ACTS CHAPTER EIGHT
The purpose of the observation stage is to maintain focus on the text at hand within the normative rules of language, context and logic .which largely limits the observer to the content offered by the books of Luke and Acts. Other passages must have a relationship with the context at hand, such as a Scriptural quotation or reference in the passage at hand. This will serve to avoid going on unnecessary tangents elsewhere; and more importantly, it will provide the framework for a proper and objective comparison with passages located elsewhere in Scripture.
Remember that something elsewhere may be true, but in the text at hand it may not be in view.
The context of the stoning of Stephen by the Jewish rulers which introduces a young ruler named Saul who had consented to Stephen's execution in the previous chapter continues into chapter 8.
****** EXCERPT FROM ACTS CHAPTER 7 ******
OR SKIP TO THE BEGINNING OF CHAPTER 8
(Acts 7:54-60) THE RULERS, AFTER HEARING ALL THAT STEPHEN HAD TO SAY - AN ACCURATE LESSON OF THEIR HISTORY FRAUGHT WITH REBELLION AND APOSTASY - THEY WERE CUT TO THEIR HEARTS AND GNASHING THEIR TEETH AT HIM. BUT STEPHEN BEING FULL OF THE HOLY SPIRIT HAVING LOOKED STEADFASTLY TO HEAVEN SAW THE GLORY OF GOD, AND JESUS STANDING ON THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD, AND STEPHEN SAID, "LO, I SEE THE HEAVENS HAVING BEEN OPENED, AND THE SON OF MAN STANDING ON THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD." THE RULERS CRIED OUT WITH A LOUD VOICE, STOPPED THEIR EARS, AND RUSHED UPON STEPHEN ALL AT ONCE. THEY CAST HIM OUT OF THE CITY, TOOK OFF THEIR OUTER GARMENTS, LAID THEM AT THE FEET OF A YOUNG MAN CALLED SAUL, AND BEGAN STONING HIM TO DEATH. STEPHEN CALLED OUT, "LORD JESUS, RECEIVE MY SPIRIT;" THEN HE KNELT DOWN AND CRIED OUT WITH A LOUD VOICE, "LORD, DO NOT CHARGE THEM WITH THIS SIN." WHEREUPON HE FELL ASLEEP, IN THE SENSE OF DIED
(Acts 7:54 YLT) "And hearing these things, they were [being] cut to [their] hearts, and [were gnashing] the teeth at him; (Acts 7:55 YLT) and being full of the Holy Spirit, having looked stedfastly to the heaven, he saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, (Acts 7:56 YLT) and he said, 'Lo [Look], I see the heavens having been opened, and the Son of Man standing on the right hand of God.' (Acts 7:57 YLT) And they, having cried out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and did rush with one accord upon him, (Acts 7:58 YLT) and having cast him forth outside of the city, they were stoning [him] - and the witnesses did put down their garments at the feet of a young man called Saul - (Acts 7:59 HOLMAN) [And] they were stoning Stephen as he [was calling out]: 'Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!' (Acts 7:60 NKJV) Then [having knelt down] he cried out with a loud voice, 'Lord, do not charge them with this sin.' And when he had said this, he fell asleep.' =
The rulers heard all that Stephen had to say: it was an accurate lesson of their history fraught with rebellion and apostasy, fully corroborated by Scripture which they were familiar with. Stephen did nothing that could be called blasphemy or apostasy. His "defense" / witness was highly reverential of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, the Law, the tabernacle, the Temple, Moses and the LORD God Himself.
Despite the accuracy, integrity and reverance of Stephen's "defense" / witness, the rulers were cut to their hearts; and all the while they were gnashing their teeth at him. They might have repented of their apostasy as did many who had previously heard Peter speak with a similar message; but they chose to remain in apostasy as did those the rulers who had arrested Jesus and crucified Him; and arrested Peter and John when Peter spoke to the crowds in Jerusalem, (ref. Acts chapters 2-4). So true to their past apostasy and rebellion, they were gnashing their teeth, bent upon Stephen's destruction as well, (Acts 7:54).
On the other hand, Stephen, being full of the Holy Spirit as he was throughout his "defense" / witness, and whenever he witnessed for Christ, (cf. Acts 6:1-15 ); and "having looked steadfastly to the heaven, he saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, and he said, 'Lo [Look], I see the heavens having been opened, and the Son of Man standing on the right hand of God ' " - the place of honor, power and authority of God. And Stephen said, "[Look], I see the heavens having been opened, and the Son of Man standing on the right hand of God.'' This was the focus of Stephen's "defense" / witness: Jesus Christ, the Son of Man, standing in the position of power at the right hand of God.
Stephen's referral to Jesus as "the Son of Man," Whom Stephen saw in a vision standing on the right hand of God, is a term the Jewish leaders in the Sanhedrin had often heard Jesus use to describe Himself, and for which they condemned Him to death:
[Compare Lk 22:66-71 and Mt 26:59-66]:
(Lk 22:66 NKJV) "As soon as it was day, the elders of the people, both chief priests and scribes, came together and led Him into their council, saying,
(Lk 22:67 NKJV) 'If You are the Christ, tell us.' But He said to them, 'If I tell you, you will by no means believe.
(Lk 22:68 NKJV) And if I also ask you, you will by no means answer Me or let Me go.
(Lk 22:69 NKJV) Hereafter the Son of Man will sit on the right hand of the power of God.'
(Lk 22:70 NKJV) Then they all said, 'Are You then the Son of God?' So He said to them, 'You rightly say that I am.'
(Lk 22:71 NKJV) And they said, 'What further testimony do we need? For we have heard it ourselves from His own mouth.' "
(Mt 26:59 NKJV) '''Now the chief priests, the elders, and all the council sought false testimony against Jesus to put Him to death,
(Mt 26:60 NKJV) but found none. Even though many false witnesses came forward, they found none. But at last two false witnesses came forward
(Mt 26:61 NKJV) and said, "This fellow said, 'I am able to destroy the temple of God and to build it in three days.' "
(Mt 26:62 NKJV) And the high priest arose and said to Him, "Do You answer nothing? What is it these men testify against You?"
(Mt 26:63 NKJV) But Jesus kept silent. And the high priest answered and said to Him, "I put You under oath by the living God: Tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God!"
(Mt 26:64 NKJV) Jesus said to him, "It is as you said. Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven."
(Mt 26:65 NKJV) Then the high priest tore his clothes, saying, "He has spoken blasphemy! What further need do we have of witnesses? Look, now you have heard His blasphemy!
(Mt 26:66 NKJV) What do you think?" They answered and said, "He is deserving of death."
Note that the term, "The Son of Man," occurs in Scripture which the rulers demonstrated familiarty with when they condemned Jesus to death for claiming to be the Son of Man. What Stephen said as reported in Acts 7:56, 'Lo [Look], I see the heavens having been opened, and the Son of Man standing on the right hand of God,' repeated the claim about Jesus Christ, Who made that claim at His trial before the high priest several years before this. Scripture testifies to Who the Son of Man is:
[Compare Dan 7:13]:
(Dan 7:13 NKJV) "I was watching in the night visions,.And behold, One like the Son of Man, Coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, And they brought Him near before Him.
(Dan 7:14 NKJV) Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, That all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, Which shall not pass away, And His kingdom the one Which shall not be destroyed."
In Dan 7:13-14 above the term is used to show that an actual man [Who is at the same time God] will come in the clouds of heaven to receive a worldwide kingdom . From this use in Daniel it came to refer to the glorious Messiah [Who is defined in Scripture as God Himself], and in such a sense Jesus utilized it calling Himself 'the Son of man eighty times in the Gospels," (Acts 7:55-56).
So when the Jewish rulers heard Stephen's declaration of his heavenly vision of the Son of Man standing on the right hand of God, it was too much for them to continue to listen to Stephen without attacking him. Together they "cried out with a loud voice [and] stopped up their ears" - to shut out anything further that Stephen might say. And all together they rushed upon him, cast him outside the city, and stoned him to death. Hypocrites that they were, they were sure to follow the letter of the Law by dragging Stephen out of the city to stone him because he did not convey to them a message that satisfied their warped understanding of the Law. On the other hand, by stoning him, the Jews were violating Roman law which did not allow the Jews to carry out the death penalty, (cf. Jn 18:31).
So the rulers at Stephen's trial had two options, to repent and admit their awful error of convicting Jesus Christ of blasphemy and murdering Him on the cross; or to find Stephen guilty of open blasphemy, subject him to the death penalty and remain consistent with their apostasy and blasphemy. There would be no lesser judgment forthcoming to Stephen such as the thirty-nine lashes received by Peter and the apostles for preaching about Jesus Christ in the Temple. For then the Jewish rulers feared the popularity of the apostles with many people and were concerned that if God was supporting the apostles' message, they would be found fighting against God as well, (cf. Acts 5:12-40); hence the apostles had received the lesser punishment at that time.
They cared little for the truth of the matter of Who Jesus Christ was. And due to the depth and aggressiveness of Stephen's "defense" / witness to the Jewish rulers, they lost control of themselves and proceeded to kill him outright with no further proceedings to make it at least have the appearance of being lawful. They seized Stephen and took him outside of the city, took off their outer garments to be more free to throw stones, laid them at the feet of a young man called Saul, and stoned Stephen to death.
So Saul (also known as Paul, ref. Acts 13:9), was a witness of this action. He himself was a member of the Sanhedrin; for Acts 26:10 indicates that he cast his vote to carry out the death penalty for a number of Christians, (Acts 7:57-58).
While the Jews were stoning him, Stephen called out, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!" Whereupon, he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, 'Lord, do not charge them with this sin.' And when he had said this, he fell asleep, i.e., he died and his spirit was immediately present with the LORD Jesus, (ref. 2 Cor 5:8); (Acts 7:59-60).
****** END OF EXCERPT FROM ACTS CHAPTER 7 ******
I) [Acts 8:1-25]:
(Acts 8:1 NKJV) "Now Saul was consenting to his [Stephen's] death. At that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.
(Acts 8:2 ASV) And devout men buried Stephen, and made great lamentation over him.
(Acts 8:3 NASB) But Saul [was] ravaging [destroying] the church, entering [houses], and dragging off men and women, he [was delivering them up to prison].
(Acts 8:4 YLT) they [the church] then indeed, having been scattered, went abroad proclaiming good news - the word.
(Acts 8:5 YLT) And Philip having gone down to a city of Samaria, was preaching to them the Christ,
(Acts 8:6 YLT) the multitudes also were giving heed to the things [being] spoken by Philip, with one accord, in their hearing and seeing the signs that he was doing,
(Acts 8:7 NASB) For in the case of many who had unclean spirits, they were coming out of them shouting with a loud voice; and many who had been paralyzed and lame were healed.
(Acts 8:8 NKJV) And there was great joy in that city.
(Acts 8:9 YLT) And a certain man, by name Simon, was before in the city using magic, and amazing the nation of Samaria, saying himself to be a certain great one,
(Acts 8:10 YLT) to whom they were all giving heed, from small unto great, saying, 'This one is the great power of God;'
(Acts 8:11 NASB) And they were giving him attention because he had for a long time astonished them with his magic arts.
(Acts 8:12 NASB) But when they believed Philip preaching the good news about the Kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were being baptized, men and women alike.
(Acts 8:13 YLT) and Simon also himself did believe, and, having been baptized, he was continuing with Philip, beholding also signs and mighty acts being done, he was amazed.
(Acts 8:14 YLT) And the apostles in Jerusalem having heard that Samaria [had] received the word of God, did send unto them Peter and John,
(Acts 8:15 YLT) who having come down did pray concerning them, that they may receive the Holy Spirit, -
(Acts 8:16 YLT) for as yet he was fallen upon none of them, and only they have been baptized [lit., having been baptized] - [ into] the name of the Lord Jesus;
(Acts 8:17 NASB) Then they [were] laying their hands on them, and they were receiving the Holy Spirit.
(Acts 8:18 YLT) And Simon, having [seen] that through the laying on of the hands of the apostles, the Holy Spirit is given, [offered] them money,
(Acts 8:19 YLT) saying, 'Give also to me this authority, that on whomsoever I may lay the hands, he may receive the Holy Spirit.'
(Acts 8:20 YLT) And Peter said unto him, '[Your] silver with [you] - may it be to [your] destruction! Because the gift of God [you did] think to possess through money;
(Acts 8:21 YLT) [You have] neither part nor lot in this [matter], for [in the sense of "and"] [your] heart is not right before God;
(Acts 8:22 NKJV) Repent therefore [in the sense of change your heart / your mind from continuing in] this ... wickedness, and pray [to] God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you.
(Acts 8:23 YLT) For in the gall of bitterness, and bond of unrighteousness [in the sense of being in bondage to a poisonous and sinful attitude toward God that was dreadfully distasteful], I perceive [you] being.'
(Acts 8:24 NKJV) Then Simon [having] answered said, 'Pray to the Lord for me, that none of the things which you have spoken may come upon me.'
(Acts 8:25 YLT) They indeed, therefore, having [earnestly] testified..., and [having] spoken the word of the Lord, did [return] to Jerusalem; in many villages also of the Samaritans they did proclaim good news."
