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Bible Commentaries

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament
Acts 8

 

 

Verse 1

Acts 8:1. σαῦλος, Saul) This is closely connected with what goes before. Is Stephen stoned? It is with Saul’s consent. Is there a persecution of the Church taking place? He, the same, is assisting in it: Acts 8:3.— ἡμέρᾳ on that day) The adversaries did not put it off a day.— διωγμὸς, persecution) The one wave is followed by more.— πάντες, all) the teachers: Acts 8:4-5. For others, and, for their sakes, the apostles, remained: Acts 8:2-3.— διεσπάρησαν, were scattered) So the Gospel was more widely propagated. The wind increases the flame: Acts 8:4.— πλὴν, except) On that account the apostles were in the greater danger; and yet they did not consider that they ought to consult for their safety above the rest. They ought to withstand (endure) dangers, who have attained a greater degree and measure of faith than the others: although much seems to depend on them (on their lives).


Verse 2

Acts 8:2. συνεκόμισαν, attended to the burial of) A holy office. Comp. ch. Acts 9:37 (Tabitha or Dorcas).— εὐλαβεῖς, devout) who feared GOD more than men, although those men were persecutors.


Verse 3

Acts 8:3. [ τὴν ἐκκλησίαν, the church) at Jerusalem; as many as remained there.—V. g.] εἰσπορευόμενος, entering) as if an Inquisitor.— καὶ γυναῖκας, and women) who ordinarily are more readily spared than men.


Verse 4

Acts 8:4. οἱ μὲν οὖν διασπαρέντες διῆλθον, they therefore who were scattered abroad went in different directions) These very words are resumed, as if after a long parenthesis, in ch. Acts 11:19, and this thread of the narrative is thus continued. The verb διέρχεσθαι, to pass on throughout, in the Acts often signifies doctrine scattered everywhere.


Verse 5

Acts 8:5. φίλιππος, Philip) When Stephen was taken away, Philip rises, the colleague who was next to him; [who is elsewhere called the Evangelist.—V. g.] For it is not Philip the apostle who is treated of here: with this comp. Acts 8:18; Acts 8:25 (wherein the apostles are distinguished from Philip).— εἰς πόλιν, to a city) The article is not added. It was one of the many cities of the Samaritans.— ἐκηρύσσεν, preached) openly.— τὸν χριστὸν, the Christ) This is the sum of the Gospel.


Verse 6

Acts 8:6. ἐν τῷ ἀκούειν αὐτοὺς) when they heard, what was being said and done.


Verse 7

Acts 8:7. πνεύματα, spirits) The nominative: the accusative case must be understood after τῶν ἐχόντων, “who were possessed with them.” It is worthy of observation, that Luke in the Acts never employs the term demons ( δαιμόνια) in speaking of those possessed; and yet he himself in the Gospel has employed the term oftener than the other Evangelists. From which one may infer, that the power of possession was feebler after the death of Christ. 1 John 3:8; Colossians 2:15; Hebrews 2:14.


Verse 8

Acts 8:8. χαρὰ, joy) The proper fruit and characteristic of Christian truth: Acts 8:39, ch. Acts 11:23, Acts 16:34; Romans 14:17 [2 Corinthians 1:24].


Verse 9

Acts 8:9. ἀνὴρ, a man) Such an adversary also Paul found, ch Acts 13:6 (Elymas).— προϋπῆρχεν, was before) Not always is he, who is prior in point of time, entitled to precedency also in claim of right: Acts 8:11, ch. Acts 13:6. “When he was alone, he was able to find applause; but the coming of the light dispels the darkness. Great is the power of the kingdom of God: Acts 8:7; Acts 8:13; Exodus 9:11.— μαγεύων, using magic or sorcery) There are therefore in reality magicians, and such a thing as magic: Exodus 7:11; Exodus 7:22; Exodus 8:7.— τῆς σαμαρείας, of Samaria) When the error of this nation has come to its height, the truth is at hand (arrives).


Verse 10

Acts 8:10. ἀπὸ μικροῦ ἓως μεγάλου, from the least to the greatest) In ordinary cases the sense of the common people and that of the upper classes are different. The proverbial phrase, from small to great, is wide extended in meaning; according to the materials that form the substratum, it is contracted to this or that kind of the great and the small.— λέγοντες, saying) in their acclamations.— δύναμις, Power) The abstract, and that, with the article.


