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8:1 Was consenting [ēn suneudokōn]. Periphrastic imperfect of [suneudokeō], a late double compound [sun, eu, dokeō] that well describes Saul’s pleasure in the death [anairesis], taking off, only here in the N.T., though old word) of Stephen. For the verb see on Lu 23:32. Paul himself will later confess that he felt so (Ac 22:20), coolly applauding the murder of Stephen, a heinous sin (Ro 1:32). It is a gruesome picture. Chapter 7 should have ended here. On that day [en ekeinēi tēi hēmerāi]. On that definite day, that same day as in 2:41. A great persecution [diōgmos megas]. It was at first persecution from the Sadducees, but this attack on Stephen was from the Pharisees so that both parties are now united in a general persecution that deserves the adjective “great.” See on Mt 13:21 for the old word [diōgmos] from [diōkō], to chase, hunt, pursue, persecute. Were all scattered abroad [pantes diesparēsan]. Second aorist passive indicative of [diaspeirō], to scatter like grain, to disperse, old word, in the N.T. only in Ac 8:1, 4; 11:19. Except the apostles [plēn tōn apostolōn]. Preposition [plēn] (adverb from [pleon], more) with the ablative often in Luke. It remains a bit of a puzzle why the Pharisees spared the apostles. Was it due to the advice of Gamaliel in Ac 5:34-40? Or was it the courage of the apostles? Or was it a combination of both with the popularity of the apostles in addition?
8:2 Devout [eulabeis]. Only four times in the N.T. (Lu 2:25; Ac 2:5; 8:2; 22:12). Possibly some non-Christian Jews helped. The burial took place before the Christians were chiefly scattered. Buried [sunekomisan]. Aorist active indicative of [sunkomizō], old verb to bring together, to collect, to join with others in carrying, to bury (the whole funeral arrangements). Only here in the N.T. Lamentation [kopeton]. Late word from [koptomai], to beat the breast, in LXX, Plutarch, etc., only here in the N.T.
8:3 Laid waste [elumaineto]. Imperfect middle of [lumainomai], old verb (from [lumē], injury), to dishonour, defile, devastate, ruin. Only here in the N.T. Like the laying waste of a vineyard by a wild boar (Ps 79:13). Picturesque description of the havoc carried on by Saul now the leader in the persecution. He is victor over Stephen now who had probably worsted him in debate in the Cilician synagogue in Jerusalem. Into every house [kata tous oikous]. But Luke terms it “the church” [tēn ekklēsian]. Plainly not just an “assembly,” but an organized body that was still “the church” when scattered in their own homes, “an unassembled assembly” according to the etymology. Words do not remain by the etymology, but travel on with usage. Haling [surōn]. Literally, dragging forcibly (=hauling). Present active participle of [surō], old verb. Men and women [andras kai gunaikas]. A new feature of the persecution that includes the women. They met it bravely as through all the ages since (cf. 9:2; 22:4). This fact will be a bitter memory for Paul always. Committed [paredidou]. Imperfect active of [paradidōmi], old verb, kept on handing them over to prison.
8:4 They therefore [hoi men oun]. Demonstrative [hoi] as often (1:6, etc.) though it will make sense as the article with the participle [diasparentes]. The general statement is made here by [men] and a particular instance [de] follows in verse 5. The inferential particle [oun] points back to verse 3, the persecution by young Saul and the Pharisees. Jesus had commanded the disciples not to depart from Jerusalem till they received the Promise of the Father (1:4), but they had remained long after that and were not carrying the gospel to the other peoples (1:8). Now they were pushed out by Saul and began as a result to carry out the Great Commission for world conquest, that is those “scattered abroad” [diasparentes], second aorist passive participle of [diaspeirō]. This verb means disperse, to sow in separate or scattered places [dia] and so to drive people hither and thither. Old and very common verb, especially in the LXX, but in the N.T. only in Ac 8:1, 4; 11:19. Went about [diēlthon]. Constative second aorist active of [dierchomai], to go through (from place to place, [dia]. Old and common verb, frequent for missionary journeys in the Acts (5:40; 8:40; 9:32; 11:19; 13:6). Preaching the word [euaggelizomenoi ton logon]. Evangelizing or gospelizing the word (the truth about Christ). In 11:19 Luke explains more fully the extent of the labours of these new preachers of the gospel. They were emergency preachers, not ordained clergymen, but men stirred to activity by the zeal of Saul against them. The blood of the martyrs (Stephen) was already becoming the seed of the church. “The violent dispersion of these earnest disciples resulted in a rapid diffusion of the gospel” (Alvah Hovey).
