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Monday, May 20th, 2024
the Week of Proper 2 / Ordinary 7
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Bible Commentaries
Acts 8

Gann's Commentary on the BibleGann on the Bible

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Verse 1

Acts 8:1

TIME FRAME: Ch 8 about A.D. 33

Was consenting -- Seemed good; Paul lived in good conscience in this matter while persecuting Christians [See below]. He seems to have really regretted it later 1 Timothy 1:15 1 Timothy 1:13; 1 Corinthians 15:9; Ephesians 3:8

Scattered abroad -- There seems to be a mass exodus of the disciples but not everyone could leave.

Except the Apostles -- Some think the Sanhedrin may have been afraid to harm them. It may be that the apostles went into hiding and doing their work underground.


Paul was- Acts 23:1 & Acts 26:9-11, 1 Timothy 1:12-16, Acts 7:58-60 & Acts 8:1.

Cornelius was--- Acts 10:1-2 & Acts 11:13-14.

See also Proverbs 14:12, Luke 16:15, Isaiah 55:8-9.

Verse 2

Acts 8:2

Devout men -- Good godly men, probably fellow believers, but may have included acquaintances who thought well of him.

Great lamentation -- Stephen becomes the first Christian martyr. A somewhat formal funeral service. Usually one charged with blasphemy and stoned would have no funeral honors, Jeremiah 22:19

Verse 3

Acts 8:3

Made havock -- Laid waste; usually referred to devastation committed by wild beasts, lions, bears, wolves, etc. The presence tense indicates continuous action.

Haling men -- Dragging them off.

Zeal converted to Christ is great!

Verse 4

Acts 8:4


1. Pentecost- Acts 2:22 & Acts 2:36-47

2. Samaria- Acts 8:4-13

3. Ethiopian eunuch- Acts 8:26-39

4. Paul (Saul)- Acts 9:1-20 & Acts 22:6-16

5. Cornelius– Acts 10:1-48 & Acts 11:1-18

6. Lydia- Acts 16:13-15

7. Philippian jailer- Acts 16:23-34

8. Corinthians- Acts 18:8

Verse 5

Acts 8:5

Preached Christ -- Reading carefully in this chapter one can find some of the things that must be involved in preaching Christ.

Verse 6

Acts 8:6

Philip -- miracles -- The apostles had laid their hands on him Acts 6:6 ( Acts 8:17-19)

Verse 18

Acts 8:18

When Simon saw -- . ["Some Thins Simon Saw" Sermons_Gann.topx]


ACTS 8:5-24

1. One of the great accounts of conversion in Acts. The account of an individual who had formerly practiced magic in Samaria.

2. The conversion of Simon was a milestone in the conquest of the gospel as it showed the superior power of the gospel over the false religions of man.

3. Let us consider some of the things which Simon saw when confronted with the gospel. Acts 8.


1. Simon the sorcerer deceived people with his magical arts prior to the coming of Philip. (Acts 8:9)

a. Through these, he pretended to be someone great and deceived the people.

b. Yet, when Philip performed genuine miracles, Simon saw clearly the difference in the two. Acts 8:6-7.

2. Some people today cannot tell the difference between the genuine miracles of Christ and the spiritual counterfeits of today.

a. Here are some of the genuine miracles:

Raising the dead

Turning water into wine

Healing men who are born blind

Walking on water

Feeding 5000 with 5 loaves and 2 fish.

Healing cripples lame for 40 years

b. Some Fake miracles:

Miracle oil

Coughing up a tumor

Walking better, Insomnia

(Tell of B’ham man turned out of line from Earnest Angely’s service.)

[Wheel-chairs furnished.]

Diabetes case advised to still take insulin


1. Acts 8:8 (Acts 8:39; Acts 15:32; Acts 15:3 Acts 16:34 )

2. The preaching of Jesus brings Joy.

a. Some have adulterated the message.


1. Philip came to Samaria and preached Christ and the kingdom to Simon.

a. The kingdom was good news (Acts 8:12 NASB)

b. The good news was that the promised kingdom had come.

2. Premillennialists deny that the kingdom of God has come despite these Scriptures:

a. Mark 9:1

b. Hebrews 12:28

c. Colossians 1:13-14

3. Simon saw that the kingdom had come and wanted to become a part of it through the new birth (John 3:5)


1. Simon saw what he had to be to be saved.

Here is what he did:

a. Gave heed to the preaching (Acts 8:6)

b. Believed the word of God (Acts 8:13)

c. Quit practicing sorcery (repentance) cf Acts 8:11-13

d. Was baptized (Acts 8:13)

e. Continued with the disciples (Acts 8:13)

2. The plan of salvation revealed by Jesus was clearly understood by Simon. Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16 and Luke 24:46-48


1. The miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit were given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands.

a. That is why Peter and John had to come down from Jerusalem to Samaria. Acts 8:14-15.

b. That is what Simon saw (Acts 8:18).

c. That is the gift he tired to buy (Acts 8:18-19)

2. Other passages confirm this. Romans 1:11; 2 Timothy 1:6

3. When the apostles died, the means of imparting these gifts was removed and they ceased to exist. 1 Corinthians 13:10 ff

4. Today we have the written word that brings men to faith. John 20:31; Romans 10:17


1. Through Simon’s sin, the following things happened:

a. He was destined to perish (Acts 8:20)

b. His heart was not right (Acts 8:21)

c. He was in the gall of bitterness and the bond of iniquity (Acts 8:23)

2. He learned by experience that a child of God can fall from grace (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:12; Galatians 5:4)

3. He also saw what the fallen Christian must do to be saved.

a. He was told to "repent and pray" (Acts 8:22)

b. His prayer would have been a confession of his sin to God ( 1 John 1:7).