A) (Acts 8:1-4) NOW SAUL HAD CONSENTED AND CONTINUED TO CONSENT IN THE CARRYING OUT OF STEPHEN'S STONING TO DEATH. THIS EVIDENTLY SIGNALED A GREAT PERSECUTION LED BY SAUL AGAINST THE CHURCH IN JERUSALEM, SCATTERING ALL THROUGHOUT THE REGIONS OF JUDEA AND SAMARIA - LARGELY THE HELLENIST (GREEK SPEAKING) JEWS; YET LEAVING A NUMBER OF THE HEBREW JEWS WHO WERE BELIEVERS IN "THE CHRIST" AND THE APOSTLES TO REMAIN IN JERUSALEM
DEVOUT JEWISH MEN BURIED STEPHEN, AND MADE GREAT LAMENTATION OVER HIM WHILE SAUL CONTINUED TO RAVAGE THE CHURCH, ENTERING HOUSES AND DRAGGING OFF MEN AND WOMEN TO PRISON
THROUGH ALL OF THIS, THE SCATTERED MEMBERS OF THE CHURCH WHICH HAD GONE ABOAD WERE PROCLAIMING THE GOSPEL WHEREVER THEY WENT
(Acts 8:1 NKJV) "Now Saul was consenting to his [Stephen's] death. At that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. (Acts 8:2 ASV) And devout men buried Stephen, and made great lamentation over him. (Acts 8:3 NASB) But Saul [was] ravaging [destroying] the church, entering [houses], and dragging off men and women, he [was delivering them up to prison]. (Acts 8:4 YLT) they [the church] then indeed, having been scattered, went abroad proclaiming good news - the word." =
So Saul had consented and "was consenting," (Acts 8:1), to Stephen's death while he was there to witness it. And it was at Saul's feet at which those rulers who threw the deadly stones, placed their outer clothing, (Acts 7:58). The particple verb rendered "was consenting" in the NKJV is in the active voice indicating active, ongoing approval. Saul's presence is presented in such a manner as to indicate that he had an official capacity relative to Stephen's execution.
Evidently Saul did not share the precautionary point of view of his former teacher, Gamaliel, relative to those who espoused a faith that differed from the Jewish rulers' conception of Judaism which Gamaliel had earlier expressed before the Sanhedrin relative to the apostles, and as follows:
1) [Compare Acts 5:34-39]:
(Acts 5:34 NKJV) "Then one in the council stood up, a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law held in respect by all the people, and commanded them to put the apostles outside for a little while.
(Acts 5:35 NKJV) And he said to them: "Men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what you intend to do regarding these men.
(Acts 5:36 NKJV) For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody. A number of men, about four hundred, joined him. He was slain, and all who obeyed him were scattered and came to nothing.
(Acts 5:37 NKJV) After this man, Judas of Galilee rose up in the days of the census, and drew away many people after him. He also perished, and all who obeyed him were dispersed.
(Acts 5:38 NKJV) And now I say to you, keep away from these men and let them alone; for if this plan or this work is of men, it will come to nothing;
(Acts 5:39 NKJV) but if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it--lest you even be found to fight against God."
Stephen's execution evidently prompted a time of great persecution against what is literally named from the Greek "ekklesia," the church - those who believed in Jesus Christ as their Messiah / Savior, (cf. Acts 2:47 ).
At this point, there is clearly implied a distinction between those who followed the teachings of the Jewish rulers and continued to worship in the Temple, and those who believed in Jesus Christ as their Messiah / Savior and who were compelled to worship in their homes apart from the Temple. Those of the church were largely uprooted from their homes and had to move elsewhere around the Judean and Samarian areas. Stephen's stoning was evidently the beginning of the fulfillment of our LORD's prophecy:
2) [Compare Acts 1:8]:
(Acts 1:8 NKJV) "But you [apostles, (ref. 1:2-4)] shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."
The phrase in Acts 8:1 rendered "and they [believers in the church in Jerusalem] were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria indicates that the persecution was severe enough to uproot "all" - in the sense of most - of the believers from their homes in Jerusalem - especially most of the Greek speaking Jewish believers in Christ, i.e., Hellenist believers who were more easily recognized than the Aramaic speaking Jewish Christians, (cf. Acts 6:1 ).
Note that there still remained a number of Aramaic speaking Aramaic speaking Jewish believers who comprised the church in Jerusalem where the apostles likewise remained. Also included was at least one Hellenist Christian, a Greek speaking Jewish believer - a Levite, a man of Cyprus by race whose name was Joseph, but surnamed Barnabas, (cf. Acts 4:36).
3) [Compare Acts 11:19-22]:
(Acts 11:19 NKJV) "Now those who were scattered after the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to no one but the Jews only.
(Acts 11:20 NKJV) But some of them were men from Cyprus and Cyrene, who, when they had come to Antioch, spoke to the Hellenists, preaching the Lord Jesus.
(Acts 11:21 NKJV) And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord.
(Acts 11:22 NKJV) Then news of these things came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent out Barnabas [a Hellenist Christian] to go as far as Antioch."
Acts chapter 6 provides important information relative to the Hellenist believers in the Jerusalem church:
****** EXCERPT FROM ACTS CHAPTER 6 ******
(Acts 6:1) NOW IN THOSE DAYS, WHEN THE NUMBER OF THE DISCIPLES WAS MULTIPLYING, THERE AROSE A COMPLAINT AGAINST THE HEBREWS BY THE HELLENISTS, BECAUSE THEIR WIDOWS WERE NEGLECTED IN THE DAILY DISTRIBUTION
(Acts 6:1 NKJV) "Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a complaint against the Hebrews by the Hellenists, because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution." =
In the days when the number of disciples in the new assembly of believers in Jesus Christ in Jerusalem, was multiplying, there arose a complaint against the Hebrew believers in Jesus Christ by the Hellenist believers in Jesus Christ.
The Greek word rendered "disciples" refers to those believers - those who have already expressed a moment of repentance (= change of mind ) unto faith in Jesus of Nazareth unto forgiveness of sins unto eternal life in the Eternal Kingdom of God, (cf. Acts 2:38) - who have given evidence of following the teachings of Jesus as taught by the apostles. Hence disciples are believers who have endeavored to become obedient to the doctrines of the faith, (cf. Acts 7:7c), , (Acts 6:1a).
Hebrew Jews comprised the majority of the Jews in Jerusalem. They were native to Jerusalem and Palestine and spoke Aramaic. Many of them also spoke the Hebrew language and read the Hebrew Scriptures instead of the Greek Septuagint, in an attempt to preserve the language of their Jewish traditions and the original text of the Old Testament Scriptures. In their own minds they set themselves apart as superior to the other Jews in Jerusalem. Those Hebrew Jews that became believers in Jesus Christ and joined the assembly of believers there, continued in their attitude toward the other Jews in the church and toward the nominal number of Gentile proselytes living in Jerusalem who became Jews under the instruction of the Hebrew Jews and then became believers in Jesus Christ. The other Jews in the church were largely, "Hellenists" - those believers in Jesus Christ who were born in the provinces outside of Palestine as a result of the dispersion of the Jews years ago by the Assyrians.
[Animosity Between Judeans And Samaritans Stemmed From Very Early Times And Fed On A Number Of Incidents In Their Respective Histories]:
[Expositor's, Copyright © 1985 by Zondervan. Database © 2010 WORDsearch Corp.]:
"Animosity between Judeans and Samaritans stemmed from very early times and fed on a number of incidents in their respective histories. The cleavage began in the tenth century B.C. with the separation of the Ten Tribes from Jerusalem, Judah, and Benjamin in the disruption of the Hebrew monarchy after Solomon's death. It became racially fixed with Sargon's destruction of the city of Samaria in 722 B.C. and the Assyrians' policy of deportation and mixing of populations. It was intensified in Judean eyes by the Samaritans opposition to the rebuilding of the Jerusalem temple in the fifth century (cf. Neh 2:10-6:14; 13:28; Jos. Antiq. XI, 84-103 [iv.3-6], 114 [iv.9), 174 [v.8]), by their erection of a schismatic temple on Mount Gerizim sometime around the time of Alexander the Great (cf. Jos Antiq. XI, 310-11 [viii.2], 322-24 [viii.4]; XIII, 255-56 [ix.1]), and by their identification of themselves as Sidonians and joining with the Seleucids against the Jews in the conflict of 167-164 B.C. (cf. ibid., XII, 257-64 [v.5]). It was sealed for the Samaritans by John Hyrcanus's destruction in 127 B.C. of the Gerizim temple (cf. ibid., XIII, 256 [ix.1]) and the city of Samaria (ibid., XIII, 275-77 [x.2]). The intensity of Samaritan feelings against Jerusalem is shown by the Samaritans' refusal of Herod's offer of 25 B.C. to rebuild their temple on Mount Gerizim when it was known that he also proposed to rebuild the Jerusalem temple-a rebuilding begun about 20-19 B.C. (ibid., XV, 280-425 [viii.3-xi.1]). The Judean antagonism to Samaria is evident as early as Ecclesiasticus 50:25-26, which lumps the Samaritans with the Idumeans and the Philistines as Israel's three detested nations and then goes on to disparage them further by the epithets "no nation" and "that foolish people that dwell in Shechem." Many such pejorative references to the Samaritans appear elsewhere in writings reflecting or reporting a Judean stance (e.g., 4QPs 37 on v. Ps 37:14; 4QpNah on Nah 3:6; John 8:48). Nevertheless, while Jeremiah and Ezekiel treated the northern tribes as an integral part of Israel, there were always a few in Samaria who viewed Judean worship with respect (cf. 2 Chronicles 30:11; 34:9); and Samaritans accepted the Pentateuch as Holy Writ and looked for a coming messianic Restorer (the taeb) who would be Moses redivivus."
So they did not speak Hebrew or Aramaic, the native tongue of those Jews living in Israel in the first century. They spoke koine Greek - the common, universal language, which everyone spoke. And they used the Greek translation of the Scriptures, (the Septuagint). Note that the Hellenists whom the Hebrews ostracized were not Gentile believers. Fellowship with Gentiles was still a major issue for Jews even by the apostles up to the time of Acts chapter 10, when Peter was admonished by the LORD to minister to and accept Gentile believers. So with all the new believers from outside Palestine crowding into Jerusalem into an already crowded situation of Hebrew Jewish believers from Jerusalem, there was apparently an unwillingness by the Hebrew Jewish believers to accommodate those whom they viewed as outsiders - harboring prejudices of the past over spiritual differences, relative to traditions and the Scriptures. Hence they ostracized them. The Hellenist widows were especially vulnerable when it came to the distribution of food, because they were customarily dependent upon the men in their families for support; and being older, they could not find work in the city. Despite believing in the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth for forgiveness of sins unto eternal life, and despite the teaching and the leadership of the apostles, and despite the new assembly of believers initially being of one accord - sharing what they had with one another, (cf Acts 2:40-47; 4:32-37; 5:12-16); the Hebrew and Aramaic speaking Jews of the assembly of believers in Jesus Christ in Jerusalem would not openly fellowship with the believers outside of their own group. They viewed themselves as spiritually superior.
Even at this time, very early in the history of this new assembly of believers, with a common belief in Jesus Christ as Messiah / Savior, the baptism of all believers in Jesus Christ with the Holy Spirit, constant miraculous superintendance of God to authenticate His new body of believers to the world, and the ongoing threat of deadly persecution when unity amongst the believers was vital; there was petty dissension amongst the believers, (Acts 6:1b).
(Acts 6:2-6) THE TWELVE APOSTLES SUMMONED THE DISCIPLES AND DECLARED THAT IT WAS NOT DESIRABLE THAT THEY SHOULD DEPART FROM TEACHING THE WORD OF GOD TO SERVE TABLES. HENCE THE DISCIPLES WERE TO APPOINT SEVEN OF THEIR OWN TO TAKE CARE OF THE PROBLEM OF THE DISTRIBUTION OF THE GIFTS, ESPECIALLY TO THE HELLENIST WIDOWS. WHERUPON THEY CHOSE STEPHEN, A MAN FULL OF FAITH AND THE HOLY SPIRIT, PHILIP, PROCHOURUS, NICANOR, TIMON PARMENAS AND NICOLAS, A PROSELYTE FROM ANTIOCH. THE APOSTLES PRAYED AND LAID HANDS ON THEM. NOTE THAT GOD'S NEW ASSEMBLY OF BELIEVERS CONTINUED TO CONDUCT THEMSELVES AS A REMNANT OF JEWS WHO BELIEVED IN JESUS OF NAZARETH AS MESSIAH / SAVIOR. THE DOCTRINES UNIQUE TO THE CHURCH ARE NOT YET IN VIEW
(Acts 6:1 NKJV) "Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a complaint against the Hebrews by the Hellenists, because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution. (Acts 6:2 NKJV) Then the twelve [having] summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, 'It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables. (Acts 6:3 NKJV) Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, [lit. bearing (good) witness], full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business; (Acts 6:4 NKJV) but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.' (Acts 6:5 NKJV) And the saying [in the sense of what was said] pleased the whole multitude. And they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch, (Acts 6:6 NKJV) whom they set before the apostles; and when they had prayed, they laid hands on them." =
So the twelve apostles summoned the multitude of disciples to them. The phrase rendered "multitude of disciples" implies that there were many believers who had become followers of the teachings of Jesus Christ through the instruction of the apostles and the indwelling Holy Spirit. They (the apostles) declared to the disciples that it was not desirable that they (the apostles), should depart from teaching the word of God to serve tables, in this case the money tables which were used to distribute the money to those in need, such as the Hellenist widow believers. This was not to say that the task of dealing with the money tables was full time, as some contend. For verse 4 indicated that the apostles were desirous of giving themselves continually to prayer and the ministry of the word, with no other tasks to undertake. So the apostles commanded the disciples to seek out from among the disciples seven men: (1) of good reputation, (2) full of (controlled) by the Holy Spirit; and (3) full of wisdom - all three qualities in the sense of living their lives reflecting godly wisdom as taught to them by the apostles and the indwelling Holy Spirit.
