And being brought on their way by the church
That is, either being accompanied by some of the brethren of the church some part of the way, out of respect unto them, or being provided by them with things necessary for their journey; see ( Titus 3:13 )
they passed through Phenice and Samaria;
which both lay between Syria and Judea; in the former of which places those that were scattered upon the death of Stephen had preached, and a great number were converted and believed in Christ who were Jews, ( Acts 11:19 ) and in the latter Philip the evangelist had preached with much success, ( Acts 8:5 Acts 8:12 ) as therefore their way to Jerusalem lay through these places, they called upon the brethren as they passed;
declaring the conversion of the Gentiles;
in the several places where they had been, as in Syria, Pisidia, Pamphylia, and Lycaonia, how by their ministry they were turned from darkness to light, from Satan unto God, from their superstition and idolatry to the worship of the true God, and to faith in Christ Jesus:
and they caused great joy unto all the brethren;
the believing Jews in those parts, who being truly believers in Christ, rejoiced at the spread of his Gospel, and the increase of his interest, even among the Gentiles; for if angels rejoice, much more should saints rejoice at the conversion of sinners, let them be who or where they will; and where there is true grace, there will be joy when this is the case. There were churches in each of these places, of which "the brethren" here mentioned were members, and which continued for many ages afterwards: the foundation of the churches in Phenice was first laid by the converts made by them, who were scattered abroad through the persecution at the death of Stephen, ( Acts 11:19 ) . Quartus, mentioned in ( Romans 16:23 ) is said to be bishop of Berytus in this country. In the "second" century there were churches at Tyre and Ptolemais, two cities in Phoenicia; Cassius was bishop of the one, and Clarus of the other F11: in the "third" century several Phoenician bishops suffered martyrdom, as Tyrannio, bishop of the church of Tyre, Zenobius, presbyter of that at Sidon, and Sylvanus, bishop of Emisa F12: in the "fourth" century, at the beginning of it, there were present, at the council of Nice, the bishops of Ptolemais, Damascus, Tripolis, Paneas, and Emisa; as they were also at a synod held at Jerusalem in the same century, on account of the Arians, and at another at Antioch on the same account: in the fifth century there were churches in Phoenicia reformed by Chrysostom, by whose means also the temples of the idols were destroyed, and many were converted in these countries; and in this age lived several persons of note here, as Antiochus bishop of Ptolemais, Eustathius bishop of Berytus, Paulus bishop of Emisa, Pompeianus and Uranius of the same place, and Damianus bishop of Sidon, and other Phoenician bishops, who assisted at the council of Chalcedon; as Olympius bishop of Atrapolis, Theodorus bishop of Tripoils, Joseph bishop of Heliopolis, Valerius bishop of Laodicea, Thomas bishop of Euroma, and Theonas bishop of Enria or Enaria, all in Phoenicia: in the sixth century, mention is made of the bishops of Ptolemais, Tyre, Sidon, and Berytus, in the acts of the synod at Rome and Constantinople; and though Phoenicia was seized upon, and wasted by the Arabians and Persians, in the seventh century; yet we read, in the eighth century, of Adeodatus, a bishop of Berytus, who baptized many converted Jews F13. As for Samaria, our Lord himself preached and converted many persons there; and after his resurrection he gave his apostles a commission and directions to go there; and here Philip preached with great success. Nicolaus, the deacon, is said to be the first bishop of Samaria; and though in after ages Heathenism very much prevailed in those parts; yet there were Christians and churches, more or less, for several centuries; even in the sixth century there was a bishop of Neapolis in Samaria, killed with the sword, and some presbyters who were taken and fried in a pan, with the remains of some martyrs, by the Samaritan Jews F14.
F11 Euseb. Eccl. Hist. l. 5. c. 25.
F12 Ib. l. 8. c. 13.
F13 Madgeburg. Hist. Eccles. cent. 4. c. 2. p. 2. c. 9. p. 35O, 390, 404. cent. 5. c. 2. p. 3, 12, 13. c. 10. p. 550, 551. cent. 6. c. 2. p. 3. cent. 7. c. 3. p. 17. c. 16. p. 365. cent 8. c. 2. p. 3.
F14 Ib. cent. 6. c. 3. p. 22.