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1And Saul approved of their killing him.

Saul Persecutes the Church

That day a severe persecution began against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout the countryside of Judea and Samaria. 2Devout men buried Stephen and made loud lamentation over him. 3But Saul was ravaging the church by entering house after house; dragging off both men and women, he committed them to prison.

Philip Preaches in Samaria

4 Now those who were scattered went from place to place, proclaiming the word. 5Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah to them. 6The crowds with one accord listened eagerly to what was said by Philip, hearing and seeing the signs that he did, 7for unclean spirits, crying with loud shrieks, came out of many who were possessed; and many others who were paralyzed or lame were cured. 8So there was great joy in that city.

9 Now a certain man named Simon had previously practiced magic in the city and amazed the people of Samaria, saying that he was someone great. 10All of them, from the least to the greatest, listened to him eagerly, saying, “This man is the power of God that is called Great.” 11And they listened eagerly to him because for a long time he had amazed them with his magic. 12But when they believed Philip, who was proclaiming the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 13Even Simon himself believed. After being baptized, he stayed constantly with Philip and was amazed when he saw the signs and great miracles that took place.

14 Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. 15The two went down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit 16(for as yet the Spirit had not come upon any of them; they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus). 17Then Peter and John laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. 18Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, 19saying, “Give me also this power so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” 20But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain God’s gift with money! 21You have no part or share in this, for your heart is not right before God. 22Repent therefore of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you. 23For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and the chains of wickedness.” 24Simon answered, “Pray for me to the Lord, that nothing of what you have said may happen to me.”

25 Now after Peter and John had testified and spoken the word of the Lord, they returned to Jerusalem, proclaiming the good news to many villages of the Samaritans.

Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch

26 Then an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Get up and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” (This is a wilderness road.) 27So he got up and went. Now there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of the Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, in charge of her entire treasury. He had come to Jerusalem to worship 28and was returning home; seated in his chariot, he was reading the prophet Isaiah. 29Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over to this chariot and join it.” 30So Philip ran up to it and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah. He asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” 31He replied, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to get in and sit beside him. 32Now the passage of the scripture that he was reading was this:

“Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter,

and like a lamb silent before its shearer,

so he does not open his mouth.


In his humiliation justice was denied him.

Who can describe his generation?

For his life is taken away from the earth.”

34 The eunuch asked Philip, “About whom, may I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?” 35Then Philip began to speak, and starting with this scripture, he proclaimed to him the good news about Jesus. 36As they were going along the road, they came to some water; and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water! What is to prevent me from being baptized?” 38He commanded the chariot to stop, and both of them, Philip and the eunuch, went down into the water, and Philip baptized him. 39When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing. 40But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he was passing through the region, he proclaimed the good news to all the towns until he came to Caesarea.


14. Luke describeth, in this place, the proceedings of the grace of God in the Samaritans, as he useth to enrich the faithful continually with greater gifts of his Spirit, for we must not think that the apostles took that counsel whereof Luke speaketh, without the instinct of the same God who had already begun his work in Samaria by the hand of Philip; and he useth his instruments diversely unto divers parts of his work, according to his good pleasure. He used Philip as an instrument to bring them unto the faith; now he ordaineth Peter and John to be ministers to give the Spirit and thus doth he foster the unity of his Church when one helpeth another, and not only knit man and man together, but whole churches also. He could have finished that which he had begun by Philip; but to the end the Samaritans might learn to embrace brotherly fellowship with the first Church, he meant to bind them herewith as with a band; secondly, he meant to grant the apostles (whom he had commanded to preach the gospel throughout the whole world — Mark 16:15) this privilege, that they might the better all grow together into one faith of the gospel; and we know that it was otherwise dangerous, lest, seeing the Jews and Samaritans were much unlike in mind and manners, being so divided, they should by this means divide Christ, or at least feign to themselves a new Church.

In the mean season, we see how careful the apostles were to help their brethren; for they stay not until they be requested, but they take this charge upon them of their own accord. The apostles do not this through any distrust, as if they did suspect that Philip did not his duty so uprightly as he ought; 512512     “Minus dextre quam par esset,” less dexterously than was meet. but they set to their hand to help him in his work, and Peter and John came not only to help him, and to be partakers of his labors, but also to approve the same. Again, Philip is not grieved because other men finish that building which he had begun, but they one help another full gently and faithfully; and surely it is ambition alone which will not suffer holy fellowship and mutual imparting of duties to enter. 513513     “Quae sanctae communicatione januam claudit,” which shuts the door against holy communion. Whereas Luke saith that Peter was sent by the rest, we may hereby gather that he was not the chief ruler over his fellows in office; 514514     “Non exercuisse in collegas imperium,” did not exercise authority over his colleagues. but did so excel amongst them, that yet, notwithstanding, he was subject to, and did obey the body.