What the apostles declared pleased the whole group of disciples, implying that there was no dissent - all were willing to participate in the solution of this problem. Whereupon the disciples chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochourus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch, (i.e., a convert to Judaism who became a believer in Jesus Christ). Although the group of disciples was predominantly composed of Hebrew believers, they appointed seven disciples who all had Greek names, implying that they were Hellenists, i.e., Jewish believers from Greek regions who spoke Greek, indicating that they were more like the Hellenist widow believers, which evidently would enable them to better resolve the problem of providing for the Hellenist widow believers. Note that the congregation of disciples chose the seven men, and not the apostles. And the seven were presented before the apostles, whereupon the apostles prayed and laid hands on them, in the sense of commissioning them to their appointed task and praying for God's blessing and their enablement in this new task.
Luke's disclosure that Nicolas was a proselyte implied that God's new assembly of believers continued to view and conduct themselves in the Temple and everywhere else as Jews in Jerusalem who believed in Jesus Christ as their Messiah / Savior for forgiveness of sins unto eternal life - a remnant of Jewish believers in the Messiah Jesus Christ. As a matter of fact, although the seven disciples chosen to serve the congregation of believers resembles the function of the deacon of the church, these seven were never referred to as deacons, but rather were referred to simply as "the seven," (cf. Acts 21:8). Since the local council in Jewish communities usually consisted of seven men of good reputation, then this corroborates that the assembly of believers still viewed themselves as a Jewish community. They had a very specific and temporal task assigned to them, unlike the more general and permanent type authority which was to be given to church deacons. Although elders were given that task later on, (cf. (Acts 11:30), the concept of elders had its origin in the Jewish synagogue. Hence doctrines unique to the church were not yet in view. (Acts 6:2-6).
****** END OF EXCERPT FROM ACTS CHAPTER 6 ******
....................................................................................................................................... (Acts 8:1).
Acts 8:2 stipulates "And devout men buried Stephen, and made great lamentation over him." These men were faithful men as the word rendered "devout" in Hebrew and Greek signify:
[Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary]:
"This reverence concerns separation from ritual defilement in the Old Testament (Leviticus 15:31), and it is often associated with awe or fear of God (cf. the use of the verb, Exodus 3:6). Those who are devout are the faithful of God (Micah 7:2; cf. Proverbs 2:8, the use of the verb).
These men may or may not have been believers, i.e., Christians; but they were stipulated as devout men - possibly devout Jews, who had evidently rejected the decision of the Jews who had rejected the decision of the Sanhedrin as wrong and unjust.
And these men made great lamentation over Stephen forms of which were forbidden by the Jewish rulers - especially lamenting over one who was executed for blasphemy:
[Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary]:
Re: Lamentation: "Not only his family but the Church as well saw in Stephens death a great loss and the beginning of more intense persecution of the Christian community. Besides beating the chest, Near Eastern people expressed grief in a number of ways. A person would tear his clothes (2 Samuel 1:2), cry loudly, fast, dress in sackcloth (Esther 4:3), throw dust on his head (Joshua 7:6; Job 2:12), cover his head (Jeremiah 14:3,4) or mouth, remove his shoes (Ezekiel 24:17,22; 2 Samuel 15:30), let his hair down (Leviticus 10:6), shave his head (Jeremiah 16:6), clip his beard (Isaiah 15:2; Jeremiah 48:37), or any combination of these. He might even cut himself (Jeremiah 16:6; 41:5; 47:5), a practice forbidden by the Mosaic law along with making a bald spot, literally making baldness between the eyes (see Deuteronomy 14:1), (Acts 8:2).
Acts 8:3, which follows, sharply contrasts the mourning of Stephen's death with the severe persecution of the church led by Saul:
4) [Compare Acts 8:2 with Acts 8:3]:
(Acts 8:2 ASV) "And devout men buried Stephen, and made great lamentation over him."
(Acts 8:3 NASB) "But Saul [was] ravaging [destroying] the church, entering [houses], and dragging off men and women, he [was delivering them up to prison]."
So while Saul was attempting to destroy the church in Jerusalem, entering houses, and dragging off men and women, [and while] he [was delivering them up to prison]; and even beating them, (cf. Acts 9:1-2, 13; 9:29; 22:4-5; 26:2-11); causing havoc in Jerusalem, (cf. Acts 9:21); the LORD was nevertheless seeing to it that the church was proclaiming the good news abroad - namely in Judea and Samaria:
(Acts 8:4 YLT) "they [the church] then indeed, having been scattered, went abroad proclaiming good news - the word."
Note that Acts 8:4 is the beginning of the fulfillment of the LORD's words in Acts 1:8
5) [Compare Acts 1:8]:
(Acts 1:8 NKJV) "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."
It is implied that this was a turning point with God relative to Israel. For Saul's own later imprisonment as an apostle for Christ contrasted with his imprisoning these followers. Stephen's martyrdom together with the ensuing persecution of the church confirmed Israel's unbelief and her obstinate refusal to accept Jesus as her Redeemer, marking the LORD's departure from working through Israel to working through His Church.
Note that the early believers in Jesus were not called Christians until Acts 11:26 in Antioch. Before that those who accepted Jesus' messiahship and claimed Him as their LORD called themselves those of "the Way" (Gk. "tEn hodon"), (Acts 19:9, 23; 22:4; 24:14, 22; 16:17; 18:25-26). They also were designated as "the disciples of the LORD," (Acts 9:10, 19); and "saints," (Acts 9:13); and "all who call on your [Jesus'] name", (Acts 9:14; and "brothers," (Acts 9:17, 30).
Those who opposed them spoke of them as members of "the sect of the Nazarenes," (Acts 24:5, 14; 28:22).
Despite the opposition and persecution, God was in sovereign control such that the Word of God was spread abroad, (Acts 8:4).
B) (Acts 8:5-8) WHILE DEVOUT MEN BURIED STEPHEN AND MADE GREAT LAMENTATION OVER HIM, SAUL WAS ATTEMPTING TO DESTROY THE CHURCH IN JERUSALEM, SCATTERING MANY ABROAD WHO BEGAN PROCLAIMING THE GOSPEL. PHILIP, ONE OF THE HELLENIST BELIEVERS WHO LEFT JERUSALEM WAS PREACHING AND PERFORMING MIRACLES IN A CITY IN SAMARIA. MANY WERE HEALED AND MANY BELIEVED. AND THERE WAS GREAT JOY IN THE CITY
(Acts 8:2 ASV) "And devout men buried Stephen, and made great lamentation over him. Acts 8:3 NASB) But Saul [was] ravaging [destroying] the church, entering [houses], and dragging off men and women, he [was delivering them up to prison]. (Acts 8:4 YLT) they [the church] then indeed, having been scattered, went abroad proclaiming good news - the word. (Acts 8:5 YLT) And Philip having gone down to a city of Samaria, was preaching to them the Christ, (Acts 8:6 YLT) the multitudes also were giving heed to the things [being] spoken by Philip, with one accord, in their hearing and seeing the signs that he was doing, (Acts 8:7 NASB) For in the case of many who had unclean spirits, they were coming out of them shouting with a loud voice; and many who had been paralyzed and lame were healed. (Acts 8:8 NKJV) And there was great joy in that city." =
The context of Acts chapter 8 as stipulated in verse 4, "They [the church] then indeed, having been scattered, went abroad proclaiming good news - the word," indicates that the persecution of the church served to scatter the church in Jerusalem abroad to the regions of Judah and Samaria. Verse 4 is then followed by a change in focus to one of those believers who left Jerusalem who went directly into Samaria in verse 5. Normally, Jews avoided going through Samaria because of so much conflict in the past . But of the Jews from Jerusalem to send to evangelize the Samaritans, the Hellenist Jews who descended from Jews who had been scattered abroad in the past by Assyrians, Babylonians, Greeks, Romans, etc., spoke Greek and had adopted a number of the customs of the areas outside of Jerusalem and Judea that they had come from - paralleling the experiences of the Samaritans - would have a better chance of being accepted by the Samaritans who also spoke Greek. Although Philip was a Hellenist / Greek speaking Jew it would still take a great deal of courage for him to go directly to Samaria to preach there. A sign of being led by the Spirit.
Philip was one of the Hellenist (Greek speaking) Jewish believers who were appointed to serve the Hellenist widows in the church who were neglected in the daily distribution of food and other support provided for them by the members of the church, (Acts 6:1 - see excerpt above ).
Philip having gone down (from the higher elevation of Jerusalem) northward to "a city in Samaria, was preaching to the people "the Christ," there - in the sense of proclaiming the Promised Anointed One (lit., the Christ), Who had come and made provision for forgiveness of sins through a moment of repentance (= change of mind ) unto faith in Him for that forgiveness unto eternal life in the Eternal Kingdom of God, just as Jesus, John the Baptist and Peter did.
1) [Compare Acts 8:12]:
(Acts 8:12 NASB) "But when they believed Philip preaching the good news about the Kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were being baptized, men and women alike."
............................. (ref. Acts 2:38 ).
The phrase rendered "a city in Samaria" in the YLT has an alternate manuscript reading which is rendered "the city of Samaria," the latter referring to the ancient name of the capital city of Samaria before Herod rebuilt it (before Philip's time) and renamed it "Sebastos," (Greek for the Latin name, "Augustus" after Caesar Augustus). Nevertheless the Samaritan Jews still largely referred to it as Samaria. This alternate reading which appears in later manuscripts, (p74, 01A (aleph), 02A, 03B, Lach, Tisc, We/Ho, Weis, UBS), is less likely than the rendering "a city in Samaria," which refers to an unnamed city in Samaria, (Acts 8:5).
Note that Jesus Christ had been in Samaria before Philip had arrived and His visit had made a great impression:
****** EXCERPT FROM JN CHAPTER 4
OR SKIP AND CONTINUE TO NEXT SECTION OF ACTS CHAPTER 8 ******
(Jn 4:1-29) JESUS ENCOUNTERS A SAMARITAN WOMAN AT JACOB'S WELL IN SAMARIA. WEARY, THIRSTY AND HAVING NOTHING WITH WHICH TO DRAW WATER, HE ASKS HER FOR A DRINK. INDIFFERENT TO HIS THIRST, SHE GIVES HIM A TASTE OF THE OSTRACISM AND BITTERNESS BETWEEN SAMARITANS AND JEWS. JESUS INDICATES THAT HE IS THE CHRIST - THE MESSIAH WHO IS TO COME. HE OFFERS HER THE GIFT OF GOD OF THE LIVING WATER OF ETERNAL LIFE. SHE IMPLIES THAT SINCE HE IS WITHOUT ANYTHING TO DRAW WATER, HE IS FOOLISH AND ARROGANT TO OFFER HER LIVING WATER AND TELLS HIM HE IS NOT GREATER THAN "FATHER JACOB." HE GIVES HER A DEMONSTRATION OF SUPERNATURAL KNOWLEDGE OF HER LIFE. WHEREUPON SHE PERCEIVES THAT HE IS A PROPHET, BUT THEN REVERTS TO HER BITTERNESS BY THROWING THE SAMARITAN CONFLICT WITH JUDAISM OVER THE PROPER PLACE TO WORSHIP IN HIS FACE. JESUS NULLIFIES THIS CONFLICT BY STATING THAT UNLIKE THE SAMARITANS, THE JEWS WORSHIP WHAT THEY KNOW, FOR SALVATION IS FROM THE JEWS - I.E., THE MESSIAH IS A JEW. FURTHERMORE, HE STATES THAT AN HOUR IS IMMINENT WHEN MANKIND WILL WORSHIP THE FATHER IN SPIRIT AND IN TRUTH ANYWHERE. THE WOMAN TRIES TO NULLIFY WHAT JESUS SAYS BY DEFERRING HIM TO THE CHRIST WHO IS TO COME AND "DECLARE ALL THINGS." JESUS ANSWERS, "I WHO SPEAK TO YOU AM HE." AT THIS TIME, THE DISCIPLES ARRIVE; AND QUESTION JESUS WHY HE WAS SPEAKING TO A SAMARITAN WOMAN. THE WOMAN LEFT ABRUPTLY WITHOUT HER WATERPOT BUT WITH A CHANGE OF HEART, ENTERED HER CITY AND SAID TO THE MEN THERE, "COME SEE A MAN WHO TOLD ME ALL THINGS THAT I EVER DID, (WITH SOME EXAGGERATION), COULD THIS BE THE CHRIST?"
