to the same effect, Lumby, Rendall, cf. our Lord’s own words, Matthew 12:39-42, etc. In Meyer-Wendt (seventh and eighth edition) the words are taken to mean “who can fitly declare the number of those who share his life?” i.e., his posterity, his disciples, so Felten (but see on the other hand, Delitzsch, in loco). The Hebrew seems to mean, as in R.V. text, “and as for his generation who among them considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living? for the transgression of my people” etc., see Cheyne, in loco; Briggs, Messianic Prophecy, p. 358, and Delitzsch, Jesaia, pp. 523, 524, fourth edition (see also Page’s note, and Wendt, edition 1899). The references by the Fathers (cf. Bede and Wordsworth) to the eternal generation of the Son, and the mystery of His Incarnation, do not seem to find support in the Hebrew or in the Greek rendering. On the oldest Jewish interpretations of Isaiah 53, see Dalman’s Der leidende und der sterbende Messias, pp. 21–23, 27–35, 89, 91; and see also in connection with the passage before us, Athanasius, Four Discourses against the Arians, i., 13, 54, and Dr. Robertson’s note; see also above on St. Peter’s Discourses in chap. 3, and below on Acts 26:23.— αἴρεται ἀπὸ τῆς γῆς: “is taken,” i.e., with violence (here = Hebrew גָזַר), cf. use of αἴρω, LXX, Acts 22:22; Acts 21:36, Matthew 24:39, Luke 23:18, John 19:15.


Verse 34

Acts 8:34. ἀποκ., see above Acts 3:12, Acts 5:8. It has been sometimes supposed that the eunuch was acquainted with the tradition that Isaiah had been sawn asunder by Manasseh—Felten, see Wetstein on Hebrews 11:37.


Verse 35

Acts 8:35. ἀνοίξας τὸ στ. αὐτοῦ: the phrase is used to introduce some weighty and important utterance, cf. Acts 10:34, Acts 18:14, and Luke 1:64, so too Matthew 5:2, 2 Corinthians 6:11, also frequent in LXX “aperire os in Scriptura est ordiri longum sermonem de re gravi et seria. Significat ergo Lucas coepisse Philippum pleno ore disserere de Christo,” Calvin, cf. Hebrew phrase פָּתַח אֶת־פִּיו, in various senses.— ἀρξάμενος, see on Acts 1:22, cf. Luke 24:27.— ταύτης, see above on Acts 8:3 -— εὐηγγελίσατο: used with an accusative both of the person addressed, as in Acts 8:25; Acts 8:40, and of the message delivered, cf. Luke 8:1, Acts 5:42; Acts 8:4; Acts 8:12, etc., but when the two are combined the person is always expressed by the dative, cf. Luke 1:19; Luke 2:10 (Acts 17:18), Simcox, Language of the N. T., p. 79. From the sequel it is evident that Philip not only preached the glad tidings of the fulfilment of the prophecies in Jesus as the ideal and divine Sufferer, but that he also pointed out to the eunuch the door of admission into the Church of Jesus; cf. Jerome, Epist., liii., 5.


Verse 36

Acts 8:36. ἰδοὺ ὕδωρ: “intus fides, foris aqua præsto erat” Bengel. According to Jerome (Epist., ciii.) and Eusebius ( περὶ τόπων), the site of the baptism was placed at Bethsura (Bethzur, Joshua 15:28, 2 Chronicles 11:17, Nehemiah 3:16, etc.), about twenty miles from Jerusalem, and two from Hebron. Robinson (Biblical Researches, ii., 749) thinks that the place is more probably to be found on the road between Eleutheropolis (Beit—Jibrin) and Gaza, whilst Professor G. A. Smith (see above on Acts 8:26) considers that the fact that Philip was found immediately after at Azotus suggests that the meeting and baptism took place, not where tradition has placed them, among the hills of Judæa, but on the Philistine plain (Hist. Geog. of the Holy Land, pp. 186, 240). But as he finds it impossible to apply the epithet “desert” to any route from Jerusalem to Gaza, whether that by Beit—Jibrin, or the longer one by Hebron, he does not hesitate to apply the epithet to Gaza itself, and as the meeting (according to his view) took place in its neighbourhood, the town would naturally be mentioned. Gaza and Azotus, Acts 8:40, are the only two Philistine towns named in the N. T.— τί κωλύει με βαπτισθῆναι; “mark the eager desire, mark the exact knowledge … see again his modesty; he does not say Baptise me, neither does he hold his peace, but he utters somewhat betwixt strong desire and reverent fear” Chrys., Hom., xix.


