Acts 8

Listen to Acts 8

Saul Ravages the Church

1 And 1Saul 2approved of his execution. And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and 3they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.
2 Devout men buried Stephen and made great lamentation over him.
3 But 4Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he 5dragged off men and women and committed them to prison.

Philip Proclaims Christ in Samaria

4 Now 6those who were scattered went about preaching the word.
5 7Philip went down to the city[a] of Samaria and proclaimed to them the Christ.
6 8And the crowds with one accord paid attention to what was being said by Philip when they heard him 9and saw the signs that he did.
7 For 10unclean spirits, crying out with a loud voice, came out of many who had them, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed.
8 So 11there was much joy in that city.

Simon the Magician Believes

9 But there was a man named Simon, 12who had previously practiced magic in the city and amazed the people of Samaria, 13saying that he himself was somebody great.
10 They all paid attention to him, from the least to the greatest, saying, 14"This man is the power of God that is called 15Great."
11 And they paid attention to him because for a long time he had 16amazed them with his magic.
12 But when 17they believed Philip as he preached good news 18about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, 19they were baptized, both men and women.
13 Even Simon himself believed, and after being baptized he continued with Philip. And 20seeing signs and 21great miracles[b] performed, 22he was amazed.
14 Now when 23the apostles at Jerusalem heard that 24Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John,
15 who came down and prayed for them 25that they might receive the Holy Spirit,
16 for 26he had not yet 27fallen on any of them, but 28they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
17 Then 29they laid their hands on them and 30they received the Holy Spirit.
18 Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles' hands, he offered them money,
19 saying, "Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit."
20 But Peter said to him, 31"May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God 32with money!
21 You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for 33your heart is not right before God.
22 Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, 34if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you.
23 For I see that you are in 35the gall[c] of bitterness and in 36the bond of iniquity."
24 And Simon answered, 37"Pray for me to the Lord, that nothing of what you have said may come upon me."
25 Now when they had testified and spoken the word of the Lord, they returned to Jerusalem, 38preaching the gospel to many villages of the Samaritans.

Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch

26 Now 39an angel of the Lord said to Philip, "Rise and go toward the south[d] to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza." This is a desert place.
27 And he rose and went. And there was an 40Ethiopian, a 41eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, 42who was in charge of all her treasure. 43He had come to Jerusalem to worship
28 and was returning, seated in his chariot, and he was reading the prophet Isaiah.
29 And the Spirit said to Philip, "Go over and join this chariot."
30 So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, "Do you understand what you are reading?"
31 And he said, 44"How can I, unless someone 45guides me?" And 46he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.
32 Now the passage of the Scripture that he was reading was this: 47"Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter and like a lamb before its shearer is silent, so he opens not his mouth.
33 In his 48humiliation justice was denied him. Who can describe his generation? For his life is taken away from the earth."
34 And the eunuch said to Philip, "About whom, I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?"
35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and 49beginning with this Scripture 50he told him the good news about Jesus.
36 And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, "See, here is water! 51What prevents me from being baptized?"[e]
38 And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him.
39 And when they came up out of the water, 52the Spirit of the Lord 53carried Philip away, and the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing.
40 But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he passed through he preached the gospel to all the towns until he came to Caesarea.

Acts 8 Commentary

Chapter 8

Saul persecutes the church. (1-4) Philip's success at Samaria. Simon the sorcerer baptized. (5-13) The hypocrisy of Simon detected. (14-25) Philip and the Ethiopian. (26-40)

Verses 1-4 Though persecution must not drive us from our work, yet it may send us to work elsewhere. Wherever the established believer is driven, he carries the knowledge of the gospel, and makes known the preciousness of Christ in every place. Where a simple desire of doing good influences the heart, it will be found impossible to shut a man out from all opportunities of usefulness.

Verses 5-13 As far as the gospel prevails, evil spirits are dislodged, particularly unclean spirits. All inclinations to the lusts of the flesh which war against the soul are such. Distempers are here named, the most difficult to be cured by the course of nature, and most expressive of the disease of sin. Pride, ambition, and desire after grandeur have always caused abundance of mischief, both to the world and to the church. The people said of Simon, This man is the great power of God. See how ignorant and thoughtless people mistake. But how strong is the power of Divine grace, by which they were brought to Christ, who is Truth itself! The people not only gave heed to what Philip said, but were fully convinced that it was of God, and not of men, and gave up themselves to be directed thereby. Even bad men, and those whose hearts still go after covetousness, may come before God as his people come, and for a time continue with them. And many wonder at the proofs of Divine truths, who never experience their power. The gospel preached may have a common operation upon a soul, where it never produced inward holiness. All are not savingly converted who profess to believe the gospel.

Verses 14-25 The Holy Ghost was as yet fallen upon none of these coverts, in the extraordinary powers conveyed by the descent of the Spirit upon the day of Pentecost. We may take encouragement from this example, in praying to God to give the renewing graces of the Holy Ghost to all for whose spiritual welfare we are concerned; for that includes all blessings. No man can give the Holy Spirit by the laying on of his hands; but we should use our best endeavours to instruct those for whom we pray. Simon Magus was ambitious to have the honour of an apostle, but cared not at all to have the spirit and disposition of a Christian. He was more desirous to gain honour to himself, than to do good to others. Peter shows him his crime. He esteemed the wealth of this world, as if it would answer for things relating to the other life, and would purchase the pardon of sin, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and eternal life. This was such a condemning error as could by no means consist with a state of grace. Our hearts are what they are in the sight of God, who cannot be deceived. And if they are not right in his sight, our religion is vain, and will stand us in no stead. A proud and covetous heart cannot be right with God. It is possible for a man to continue under the power of sin, yet to put on a form of godliness. When tempted with money to do evil, see what a perishing thing money is, and scorn it. Think not that Christianity is a trade to live by in this world. There is much wickedness in the thought of the heart, its false notions, and corrupt affections, and wicked projects, which must be repented of, or we are undone. But it shall be forgiven, upon our repentance. The doubt here is of the sincerity of Simon's repentance, not of his pardon, if his repentance was sincere. Grant us, Lord, another sort of faith than that which made Simon wonder only, and did not sanctify his heart. May we abhor all thoughts of making religion serve the purposes of pride or ambition. And keep us from that subtle poison of spiritual pride, which seeks glory to itself even from humility. May we seek only the honour which cometh from God.