(Jn 4:1 NKJV) '''Therefore, when the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John, (Jn 4:2 NKJV) (though Jesus Himself did not baptize, but His disciples [did]), (Jn 4:3 NKJV) He left Judea and departed again to Galilee. (Jn 4:4 NKJV) But He needed to go through Samaria. (Jn 4:5 NAS) So He came [lit., comes] to a city of Samaria called Sychar, near the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. (Jn 4:6 NKJV) Now Jacob's well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied from His journey, sat thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour. (Jn 4:7 NKJV) A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, 'Give Me a drink.' (Jn 4:8 NKJV) For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food. (Jn 4:9 NAS) Therefore the Samaritan woman said [lit., says] to Him, 'How is it that You, being a Jew, ask me for a drink since I am a Samaritan woman?' (For Jews have no dealings [lit., do not associate] with Samaritans). (Jn 4:10 NKJV) Jesus answered and said to her, "If you knew [lit., had known about] the gift of God [of eternal life, (cf. Jn 4:14)], and Who it is Who says to you, 'Give Me a drink,' [the Christ, (cf. Jn 4:25, 29)] you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.' (Jn 4:11 NKJV) The woman said to Him, "Sir, [lit., Lord, Master] You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where then do You get that living water? (Jn 4:12 NAS) You are not greater than our father Jacob, are You, who gave us the well, and drank of it himself and his sons and his cattle?" (Jn 4:13 NAS) Jesus answered and said to her, "Everyone who drinks of this water [from Jacob's well] will thirst again; (Jn 4:14 NAS) but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst, [lit., will absolutely not thirst for ever]; but the water that I will give him will become in him a [spring] of water springing up to eternal life." (Jn 4:15 NKJV) The woman said to Him, "Sir, [lit., Lord, Master] give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw." (Jn 4:16 NKJV) Jesus said to her, "Go, call your husband, and come [back] here. (Jn 4:17 NKJV) The woman answered and said, "I have no husband." Jesus said to her, "you have well said, 'I have no husband, (Jn 4:18 NKJV) for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly (Jn 4:19 NKJV) The woman said to Him, '[Lord, Master], I perceive that You are a prophet, [evidently of the Jews, see Jn 4:20] (Jn 4:20 NAS) Our fathers worshipped on this mountain, and you [plural, i.e., you people, the Jews] say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship." (Jn 4:21 NAS) Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither [on] this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. (Jn 4:22 NAS) You [Samaritans, (Jn 4:9)] worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. (Jn 4:23 NAS) But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers, [lit., for such the Father seeks the worshipping [ones] of Him] (Jn 4:24 NAS) God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth." (Jn 4:25 NAS) The woman said to Him, "I know that Messiah is coming (He Who is called Christ); [lit., the (one) being called Christ]; when that One comes, He will declare all things to us. [lit., He will tell us all things]" (Jn 4:26 NAS) Jesus said to her, "I who speak to you am He." [lit., I am that [One] speaking to you]. (Jn 4:27 YLT) And upon this came His disciples, and were wondering [lit., marveled] that with a woman He was speaking, no one, however, said, "What seekest Thou?" or "Why speakest Thou with her?" [lit., "What were You seeking nor Why do you speak with her?] (Jn 4:28 NKJV) The woman then left her waterpot, went her way [lit., away] into the city and said [lit., says] to the men [there] (Jn 4:29 NKJV) "Come, see a Man Who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ" ''' =
While Jesus was journeying through Samaria, He came to the city of Sychar, near Shechem, about half a mile from Jacob's well. The well was on a parcel of ground that Jacob had purchased and bequeathed on his deathbed to his son Joseph, (Jn 4:3-4; cf. Gen 33:18-20; 48:21-22).
So Jesus in His Humanity, the Word, the Son of God become flesh; (Jn 1:1, 14; 4:6), was weary and thirsty from His travels. He sat down by Jacob's well at about the sixth hour, (Jn 4:6 - about noon, reckoning from daybreak).
At that time, a woman of Samaria came to the well to draw water. Due to the unusually late hour for one to come to get water, it is evident that she wished to avoid contact with others because of her illicit lifestyle and rough outspoken manner that violated social customs, (cf. Jn 4:9-18). Jesus, having nothing with which to draw water, (Jn 4:11), said to her, "Give me a drink," (Jn 4:6-7). Author John explains in the next verse that Jesus' disciples had gone away into the city to buy food, leaving Jesus by Himself at the well, (Jn 4:8). When Jesus said, "Give Me a drink," the Samaritan woman, indifferent to His need for water, asked Him, "How is it that You, being a Jew, ask me for a drink since I am a Samaritan woman? (Jn 4:9)." Her sarcastic, flippant response to the request of a weary, thirsty traveler for water in the heat of the day was astounding. Her bitter prejudice toward Jews was so great that she showed no empathy for His need for water, nor regard for the custom of hospitality of the region. Author John explains to his readers that Jews did not associate with Samaritans as a matter of the prejudices of the day, especially due to their religious differences, (Jn 4:9b).
According to Samaritan tradition, the 'Torah' was given to the children of Israel, by Moses Ben-Amran in the year 2194 after the world existed (1566 B.C.E.) 40 years after the exodus of the children of Israel from Egypt, from slavery. The Samaritans claimed to be descendants of those ancient Israelites who remained in the Land where they had connections with ancient Samaria. The name "Samaritan" was not based on the geographical name "Samaria," but it comes from the Hebrew word which is rendered "Keepers," meaning keepers of the Law. In late Roman times their numbers were more than a million.
The Samaritans claimed that the only "Holy Books" were those of the Pentateuch and the Book of Joshua which was preserved by the ancient Northern Israelites who remained behind when the Northern Kingdom of Israel was conquered and exiled to Assyria in 722 B. C. The Samaritans asserted without proof that the other books of the OT were unacceptable, alleging that these other books had been contaminated by the returning Jews.
On the other hand, at the time of the dispersion of the Northern Kingdom, King Sargon of Assyria repopulated the area with captives from other lands. The interaction and intermarriage of these foreigners with the Jews who had been left in the land, contaminated the religion and ancestry of the Jews resulting in a group of people called Samaritans who were devotees of a hybrid religion of Judaism and Baal worship. In 539 B.C. the Jewish descendants of the southern captivity in Babylon returned to the land. The rift between the Samaritans and the returning Jews was so significant that the Samaritans tried to stop Nehemiah from rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem (Neh 4:1-2). Later, in Maccabean times, the Samaritans accepted the Hellenization of their religion by dedicating their temple on Mount Gerizim to Zeus Xenios. By the time of Jesus' entry in the world in His Humanity, a strong rivalry and hatred prevailed between the two groups. Note that Jesus exhibited no such hatred toward the Samaritans.
The differences between the Samaritan Pentateuch and the [Jewish] Massoretic edition [A.D. 916] of these books are insignificant compared to their area of agreement. There is no definitive proof that the other books of Scripture, which the Samaritans rejected, are not the Word of God. They can be observed to be completely harmonious and comparable to the rest of Scripture. There are few substantive Scriptural reasons for the differences that the Jews and Samaritans had with one another. The Samaritans, nevertheless, maintained that theirs was the true religion and mode of worship in accordance with the Samaritan Torah which they claimed was the true, uncontaminated Torah.
So when the Samaritan woman said to Jesus, "How is it that You, being a Jew, ask me for a drink since I am a Samaritan woman? " (Jn 4:9); Jesus responded to her by saying, "If you knew [lit., had known about] the gift of God [of eternal life, (cf. Jn 4:14); and Who it is Who says to you, 'Give Me a drink,' [the Christ, (cf. Jn 4:25, 29)] you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water [i.e., eternal life],' " (Jn 4:10). Notice that if the Samaritan Woman knew in the sense of believing in the availability of the gift of God of eternal life and that Jesus was the One Whom had it available to give to her, she would have asked and He would have given her the living water of eternal life. So Jesus ignored the woman's attitude and His own thirst and focused on her need for eternal life.
The phrase "living water," comes from OT Scripture. Since water isn't living, it is inorganic, then the phrase "living water" must be a figure of speech symbolic of something that is alive. So just as the drinking of physical water sustains physical life; so the drinking of "living water" which Jesus declared was the free gift of God, sustains spiritual, i.e., eternal life - and with only one drink! (cf. Jn 4:10, 13-14). Note that the key to receiving this living water is to simply believe in Jesus as Savior Who will provide it as the passage will imply later on, (cf. Jn 1:12-13; 3:14-16; 4:39-42).
[Compare Jer 2:13]:
(Jer 2:13 NIV) "My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken Me, the spring [lit., Fountain] of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water."
[Compare Jer 17:13]:
(Jer 17:13 NIV) "O LORD, the hope of Israel, all who forsake you will be put to shame. Those who turn away from you will be written in the dust because they have forsaken the LORD, the.spring [lit. Fountain] of living water."
The Hebrew word for water in these verses, (transliterated "mayim"), occurs twice in Jer 2:13 and once in 17:13. It is a word which can refer to plural or singular concepts of water depending upon context. In Jeremiah 2:13 and 17:13, "mayim" is used to portray God as the Fountain of Living Water, i.e., as the Source of Life of Israel and of all mankind - even eternal life; as opposed to "broken cisterns" symbolic of man's efforts to sustain himself without God; for broken cisterns cannot hold "water" to provide sustenance for life, (Jer 2:13). Note that the Book of Jeremiah referred to above was not accepted by the Samaritans as part of the Word of God; nevertheless it is demonstrably the Word of God, since it is completely harmonious and comparable to the rest of Scripture.
So in Jn 4:10, Jesus claimed to be Somebody of such supernatural power that He had the capacity to give God's free gift of living water - of eternal life; a power which is exclusive to God. But the woman deliberately remained in ignorance of Who He was; and she willfully sidestepped what He meant by the gift of God of living water. She was overwhelmed with bitterness toward Jesus because He was a Jew; and continued to think in the physical realm despite Jesus' obvious references to the spiritual, contesting His claim to provide living water because He had nothing to draw water with and the well was deep. She mocked Jesus with the question, [Since you have nothing to draw water with from Jacob's well] "Where then do you get the living water?" (Jn 4:11b). She followed this with sarcastic ridicule: "You are not greater than our father Jacob, are You, who gave us the well, and drank of it himself and his sons and his cattle?" Notice that the woman repeated the phrase "living water," but ignored the phrase "gift of God" that defined it. On the other hand she did use the phrase "our father Jacob" signifying her reverence for the Jewish Patriarch Jacob, (Jn 4:11-12).
Jesus responded with, "Everyone who drinks of this water, [meaning the physical water of Jacob's well] will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I give him will become in him a [spring] of water springing up to eternal life, (Jn 4:13-14)." Jesus clarified that He was not speaking of giving the woman physical water of which one drink could not satisfy recurring physical thirst; but of giving her living water which, with one drink, (of faith in Him, cf. Jn 4:39-42), she would never thirst again for God and His Righteousness unto eternal life. He stated that the living water would "become in [her] a spring of water springing up to eternal life, (Jn 4:14)."
The two passages in Jeremiah quoted earlier, (Jer 2:13; 17:13), have the phrase "living water" in them in a description of God: "the Fountain of Living Water," i.e., the Source of Life - even eternal life. According to Scripture, the Fountain (or Spring) of Living Water is God Who indwells the one who takes one "drink," (of faith in Christ), of the living water, whereupon God commences the flow of eternal life within that person, (Jn 3:14-16; 4:13-14; Jer 2:13; 17:13). Since Jesus indicates that He is the Giver of the free gift of God of "living water," i.e., of eternal life, (Jn 4:10, 13-14); and since this is a function which is exclusive to God through a moment of faith alone in Jesus Christ alone, (cf. Jn 1:12-13; 3:14-16); then Jesus is the Christ which twice He implied in His responses to the woman, (Jn 4:10, 22, 26); and so He is God...
Jesus told the woman, "Everyone who drinks of this water [from Jacob's well] will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I give him will become in him a [spring] of water springing up to eternal life, (Jn 4:13-14)." Since the taking of one "drink" of the free gift of God of living water resulting in eternal life is portrayed in John chapter 4 as a passive operation and not a proactive physical action like drinking physical water; then the reception of living water must be a figurative expression for the passive response of a moment of faith alone in Christ alone resulting in eternal life, (Jn 1:12-13; 3:14-16). Furthermore, since Jesus indicated that one need only take one 'drink' of living water in order to never have to thirst again, in the sense of never thirsting again for the Righteousness of God unto eternal life; and since living water once received becomes within one a spring of water - God, the Fountain of Living Water Who commences eternal life within one, (Jer 2:13; 17:13); then eternal life is to be received once for all time............. ..on eternal security.
