Acts 8
Vincent's Word Studies
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.
Death (ἀναιρέσει)

Lit., taking off. See on Luke 23:32.

And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him.

See on Luke 2:25.

Carried to his burial (συνεκόμισαν)

Only here in New Testament. Lit., to carry together; hence, either to assist in burying or, better, to bring the dead to the company (σύν) of the other dead. The word is used of bringing in harvest.

Stephen (Στέφανον)

Meaning crown. He was the first who received the martyr's crown.

Lamentation (κοπετὸν)

Lit., beating (of the breast). Only here in New Testament.

As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison.
Made havoc (ἐλυμαίνετο)

Only here in New Testament. In Septuagint, Psalm 79:13, it is used of the laying waste of a vineyard by the wild boar. Compare Acts 9:21, where the A. V. has destroyed, but where the Greek is πορθήσας, devastated. Canon Farrar observes: "The part which he played at this time in the horrid work of persecution has, I fear, been always underrated. It is only when we collect the separate passages - they are no less than eight in number - in which allusion is made to this sad period, it is only when we weigh the terrible significance of the expressions used that we feel the load of remorse which must have lain upon him, and the taunts to which he was liable from malignant enemies" ("Life and Work of St. Paul"). Note the imperfect, of continued action.

Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.
Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them.

The deacon (Acts 6:5). Not the apostle. On the name, see on Mark 3:18.

Christ (τὸν Χριστόν)

Note the article, "the Christ," and see on Matthew 1:1.

He did (ἐποίει)

Imperfect. Kept doing from time to time, as is described in the next verse.

And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did.
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.
Taken with palsies (παραλελυμένοι)

Rev., more neatly, palsied. See on Luke 5:18.

Were healed

See on Luke 5:15.

And there was great joy in that city.
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:
Used sorcery (μαγεύων)

Only here in New Testament. One of the wizards so numerous throughout the East at that time, and multiplied by the general expectation of a great deliverer and the spread of the Messianic notions of the Jews, who practised upon the credulity of the people by conjuring and juggling and soothsaying.

Bewitched (ἐξιστῶν)

Better as Rev., amazed. See on Acts 2:7.

To whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God.
The great power of God

The best texts add ἡ καλουμένη, which is called, and render that power of God which is called great. They believed that Simon was an impersonated power of God, which, as the highest of powers, they designated as the great.

And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries.

Amazed, as Acts 8:9.

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.
Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done.
Continued with

See on Acts 1:14.

Miracles and signs (σημεῖα καὶ δυνάμεις)

Lit., signs and powers. See on Matthew 11:20; Acts 2:22.

Which were done (γινομένας)

The present participle. Lit., are coming to pass.

He was amazed

After having amazed the people by his tricks. See Acts 8:9. The same word is employed.

Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John:

The country, not the city. See Acts 8:5, Acts 8:9.

Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost:
(For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)
They were (ὑπῆρχον)

See on James 2:15. Rev., more literally, had been.

In the name (εἰς τὸ ὄνομα)

Lit., "into the name." See on Matthew 28:19.

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,
Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost.
But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.
Perish with thee (σὺν σοὶ εἴη εἰς ἀπώλειαν)

Lit., be along with thee unto destruction. Destruction overtake thy money and thyself.

Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God.
Part nor lot

Lot expresses the same idea as part, but figuratively.

Matter (λόγῳ)

The matter of which we are talking: the subject of discourse, as Luke 1:4; Acts 15:6.

Right (εὐθεῖα)

Lit., straight.

Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.
If perhaps

The doubt suggested by the heinousness of the offence.

Thought (ἐπίνοια)

Only here in New Testament. Lit., a thinking on or contriving; and hence implying a plan or design.

For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity.
In the gall (εἰς χολὴν)

Lit., into. Thou hast fallen into and continuest in. Gall, only here and Matthew 27:34. Gall of bitterness is bitter enmity against the Gospel.

Bond of iniquity (σύνδεσμον ἀδικίας)

Thou hast fallen into iniquity as into fetters. The word σύνδεσμον denotes a close, firm bond (σύν, together). It is used of the bond of Christian peace (Ephesians 4:3); of the close compacting of the church represented as a body (Colossians 2:19); and of love as the bond of perfectness (Colossians 3:14 :). See Isaiah 58:6.

Then answered Simon, and said, Pray ye to the Lord for me, that none of these things which ye have spoken come upon me.
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.
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.
The south (μεσημβρίαν)

A contracted form of μεσημερία, midday, noon, which is the rendering at Acts 22:6, the only other passage where it occurs. Rev. gives at noon in margin.


Referring to the route. On desert, see on Luke 15:4. There were several roads from Jerusalem to Gaza. One is mentioned by the way of Bethlehem to Hebron, and thence through a region actually called a desert.

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,
Of Ethiopia

The name for the lands lying south of Egypt, including the modern Nubia, Cordofan, and Northern Abyssinia. Rawlinson speaks of subjects of the Ethiopian queens living in an island near Mero, in the northern part of this district. He further remarks: "The monuments prove beyond all question that the Ethiopians borrowed from Egypt their religion and their habits of civilization. They even adopted the Egyptian as the language of religion and of the court, which it continued to be till the power of the Pharaohs had fallen, and their dominion was again confined to the frontier of Ethiopia. It was through Egypt, too, that Christianity passed into Ethiopia, even in the age of the apostles, as is shown by the eunuch of Queen Candace."

Of great authority (δυνάστης)

A general term for a potentate.


The common name of the queens of Mero: a titular distinction, like Pharaoh in Egypt, or Caesar at Rome.

Treasure (γάζης)

Only here in New Testament. A Persian word.

Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet.
Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot.
Join thyself (κολλήθητι)

See on Luke 15:15; and Luke 10:11; and Acts 5:12.

And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest?
Understandest thou what thou readest (ἆρά γε γινώσκεις ἃ ἀναγινώσκεις);

The play upon the words cannot be translated. The interrogative particles which begin the question indicate a doubt on Philip's part.

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.
How can I((πῶς γὰρ ἂν δυναίμην)?

Lit., for how should I be able? the for connecting the question with an implied negative: "No; for how could I understand except," etc.

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:
The place of the scripture (ἡ περιοχὴ τῆς γραφῆς)

Strictly, the contents of the passage. See on Mark 12:10; and 1 Peter 2:6.

He read

Rev., correctly, was reading; imperfect.

In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth.

See on Matthew 11:29.


His contemporaries. Who shall declare their wickedness?

And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man?
Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.
Opened his mouth

Indicating a solemn announcement. Compare Matthew 5:2.

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?
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.
The best texts omit this verse.
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.
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.
Caught away

Suddenly and miraculously.

And he went, etc. (ἐπορεύετο γὰρ)

A mistranslation. Rev., rightly, "for he went." A reason is given for the eunuch's seeing Philip no more. He did not stop nor take another road to seek him, but went on his way.

But Philip was found at Azotus: and passing through he preached in all the cities, till he came to Caesarea.
Vincent's Word Studies, by Marvin R. Vincent [1886].
Text Courtesy of Internet Sacred Texts Archive.

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