8:5 Philip [Philippos]. The deacon (6:5) and evangelist (21:8), not the apostle of the same name (Mr 3:18). To the city of Samaria [eis tēn polin tēs Samarias]. Genitive of apposition. Samaria is the name of the city here. This is the first instance cited of the expansion noted in verse 4. Jesus had an early and fruitful ministry in Samaria (Joh 4), though the twelve were forbidden to go into a Samaritan city during the third tour of Galilee (Mt 10:5), a temporary prohibition withdrawn before Jesus ascended on high (Ac 1:8). Proclaimed [ekērussen]. Imperfect active, began to preach and kept on at it. Note [euaggelizomenoi] in verse 4 of missionaries of good news (Page) while [ekērussen] here presents the preacher as a herald. He is also a teacher [didaskalos] like Jesus. Luke probably obtained valuable information from Philip and his daughters about these early days when in his home in Caesarea (Ac 21:8).
8:6 Gave heed [proseichon]. Imperfect active as in verses 10, 11, there with dative of the person [autōi], here with the dative of the thing [tois legomenois]. There is an ellipse of [noun] (mind). They kept on giving heed or holding the mind on the things said by Philip, spell-bound, in a word. When they heard [en tōi akouein autous]. Favourite Lukan idiom, [en] and the locative case of the articlar infinitive with the accusative of general reference “in the hearing as to them.” Which he did [ha epoiei]. Imperfect active again, which he kept on doing from time to time. Philip wrought real miracles which upset the schemes of Simon Magus.
8:7 For many [polloi gar]. So the correct text of the best MSS., but there is an anacoluthon as this nominative has no verb with it. It was “the unclean spirits” that “came out” [exērchonto], imperfect middle). The margin of the Revised Version has it “came forth,” as if they came out of a house, a rather strained translation. The loud outcry is like the demons cast out by Jesus (Mr 3:11; Lu 4:41). Palsied [paralelumenoi], perfect passive participle). Luke’s usual word, loosened at the side, with no power over the muscles. Furneaux notes that “the servant was reaping where the Master had sown. Samaria was the mission field white for the harvest (Joh 4:35).” The Samaritans who had been bewitched by Simon are now carried away by Philip.
8:9 Simon [Simōn]. One of the common names (Josephus, Ant. XX. 7, 2) and a number of messianic pretenders had this name. A large number of traditions in the second and third centuries gathered round this man and Baur actually proposed that the Simon of the Clementine Homilies is really the apostle Paul though Paul triumphed over the powers of magic repeatedly (Ac 13:6-12; 19:11-19), “a perfect absurdity” (Spitta, Apostelgeschichte, p. 149). One of the legends is that this Simon Magus of Acts is the father of heresy and went to Rome and was worshipped as a god (so Justin Martyr). But a stone found in the Tiber A.D. 1574 has an inscription to Semoni Sanco Deo Fidio Sacrum which is (Page) clearly to Hercules, Sancus being a Sabine name for Hercules. This Simon in Samaria is simply one of the many magicians of the time before the later gnosticism had gained a foothold. “In his person Christianity was for the first time confronted with superstition and religious imposture, of which the ancient world was at this period full” (Furneaux). Which beforetime used sorcery [proupērchen mageuōn]. An ancient idiom (periphrastic), the present active participle [mageuōn] with the imperfect active verb from [prouparchō], the idiom only here and Lu 23:12 in the N.T. Literally “Simon was existing previously practising magic.” This old verb [mageuō] is from [magos] (a [magus], seer, prophet, false prophet, sorcerer) and occurs here alone in the N.T. Amazed (existanōn). Present active participle of the verb [existanō], later form of [existēmi], to throw out of position, displace, upset, astonish, chiefly in the Gospels in the N.T. Same construction as [mageuōn]. Some great one [tina megan]. Predicate accusative of general reference (infinitive in indirect discourse). It is amazing how gullible people are in the presence of a manifest impostor like Simon. The Magi were the priestly order in the Median and Persian empires and were supposed to have been founded by Zoroaster. The word [magoi] (magi) has a good sense in Mt 2:1, but here and in Ac 13:6 it has the bad sense like our “magic.”
8:10 That power of God which is called Great [hē Dunamis tou theou hē kaloumenē Megalē]. Apparently here already the oriental doctrine of emanations or aeons so rampant in the second century. This “power” was considered a spark of God himself and Jerome (in Mt 24) quotes Simon (Page) as saying: Ego sum sermo Dei, ... ego omnipotens, ego omnia Dei. Simon claimed to impersonate God.