The conversation between Jesus and the Samaritan woman began when Jesus, tired and thirsty from His travels, asked her for a drink of water; but she ignored His need, violating the custom of hospitality, (Jn 4:7-9). Ironically, she then demanded living water from Him so that she would never have to thirst: "Sir, [lit., Lord, Master], give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw,"(Jn 4:15). However, her demand was more skeptical than honest because she willfully remained ignorant of what Jesus was actually saying. She deliberately thought in terms of physical water when Jesus clearly conveyed a spiritual message to her: He offered to her the gift of God of living water Who provided eternal life, (Jn 4:10, 13-14). And because He stated that if she had recognized Who He was, she would have asked Him for living water, she insulted Him by accusing Him of falsely boasting - claiming to be greater than Jacob, (Jn 4:10-12), which being the Christ, He was.
At this point Jesus was not getting through to her, but she still could bring the news of His coming to others. So without getting provoked by her bitter attack, Jesus told the woman to go back to Sychar and bring her husband back to speak with Him, (Jn 4:16). When He referred to her "husband," it was a test of her honesty, for He knew that she was living with a man who was not her husband. Since she was compelled to contradict and belittle Jesus because He was a Jew, she corrected Him belligerently, "I have no husband," (Jn 4:17a). He responded calmly, "You have well said, 'I have no husband,' for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have [i.e., are living with] is not your husband; in that you spoke truly," (Jn 4:17b-18). The woman then said to Him, " [Lord, Master], I perceive that You are a prophet," (Jn 4:19); for He had demonstrated to her a supernatural knowledge of her life with the perception of a Prophet. But despite the fact that she was so impressed with Jesus that she stated to Him that He must be a prophet, the conversation got too personal for her plus she couldn't let go of her bitterness toward Jews. Hence she regressed and threw the Samaritan conflict with Judaism over the place to worship in Jesus' face: "Our fathers worshipped on this mountain, [Mt. Gerizim], and you [plural, i.e., you people, - you Jews] say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship," (Jn 4:20).
The key passages which the Samaritans used to support their claim that Mt. Gerizim was the only place to worship God as opposed to Jerusalem are Deut 27:1-28:68, and Deut 11:29. These passages are largely the same in Samaritan and Jewish Scripture except for one key amendment that the Samaritan's made relative to the altar on Mt. Ebal being changed to Mt. Gerizim. The passage tells how Moses instructed the people of Israel for entering the Promised Land. Moses had an altar set up on Mt. Ebal and then divided the tribes between Ebal and Gerizim. Those on Gerizim were to pronounce the blessings of God and those on Ebal the curses. According to Samaritan tradition, Mt. Gerizim was where Abraham went to sacrifice Isaac, and where later he met Melchizedek. Although Dt 27:4 indicates that an altar was constructed on Mt. Ebal, the Samaritan Scripture changed the verse to read "Mt. Gerizim." Hence Mt. Gerizim, the Samaritans falsely concluded would be the proper place to worship God because it allegedly had an alter on it built by Moses. On the other hand, the other books of the Old Testament, which the Samaritans did not accept, indicate that God appointed Solomon to build the Temple in Jerusalem where they were commanded to worship Him, (cf. 2 Sam 7:12-13).
Nevertheless, Jesus did not address the controversy between Gerizim and Jerusalem with the Samaritan woman. He said to her, "An hour is coming, [in the sense of it being imminent, (cf. Jn 4:23)], when you [and all mankind] will neither on this mountain [Gerizim], nor in Jerusalem worship the Father," (Jn 4:21). There was an imminent and dramatic change to where mankind was to worship the Father which would be neither on Mt. Gerizim nor in Jerusalem, making moot the controversy. Jesus went on to say in Jn 4:22 that the Samaritans worshipped what they did not know implying that they lacked an accurate knowledge of Who they worshipped. Then He said, including Himself as a Jew, (cf. Jn 1:11-34), "We worship what we know, for salvation is of the Jews" indicating that, as opposed to the Samaritans, the Jews worshipped what they knew in the sense of being given the correct understanding of Who it is they worshipped. He declared the reason for this: "For [because] salvation is from the Jews," i.e., because salvation is from the Father through a Jewish Messiah, the Christ / the Savior to come; (Who was standing before her). Shortly thereafter, Jesus tells her He is "the Christ," (Jn 4:26). According to Scripture, even the Samaritan Scripture and tradition, the Christ was the Prophet, the Messiah / Savior of the world Who is to come, (Dt 18:15); and had now arrived. Then in Jn 4:23, Jesus tells the woman, "An hour is coming and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth," (Jn 4:23a), i.e., anywhere, nullifying the conflict between Girizim and Jerusalem. Jesus goes on to explain, "For such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers, [lit., for such the Father seeks the worshipping [ones] of Him], (Jn 4:23b)." So from the time of Jesus, the true worshiper is the one who worships the Father through Jesus Christ through Whom is salvation, (Jn 4:23-24), anywhere, and in accordance with the nature and will of God as reflected in the truths of Scripture. Upon hearing this, the woman said to Him, "I know that Messiah is coming [with John interjecting that the woman was referring to "He Who is called Christ"]. Then she said, "when that One comes, He will declare all things to us," (Jn 4:25). It was the Samaritan tradition based on Dt 18:15, that a Prophet would come to teach God's people all things.
[Compare Dt 18:15-18]:
(Dt. 18:15 NKJV) "The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear,
(Dt. 18:16 NKJV) according to all you desired of the Lord your God in Horeb in the day of the assembly, saying, Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God, nor let me see this great fire anymore, lest I die.
(Dt. 18:17 NKJV) And the Lord said to me: What they have spoken is good.
(Dt. 18:18 NKJV) I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him."
Jesus then responded, "I Who speak to you am He." [lit., I am that [One] speaking to you], (Jn 4:26). At that time, the disciples came back and were wondering why, lit., marveling why Jesus was speaking with a Samaritan woman; but none of them asked Him about it, (Jn 4:27). Then the woman left her hostility and waterpot behind and, with a change of heart, returned to her city. She said to the men there, "Come, see a Man Who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ? [The Messiah / Savior to come]" (Jn 4:28-29). Although she exaggerated when she said that Jesus told her all things that she ever did, she had such enthusiasm and euphoria reflecting her change of heart about Jesus and a new spiritual frame of reference that it inspired the men to come see Jesus for themselves. One might conclude that this change came from God.
Consider the Samaritan woman. How many people are like her today? Jesus comes to the well where she was and asks for a drink. All He's asking for is a drink of water. But she won't give it to him because she is so bitter toward all Jews that she cannot allow herself to be merciful toward Him. Instead of water she gives Him an argument. How self-righteous she is to accuse Him of doing what others did to her. He never treated any Samaritan that way, but only showed godly love toward all men. She didn't give Him a chance. Yet He maintained His grace and composure and persisted in showing godly love and concern for her eternal destiny as she persisted in giving Him a dose of mockery and argumentation. So throughout this encounter with the Samaritan woman, Jesus never responded in kind to the woman's provocative tactics. His agape / self-sacrificial godly love set aside His hunger and thirst and patiently tended to her need for living water, i.e., eternal life.
****** END OF EXCERPT FROM JN CHAPTER 4 ******
B cont.) (Acts 8:5-8) WHILE DEVOUT MEN BURIED STEPHEN AND MADE GREAT LAMENTATION OVER HIM, SAUL WAS ATTEMPTING TO DESTROY THE CHURCH IN JERUSALEM, SCATTERING MANY ABROAD WHO BEGAN PROCLAIMING THE GOSPEL. PHILIP, ONE OF THE HELLENIST BELIEVERS WHO LEFT JERUSALEM WAS PREACHING AND PERFORMING MIRACLES IN A CITY IN SAMARIA. MANY WERE HEALED AND MANY BELIEVED. AND THERE WAS GREAT JOY IN THE CITY, (cont.):
(Acts 8:2 ASV) "And devout men buried Stephen, and made great lamentation over him. Acts 8:3 NASB) But Saul [was] ravaging [destroying] the church, entering [houses], and dragging off men and women, he [was delivering them up to prison]. (Acts 8:4 YLT) they [the church] then indeed, having been scattered, went abroad proclaiming good news - the word. (Acts 8:5 YLT) And Philip having gone down to a city of Samaria, was preaching to them the Christ, (Acts 8:6 YLT) the multitudes also were giving heed to the things [being] spoken by Philip, with one accord, in their hearing and seeing the signs that he was doing, (Acts 8:7 NASB) For in the case of many who had unclean spirits, they were coming out of them shouting with a loud voice; and many who had been paralyzed and lame were healed. (Acts 8:8 NKJV) And there was great joy in that city," (cont.) =
There were many in Samaria who responded positively to Philip's preaching. The Samaritans' Scripture, namely their version of the Pentateuch which speaks of a coming Mosaic Messiah, (Dt 18), evidently prompted them to be open to Philip's message which message was a fulfillment of that prophecy. And after hearing and seeing the "signs" - in the sense of miraculous signs, signs which confirmed Philip's words as coming from God, the people were prompted to pay very careful attention to what Philip was saying. Note that the performance of miraculous signs was evidently not limited to just the apostles. And so many Samaritans did respond to his words by believing in "the Christ" for forgiveness of sins unto eternal life in the Eternal Kingdom of God as Peter had preached to the Jews, and Jesus and John the Baptist before Peter , (Acts 8:6).
And the result of Philip's miraculous acts was that many who were afflicted by being possessed with "unclean," i.e., demonic, spirits had those spirits come out of them as they shouted out with a loud voice, (the demonic spirits through the voices of their 'hosts') - healing the people of those afflictions. Furthermore, many who had been paralyzed and lame were healed. So Philip was able to heal all kinds of afflictions - those demonically caused, and those which were simply diseases, dramatically confirming his message as coming from God.
Ironically, in contrast to the rejection and persecution going on in Jerusalem, the people of Samaria were open to the gospel. There was no opposition, no criticism as occurred in Jerusalem. Instead, in Samaria there was great joy and rejoicing. This was the joy of health and salvation, (Acts 8:7-8).
C) (Acts 8:9-13) A CERTAIN MAN NAMED SIMON HAD BEEN PERFORMING MAGIC ACTS LONG BEFORE PHILIP HAD ARRIVED IN SAMARIA. FOR MANY YEARS, HE HAD BEEN AMAZING THE PEOPLE OF SAMARIA, CLAIMING TO BE A "GREAT ONE." AND MANY SAMARITANS WHO HAD GIVEN HEED TO HIS WORDS AND MAGIC ACTS, PROCLAIMED HIM TO BE THE GREAT POWER OF GOD.
BUT WHEN PHILIP - A BELIEVER FROM THE CHURCH IN JERUSALEM - ARRIVED, PERFORMED MIRACLES AND PREACHED CHRIST, MANY SAMARITANS BELIEVED IN CHRIST FOR ETERNAL LIFE AND WERE BAPTIZED BY PHILIP. SIMON ALSO BELIEVED WAS SAVED UNTO ETERNAL LIFE AND WAS BAPTIZED. SIMON FOLLOWED PHILIP AROUND - CONSTANTLY AMAZED AND AT THE SAME TIME ENVIOUS OF PHILIP'S PERFORMANCE OF MIRACLES - EVIDENTLY FOR UNGODLY REASONS
(Acts 8:9 YLT) And a certain man, by name Simon, was before in the city using magic, and amazing the nation of Samaria, saying himself to be a certain great one, (Acts 8:10 YLT) "to whom they were all giving heed, from small unto great, saying, 'This one is the great power of God;' (Acts 8:11 NASB) And they were giving him attention because he had for a long time astonished them with his magic arts. (Acts 8:12 NASB) But when they believed Philip preaching the good news about the Kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were being baptized, men and women alike. (Acts 8:13 YLT) and Simon also himself did believe, and, having been baptized, he was continuing with Philip, beholding also signs and mighty acts being done, he was amazed." =
A certain man named Simon "was before in the city using magic, and amazing the nation of Samaria" - in the sense of being in Samaria long before the time that Philip arrived there. Simon was "using magic" [Greek, "mageuOn" = magic, sorcery, (singular), and in verse 11: "mageiais," (plural)] in the sense of performing slight of hand / special effect magical acts of sorcery by means of trickery, occult and/or demonic power. Note that sorcery, divination, astrology, witchcraft, fortune-telling, demon worship, and various kinds of magic were all part of the heathen religions of ancient times and were all condemned in the Bible. Archeologists have found speaking tubes, trap doors, and other such things in ancient temples and shrines, as well as evidence of hypnotism and hallucinatory drug usage to trick people into thinking that something supernatural was going on.
Simon's sorcery had amazed the people of Samaria for a long period of time. He had gained a great reputation there. He often declared himself to be a certain great one, trying to give the impression that he was more than human. Although Scripture does not stipulate that Simon declared himself to be god or have the power of God, many Samaritans "small and great," i.e., from all walks of life, gave heed to Simon's acts and were saying about him, "This one is the great power of God." Scripture does not stipulate that Simon refuted the claims that he had the power of God. Note that such magicians / sorcerers were quite common in the Roman Empire in New Testament times, (cf. Elymas the sorcerer, Acts 13:8); (Acts 8:9-11).
When Philip arrived in Samaria, many of the people of Samaria heard Philip "preaching the good news about the Kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ." The phrase rendered, "The name of Jesus Christ" looks to His position as Messiah (cf. 8:5, "the Christ," lit., the Messiah) - in the sense of proclaiming the Promised Anointed One (lit., "the Christ," (v. 5), Who had come and made provision for forgiveness of sins through a moment of repentance (= change of mind ) unto faith in Him for that forgiveness unto eternal life in the Eternal Kingdom of God, just as Jesus, John the Baptist and Peter did before Philip, (ref. Acts 2:38 ).
