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THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 8 - Verse 5

Verse 5. Then Philip. One of the seven deacons, Ac 6:5. He is afterwards called the Evangelist, Ac 21:8.

The city of Samaria. This does not mean a city whose name was Samaria, for no such city at that time existed. Samaria was a region, Mt 2:22. The ancient city Samaria, the capital of that region, had been destroyed by Hyrcanus so completely, as to leave no vestige of it remaining; and he "took away," says Justifies, "the very marks that there had ever been such a city there, Anti. b. xlii. chap. x. 3. Herod the Great afterwards built a city on this site, and called it Sebaste, i. e. Augusta, in honour of the emperor Augustus, Jos. Anti. b. xv. chap. viii. 5. Perhaps this city is intended, as being the principal city of Samaria; or possibly Sychar, another city where the gospel had been before preached by the Saviour himself, Joh 4.

And preached Christ. Preached that the Messiah had come, and made known his doctrines. The same truths had been before stated in Samaria by the Saviour himself, Joh 4 and this was doubtless one of the reasons why they so gladly now received the word of God. The field had been prepared by the Lord Jesus; and he had said that it was white for the harvest, Joh 4:35 and into that field Philip now entered, and was signally blessed. His coming was attended with a remarkable revival of religion. The word translated preach here is not that which is used in the previous verse. This denotes to proclaim as a crier, and is commonly employed to denote the preaching of the gospel, so called, Mr 5:20; 7:36; Lu 8:39; Mt 24:14; Ac 10:42; Ro 10:15; 1 Co 9:27; 15:12; 2 Ti 4:2.

It has been argued that because Philip is said thus to have preached to the Samaritans, that therefore all deacons have a right to preach, or that they are, under the New Testament economy, an order of ministers. But this is by no means clear. For,

(1.) it is not evident, nor can it be shown, that the other deacons Ac 6 ever preached. There is no record of their doing so; and the narrative would lead us to suppose that they did not.

(2.) They were appointed for a very different purpose, Ac 6:1-5; and it is fair to suppose that, as deacons, they confined themselves to the design of their appointment.

(3.) It is not said that Philip preached, in virtue of his being a deacon. From anything in this place, it would seem that he preached as the other Christians did—wherever he was.

(4.) But elsewhere an express distinction is made between Philip and the others. A new appellation is given him, and he is expressly called the Evangelist, Ac 21:8. From this, it seems that he preached, not because he was a deacon, but because he had received a special appointment to this business as an evangelist.

(5.) This same office, or rank of Christian teachers, is expressly recognized elsewhere, Eph 4:11. All these considerations show that there is not, in the sacred Scriptures, an order of ministers appointed to preach as deacons.

{b} "Philip went down" Ac 6:5

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