Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament
And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles.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).
And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him.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.
As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison.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.
Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.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.
Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them.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.
And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did.Acts 8:6. Ἐν τῷ ἀκούειν αὐτοὺς) when they heard, what was being said and done.
For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed.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.
And there was great joy in that city.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].
But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one: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).
To whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God.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.—ἡ δύναμις, Power) The abstract, and that, with the article.
And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries.Acts 8:11. Προσεῖχον, they paid attention) The verb is repeated from the preceding verse.
But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.Acts 8:12. Δὲ, but) when they had perceived the deceit of Simon.
Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done.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 αἷς—ἐν οἷς, κ.τ.λ. Some have made a change in the μεγάλας; others, in the γινόμενα.
 ABC (which omits however γινόμενας) Dd Vulg. Syr. Memph. and Theb. read σημεῖα καὶ δυνάμεις μεγάλας γινόμενας: and so Lachm. Ee read δυνάμεις καὶ σημεῖα (σημια) μέγαλα γινόμενα: so Tisch., but omitting μέγαλα, without any of the oldest authorities.—E. and T.
Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: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.
Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: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.
(For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)
Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.
And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money,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.
Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost.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.—ᾧ ἐὰν, to whomsoever) after baptism, or even without baptism.
But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.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 2Ma 7:19, μὴ νομίσῃς ἀθῶος ἔσεσθαι. [Both sin and guilt especially belong to the heart: Acts 8:21-22.—V. g.]
Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God.Acts 8:21. Οὐκ ἔστι σοι μερὶς, οὐδὲ κλῆρος) thou hast no part by purchase, nor lot freely or gratuitously. Μερὶς and χλῆρος are also joined, Deuteronomy 18:1; Isaiah 57:6, with which comp. Psalm 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.]
Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.Acts 8:22. Μετανόησον 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.
For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity.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.
Then answered Simon, and said, Pray ye to the Lord for me, that none of these things which ye have spoken come upon me.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.
And they, when they had testified and preached the word of the Lord, returned to Jerusalem, and preached the gospel in many villages of the Samaritans.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.
And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert.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, Jdg 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.]
And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship,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.]
Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet.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.
Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot.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].
And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest?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.
And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him.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.
The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth:Acts 8:32. Ἡ 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 πρόβατον—κείροντος αὐτὸν—ταπεινώσει αὐτοῦ—τὴν 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.
In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth.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.
And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man?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.—ἢ, 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.
Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.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].
And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?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.
And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.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.—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.]
 No part of this 37th verse is found either in critical texts or in the first printed edition, viz. the Conrplutensian. Erasmus, though admitting that he found it in no Greek MS., but only in the margin of one MS., has coolly inserted it; and so it has been perpetuated, on the ground of a gratuitous assumption, “arbitror omissum librariorum incuriâ.” Ee, however, with some variations, Cyprian 318, Iren. 196, and Vulg. Amiatinus (alone: the other MSS. of Vulg. omit it), support it. But the weightiest authorities, ABC, Amiat. MS. of Vulg, corrected, Memph. Theb. and Syr. omit the verse.—E. and T.
And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.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.
And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.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.]
But Philip was found at Azotus: and passing through he preached in all the cities, till he came to Caesarea.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.”