8:11 Because that of long time he had amazed them with his sorceries [dia to hikanōi chronōi tais magiais exestakenai autous]. Causal use of [dia] with the accusative articular infinitive (perfect active Koinē form and transitive, [exestakenai]. Same verb as in verse 9 participle [existanōn] and in verse 13 imperfect passive [existato] (cf. also 2:7 already). [Chronōi] is associative instrumental and [magiais] instrumental case.
8:12 They were baptized [ebaptizonto]. Imperfect passive (repetition, from time to time), while believed [episteusan] is constative aorist antecedent to the baptism. Note dative case of Philip with [episteusan]. Note the gospel of Philip “concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ.”
8:13 And Simon also himself believed [Ho de Simōn kai autos episteusen]. Note the same verb in the aorist tense [episteusen]. What did he believe? Evidently that Jesus was this “power of God” not himself (Simon). He saw that the miracles wrought by Philip in the name of Christ were genuine while he knew that his own were frauds. He wanted this power that Philip had to add to his own pretensions. “He was probably half victim of self-delusion, half conscious impostor” (Furneaux). He was determined to get this new “power,” but had no sense of personal need of Jesus as Saviour for his sins. So he submitted to baptism [baptistheis], first aorist passive participle of [baptizō], clear proof that baptism does not convey salvation. He continued with Philip [ēn proskarterōn tōi Philippōi]. Periphrastic imperfect of the verb [proskartereō] (see on 2:46). He stuck to Philip (dative case) to find out the secret of his power. Beholding [theōrōn]. Watching the signs and miracles (powers, [dunameis] that threw his “power” in the shade) as they were wrought [ginomenas], present middle participle of [ginomai]. The more he watched the more the wonder grew [existato]. He had “amazed” (verse 9) the people by his tricks and he was himself more “amazed” than they by Philip’s deeds.
8:14 That Samaria had received [hoti dedektai hē Samaria]. The district here, not the city as in verse 5. Perfect middle indicative of [dechomai] retained in indirect discourse. It was a major event for the apostles for now the gospel was going into Samaria as Jesus had predicted (1:8). Though the Samaritans were nominally Jews, they were not held so by the people. The sending of Peter and John was no reflection on Philip, but was an appropriate mission since “many Christian Jews would be scandalized by the admission of Samaritans” (Furneaux). If Peter and John sanctioned it, the situation would be improved. John had once wanted to call down fire from heaven on a Samaritan village (Lu 9:54).
8:15 That they might receive [hopōs labōsin]. Second aorist active subjunctive of [lambanō], final clause with [hopōs]. Did they wish the Samaritan Pentecost to prove beyond a doubt that the Samaritans were really converted when they believed? They had been baptized on the assumption that the Holy Spirit had given them new hearts. The coming of the Holy Spirit with obvious signs (cf. 10:44-48) as in Jerusalem would make it plain.
8:16 He was fallen [ēn epipeptōkos]. Periphrastic past perfect active of [epipiptō], old verb. The participle is neuter here because of the grammatical gender of [pneuma], but the translation should be “he” (natural gender), not “it.” We should not use “it” for the Holy Spirit. Only they had been baptized [monon de babaptismenoi hupērchon]. Periphrastic past perfect passive of [baptizō] with [huparchō] (see verse 9 [proupērchon], instead of [ēsan]. Into the name [eis to onoma]. Better, in the name (see on 2:38).
8:17 Laid they their hands [epetithesan tas cheiras]. Imperfect active, repetition. The laying on of hands did not occur at the great Pentecost (2:4, 33) nor in 4:31; 10:44 nor is it mentioned in 1Co 12; 14. It is mentioned in Ac 6:7 about the deacons and in 13:3 when Barnabas and Saul left Antioch. And in Saul’s case it was Ananias who laid his hands on him (9:17). Hence it cannot be concluded that the Holy Spirit was received only by the laying on of the hands of the apostles or by the hands of anyone. The so-called practice of “confirmation” appeals to this passage, but inconclusively. They received [elambanon]. Imperfect active, repetition as before and [pari passu] with the laying on of the hands.
8:18 When Simon saw [Idōn de ho Simōn]. This participle (second aorist active of [horaō] shows plainly that those who received the gift of the Holy Spirit spoke with tongues. Simon now saw power transferred to others. Hence he was determined to get this new power. He offered them money [prosēnegken chrēmata]. Second aorist active indicative of [prospherō]. He took Peter to be like himself, a mountebank performer who would sell his tricks for enough money. Trafficking in things sacred like ecclesiastical preferments in England is called “Simony” because of this offer of Simon.