Verse 11

Acts 8:11. προσεῖχον, they paid attention) The verb is repeated from the preceding verse.


Verse 12

Acts 8:12. δὲ, but) when they had perceived the deceit of Simon.


Verse 13

Acts 8:13. ἐπίστευσε, believed) Perceived, that the power of GOD is not in himself, but is in Philip. It was easier to Simon than to the Samaritans to take up faith; for he felt a power superior to his own. He did not, however, attain to a faith full, justifying, purifying the heart, saving: he had a specious appearance of having reached it, until he betrayed himself in a different character.— βαπτισθεὶς, having been baptized) Hence, by a comparison with Acts 8:22 [where baptism over again is not enjoined], it is evident that baptism is not to be repeated in the case of hypocrites and those who have relapsed.— σημεῖα, καὶ δυνάμεις μεγάλας, γινόμενα) The epithet of greatness ( μεγάλας) is more appropriate to δυνάμεις, and the participle γινόμενα is more suited to σημεῖα, which move men to faith [therefore γινόμενα agrees with σημεῖα, not with δυνάμεις]. A similar variety (change in the gender) also occurs Ephesians 2:1, etc., τοῖς παραπτώμασι καὶ ταῖς ἁμαρτίαις· ἐν αἷςἐν οἷς, κ. τ. λ. Some have made a change in the μεγάλας; others, in the γινόμενα.(56)


Verse 14

Acts 8:14. δέδεκται, had received) δέδεκται, ἐδέχθην, δεχθήσομαι, are often used in a Passive signification; ch. Acts 15:4; wherefore in this place the verb may he interpreted, was made to receive. Yet it is more simple to take it received. Comp. ch. Acts 17:7 ( ὑποδέδεκται).— ἀπέστειλαν, then sent) He who is sent, is sent either by a superior or an equal. The authority of the apostolic college was greater than that of Peter and John individually. In our days the Pope of Rome would not be said to be sent by any one.


Verse 15

Acts 8:15. προσηύξατο, prayed) In the ministry of the Gospel prayer has not less power than preaching. He therefore who cannot pray, cannot be a perfect minister. For the things of GOD ought to be laid before men, and the things of men ought to be laid before GOD.


Verse 18

Acts 8:18. θεασάμενος, having seen) again something new. Comp. Acts 8:13.— τῶν ἀποστόλων, of the apostles) It was therefore an apostolical gift. Philip the Evangelist had it not. Yet Ananias had it in the case of Paul: ch. Acts 9:17.— χρήματα, money) Thence has arisen the term Simony. The hire (of which “the workman is worthy”) is given and received, not for a spiritual gift, but for work or labour: Matthew 10:10.


Verse 19

Acts 8:19. τὴν ἐξουσίαν, power) He himself first ought to have prayed, that the Holy Spirit might be given to him. He wished to become on a level with the apostles, and superior to Philip. Pride is the mother of heresies and abuses, as is evident in the case of Simon the magician, the father of heretics.— ἐὰν, to whomsoever) after baptism, or even without baptism.


Verse 20

Acts 8:20. εἴη, may thy money be or go to destruction) An anathema of the person and of the thing. Peter exercises the ‘binding’ power.— τὴν δωρεὰν, the gift) Matthew 10:8, “Freely ( δωρεὰν) ye have received, freely give.”— ἐνόμισας κτᾶσθαι, thou hast thought to acquire or purchase) νομίζω [statuo] is said of the understanding and the will. So 2 Maccabees 7:19, μὴ νομίσῃς ἀθῶος ἔσεσθαι. [Both sin and guilt especially belong to the heart: Acts 8:21-22.—V. g.]


Verse 21

Acts 8:21. οὐκ ἔστι σοι μερὶς, οὐδὲ κλῆρος) thou hast no part by purchase, nor lot freely or gratuitously. ΄ερὶς and χλῆρος are also joined, Deuteronomy 18:1; Isaiah 57:6, with which comp. Psalms 16:5.— ἐν τῷ λόγῳ τούτῳ, in this word) in this matter, of which thou hast spoken. The purity of religion admits of no foreign (adulterated) admixture with it.— γὰρ, for) In a minister and partaker of the Gospel the heart ought to be right. The heart is the citadel of good and of bad.— οὐκ ἔστιν εὐθεῖα, is not right) that is, is very much distorted. [Rectitude of heart does not admit the mixture of spiritual intentions with temporal.—V. g.]