Verse 38

Acts 8:38. εἰς τὸ ὕδωρ: even if the words are rendered “unto the water” (Plumptre), the context ἀνέβησαν ἐκ indicates that the baptism was by immersion, and there can be no doubt that this was the custom in the early Church. St. Paul’s symbolic language in Romans 6:4, Colossians 2:12, certainly seems to presuppose that such was the case, as also such types as the Flood, the passage of the Red Sea, the dipping of Naaman in Jordan. But the Didaché is fairly quoted to show that at an early period immersion could not have been regarded as essential, cf. Acts 7:3. See also “Teaching of the Apostles,” iv., 807, in Dict. of Christ. Biog. (Smith & Wace), “Apostellehre” in Real-Encyclopädie für protestant. Theol. und Kirche (Hauck), p. 712; “Baptism” in B.D.2. “Mutavit Æthiops pellem suam” is the comment of Bede, “id est sorde peccatorum abluta, de lavacro Jesu dealbatus ascendit.”


Verse 39

Acts 8:39. πνεῦμα κ. ἥρπασε: although the expression is simply πνεῦμα κ. the reference is evidently to the same divine power as in Acts 8:29, and cannot be explained as meaning an inward impulse of the Evangelist, or as denoting a hurricane or storm of wind (as even Nösgen and Stier supposed). The article is omitted before πνεῦμα κ. in Luke 4:18, so also in LXX, Isaiah 61:1, and we cannot therefore conclude anything from its omission here. ἥρπασε, abripuit, the disappearance, as the context shows, was regarded as supernatural, cf. LXX, 1 Kings 18:12, 2 Kings 2:16 (Ezekiel 3:14, Hebrew only רוח). Thus Hilgen feld recognises not only a likeness here to the O.T. passages quoted, but that a miraculous transference of Philip to another place is implied. No doubt, as Hilgenfeld points out, πνεῦμα may mean wind, John 3:8, but this by no means justifies exclusion of all reference here to the Holy Spirit. No doubt we may see with Blass a likeness in the language of the narrative to the O.T. passages just cited, and St. Luke’s informants may have been the daughters of Philip, who were themselves προφήτιδες (see Blass, in loco); but there is no reason why he should not have heard the narrative from St. Philip himself, and the rendering πνεῦμα by ventus is not satisfactory, although Blass fully recognises that Philip departed by the same divine impulse as that by which he had come. Holtzmann endorses the reference to the O.T. passages above, but specially draws attention to the parallel which he supposes in Bel and the Dragon, Acts 8:34 ff. But this passage should be contrasted rather than compared with the simple narrative of the text, so free from any fantastic embellishment, while plainly implying a supernatural element; cf. for the verb ἁρπάζω, 1 Thessalonians 4:17, 2 Corinthians 12:2; 2 Corinthians 12:4 (a reference to which as explaining Philip’s withdrawal is not to the point, since the narrative cannot imply that Philip was ἐκτὸς τοῦ σώματος), Revelation 12:5, used of a snatching or taking up due to divine agency, cf. Wisdom of Solomon 4:11, where it is said of Enoch ἡρπάγη. Both in classical Greek and in the LXX the word implies forcible or sudden seizure (John 6:15).— καὶ οὐκ εἶδενἐπορεύετο γὰρ κ. τ. λ. If these two clauses are closely connected as by R.V., they do not simply state that the eunuch went on his own way (Rendall), (in contrast with Philip who went his way), rejoicing in the good news which he had heard, and in the baptism which he had received; and R.V. punctuation surely need not prevent the disappearance of Philip from being viewed as mysterious, even if the words καὶ οὐκ εἶδον αὐτὸν οὐκέτι do not imply this. Moreover αὐτοῦ may rather emphasise the fact that the eunuch went his way, which he would not have done had he seen Philip, but would perhaps have followed him who had thus enlightened his path (so Weiss, in loco, reading αὐτοῦ τῆν ὁδόναὐτοῦ emphatic: see also St. Chrysostom’s comment in loco).— χαίρων: “the fruit of the Spirit is … joy,” Galatians 5:22 (the word at the end of a clause is characteristic of Luke; Luke 15:5; Luke 19:6, see Vogel, p. 45). Eusebius describes the eunuch, to whom he gives the name of Indich, as the first preacher to his countrymen of the tidings of great joy, and on the possible reception in the earliest Christian times of the Gospel message in the island of Meroë at least, see “Ethiopian Church,” Dict. of Christ. Biog., ii., 234 (Smith & Wace). In the conversion of the Ethiopian eunuch men have seen the first fulfilment of the ancient prophecy, Psalms 68:31 (Luckock, Footprints of the Apostles as traced by St Luke, i., 219, and C. and H., p. 66).


