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THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 8 - Verse 26

Verse 26. And the angel of the Lord. The word angel is used in the Scriptures in a great variety of significations. See Barnes "Mt 1:20".

Here it has been supposed by some to mean literally a celestial messenger sent from God; others have supposed that it means a dream, others a vision, etc. The word properly means a messenger; and all that it can be shown to signify here is, that the Lord sent a message to Philip of this kind. It is most probable, I think, that the passage means that God communicated the message by his Spirit; for, in Ac 8:29,39, it is expressly said that the Spirit spake to Philip, etc. Thus in Ac 16:7, the Spirit is said to have forbidden Paul to preach in Bithynia; and in Ac 16:9, the message on the subject is said to have been conveyed in a vision. There is no absurdity, however, in supposing that an angel literally was employed to communicate this message to Philip. See Heb 1:14; Ge 19:1; 22:11; Jud 6:12.

 

Spake unto Philip. Comp. Mt 2:13.

Arise. See Barnes "Lu 15:18".

 

And go, etc. philip had been employed in Samaria. As God now intended to send the gospel to another place, he gave a special direction to Philip to go and convey it. It is evident that God designed the conversion of this eunuch; and the direction to Philip shows how he accomplishes his designs. It is not by miracle, but by the use of means. It is not by direct power without truth, but it is by a message fitted to the end. The salvation of a single sinner is an object worthy the attention of God. When such a sinner is converted, it is because God forms a plan or purpose to do it. When it is done, he inclines his servants to labour; he directs their labours; he leads his ministers; and he prepares the way Ac 8:28 for the reception of the truth.

Toward the south. That is, south of Samaria, where Philip was then labouring.

Unto Gaza. Gaza, or AZZAH, Ge 10:19, was a city of the Philistines, given by Joshua to Judah, Jos 15:47; 1 Sa 6:17. It was one of the five principal cities of the Philistines. It was formerly a large place; was situated on an eminence, and commanded a beautiful prospect. It was in this place that Samson took away the gates of the city, and bore them off, Jud 16:2,3. It was near Askelon, about sixty miles south-west from Jerusalem.

Which is desert. This may refer either to the way or to the place. The natural construction is the latter. In explanation of this, it is to be observed that there were two towns of that name, Old and New Gaza. The prophet Zephaniah Zep 2:4 said that Gaza should be forsaken, i. e., destroyed. "This was partly accomplished by Alexander the Great. (Jos. Antiq. b. xi. ch. viii. § 3, 4; b. xiii. ch. xiii. § 3.) Another town was afterwards built of the same name, but at some distance from the former; and Old Gaza was abandoned to destruction. Strabo mentions 'Gaza the desert,' and Diodorous Siculus speaks of 'Old Gaza.'" (Robin. Calmet.) Some have supposed, however, that Luke refers here to the road leading to Gaza, as being desolate and uninhabited. But I regard the former interpretation as most natural and obvious. In this place, in 1823, the American missionaries, Messrs. Fisk and King, found Gaza, a town built of stone, making a very mean appearance, and containing about five thousand inhabitants." (Hall on the Acts.)

{d} "unto Gaza" Jos 15:47

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