Verse 22

Acts 8:22. ΄ετανόησον οὖν, repent therefore) Repentance ought to be present first: then next we may seek gifts of grace. An abbreviated expression for, Repent, (and cease) from this thy wickedness.—[ καὶ δεήθητι, and pray) However lost one be, yet he ought himself to pray, rather than lean on the intercession of others: Acts 8:24.—V. g.]— εἰ ἄρα, if [haply]) The force of the doubt falls on the repentance and prayers of Simon, not on the forgiveness of guilt which is to be hoped for by the penitent.


Verse 23

Acts 8:23. εἰς, in) [in the light of, as one who is the gall, etc.: not as Engl. Vers. in the gall, etc.] He calls Simon himself the bitter gall, etc.; and signifies that both he is such already, and that soon he may injure others. Comp. εἰς, Acts 8:20 [May thy money be as destruction], ch. Acts 4:11, “He who is become the head ( εἰς κεφαλὴν) of the corner;” Acts 5:36, Acts 7:5; Acts 7:21, Acts 13:47.— πικρίας, of bitterness) Hebrews 12:15.— σύνδεσμον ἀδικίας) So the LXX., Isaiah 58:6.— ὁρῶ, I perceive) even from thy deeds.


Verse 24

Acts 8:24. δεήθητε, pray ye) Peter had said, Pray GOD. But Simon says, Pray ye. Therefore he felt the power of the apostolic reproof. No one ought to depend merely on the prayers of others: Hebrews 13:18.— ὄπως, that) He confesses his fear of the punishment, not horror of the guilt. However, on account of this declaration, he seems not to have been immediately rejected by the Church.— ὧν εἰρήκατε, which ye have spoken) Here the history of Simon Magus is broken off, of which the remaining facts at the time that Luke wrote were well known, and are partly recorded in Church History in our days. The Scripture deems it sufficient to have marked the commencements: it has left the rest to the times and to the last judgment.


Verse 25

Acts 8:25. διαμαρτυράμενοι, having testified) having fulfilled their testimony, which was circulated abroad among all.— εἰς ἰερουσαλὴμ, towards Jerusalem) for what they did on the way to it is subjoined. As yet it was the province of the apostles for the most part to remain at Jerusalem.— πολλὰς, in many) Divine operations easily succeed: human counsels, only with anxiety.


Verse 26

Acts 8:26. ἄγγελος, the angel) The angel bids him arise; the Holy Spirit, to “go near:” Acts 8:29. Philip is hereby fortified against acting too timidly after the deceit of Simon.— κατὰ μεσημβρίαν, towards the south) This was to serve him as his guide as to his course. The Gospel soon reached all quarters of the world: ch. Acts 11:19.— ἐπὶ, unto) It is not yet told him what he is about to find. Always faith and obedience have to be exercised. So also in ch. Acts 13:2, “Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work” [without adding then what that work should be].— αὐτὴ) Others [Lachm. and Tisch.] have αὕτη. But הוא αὐτὸς is wont to be used to designate anything; as here, αὐτή ἐστιν ἔρημος. So ἱεροβάαλ, αὐτός ἐστι γεδεών, Judges 7:1; and so 2 Kings 18:9; 1 Chronicles 7:31; 1 Chronicles 8:12; 1 Chronicles 27:6; 1 Chronicles 27:32; 2 Chronicles 5:2. Philip was directed that he should betake himself to the desert way, not to the other, which was the more frequented way. [Gaza, it seems, had lain desolate for a long time; and so it is probable that the use of the way had in the mean time, for the most part, ceased. Comp. Leviticus 26:22. On that account the direction of the angel is the more wonderful.—V. g.]


Verse 27

Acts 8:27. κανδάκης, of Candace) a name which, according to Pliny, has now for many years passed to the queens (of Ethiopia).—[ προσκυνήσων, for the purpose of worshipping) He seems also long ago to have received circumcision.—V. g.]