Verse 40

Acts 8:40. εὑρέθη εἰς .: constructio prægnans = was borne to and found at, cf. Acts 21:13; or, as εἰς means more than ἐν, implying that he had come into the city and was staying there, cf. Esther 1:5; marg. Hebrew “found,” A. V., εὑρίσκω, מָצָא, is very often found in the LXX in similar phrases, e.g., 1 Chronicles 29:17, 2 Chronicles 31:1, 1 Samuel 13:15, etc. The word may imply, however, much more than the fact that Philip was present at Azotus, and Alford sees in it a probable reference to 2 Kings 2:17 (cf. passages in O.T. above), where the same word is used, εὑρέθη. Blass takes it to mean “vento quasi ibi dejectus,” but see above on Acts 8:39.— ἄζωτον, אַשְׁדּוֹד: only mentioned here in N.T., but in LXX Ashdod, Joshua 11:22; Joshua 13:3; Joshua 15:46, 1 Samuel 5:5, 2 Chronicles 26:6, Nehemiah 4:7; Nehemiah 13:20, Jeremiah 25:20; Jeremiah 47:5, Amos 1:8, Zephaniah 2:4, Zechariah 9:6; Azotus in 1 Maccabees 5:18; 1 Maccabees 10:84; Herod., ii., 157: Herod, speaks of the siege of the twenty-nine years under Psammetichus as the longest in history ( ζ = σδ, as in ὠρομάζης, Ahuramazda, Blass, in loco). An old Philistine town, and one of the five chief cities—it might be regarded as the half-way station on the great road between Gaza and Joppa. Schürer holds that the population was Jewish to a considerable extent, as we find that Vespasian was obliged to place a garrison there (Jos., B. J., iv., 3, 2); it is now a mere village of no importance, and still bearing the name Esdûd. Schürer, Jewish People, div. ii., vol. i., pp. 62, 67 ff., E.T.; G. A. Smith, Hist. Geog. of the Holy Land, pp. 192, 193; Hamburger, Real-Encyclopädie des Judentums, i., 1, 124, “Ashdod,” B.D.2, “Azotus,” and also Col. Conder sub v., Hastings’ B.D.— διερχόμενος εὐηγγελ., see above on Acts 8:4 and also Acts 13:6, and cf. Luke 9:6 for a similar combination of the two verbs.— τὰς πόλεις πάσας: from their position between Azotus and Cæsarea, Lydda and Joppa may well have been included, cf. Acts 9:32; Acts 9:36, in which we may see something of the effects of St. Philip’s preaching, “hic quoque, uti in urbe Samariæ, Apostolis auditores præparavit,” Bengel.— καισαρείαν (mentioned no less than fifteen times in Acts): its full name was καισαρεία σεβαστή, so named by Herod the Great in honour of Augustus (Jos., Ant., xvi., 5, 1); sometimes also παράλιος or ἐπὶ θαλάττῃ (Jos., B. J., iii., 9, 1; vii., 1, 3); it was also called “Straton’s Tower” (cf. κ. στράτωνος, Apost. Const., vi., 12), although it was virtually a fresh site. Schürer derives this latter name from Straton, the name of one or more of the last kings of Sidon, who towards the end of the Persian period were probably in possession of the strip of coast upon which the tower was built (Schürer, u. s., div. ii., vol. i., p. 84 ff.). Herod’s lavish expenditure and enlargement gave it such importance that it came to be called Caput Judaeæ, Tacitus, Hist., ii. 79, i.e., of the Roman Province, for it never could be called truly Judæan. For its