1. If you are here and right with God, rejoice in the good news of salvation and the Kingdom with is ours.

2. Are you here outside of Christ? If so, why not do as Simon did and obey the gospel of Jesus Christ?

3. Have you fallen from grace (salvation)? If so, repent and pray that the very thought of your heart might be forgiven you.

Verse 22

Acts 8:22

Repent -- pray -- The way for an erring Christian to receive forgiveness and get back in favor with God. But please note that this is not the instructions for how an unbeliever can be "born again."

Verse 23

Acts 8:23

Bond of iniquity -- Simon was captured by his sin for greed for money and power. In the state of this kind of thinking and sin, he was lost even after having become a believer and being baptized Acts 8:13.

Verse 26

Acts 8:26


1. Pentecost- Acts 2:22 & Acts 2:36-47

2. Samaria- Acts 8:4-13

3. Ethiopian eunuch- Acts 8:26-39

4. Paul (Saul)- Acts 9:1-20 & Acts 22:6-16

5. Cornelius– Acts 10:1-48 & Acts 11:1-18

6. Lydia- Acts 16:13-15

7. Philippian jailer- Acts 16:23-34

8. Corinthians- Acts 18:8

See "Sermons_Gann.topx" for a sermon on the Ethiopian Treasurer

Verse 29

Acts 8:29

The Spirit -- HOLY SPIRIT

Member of Godhead- Matthew 28:19, 1 John 5:7-8,

"He"- John 16:13; John 1:1-17, Acts 8:29,

Gave us God’s word- 2 Peter 1:21,

"Sword of Spirit" is "Word"- Ephesians 6:17,

Holy Spirit baptism- Occurred twice

1. On Pentecost-- To give power to the apostles-- Acts 1:8 & Acts 2:1-4

2. At Cornelius’ house to show that gentiles accepted- Acts 11:15-18 & Acts 15:7-8.

3. Paul later wrote that there is now only "One Baptism"- Ephesians 4:4

4. Baptism in the name of Christ is water baptism- Acts 10:47-48 and Acts 2:38. It is commanded of everyone- Matthew 28:19, Mark 16:16

Verse 36

Acts 8:36

See James 2:24 note "Being Saved" and the role of baptism.

Verse 37

Acts 8:37

While many modern versions omit this verse, I am somewhat skeptical of the MSS evidences that omit it. The NIV at least inserts it in brackets.

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One is hard pressed, on this evidence, to dispute the conclusion of Scrivener when he wrote, "We cannot safely question the spuriousness of this verse, which all the critical editions condemn, . . ." Also, one is impressed by the words of McGarvey who said, "In regard to scarcely any reading are the textual critics more unanimously agreed, or on better manuscript evidence, than the rejection of this verse as an interpolation."12

However, one is given pause in accepting this conclusion by several facts. First, the verse was clearly alluded to by Iranaeus who was active from 170-200/210 A.D., well before the earliest manuscripts noted above were copied. Also, Cyprian, who died in 258, apparently quoted this verse well before the earliest copy we have of the man­uscripts. Brents, who advised caution in accepting the decision of the textual critics, used the quotation by Iranaeus to contend that the arguments against he verse, while strong, were not to his mind conclusive.13 Second, one is made to wonder at the context if the verse is omitted. Brents put the matter in this way:

Are we to believe that Philip said nothing in answer to the question? and yet the eunuch commanded the chariot to be still­that both got out of it and went down into the water in silence. Can any sane man believe it? Is there not a perceivable blank which the sense requires to be filled with just such language as we find in the verse in question. 14

The force of this contextual consideration is clear in the words of David Lipscomb,

In reference to this, it is claimed by the textuary critics gener­ally that the confession there recorded is an interpolation. The context and circumstances would indicate that just such a con­fession was made. It is also clear that Philip was not seeking a formal confession, but evidence of faith.

Whatever confession was made came in response to this seeking. The natural evidence of faith in the heart is the confession with the mouth. When Philip said, "If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest," the natural response would be: "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.""

It is interesting to note the words of F. F. Bruce, who rejects the verse as spurious. But, when he dealt with the contextual force for the confession he stated, "Philip surely must have satisfied himself first of the genuineness of the Ethiopian’s faith. (No doubt he did so satisfy himself, but there are some minds that cannot be content to leave such things to be inferred)." (18) This shows his necessity to accept the argument for inclusion by virtue of the context.

It seems best, then, to be very cautious in the decision for or against this verse. The testimony of the textual critics is, with only rare exception, unanimous in rejecting it. But, one must admit the force of the material stated by Brents and Lipscomb and clearly implied in the conclusion by Bruce. One would be hard pressed to prove the verse is original on the basis of textual critical material, but there is some basis for questioning whether textual critical material alone resolves the issue in this verse.

- William Woodson, pg 44,45, Difficult Texts of the New Testament Explained, edited by Wendell Winkler, (The Fourth Annual "Fort Worth" Lectures, the Brown Trail Church of Christ, Bedfort, TX) 1981.

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Bibliographical Information
Gann, Windell. "Commentary on Acts 8". Gann's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/gbc/acts-8.html. 2021.
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