Verse 28

Acts 8:28. ἀνεγίνωσκε, was reading) aloud: Acts 8:30, “Philip heard him read.” We ought to read, hear, search thoroughly, even upon a journey, even though we imperfectly understand. It is to him that hath that it is given. Scripture [above all worldly books, however clear.—V. g.] affects by its sweetness, and retains its hold on the reader, however deficient in intelligence, just in the same way as perfumes transmit their odours even through the coverings in which they are wrapped.


Verse 29

Acts 8:29. εἶπε, said) The Holy Spirit is therefore a Person: ch. Acts 1:16, Acts 10:19-20, Acts 13:2, Acts 21:11 [in all which passages the Holy Ghost is represented speaking as a Person].


Verse 30

Acts 8:30. ἤκουσεν, heard) The text was known well to Philip.— ἆρά γε, dost thou at all) A marvellous address to make to one unknown, and him too a great man. In holy conversation we ought, without circumlocution, to come at once to the truth itself. Philip did not make a beginning, as is usually done, with such topics as these—the weather, the news of the day, etc.


Verse 31

Acts 8:31. γὰρ) An elegant particle, in this sense: Why ask me this question? [i.e. virtually, I do not, for how could I unless, etc.] He confesses his ignorance.— ἐὰν μή τις, unless some one) He who has the first knowledge of Jesus, can understand the prophets even without a human guide.— παρεκάλεσέ τε, and he besought) There was in the Eunuch modesty and an eager desire to learn.


Verse 32

Acts 8:32. δὲ περιοχὴ, but [now] the passage) By means of that 53d chapter of Isaiah, not only many Jews, but even Atheists, have been converted: history records the names of some of these; GOD knows them all.— ὡς πρόβατονκείροντος αὐτὸνταπεινώσει αὐτοῦτὴν δὲ γενεὰν, κ. τ. λ.) So the LXX., Isaiah 53:7-8; except that they have not αὐτὸν, αὐτοῦ, and δέ.— ἤχθη) It suffered itself to be led, i.e. the sheep: ἤχθη is connected with πρόβατον, and ἄφωνος with ἀμνός. For the Apodosis begins at οὕτως, so. Comp the Hebrew accents, ὡς is put for καθώς, even as: Romans 5:18, ὡς διʼ ἑιὸς,— οὕτως καὶ: 2 Corinthians 11:3. It is not a mere simile (icon), but a comparison.— ἄφωνος, dumb, without a voice) though it has a voice, using none, as though it had none.


Verse 33

Acts 8:33. ἐν, in) when He was humbled, immediately His judgment was taken away [was set aside by God]. “He was justified in the Spirit:” 1 Timothy 3:16.— γενεὰν) age, and thence progeny. Both are joined in Isaiah 53:10, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days; and Acts 8:11, He shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied. The sense is, “The age of other men is, say, Seventy years,” but the age of Messiah is inexpressible.— ὅτι) כי, because. The connecting link between His humiliation and exaltation.— αἴρεται ἀπὸ τῆς γῆς, is taken away from the earth) The life of Jesus Christ, as compared with the fathers, Luke 3, was very short on the earth: He was cut off, Daniel 9:26, which serves as a most lucid argument that His generation is fixed elsewhere.


Verse 34

Acts 8:34. δέομαί σου, I pray thee) A simple and candid question.— περὶ τίνος, concerning whom) To every text this question may be applied, Concerning whom? and, For what end?περὶ ἑαυτοῦ, concerning himself) It is the duty of a prophet not to speak much concerning himself, but concerning Christ.— , or) By dividing rightly, one comes nearer to a decision.— ἑτέρου, another) Who is that other, save Christ? concerning whom all the prophets testify.— τινὸς, some) The Eunuch asks very indefinitely as yet.


Verse 35

Acts 8:35. ἀνοίξας, having opened) Already he had spoken some things; but now he lays himself out (formally applies himself) to speak. So ch. Acts 10:34.— ἀρξάμενος, having begun) A convenient mode of teaching, to begin with the text which has been presented to us, and to subjoin the remaining remarks which need to be made: ch. Acts 13:17; Luke 4:21.— ἀπὸ, from) From every text of Scripture, not merely from so remarkable a one as this was, it is possible to come to Jesus: and then there is a wide field of speaking thrown open to us.— τῆς γραφῆς, this Scripture) which indeed treats concerning the Minister or Servant of the Lord (for so Christ is called in Isaiah [Isaiah 42:1]). And often it is from the predicate alone that this subject is known (recognised): Matthew 2:23, “He shall be called a Nazarene;” Acts 8:17 [where His name as the subject is not given, but His attributes show that it is He who is spoken of].