And many Samaritans "men and women alike" did believe and were baptized. Many of these had evidently turned away from following Simon. "And Simon also himself did believe" and was baptized and he "was continuing [to remain] with Philip... beholding also the signs and mighty acts," that Philip performed - evidently for ungodly reasons as evidenced by later verses, (cf. Acts 8:18-24). The fact that Simon persistently and constantly attached himself to Philip, following him around, not letting him out of his sight most likely had a profound effect upon his own followers. For there was a striking contrast evident between Simon and Philip. Simon had an immensely successful career of performing his magic acts until Philip came and "outperformed" Simon with true supernatural Holy Spirit inspired acts of healing and demonic exorcisms. So Simon was evidently interested in gaining the supernatural power that Philip had and further, the power that the apostles who arrived in Samaria later of the laying on of hands upon others to receive the Holy Spirit, (cf. Acts 8:17-18). So Philip was doing the work of the Holy Spirit, but not to gain fame for himself as Simon had been doing with his trickery. Philip's purpose in performing his miracles was to confirm his message of the gospel being from God. Both men performed miracles, Simon by demonic power and Philip by divine power which far outshadowed the acts of sorcery and trickery that Simon performed. Simon boasted and welcomed acclaim to himself. Philip proclaimed Christ and faith in Him unto eternal life. So many of the people who were amazed at Simon's magic, were converted to Christ by Philip's ministry through the much greater power of the miracles of God and the message of "the good news about the Kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ." Simon himself was evidently amazed at the miracles that Philip was performing - especially the healings, but for ungodly reasons as later verses will indicate, (cf. Acts 8:18-24). Note that author Luke contrasted the greater power of God vs the occult and demonic power a number of times in the Book of Acts, (cf. Acts 8:5-19; 13:6-12; 16:16-18; 19:13-20; 28:1-6).
Contrary to what some contend, Simon did become a believer, saved unto eternal life because Acts 8:12-13 indicate that he did. Otherwise all the other Samaritans who believed did not become believers either. For the belief of the many Samaritans is equated with the belief of Simon in these verses. There is no qualification as to the way Simon believed as opposed to all the others in Samaria that believed. Furthermore, Philip - a man led by the Holy Spirit - did baptize Simon indicating that Philip understood that Simon was saved unto eternal life, (cf. John the Baptist would not baptize the Pharisees and Sadducees who came to him but had not believed, (Mt 3:7):
1) [Compare Acts 8:12 and 13]:
(Acts 8:12 NASB) "But when they believed Philip preaching the good news about the Kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were being baptized, men and women alike.
(Acts 8:13 YLT) and Simon also himself did believe, and, having been baptized, he was continuing with Philip, beholding also signs and mighty acts being done, he was amazed."
Although there were miracles being performed which got the attention of many Samaritans, Scripture indicates that the moment of faith alone in Christ alone that many expressed was no less and no more effective in providing salvation unto eternal life than if expressed without the miracles ;
and although Simon had his problems as indicated in Acts 8:18-24, those problems did not rule out that he was born again via a moment of faith alone in Christ alone, that moment being simply defined as a moment of mental / intellectual assent - not requiring anything more such as some form of committment to behave better which when considering the nature of fallen man is never reliable .
D) (Acts 8:9-13) THOSE SAMARITANS THAT DID NOT IMMEDIATELY RECEIVE THE HOLY SPIRIT WHEN THEY BELIEVED WERE NEVERTHELESS SAVED UNTO ETERNAL LIFE AND RECEIVED THE SPIRIT LATER WITH THE LAYING ON OF HANDS BY THE APOSTLES:
(Acts 8:9 YLT) And a certain man, by name Simon, was before in the city using magic, and amazing the nation of Samaria, saying himself to be a certain great one, (Acts 8:10 YLT) "to whom they were all giving heed, from small unto great, saying, 'This one is the great power of God;' (Acts 8:11 NASB) And they were giving him attention because he had for a long time astonished them with his magic arts. (Acts 8:12 NASB) But when they believed Philip preaching the good news about the Kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were being baptized, men and women alike. (Acts 8:13 YLT) and Simon also himself did believe, and, having been baptized, he was continuing with Philip, beholding also signs and mighty acts being done, he was amazed," (cont.) =
In the book of Acts, Luke is presenting the historical beginnings of the church - how the body of believers started with the Jews in Jerusalem and spread outward throughout the world. In Acts chapter 8:12-18, Luke reports the next move of the church after its remarkable beginning in Jerusalem with Peter and the Jews there, (ref. Acts chapter 2). This next move is begun by Phillip going to Samaria to incorporate the 'cousins' of the Jews - the Samaritans into the body of Christ. After that, God moved the church into the Gentile world with the ministry of the apostle Paul. So this unique one time historical account of Phillip's first evangelistic encounter with Samaritans in Samaria is the context of this passage in Acts chapter 8:5-25. Therefore, not every single detail of this event is to be determined as the norm for all other applicable events relative to the reception of the Holy Spirit. Scripture establishes the norm for all believers of the church age relative to the baptism of the Holy Spirit as occurring at the point of trusting alone in Christ alone, (Eph 1:13-14, Gal 3:2). This one time historical event written about in Acts chapter 8 is extra-normal in the sense that God sovereignly held back the baptism of the Holy Spirit in the new Samaritan believers until the church in Jerusalem, represented by apostles Peter and John, could become involved with their new Samaritan brothers in Christ, thus establishing the concept and the reality of the unity of believers in Jesus, (Acts 8:14-17). So Luke states in Acts 8:12 that a group of Samaritans believed in the gospel of salvation. God's Word states in numerous places that once one believes in Christ alone for eternal life alone then one is saved, (Jn 3:16; Acts 16:31), so these Samaritan individuals were saved unto eternal life at the moment of their expressing their belief in the gospel of salvation, including Simon:
1) [Compare Acts 8:13]:
(Acts 8:13 YLT) "And Simon also himself did believe, and, having been baptized, he was continuing with Philip, beholding also signs and mighty acts being done, he was amazed."
Objectors to the many Samaritans and Simon being saved state that they were not saved because they were false professors. They claim that they had only expressed a simple intellectual assent to the gospel of salvation without a committment to be faithful in their lives. Otherwise, the objectors go on to say, they should have received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. But this contradicts what Scripture says about salvation being via a moment of faith [accepting as true - a moment of intellectual / mental assent] alone in Christ alone . These objectors wish to disallow God to sovereignly permit unique events in His plan of salvation which are not the norm, (Acts 8:12-13).
E) (Acts 8:9-13) SIMON THE SORCERER WAS NOT THE SIMON MAGUS OF LEGEND AND EXTRA BIBLICAL ACCOUNTS WHICH CHARACTERIZE HIM AS THE FATHER OF GNOSTICISM AND THE SECT OF SIMONIANS
(Acts 8:9 YLT) And a certain man, by name Simon, was before in the city using magic, and amazing the nation of amaria, saying himself to be a certain great one, (Acts 8:10 YLT) "to whom they were all giving heed, from small unto great, saying, 'This one is the great power of God;' (Acts 8:11 NASB) And they were giving him attention because he had for a long time astonished them with his magic arts. (Acts 8:12 NASB) But when they believed Philip preaching the good news about the Kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were being baptized, men and women alike. (Acts 8:13 YLT) and Simon also himself did believe, and, having been baptized, he was continuing with Philip, beholding also signs and mighty acts being done, he was amazed," (cont.) =
Simon Magus appears in post apostolic Christian writings. He was characterized as a leading heretic in the early church. Justin Martyr - a Samaritan, (died in c.165), says that nearly all of his countrymen revered Simon as the highest god (Apology 1.26; Dialogue 120) - evidently concluding that he was Simon the sorcerer of Acts chapter 8. Irenaeus (c.180) speaks of Simon Magus as the father of Gnosticism and identifies the sect of the Simonians as being derived from him (Contra Haereses 1.23). The second-century extra biblical book, "Acts of Peter" has extensive descriptions of how Simon Magus corrupted Christians in Rome by his teachings and how he was repeatedly bested by Peter in displays of his magical powers. These themes were picked up by the Pseudo-Clementine Homilies and Recognitions of the third and fourth centuries, though in them Simon was used as a cover figure for Paul in a radically Ebionite manner. Hippolytus (died in c.236) outlines Simon's system, which he asserts was contained in a Gnostic treatise entitled 'The Great Disclosure.' It tells how he allowed himself to be buried alive in Rome with the prediction that he would rise on the third day (Refutation of All Heresies 6. 2-15) - which there is no record that he did. Justin Martyr in 'Apology 1.26' as referred to by Tertullian (c. in 197 in his Apology 13.9), tells of Simon's being honored with a statue in Rome on which was written "To Simon the Holy God." This was evidently a misreading of an inscription beginning SEMONI SANCO DEO ("To the God Semo Sancus," an ancient Sabine deity), which was read as SIMONI SANCTO DEO. Although a number of so called church fathers equated the Simon of Acts with Simon Magus; and although Simon the sorcerer claimed to be some exceedingy great person as a result of his magic acts which was far exceeded by Philip, the evidence to say the least is inconclusive .................................................................................................... (Acts 8:12-13).
F) (Acts 8:14-25) THE APOSTLES IN JERUSALEM HAVING HEARD THAT MANY IN SAMARIA HAD RECEIVED THE WORD OF GOD, SENT PETER AND JOHN TO SAMARIA TO INVESTIGATE. WHEN THEY GOT THERE, THEY REALIZED THAT MANY SAMARITANS HAD BECOME BELIEVERS, AND HAD BEEN BAPTIZED INTO THE NAME OF THE LORD JESUS; BUT NONE OF THEM HAD RECEIVED THE SPIRIT. SO THE TWO APOSTLES PRAYED THAT THE SAMARITAN BELIEVERS MIGHT RECEIVE THE HOLY SPIRIT; AND WERE LAYING HANDS ON THE SAMARITAN BELIEVERS AND THEY WERE RECEIVING THE HOLY SPIRIT. AND SIMON, HAVING SEEN THAT THROUGH THE GIFT OF THE LAYING ON OF HANDS BY THE APOSTLES, THE HOLY SPIRIT WAS GIVEN, OFFERED THE APOSTLES MONEY TO RECEIVE THAT GIFT. PETER RESPONDED, "YOUR SILVER WITH YOU MAY IT BE TO DESTRUCTION! BECAUSE THE GIFT OF GOD YOU DID THINK TO POSSESS THROUGH MONEY. YOU HAVE NEITHER PART NOR LOT IN THIS MATTER. FOR YOUR HEART IS NOT RIGHT BEFORE GOD; REPENT THEREFORE OF THIS YOUR WICKEDNESS, AND PRAY GOD IF PERHAPS THE THOUGHT OF YOUR HEART MAY BE FORGIVEN YOU. FOR IN THE GALL OF BITTERNESS, AND BOND OF UNRIGHTEOUSNESS I PERCEIVE YOU ARE." THEN SIMON SAID, "PRAY TO THE LORD FOR ME, THAT NONE OF THE THINGS WHICH YOU HAVE SPOKEN MAY COME UPON ME." THE APOSTLES EARNESTLY TESTIFIED SPEAKING THE WORD OF THE LORD - PROCLAIMING THE GOOD NEWS, AND RETURNED TO JERUSALEM. IN MANY VILLAGES OF THE SAMARITANS THEY HAD PROCLAIMED THE GOOD NEWS - THE WORD OF THE LORD:
(Acts 8:14 YLT) "And the apostles in Jerusalem having heard that Samaria [had] received the word of God, did send unto them Peter and John, (Acts 8:15 YLT) who having come down did pray concerning them, that they may receive the Holy Spirit, - (Acts 8:16 YLT) for as yet he was fallen upon none of them, and only they have been baptized [lit., having been baptized] - [ into] the name of the Lord Jesus; (Acts 8:17 NASB) Then they [were] laying their hands on them, and they were receiving the Holy Spirit. (Acts 8:18 YLT) And Simon, having [seen] that through the laying on of the hands of the apostles, the Holy Spirit is given, [offered] them money, (Acts 8:19 YLT) saying, 'Give also to me this authority, that on whomsoever I may lay the hands, he may receive the Holy Spirit.' (Acts 8:20 YLT) And Peter said unto him, '[Your] silver with [you] - may it be to [your] destruction! Because the gift of God [you did] think to possess through money; (Acts 8:21 YLT) [You have] neither part nor lot in this [matter], for [in the sense of "and"] [your] heart is not right before God; (Acts 8:22 NKJV) Repent therefore [in the sense of change your heart / your mind from continuing in] this ... wickedness, and pray [to] God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you. (Acts 8:23 YLT) For in the gall of bitterness, and bond of unrighteousness [in the sense of being in bondage to a poisonous and sinful attitude toward God that was dreadfully distasteful], I perceive [you] being.' (Acts 8:24 NKJV) Then Simon [having] answered said, 'Pray to the Lord for me, that none of the things which you have spoken may come upon me.' (Acts 8:25 YLT) They indeed, therefore, having [earnestly] testified..., and [having] spoken the word of the Lord, did [return] to Jerusalem; in many villages also of the Samaritans they did proclaim good news." =
The apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God - the gospel, and sent Peter and John there to investigate. This implies that those in the church in Jerusalem had not designed a plan to spread the word there; nevertheless, it was the plan of the LORD to do so. God worked in ways that were conducive not only to the reception of the gospel in Samaria, but also to the acceptance of these new converts by believers at Jerusalem, and vice versa. There is no indication in Scripture that the apostles were sent to Samaria to take control of the situation, or to wield their authority over Philip's ministry. All indications were that the apostles were there to help Philip's ministry, which they did by laying on of hands on the Samaritan believers so they would receive the Holy Spirit, and continue to spread the word throughout many villages in Samaria.
