Saul Persecutes the Believers
1Now, Saul agreed to be an accomplice to Stephen’s stoning and participated in his execution. From that day on, a great persecution of the church in Jerusalem began. All the believers scattered into the countryside of Judea and among the Samaritans, except the apostles who remained behind in Jerusalem. 2God-fearing men gave Stephen a proper burial and mourned greatly over his death.
3Then Saul mercilessly persecuted the church of God, going from house to house into the homes of believers to arrest both men and women and drag them off to prison.
The Gospel Spreads to Samaria
4Although the believers were scattered by persecution, they preached the wonderful news of the word of God wherever they went. 5Philip traveled to a Samaritan city # 8:5 Or “the main city of Samaria.” Many believe this was the Samaritan city of Sebaste. and preached to them the wonderful news of the Anointed One. 6The crowds were eager to receive # 8:6 As translated from the Aramaic, which indicates they did more than just hear the good news; they silenced those who said anything against Philip’s message. Philip’s message and were persuaded by the many miracles and wonders he performed. 7Many demon-possessed people were set free and delivered as evil spirits came out of them with loud screams and shrieks, and many who were lame and paralyzed were also healed. # 8:7 Healings, miracles, and deliverances were being accomplished through others, not just the apostles. 8This resulted in an uncontainable joy filling the city!
Simon the Sorcerer Converted
9Now, there was a man who lived there who was steeped in sorcery. For some time he had astounded the people of Samaria with his magic, boasting to be someone great. # 8:9 The Aramaic is “He boasted of himself, saying, ‘I am the great god!’ ” 10Everyone, from the least to the greatest among them, was dazzled by his sorcery, # 8:10 The Aramaic is “They were all praying to him” or “bowing down to him.” saying, “This man is the greatest wizard of all! The divine power of God walks among us!” 11For many years everyone was in awe of him because of his astonishing displays of the magic arts.
12But as Philip preached the wonderful news of God’s kingdom realm, and the name of Jesus the Anointed One, many believed his message and were baptized, both men and women. 13Even Simon believed and was baptized! Wherever Philip went, Simon was right by his side, astounded by all the miracles, signs, and enormous displays of power that he witnessed.
14When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that the Samaritans had accepted God’s message of life, they sent Peter and John 15to pray over them so that they would receive the Holy Spirit. # 8:15 Or “take hold of the Holy Spirit.” 16For they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus and were yet to have the Holy Spirit fall upon them. 17As soon as Peter and John arrived, they laid their hands on the Samaritan believers, one after another, and the Holy Spirit fell and filled each one of them! # 8:17 Implied in the text. The Greek is “They took hold of the Holy Spirit.” That is, the power of the Holy Spirit came upon them and filled them.
18When Simon saw how the Holy Spirit was released through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he approached them and offered them money, 19saying, “I want this power too. I’m willing to pay you for the anointing # 8:19 Or “authority.” that you have, so that I also can lay my hands on everyone to receive the Holy Spirit.”
20Peter rebuked him and said, “Your money will go with you to destruction! How could you even think that you could purchase God’s supernatural gift with money? 21You will never have this gift or take part in this ministry, # 8:21 Or “You have no part with us in this word” (logos). The Aramaic is “You have no portion in this faith.” for your heart is not right with God. 22Repent this moment for allowing such wickedness to fill you. Plead with the Lord that perhaps he would forgive you the treachery of your heart. 23For I discern that jealous envy # 8:23 Or “bitter anger.” has poisoned you and binds you as a captive to sin.”
24Simon begged, “Peter, please pray to God for me. Plead with him so that nothing you just said over me may come to pass!”
Philip and the Ethiopian
25After Peter and John had testified and taught the word of God in that city, they returned to Jerusalem, stopping at many Samaritan villages along the way to preach the hope of the gospel. # 8:25 As translated from the Aramaic.
26Then the Lord’s angel said to Philip, “Now go south from Jerusalem on the desert road to Gaza.” 27He left immediately on his assignment.
Along the way he encountered an Ethiopian who believed in the God of the Jews, # 8:27 Implied by the Aramaic word mhymna, a homonym that can mean “believer” or “eunuch.” It is difficult to understand why a minister of finance would need to become a eunuch. who was the minister of finance for Candace, queen of Ethiopia. He was on his way home from worshiping God in Jerusalem. 28As he rode along in his chariot, he was reading from the scroll of Isaiah.
29The Holy Spirit said to Philip, “Go and walk alongside the chariot.”
30So Philip ran to catch up. As he drew closer he overheard the man reading from the scroll of Isaiah the prophet. Philip asked him, “Sir, do you understand what you’re reading?”
31The man answered, “How can I possibly make sense of this without someone explaining it to me?” # 8:31 Or “unless someone guide me.” So he invited Philip up into his chariot to sit with him.
32The portion from Isaiah he was reading was this:
He was led away to the slaughter
like a lamb to be offered.
He was like a lamb that is silent
before those who sheared him—
he never even opened his mouth.
33In his lowliness justice was stripped away from him. # 8:33 Which means he had no one there to defend him and stand up for justice.
And who could fully express his struggles?
For his life was taken from the earth. # 8:33 As translated from the Aramaic. Both the Greek and the Aramaic are difficult to translate. The Greek is “Who can describe his posterity?” or “Who could describe the [evil] people of his time?” The Aramaic word for “struggles” (sufferings) and “generation” is the homonym darreh. See Isa. 53:7–8.
34The Ethiopian asked Philip, “Please, can you tell me who the prophet is speaking of? Is it himself or another man?”
35Philip started with this passage and shared with him the wonderful message of Jesus.
36As they were traveling down the road, the man said, “Look, here’s a pool of water. Why don’t I get baptized right now?”
37Philip replied, “If you believe with all your heart, I’ll baptize you.”
The man answered, “I believe that Jesus is the Anointed One, the Son of God.” # 8:37 Although only a few later Greek manuscripts include v. 37, it is found in one of the oldest Aramaic texts (Harklean Syriac Version, AD 616) and one Greek uncial from the eighth century. There is widespread consensus among scholars of both Greek and Aramaic texts that v. 37 was added as an ancient Christian confession of faith.
38The Ethiopian stopped his chariot, and they went down into the water # 8:38 There was no need to go down into the water if it was a baptism of sprinkling. Philip immersed the believing Ethiopian man in baptism. and Philip baptized him. 39-40When they came up out of the water, Philip was suddenly snatched up by the Spirit of the Lord and instantly carried away to the city of Ashdod, # 8:39–40 Or “Azotus.” This translation of Philip was an amazing miracle, as the city of Ashdod would have been fifteen miles or more from the desert road to Gaza. This miracle of being translated also took place with Ezekiel. See Ezek. 3:12–15. where he reappeared, preaching the gospel in that city.
The man never saw Philip again. He returned to Ethiopia full of great joy. Philip, however, traveled on to all of the towns of that region, bringing them the good news, until he arrived at Caesarea. # 8:39–40 This prominent Roman city was also known as Caesarea by the Sea.