8:19 Me also [kamoi]. This is the whole point with this charlatan. He wants the power to pass on “this power.” His notion of “The Holy Spirit” was on this low level. He regarded spiritual functions as a marketable commodity. Money “can buy diamonds, but not wisdom, or sympathy, or faith, or holiness” (Furneaux).
8:20 Perish with thee [sun soi eiē eis apōleian]. Literally, Be with thee for destruction. Optative for a future wish. The use of [eis] with the accusative in the predicate is especially common in the LXX. The wish reveals Peter’s indignation at the base offer of Simon. Peter was no grafter to accept money for spiritual power. He spurned the temptation. The natural meaning of Peter’s language is that Simon was on the road to destruction. It is a warning and almost a curse on him, though verse 22 shows that there was still room for repentance. To obtain [ktāsthai]. To acquire. Usual meaning of the present tense (infinitive middle) of [ktaomai].
8:21 Lot [klēros]. Same idea as “part” [meris], only as a figure. Matter [logoi]. Literally, word or subject (as in Lu 1:4; Ac 15:6), the power of communicating the Holy Spirit. This use of [logos] is in the ancient Greek. Straight [eutheia]. Quotation from Ps 78:37. Originally a mathematically straight line as in Ac 9:11, then moral rectitude as here.
8:22 Wickedness [kakias]. Only here in Luke’s writings, though old word and in LXX (cf. 1Pe 2:1, 16). If perhaps [ei ara]. Si forte. This idiom, though with the future indicative and so a condition of the first class (determined as fulfilled), yet minimizes the chance of forgiveness as in Mr 11:13. Peter may have thought that his sin was close to the unpardonable sin (Mt 12:31), but he does not close the door of hope. The thought [hē epinoia]. Old Greek word from [epinoeō], to think upon, and so purpose. Only here in the N.T.
8:23 That thou art [se onta]. Participle in indirect discourse after [horō] (I see). In the gall of bitterness [eis cholēn pikrias]. Old word from [cholas] either from [cheō], to pour, or [chloē], yellowish green, bile or gall. In the N.T. only in Mt 27:34 and here. In LXX in sense of wormwood as well as bile. See De 29:18; 32:32; La 3:15; Job 16:14. “Gall and bitterness” in De 29:18. Here the gall is described by the genitive [pikrias] as consisting in “bitterness.” In Heb 12:15 “a root of bitterness,” a bitter root. This word [pikria] in the N.T. only here and Heb 12:15; Ro 3:14; Eph 4:31. The “bond of iniquity” [sundesmon adikias] is from Isa 58:6. Paul uses this word of peace (Eph 4:3), of love (Col 3:14), of the body (Col 2:19). Peter describes Simon’s offer as poison and a chain.
8:24 Pray ye for me [Deēthēte humeis huper emou]. Emphasis on [humeis] (you). First aorist passive imperative. Simon is thoroughly frightened by Peter’s words, but shows no sign of personal repentance or change of heart. He wants to escape the penalty for his sin and hopes that Peter can avert it. Peter had clearly diagnosed his case. He was an unconverted man in spite of his profession of faith and baptism. There is no evidence that he ever changed his life at all. Which [hōn]. Genitive by attraction of the accusative relative [ha] to case of the unexpressed antecedent [toutōn] (of those things), a common Greek idiom.
8:25 They therefore [hoi men oun]. Demonstrative [hoi] with [men] (no following [de] and the inferential [oun] (therefore) as often in Acts (1:6, etc.). Returned [hupestrephon]. Imperfect active picturing the joyful journey of preaching [euēggelizonto], imperfect middle) to the Samaritan villages. Peter and John now carried on the work of Philip to the Samaritans. This issue was closed.
8:26 Toward the South [kata mesēmbrian]. Old word from [mesos] and [hēmera], midday or noon as in Ac 22:16, the only other example in the N.T. That may be the idea here also, though “towards the South” gets support from the use of [kata liba] in Ac 27:12. The same is desert [hautē estin erēmos]. Probably a parenthetical remark by Luke to give an idea of the way. One of the ways actually goes through a desert. Gaza itself was a strong city that resisted Alexander the Great five months. It was destroyed by the Romans after war broke out with the Jews.