Which were at Jerusalem. This may carry a double meaning, either that all the apostles were at Jerusalem then, or that there were certain resident there when the rest went hither and thither; and I do rather allow this latter, for it is to be thought that they did so divide themselves, that always some of the number might take upon them divers embassages, as occasion was offered, that some might stay at Jerusalem, as in the principal standing. 515515     “Statione,” station. Again, it may be that after every man had spent some time in his voyage, they were wont to assemble themselves there. It is certain, indeed, that that time which they spent at Jerusalem was not spent in idleness; and, secondly that they were not tied to some one place, forasmuch as Christ had commanded them to go over all the world (Mark 16:15.)

15. They prayed. Undoubtedly they taught first, for we know that they were no dumb persons; but Luke passeth over that which was common to them and Philip, and declareth only what new thing the Samaritans had by their coming, to wit, that they had the Spirit given them then.

16. But here ariseth a question, for he saith that they were only baptized into the name of Christ, and that therefore they had not as yet received the Holy Ghost; but baptism must either be in vain and without grace, or else it must have all the force which it hath from the Holy Ghost. In baptism we are washed from our sins; but Paul teacheth that our washing is the work of the Holy Ghost, (Titus 3:5.) The water used in baptism is a sign of the blood of Christ; but Peter saith, that it is the Spirit by whom we are washed with the blood of Christ (1 Peter 1:2.) Our old man is crucified in baptism, that we may be raised up unto newness of life, (Romans 6:6;) and whence cometh all this save only from the sanctification of the Spirit? And, finally, what shall remain in baptism if it be separate from the Spirit? (Galatians 3:27.) Therefore, we must not deny but that the Samaritans, who had put on Christ, indeed, in baptism, had also his Spirit given them; and surely Luke speaketh not in this place of the common grace of the Spirit, whereby God doth regenerate us, that we may be his children, but of those singular gifts wherewith God would have certain endued at the beginning of the gospel to beautify Christ’s kingdom. Thus must the words of John be understood, that the disciples had not the Spirit given them as yet, forasmuch as Christ was yet conversant in the world; not that they were altogether destitute of the Spirit, seeing that they had from the same both faith, and a godly desire to follow Christ; but because they were not furnished with those excellent gifts, wherein appeared afterwards greater glory of Christ’s kingdom. To conclude, forasmuch as the Samaritans were already endtied with the Spirit of adoptioni the excellent graces of the Spirit are heaped upon them, in which God showed to his Church, for a time as it were, the visible presence of his Spirit, that he might establish for ever the authority of his gospel, and also testify that his Spirit shall be always the governor and director of the faithful.

They were only baptized. We must not understand this as spoken contemptuously of baptism; but Luke’s meaning is, that they were only endued then with the grace of common adoption and regeneration, which is offered to all the godly in baptism. As for this, it was an extraordinary thing that certain should have the gifts of the Spirit given them, which might serve to set forth the kingdom of Christ and the glory of the gospel; for this was the use thereof, that every one might profit the Church according to the measure of his ability. We must note this, therefore, because, while the Papists will set up their feigned confirmation, they are not afraid to break out into this sacrilegious speech, that they are but half Christians upon whom the hands have not been as yet laid. This is not tolerable now because, whereas this was a sign which lasted only for a time, they made it a continual law in the Church, as if they had the Spirit in readiness to give to whomsoever they would. We know that when the testimony and pledge of God’s grace is set before us in vain, and without the thing itself, it is too filthy mockery; but even they themselves are enforced to grant that the Church was beautified for a time only with these gifts; whereupon it followeth that the laying on of hands which the apostles used had an end when the effect ceased. I omit that, that they added oil unto the laying on of hands, (Mark 6:13;) but this, as I have already said, was a point of too great boldness, to prescribe a perpetual law to the Church, that that might be a general sacrament, which was peculiarly used amongst the apostles, (Galatians 3:7; Romans 6:6;) that the sign might continue still after that the thing itself was ceased; and with this they joined detestable blasphemy, because they said that sins were only forgiven by baptism, and that the Spirit of regeneration is given by that rotten oil which they presumed to bring in without the Word of God. The Scripture doth testify that we put on Christ in baptism, and that we are engrafted into his body, that our old man may be crucified, and we renewed into righteousness. These sacrilegious robbers have translated that to adorn the false visor of their sacrament which they have taken from baptism. 516516     “Detracta baptismo spolia,” the spoils taken from baptism. Neither was this the invention of one man only, but the decree of one council, whereof they babble daily in all their schools.

17. When they had laid their hands. The laying on of hands followeth prayers, whereby they testify that the grace of the Spirit is not included in the external ceremony, which they crave humbly at the hands of another. And yet when they confess that God is the author, they neglect not the ceremony which was delivered them by God to this use; and because they usurp it not rashly, the effect is also annexed. This is the profit and efficacy of signs, because God worketh in them, and yet he remaineth the only giver of grace and distributeth the same according to his good pleasure; but let us remember that the laying on of hands was the instrument of God, at such time as he gave the visible graces of the Spirit to his, and that since the Church was deprived of such riches, it is only a vain visor without any substance. 517517     “Inane duntaxat esset spectrum,” it was only an empty specter.

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