magnificence, see Jos., Ant., xv., 9; B. J., i., 21, cf. Ant., xvi., 5. It was a seaport suited to his taste, which Herod wanted, and in Cæsarea he found it—“Joppa, Jerusalem’s port, was Jewish, national, patriotic; Cæsarea, Herodian, Roman in obedience, Greek in culture”. The buildings were magnificent—a temple with its two statues of Augustus and of Rome, a theatre, an amphitheatre; but above all, the haven was the chief work of art, Sebastos Limen, so large and important that the name of the city was even dwarfed beside it (see especially Dr. G. A. Smith, u. s., p. 140). Here the Roman procurators had their abode, both before and after Agrippa’s reign; here, too, was the chief garrison of the troops of the province. The population was chiefly heathen, but with a considerable mixture of Jews, and so both Gentile and Jew had equal rights, while each claimed exclusive powers. In the time of Felix things came to such a pass that bloodshed ensued, and Felix exasperated the Jews by leaving the sole direction of the town in the hands of the heathen party. It was this which in the first place provoked the great rising of the Jews, A.D. 66 (Jos., Ant., xx., 8, 7, 9; B. J., ii., 13, 7; 14, 4, 5). The war broke out, and, according to Josephus, all the Jewish inhabitants, habitants, twenty thousand in number, were massacred in an hour. Here the famous Rabbi Akiba met a martyr’s death, here Eusebius of Cæsarea and Procopius were born, and hither Origen fled. See Schürer, u. s.; Hamburger, Real-Encyclopädie des Judentums, ii., 1, 123; G. A. Smith, u. s., pp. 138, 143 ff., B.D.2; Edersheim, History of the Jewish Nation, pp. 21, 23, 156, 199, 251, 265, etc. Among the Jews Cæsarea was called by the same name by which we know it, but sometimes from its fortifications, Migdal Shur, or after its harbour, Migdal Shina, or after both, and once by its ancient name, “Straton’s Tower” (cf. also Strabo, xvi., p. 758), but as the seat of the Roman power, and for its preponderating heathen population, it was specially hated; and so it was designated “the daughter of Edom,” although the district, so rich and fertile, was still called “the land of life”. Edersheim, Jewish Social Life, pp. 24, 72, 202, and Hamburger, u. s. Cæsarea is mentioned in the verse before us not because of its political and commercial importance, but because it became the after home of Philip, Acts 21:8. But it also might be named here as marking a further and interesting stage in the progress of the Gospel (see also below on chap. 10). We cannot say whether at the time of the narrative in chap. 10. Philip had already settled and worked in Cæsarea.

 


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Bibliography Information
Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Acts 8:4". The Expositor's Greek Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/egt/acts-8.html. 1897-1910.

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Thursday, December 12th, 2019
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