8:27 A eunuch of great authority [eunouchos dunastēs]. Eunuchs were often employed by oriental rulers in high posts. Dynasty comes from this old word [dunastēs] used of princes in Lu 1:52 and of God in 1Ti 6:15. Eunuchs were not allowed to be Jews in the full sense (De 23:1), but only proselytes of the gate. But Christianity is spreading to Samaritans and to eunuchs. Candace [Kandakēs]. Not a personal name, but like Pharaoh and Ptolemy, the title of the queens of Ethiopia. This eunuch apparently brought the gospel to Ethiopia. Treasure [gazēs]. Persian word, common in late Greek and Latin for the royal treasure, here only in the N.T. For to worship [proskunēsōn]. Future active participle expressing purpose, a common idiom in the ancient Greek, but rare in the N.T. (Robertson, Grammar, p. 1128).
8:28 Was reading [aneginōsken]. Imperfect active descriptive, not periphrastic like the two preceding verbs (was returning and sitting). He was reading aloud as Philip “heard him reading” [ēkousen auton anaginōskontos], a common practice among orientals. He had probably purchased this roll of Isaiah in Jerusalem and was reading the LXX Greek text. See imperfect again in verse 32.
8:29 Join thyself [kollēthēti]. See this vivid word (be glued to, first aorist passive imperative) already in 5:13; Lu 10:11; 15:15. Philip probably jumped on the running board on the side of the chariot.
8:30 Understandest thou what thou readest? [Ara ge ginōskeis ha anaginōskeis?] The interrogative particle [ara] and the intensive particle [ge] indicate doubt on Philip’s part. The play [paranomasia] upon the words in the Greek is very neat: Do you know what you know again (read)? The verb for read [anaginōsko] means to know the letters again, recognize, read. The famous comment of Julian about the Christian writings is often quoted: [Anegnōn, egnōn, kategnōn] (I read, I understood, I condemned). The keen retort was: [Anegnōs, all’ouk egnōs, ei gar egnōs, ouk an kategnōs] (You read, but did not understand; for if you had understood, you would not have condemned).
8:31 How can I, except some one shall guide me? [Pōs gar an dunaimēn ean me tis hodēgēsei me?]. This is a mixed condition, the conclusion coming first belongs to the fourth class (undetermined with less likelihood of being determined) with [an] and the optative, but the condition [ean], instead of the usual [ei], and the future indicative) is of the first class (determined or fulfilled. Robertson, Grammar, p. 1022), a common enough phenomenon in the Koinē. The eunuch felt the need of some one to guide [hodēgeō] from [hodēgos], guide, and that from [hodos], way, and [hegeomai], to lead).
8:32 The place [he periochē]. See the verb [periechei] so used in 1Pe 2:6. The word is used either of the section as in Codex A before the beginning of Mark or the contents of a passage. He was here reading one particular passage (Isa 53:7f.). The quotation is from the LXX which has some variations from the Hebrew.
8:33 Was taken away [ērthē]. First aorist passive indicative of [airō], to take away. It is not clear what the meaning is here either in the Hebrew or the LXX. Knowling suggests that the idea is that justice was withheld, done away with, in his death, as it certainly was in the death of Christ.
8:34 Of whom [peri tinos]. Concerning whom, a pertinent inquiry surely and one that troubles many critics today.
8:35 Beginning from this scripture [arxamenos apo tēs graphēs tautēs]. As a text. Philip needed no better opening than this Messianic passage in Isaiah. Preached unto him Jesus [euēggelisato autōi ton Iēsoun]. Philip had no doubt about the Messianic meaning and he knew that Jesus was the Messiah. There are scholars who do not find Jesus in the Old Testament at all, but Jesus himself did (Lu 24:27) as Philip does here. Scientific study of the Old Testament (historical research) misses its mark if it fails to find Christ the Center of all history. The knowledge of the individual prophet is not always clear, but after events throw a backward light that illumines it all (1Pe 1:11f.; 2Pe 1:19-21).
8:36 What doth hinder me to be baptized? [Ti kōluei me baptisthēnai?]. Evidently Philip had said something about baptism following faith and conversion. verse 37 is not a genuine part of Acts, a western addition. Later baptismal liturgies had it.
8:39 Out of the water [ek tou hudatos]. Not from the edge of the water, but up out of the water as in Mr 1:10. Caught away [hērpasen]. Suddenly and miraculously, for [harpazō], like the Latin rapio, means to carry off. Cf. 2Co 12:2; 1Th 4:17. Went on his way [eporeueto]. Kept on going, imperfect active.
8:40 He preached the gospel [euēggelizeto]. Imperfect middle describing the evangelistic tour of Philip “till he came to Caesarea” [heōs tou elthein auton], genitive articular infinitive with the preposition [heōs] and the accusative of general reference) where he made his home and headquarters thereafter (Ac 21:28) and was known as the Evangelist.
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