Verse 36

Acts 8:36. κατὰ τὴν ὁδὸν, along the way) Even the circumstances of one’s journey are divinely guided. The kingdom of GOD adapts itself to external circumstances without force: as air yields to all bodies, and yet permeates all things: ch. Acts 13:5; Acts 13:14, Acts 16:13, Acts 17:2; Acts 17:17, Acts 21:3.— τί κωλύει, what doth hinder) He was prepared and eager to submit himself to whatever even yet remained to be done. Faith within, and water without, were ready (were here).— βαπτισθῆναι, to be baptized) Therefore he had heard from Philip as to baptism. It is probable that the Eunuch had been circumcised; for Philip presented himself to him: whereas Cornelius [who was uncircumcised] had to send for Peter. Peter at the beginning hesitated, ch. Acts 10:14; but Philip did not hesitate. At least the proceeding with the Eunuch at that time was secret. For it is in the case of Cornelius that the beginning of the call of the Gentiles is fixed.


Verse 37

Acts 8:37. εἰ πιστεύεις ἐξ ὅλης τῆς καρδίας, if thou believest with all thine heart) Supply from the previous interrogation, then nothing hinders thy being baptized. Some have supplied σωθήσῃ, thou shalt be saved, or ἔξεστιν, thou mayest. Lest the reader should wonder at the fewness of the witnesses for the shorter reading, let him remember the observations which I have made in my Apparatus concerning the multitude of MSS. which are without this verse. The same is the case with the reply given by the Eunuch, to which again many have added the name χριστὸν, which is so frequent everywhere. It is not found in the MS. cod. Berolinensis in the Latin, and others.(57)ὅλης, the whole of) which was more than Simon had done: Acts 8:13 [He believed, but not with his whole heart], Philip, though deceived by the magician Simon, does not however hesitate to baptize the believing Eunuch. [He acts cautiously: but not more distrustfully than was proper.—V. g.]


Verse 38

Acts 8:38. ἀμφότεροι, both) It is not recorded what became of the attendants of the Eunuch.— φίλιππος, Philip) He is put in the first place; for he was greater, as the baptizer, than the Eunuch, who was being baptized.


Verse 39

Acts 8:39. ἥρπασε, caught away) with miraculous velocity, without any action or exertion on the part of Philip, to a distance; as was needed in a pathless region. Such things often happened to the prophets: 1 Kings 18:12; 2 Kings 2:16. The same verb occurs, 2 Corinthians 12:2; 2 Corinthians 12:4; 1 Thessalonians 4:17. By this very mode of departure the faith of the Eunuch was confirmed. By a like mode of transit one or two apostles might (may) have reached even America, if no other way was open to them.— γὰρ) in the strict sense, for. He did not see, nor did he anxiously care to see, Philip more, by reason of joy. He who has obtained the Scripture and Christ can now dispense with a human guide. We do not read of the imposition of hands on the Eunuch.—[ χαίρων, rejoicing) To a soul disposed aright, what an amount of good can be vouchsafed at one and the same time!—V. g.]


Verse 40

Acts 8:40. εὐρέθη, was found) On the way, neither Philip himself seems to have known where he was, or what was happening to him, nor did any one else see him.— τὰς πόλεις, the cities) Between Gaza and Cæsarea; as, for instance, Joppa, Lydda, etc. Here too, as in the city of Samaria, he prepared hearers for the apostles: ch. Acts 9:32.— εἰς καισάμειαν, Cæsarea) In this remarkable city lie fixed his residence, being about therein to minister to the supply of the saints on their journey: ch. Acts 21:8-9, “We (Paul, Luke, etc.) entered into the house of Philip the Evangelist, one of the seven, and abode with him.”

 


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Bibliography Information
Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Acts 8:4". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jab/acts-8.html. 1897.

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Thursday, November 14th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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