So when the two apostles arrived, they prayed concerning the Samaritan believers that they might receive the Holy Spirit, confirming that many Samaritans had become believers but that none of them had yet received the Spirit. There evidently was no evidence of spiritual gifts given by the Spirit being performed by the Samaritan believers. According to what Peter preached in Acts 2:38-39, Jews and Gentiles alike, including Samaritans, were to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit upon exercising a moment of repentance, i.e., change of mind unto faith alone in Christ alone for forgiveness of sins unto eternal life in the Eternal Kingdom of God, . On the other hand, at the beginning of the formation of a new and unique group of believers in Jesus Christ designated as the church .there was instituted by God a delay of the baptism of the Holy Spirit in the new believers in Samaria in this first advance of the gospel outside the confines of Jerusalem, for a number of reasons, as follows:
(1) It was evidently necessary for the apostles in Jerusalem to commission apostles Peter and John to go to Samaria. These two leading apostles evidently had the best chance of being accepted at that time as brothers in Christ by the new converts in Samaria. When they first arrived in Samaria, the two apostles prayed that the Samaritans who were believers would receive the Holy Spirit, implying that they had discovered that those Samaritans who had been baptized by Philip were indeed believers who had not as yet received the Spirit, (Acts 8:15). Consequently when they laid their hands on the Samaritan believers it resulted in the coming of the Spirit upon them implying that the new Samaritan believers gave evidence by the demonstration of spiritual gift(s) as it had with the Hebrew speaking Jewish believers in Jerusalem when they received the Holy Spirit upon repentance unto faith in Christ, (Acts 2:38); and as it had with a number of Gentiles when they believed and received the Holy Spirit, (Acts 10:45-46); and as it will occur when disciple Ananias of Damascus layed his hands upon Saul, (Acts 9:10-18); and as it will occur when Paul layed hands upon the disciples of John the Baptist, (Acts19:6). This delay in the reception of the Holy Spirit upon the Samaritan believers was necessary to confirm Philip's ministry among the Samaritans to the Jerusalem apostles as part of their work - that the Samaritans would be part of the body of believers in the church begun in Jerusalem.
(2) This also confirmed Philip's ministry to the Samaritans as part of what the apostles and the Jerusalem church were all about. So the message Philip had preached to the Samaritans was validated by the coming of the Spirit as coming from God - as part of the body of believers of the church begun in Jerusalem. It was also a sign of the yet future coming of the Eternal Kingdom of God to which all the believers were destined to be in, (Jer 31:31-34; Ez 36:23-27; Joel 2:28-32).
(3) Perhaps the most important aspect of God's withholding the Spirit until apostolic representatives came from the Jerusalem church was to prevent schism within the church. Because of the natural propensity of division between Jews and Samaritans .it was essential for Peter and John to welcome the Samaritan believers officially into the church............. (Acts 8:14-15).
Author Luke confirmed that none in Samaria had received the Holy Spirit in verse 16: "For as yet he was fallen upon none of them, and only they have been baptized [lit., having been baptized] - [ into] the name of the Lord Jesus" - the latter referring to the fact that Philip had baptized them in water in the name of the Lord Jesus, confirming that the Samaritans in view were believers, saved unto eternal life - including Simon, (Acts 8:16).
Whereupon author Luke reported that Peter and John were laying their hands on them, and at that time the new believers in Samaria were receiving the Holy Spirit.
Although the spiritual gift of laying on of hands on one to receive the Holy Spirit was not limited to the apostles - for example, Ananias, a disciple from Damascus laid his hands upon Saul (who became Paul) for both the healing of his eyesight and the receiving of the Holy Spirit, (ref. Acts 9:10-19); in the case of the first occurrence of the spreading of the gospel in Samaria through Philip, this gift was only exercised by apostles Peter and John, (Acts 8:17).
Whether or not Peter and John laid hands upon Simon is not stipulated. On the other hand, Scripture did stipulate that Simon believed as the other Samaritans believed and all including Simon were water baptized by Philip - a man clearly led by the Holy Spirit - further indicating that all were believers including Simon. Furthermore, in the previous verse, Acts 8:13, it was stipulated that Simon had departed from his sorcery and began to follow Philip around beholding and being amazed by the signs and mighty acts that Philip continued to perform. He left behind his sorcery - the fame and money it had brought to him for years in Samaria to follow Philip. Simon was amazed at the truly miraculous signs which God performed through him, outdoing anything he could do with his trickery / sorcery.
Since Scripture did not stipulate that Simon demanded to receive the Spirit when the apostles arrived and laid hands on all the new Samaritan believers, it is implied that the apostles had laid hands upon him and he received the Spirit and demonstrated some spiritual gift(s) as did all the other Samaritan believers. Otherwise Simon would have sought to receive the Spirit at the time that he sought the gift of the laying on of hands on one to receive the Spirit.
So it is evident that spiritual gifts were manifested by those Samaritan believers that Peter and John laid hands upon, including Simon, just as it had occurred in Jerusalem when many simply believed, without the laying on of hands, (ref. Acts chapter 2:1-38 ). Author Luke indicated in Acts 8:18: "And Simon having [seen] that through the laying on of the hands of the apostles, the Holy Spirit is given, [and he] offered them money." It is implied in this statement that Simon realized that he was not going to freely receive this gift of the laying on of hands from the apostles; hence he offered them money for it, implying that he viewed it as a commodity to be used for commercial purposes for profit. So it is implied that he still held on to his ungodly ambition to be the "great one of God" he once was to the Samaritans, when he was performing ungodly acts of sorcery and magic trickery, (Acts 8:9-10). But the gift of the laying on of hands upon one for the reception of the Holy Spirit was not to be available to Simon freely or for a price.
Simon's carnality and ambition were despicable; nevertheless, this did not necessarily indicate that he was not a believer. What clearly took control of Simon was not a lack of conversion but spiritual immaturity and ignorance which sparked his former ambition and arrogance which he demonstrated as a sorcerer / magician. He, in fact, was an outstanding example of many of the kinds of things that immature believers do when caught up in their carnal ways from which they need to repent - in the sense of changing their minds from doing those old carnal works to learning bible doctrine and doing godly works.
1) [Compare 1 Cor 3:1-3]:
(1 Cor 3:1 NKJV) "And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ.
(1 Cor 3:2 NKJV) I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able;
(1 Cor 3:3 NKJV) for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?"
a) [Bible Knowledge Commentary on 1 Cor 3:1-3, Walvoord & Zuck, Editors, Victor Books, USA, 1983, An Exposition of the Scriptures by Dallas Seminary Faculty]:
"When Paul came and preached Christ to them, they believed. By faith they were justified and granted peace with God (Rom. 5:1-2). No doubt Paul taught them all the blessings that came to them as Christians, what Paul called milk. At that time their way of thinking and living was only beginning to be transformed (Rom. 12:2). They were still greatly influenced by worldly thinking and behaviorthey were infants in Christ. But 'the message of the Cross' (1 Cor. 1:18) concerned more than justification. It also concerned sanctification. It called for a renewal of attitude and action in response to God's revelation. It called for righteousness in thought and deed (Heb. 5:11-14). And this part of the message of 'Christ... crucified' (1 Cor. 2:2), this solid food (3:2), the Corinthians had spurned. As a result they were still worldly (v. 3). Instead of mature behavior characterized by humility and concern for othersobedience to Godthe Corinthians were infantile, self-centered, and therefore divisive (v. 4; cf. 1:12). They wanted lives of exaltation (4:8) without lives of humiliation (4:9-13) because they did not understand that 'Christ... crucified' was a message concerned not only with justification but also with sanctification (cf. Phil. 2:1-8). This misunderstanding was at the root of their disunity (cf. 1 Cor. 1:10; 3:4), which error Paul wanted to correct."
........................................................ (Acts 8:18-19).
In Acts 8:20, Peter rebuked Simon. The apostle's tone was outraged; but his rebuke was not as if Simon was an unbeliever. If Simon was not saved unto eternal life, then Peter's rebuke of him should have centered around Simon's not having believed the gospel message that Philip had heretofore proclaimed. But the issue that Peter addressed in his rebuke was that Simon had attempted to gain - even pay for - the spiritual gift of laying ones hands upon one in order for one to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Peter's response to Simon in verse 20 as rendered in the YLT was as follows: "And Peter said unto him, '[Your] silver with [you] - may it be to [your] destruction!" The Greek noun "apOleian" rendered "destruction," in the YLT comes from the Greek noun "apoleia" which means "destruction, ruin or waste;" and the related Greek verb "apollumi" means to perish, destroy, put to death. Since "apOleian" / "apollumi" and other synonymous terms are used in Scripture to mean physical death, (Jer 44:27; Jer 12:4), or the destruction of some thing, (1 Pet 1:4; Acts 8:20; 2 Sam 1:27), or eternal condemnation of an individual person in the Lake of Fire, (Jn 3:13-18), depending upon context. Since both the silver and the Simon were stipulated as liable for destruction; and since silver / money is not subject to eternal destruction, then Simon's liability in Acts 8:20 was temporal destruction as well.
Furthermore, in Acts 8:20, Peter is speaking to Simon who was declared earlier in verse 13 to be one who believed in the good news about the Kingdom of God and in the name of Jesus Christ that Philip had been preaching; and he was baptized by Philip as well - a baptism reserved for believers and done by Philip, one who was filled with the Holy Spirit. Hence Simon and the other Samaritans who believed, were declared to be believers destined for eternal life in the Eternal Kingdom of God in heaven, (Acts 8:12-13; cf. Acts 2:38 ). Although Simon behaved in a despicably evil manner after his conversion to Christianity, this kind of behavior is not beyond a believer, especially a newborn believer who had a history of such behavior, (cp Eph 5:1-17; Gal 5:16-21). Thus the Greek phrase "eis apOleian" rendered "to [your] destruction" in the YLT cannot mean that his silver / money and Simon will perish in the Lake of Fire. But Simon was in danger of perishing via premature physical death, (cp Jas 1:15; 1 Jn 5:16; Pr 10:27; 11:19), and of perishing in the sense of the destruction of the value of his earthly lifestyle at the judgment seat of Christ for believers relative to rewards / discipline in the millennial kingdom, (1 Cor 3:11-15), potentially suffering great loss of rewards for all eternity! ...................................................................... (Acts 8:20).
In verse 21 Peter emphatically stated to Simon, "[You have] neither part nor lot in this [matter], for [in the sense of "and"] [your] heart is not right before God" The Greek word in the context of Acts 8:21, transliterated "logO" is rendered "thing" in the YLT or "matter" in most other versions. It refers to the "matter" that Peter had just spoken of to Simon in the previous verse, namely, "[Your] silver with [you] - may it be to [your] destruction! Because the gift of God [you did] think to possess through money" which refers to Simon's offer to pay for the gift of God of the "authority, that on whomsoever [one] may lay the hands, he may receive the Holy Spirit," (cf. Acts 8:19b). So the matter referred to in Acts 8:19-21 is the gift of the laying on of hands and the giving of the Holy Spirit; and not, as some contend, salvation unto eternal life. Therefore Peter's declaration at the end of verse 21, "for [in the sense of "and"] [your] heart is not right before God" cannot be miscontrued to mean that Simon did not have or had lost his salvation unto eternal life, as some contend. For salvation unto eternal life is never presented in the Book of Acts, nor anywhere in Scripture, as a matter of having ones heart right before God in the sense of committing to and living a godly life; but rather it is a matter of repentance in the sense of a change of mind from unbelief to a moment of faith alone in Christ alone for forgiveness of sins unto eternal life in the Kingdom of God, (cf. Acts 2:38.. ). And the latter is what Simon did, as stipulated Acts 8:12-13, namely he believed in Philip's message about the Kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ and had been water baptized by Philip - the latter a believer who was evidently led by the Holy Spirit because he performed many miraculous healings and exorcisms. So then Peter's declaration that Simon was "not right before God" reflected not upon whether Simon had been saved unto eternal life, but upon Simon's sinful desire of wanting the gift of laying on of the hands upon one in order for one to receive the Holy Spirit in order for his own personal aggrandization; and for offering to pay the apostles for that gift - as if it were a commercial commodity.
