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8. Church Persecuted and Scattered

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. 2And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him. 3As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison. 4Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word. 5Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them. 6And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. 7For 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. 8And there was great joy in that city. 9But 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: 10To whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God. 11And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries. 12But 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. 13Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done. 14Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: 15Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: 16(For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) 17Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost. 18And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, 19Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost. 20But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. 21Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God. 22Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee. 23For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity. 24Then answered Simon, and said, Pray ye to the Lord for me, that none of these things which ye have spoken come upon me. 25And 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. 26And 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. 27And 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, 28Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet. 29Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot. 30And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest? 31And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him. 32The 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: 33In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth. 34And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man? 35Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus. 36And 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? 37And 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. 38And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. 39And 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. 40But Philip was found at Azotus: and passing through he preached in all the cities, till he came to Caesarea.

6. And the multitude gave ear. Luke declareth how the Samaritans did embrace Philip’s doctrine. For he saith that they heard, whereby they took some taste; there was also another prick whereby they were pricked forward, and that was miracles; at length there followed attentiveness. This is the right going forward unto faith; for those which refuse that doctrine which they have not heard, how is it possible that they should ever come unto faith, which cometh by hearing? (Romans 10:14.) Therefore, whereas they were ready to hear, that was the first step unto reverence and attentiveness. And therefore it is no marvel if faith be so rare, and almost none in the world; for how many be there which vouchsafe to hearken when God speaketh? whereby it cometh to pass that the more part rejecteth the truth before they know the same, and have not so much as lightly tasted it. And as hearing is the beginning of faith, so it should not be sufficient of itself, unless the majesty of doctrine should also move the hearts. And surely, whosoever considereth that he hath to do with God, cannot hear him contemptuously when he speaketh; and the very doctrine which is contained in his word shall purchase authority for itself, so that attentiveness shall flow of itself from hearing. As touching miracles we know that there is a double use thereof; they serve to prepare us to hear the gospel, and to confirm us in the faith thereof. The adverb, with one accord, may be joined as well with hearing as with attentiveness. This latter doth like me better, that they were attentive with one accord; and therein doth Luke commend the force and efficacy of Philip’s preaching, because a great number of men was suddenly won to hear attentively with one consent.

7. Unclean spirits. He toucheth certain kinds briefly, that we may know with what miracles they 501501     “Samaritae,” the Samaritans. were brought to attribute any authority to Philip. That crying wherewith the unclean spirits cried was a token of resistance. Wherefore this served not a little to set forth the power of Christ, that he did bind the devils with his commandment, though they resisted stubbornly.

8. The joy whereof he speaketh is a fruit of faith. For it cannot be but that so soon as we know that God will be favorable and merciful our minds shall be wrapt with incomparable joy, and such as doth far pass all understanding, (Philippians 4:7.)

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