Verses 26-40 Philip was directed to go to a desert. Sometimes God opens a door of opportunity to his ministers in very unlikely places. We should study to do good to those we come into company with by travelling. We should not be so shy of all strangers as some affect to be. As to those of whom we know nothing else, we know this, that they have souls. It is wisdom for men of business to redeem time for holy duties; to fill up every minute with something which will turn to a good account. In reading the word of God, we should often pause, to inquire of whom and of what the sacred writers spake; but especially our thoughts should be employed about the Redeemer. The Ethiopian was convinced by the teaching of the Holy Spirit, of the exact fulfilment of the Scripture, was made to understand the nature of the Messiah's kingdom and salvation, and desired to be numbered among the disciples of Christ. Those who seek the truth, and employ their time in searching the Scriptures, will be sure to reap advantages. The avowal of the Ethiopian must be understood as expressing simple reliance on Christ for salvation, and unreserved devotion to Him. Let us not be satisfied till we get faith, as the Ethiopian did, by diligent study of the Holy Scriptures, and the teaching of the Spirit of God; let us not be satisfied till we get it fixed as a principle in our hearts. As soon as he was baptized, the Spirit of God took Philip from him, so that he saw him no more; but this tended to confirm his faith. When the inquirer after salvation becomes acquainted with Jesus and his gospel, he will go on his way rejoicing, and will fill up his station in society, and discharge his duties, from other motives, and in another manner than heretofore. Though baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, with water, it is not enough without the baptism of the Holy Ghost. Lord, grant this to every one of us; then shall we go on our way rejoicing.

Cross References 53

  • 1. Acts 7:58; Acts 22:20
  • 2. See Romans 1:32
  • 3. Acts 11:19; See Matthew 10:23
  • 4. Acts 9:1, 13, 21; Acts 22:4, 19; Acts 26:10, 11; 1 Corinthians 15:9; Galatians 1:13; Philippians 3:6; 1 Timothy 1:13
  • 5. [James 2:6]
  • 6. ver. 1
  • 7. Acts 6:5
  • 8. [John 4:39]
  • 9. John 2:23
  • 10. See Mark 16:17, 18
  • 11. ver. 39; See John 16:22
  • 12. ver. 11; Acts 13:6
  • 13. See Acts 5:36
  • 14. Acts 14:11; Acts 28:6
  • 15. [Acts 19:27, 28]
  • 16. ver. 9; [ver. 13; Galatians 3:1]
  • 17. Acts 16:33, 34; Acts 18:8; Mark 16:16
  • 18. Acts 1:3
  • 19. Acts 16:33, 34; Acts 18:8; Mark 16:16
  • 20. ver. 6, 7
  • 21. Acts 19:11
  • 22. [ver. 9]
  • 23. ver. 1
  • 24. Acts 1:8
  • 25. Acts 2:38
  • 26. [Acts 19:2]
  • 27. Acts 10:44; Acts 11:15
  • 28. Acts 19:5; [Acts 2:38; Acts 10:47, 48; Matthew 28:19; 1 Corinthians 1:13, 15; Galatians 3:27]
  • 29. Acts 9:17; Acts 19:6; [Acts 6:6; Hebrews 6:2]
  • 30. See Acts 2:4
  • 31. [2 Kings 5:16; Daniel 5:17]
  • 32. Isaiah 55:1
  • 33. 2 Kings 10:15; Psalms 78:37
  • 34. Daniel 4:27; 2 Timothy 2:25
  • 35. Deuteronomy 29:18; Deuteronomy 32:32; Hebrews 12:15
  • 36. Isaiah 58:6; [Ephesians 4:3; Colossians 3:14]
  • 37. [Exodus 8:8; Exodus 9:28; Exodus 10:17]
  • 38. [ver. 6-8; John 4:39]
  • 39. Acts 5:19; Acts 10:3; Acts 11:13; Acts 12:7, 23; Acts 27:23; [Judges 6:12; Judges 13:3]
  • 40. Psalms 68:31; Psalms 87:4; Zephaniah 3:10
  • 41. [Jeremiah 38:7]
  • 42. Ezra 7:21
  • 43. [1 Kings 8:41, 42; John 12:20]
  • 44. See Romans 10:14
  • 45. John 16:13
  • 46. [1 Kings 20:33; 2 Kings 10:15]
  • 47. Cited from Isaiah 53:7, 8
  • 48. [Philippians 2:8]
  • 49. Luke 24:27; [Acts 17:2; Acts 18:28]
  • 50. See Acts 5:42
  • 51. Acts 10:47
  • 52. 1 Kings 18:12; 2 Kings 2:16; Ezekiel 3:12, 14; Ezekiel 8:3; Ezekiel 11:1, 24; Ezekiel 43:5
  • 53. See 2 Corinthians 12:2

Footnotes 5

  • [a]. Some manuscripts a city
  • [b]. Greek works of power
  • [c]. That is, a bitter fluid secreted by the liver; bile
  • [d]. Or go at about noon
  • [e]. Some manuscripts add all or most of verse 37: And Philip said, "If you believe with all your heart, you may." And he replied, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God."

Acts 8 Commentaries

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.