Note that the phrase rendered "for [in the sense of "and"] [your] heart is not right before God" need not and does not imply that if Simon were to get his heart right before God he would then be rewarded with the gift of laying on of hands for one to receive the Spirit of God, as some contend. Although the most frequent sense of the word "gar" rendered "for" in Acts 8:21 is to signify a reason, cause, or ground of a (usually) preceding statement and is translated for; this meaning cannot apply to Acts 8:21. For the key cause of Simon not receiving the gift that the apostles' demonstrated was because God had not designated him to receive that particular gift; not because he was not right before God. So another meaning of the "gar" must apply.
The use of the word "gar" can also indicate that an explanatory thought is about to be given, meaning for instance, now, or for example (e.g., Matthew 9:5; Luke 14:28). In addition, "gar" can mean indeed, certainly, so, or then in the sense of introducing a thought of confirmation, assurance, or inference (e.g., Acts 8:31; Romans 15:27; Hebrews 12:3). Finally, the word can simply express a continuation of thought and thus be equivalent to the Greek word transliterated "de," meaning and (often in Pauls writings as in Romans 1:18 and 2:25 and in Lukes as in Luke 1:15 and Acts 8:39). This last use of the word best applies.
....................................................................................................................... (Acts 8:21).
When Peter said to Simon in verses 20-21, "[Your] silver with [you] - may it be to [your] destruction! Because the gift of God [you did] think to possess through money; [You have] neither part nor lot in this [matter], for [in the sense of "and"] [your] heart is not right before God;" Peter then added in verse 22, "Repent therefore [in the sense of change your heart / your mind from continuing in] this ... wickedness, and pray [to] God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you." Peter's remedy for Simon to resolve his problem before God was not that Simon repent and believe and be saved, but that he repent of "this wickedness."
Peter's rebuke and instruction on resolving his problem before God evidently resulted in Simon demonstrating further his bitterness and jealousy toward Philip and the apostles Peter and John, and ultimately God for destroying his career as a sorcerer / magician. Furthermore, his ambition to have his greatness restored and be even greater than he was before Philip came to Samaria was all the more evident in his bitterness. Since he was denied by Peter and ultimately God to receive the gift of laying on of hands, i.e., he could not purchase it from the apostles as if it were a commodity for commercial benefit, he became bitter and jealous all the more of the power of Philip and the apostles. Whereupon in Acts 8:23, Peter observed Simon's reaction to his rebuke which indicated that he was bitterly unrepentant: "For in the gall of bitterness, and bond of unrighteousness [in the sense of Simon's being in bondage to a poisonous and sinful attitude toward God that was dreadfully distasteful], I perceive [you] being."
So Peter's words in verse 23 described the state in which Simon committed the sin of ungodly ambition in desiring and offering to pay for the spiritual gift which the apostles demonstrated. The Greek phrase transliterated "cholEn pikrias," and rendered "gall of bitterness" in the YLT, means - in the context of that verse - a sinful and intoxicating attitude toward God that was dreadfully distasteful. Simon had evidently displayed a bitter, angry look toward Peter in the heat of his displeasure in being denied the gift he coveted, to which Peter responded with his words in verse 23. Those words implied that Simon was still influenced by his desire to return to his former greatness in Samaria when he was a sorcerer / magician - when many had declared him to be "the great power of God," (ref. Acts 8:9-10). But when he saw his chance to be even greater denied by Peter and ultimately by God, his response could be clearly read in his countenance by Peter. So when Peter expressed his observations about Simon's bitterness in verse 23, it was evidently to put the fear of God into Simon, bringing him back to face himself in his sinfulness before God and the potential consequences therein. Note that the Greek word "onta," is a present participle possibly indicating that Simon was not yet fully entrenched - not yet irretrieveably bound by bitterness and unrighteousness and therefore there was still hope for him if he would repent immediately as Peter stipulated.
So in verse 24, Simon's response to Peter's rebuke indicated fear and repentance as he entreated the apostle to pray for him so that he would not be harshly disciplined by God for his evil behavior and attitude: "Pray to the Lord for me, that none of the things which you have spoken may come upon me." Simon's admission to Peter and ultimately to God of evil behavior was as a believer which confession might serve to ameliorate his problem of discipline and bring him forgiveness and a return to fellowship with God Almighty by that confession should it have confession to God in view as a believer. A confession of guilt would not be sufficient for an unbeliever to receive salvation unto eternal life, but it would be sufficient for a believer to receive forgiveness and purification from all unrighteousness:
2) [Compare 1 Jn 1:9]:
"If we [believers, (v. 2:1)] confess our sins, He [God] is faithful and just and will forgive us these sins and purify us from all unrighteousness."
If objectors had considered these later verses in Acts chapter 8 their stand on Simon's condemnation to the Lake of Fire might not have been so rashly made. ........................................................................................................................... (Acts 8:22-24).
Thereafter, the apostles earnestly testified in the sense of proclaiming the good news - the word of the LORD in many villages of the Samaritans - Philip may have accompanied them until the apostles returned to Jerusalem. This was a remarkable thing for Philip and the Jewish apostles to accomplish - participating in the beginning of the spread of the gospel to the world, beginning with Samaria, (Acts 8:25).
II) [Acts 8:26-40]:
(Acts 8:26 NASB) "But an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip saying, "Get up and go south to the road that descends from Jerusalem to Gaza." (This is a desert [road].)
(Acts 8:27 YLT) And having arisen, he went on, and [behold], a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch, a man of rank, of Candace the queen of the Ethiopians, who was over all her treasure, who had come [worshiping - in the sense of to worship] to Jerusalem;
(Acts 8:28 NKJV) was returning. And sitting in his chariot, he was reading Isaiah the prophet.
(Acts 8:29 NKJV) Then the Spirit said to Philip, 'Go near and [join yourself to in the sense of cling to] this chariot."
(Acts 8:30 NKJV) So Philip [having run up] to him, and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah, and said, 'Do you understand what you are reading?'
(Acts 8:31 YLT) and he said, 'Why, how am I able, if some one may not guide me?' he called [in the sense of exhorted] Philip also, having come up, to sit with him.
(Acts 8:32 NKJV) The place [in the sense of passage] in the Scripture which he [was reading] was this: 'He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; And as a lamb before its shearer is silent, So He opened not His mouth,' (Isa 53:7).
(Acts 8:33 NKJV) In His humiliation His justice was taken away, And who will declare [of] His generation [in the sense of who of His generation considered His death important?] For His life is taken from the earth,' (Isa 53:8).
(Acts 8:34 NKJV) So the eunuch [having] answered Philip and said, 'I ask you, of whom does the prophet say this, of himself or of some other man?'
(Acts 8:35 YLT) and Philip having opened his mouth, and having begun from this Writing [in the sense of this passage], proclaimed [the] good news to him - Jesus.
(Acts 8:36 YLT) And as they were going on the way, they came upon a certain water, and the eunuch said, '[Behold], water; what [hinders] me [from being] baptized?'
(Acts 8:37 NKJV) Then Philip said, 'If you believe with all your heart, you may.' And he answered and said, 'I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.'
(Acts 8:38 NKJV) So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him.
(Acts 8:39 YLT) and when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, and the eunuch saw him no more, for he was going on his way rejoicing;
(Acts 8:40 YLT) and Philip was found at Azotus, and passing through, he was proclaiming good news to all the cities, till his coming to Caesarea."
A) (Acts 8:26-40) THE ANGEL OF THE LORD DIRECTED PHILIP TO TRAVEL THE ROAD TO GAZA, WHERE HE ENCOUNTERED AN ETHIOPIAN EUNUCH - A MAN OF RANK WHO WAS RETURNING FROM WORSHIPPING IN JERUSALEM - SITTING IN HIS CHARIOT, READING FROM THE BOOK OF ISAIAH THE PROPHET. THE SPIRIT COMMANDED PHILIP TO GO TO THE EUNUCH WHERE HE HEARD HIM READING. PHILIP ASKED HIM IF HE UNDERSTOOD WHAT HE WAS READING. THE EUNUCH'S ANSWER INDICATED HE NEEDED HELP. THE PASSAGE IN VIEW SPOKE OF A MAN WHOSE LIFE WAS TAKEN TO PAY FOR MANKIND'S SINS. THE EUNUCH ASKED WHO THIS MAN WAS. PHILIP'S RESPONSE WAS A PROCLAMATION OF THE GOOD NEWS OF JESUS. THE EUNUCH BELIEVED AND WAS BAPTIZED, THE SPIRIT CAUGHT AWAY PHILIP TO AZOTUS TO CONTINUE TO PROCLAIM THE GOOD NEWS FROM THERE TO CAESAREA
(Acts 8:26 NASB) "But an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip saying, "Get up and go south to the road that descends from Jerusalem to Gaza." (This is a desert [road].) (Acts 8:27 YLT) And having arisen, he went on, and [behold], a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch, a man of rank, of Candace the queen of the Ethiopians, who was over all her treasure, who had come [worshiping - in the sense of to worship] to Jerusalem; (Acts 8:28 NKJV) was returning. And sitting in his chariot, he was reading Isaiah the prophet. (Acts 8:29 NKJV) Then the Spirit said to Philip, 'Go near and [join yourself to in the sense of cling to] this chariot." (Acts 8:30 NKJV) So Philip [having run up] to him, and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah, and said, 'Do you understand what you are reading?' (Acts 8:31 YLT) and he said, 'Why, how am I able, if some one may not guide me?' he called [in the sense of exhorted] Philip also, having come up, to sit with him. (Acts 8:32 NKJV) The place [in the sense of passage] in the Scripture which he [was reading] was this: 'He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; And as a lamb before its shearer is silent, So He opened not His mouth,' (Isa 53:7). (Acts 8:33 NKJV) In His humiliation His justice was taken away, And who will declare [of] His generation [in the sense of who of His generation considered His death important?] For His life is taken from the earth,' (Isa 53:8). (Acts 8:34 NKJV) So the eunuch [having] answered Philip and said, 'I ask you, of whom does the prophet say this, of himself or of some other man?' (Acts 8:35 YLT) and Philip having opened his mouth, and having begun from this Writing [in the sense of this passage], proclaimed [the] good news to him - Jesus. (Acts 8:36 YLT) And as they were going on the way, they came upon a certain water, and the eunuch said, '[Behold], water; what [hinders] me [from being] baptized?' (Acts 8:37 NKJV) Then Philip said, 'If you believe with all your heart, you may.' And he answered and said, 'I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.' (Acts 8:38 NKJV) So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him. (Acts 8:39 YLT) and when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, and the eunuch saw him no more, for he was going on his way rejoicing; (Acts 8:40 YLT) and Philip was found at Azotus, and passing through, he was proclaiming good news to all the cities, till his coming to Caesarea." =
Philip evidently parted ways with Peter and John and went south to the road that descended from Jerusalem to Gaza according to instructions given him by the Angel of the LORD . Philip was evidently being directed by the LORD to continue to bring the gospel to the gentiles beyond Samaria. Author Luke indicated that the road goes through the desert on the way to Gaza. Ancient Gaza was destroyed sometime around 100-96 B.C., by the Maccabean priest-king Alexander Jannaeus (cf. Jos. Antiq. XIII, 358-64 [xiii.3]. And the city was rebuilt on a site a bit to the south, closer to the Mediterranean in 57 B.C. under Pompey's orders by Gabinius (ibid., XIV, 76 [iv.4], 88 [v. 31]. The old city was called Desert Gaza, (cf. HJP, 2:1:71). It was the southernmost of the five chief Philistine cities in southwest Palestine, about 60 miles southwest of Jerusalem, and the last settlement before the desert waste stretching away to Egypt. The road itself ran through patches of desert as well, (Acts 8:26).
So Philip, having arisen, went on and encountered by surprise, (hence the Greek word rendered "behold"), a man of Ethiopia, described as a eunuch, a man of rank under Candace the queen of the Ethiopians who was over all of her treasure. The ancient kingdom of Ethiopia lay between Aswan and Khartoum and corresponds to modern Nubia (not Abyssinia); or what is today called the Sudan and part of modern Ethiopia. It was ruled by a queen mother who had the dynastic title Candace and ruled on behalf of her son the king, since the king was regarded as the child of the sun and therefore too holy to become involved in the secular functions of the state (cf. Bion of Soli Aethiopica 1; Strabo Geography 7.1.54; Pliny the Elder Natural History 6.186; Dio Cassius History of Rome 54.5.4; Eusebius Ecclesiastical History 2.1.13). So the Ethiopian eunuch was one of the ministers of the Ethiopian government -in fact the minister of finance. He had become either a full proselyte or a Proselyte of the Gate, and had gone to Jerusalem to worship at one of the Jewish festivals. And now he was returning home on his chariot reading Isaiah as he went along. It is not stipulated how or where he worshipped in the Temple.
Although the Law prohibited eunuchs from entering the LORD's assembly, (Dt 23:1), he could go as far as the court of Gentiles. Isaiah 56:3-8 predicts great blessing for eunuchs in the Millennial Age:
1) [Compare Isa 56:3-8 Masoretic Old Testament]:
(Isa 56:3 NKJV) "Do not let the son of the foreigner Who has joined himself to the LORD Speak, saying, 'The LORD has utterly separated me from His people'; Nor let the eunuch say, 'Here I am, a dry tree.'
(Isa 56:4 NKJV) For thus says the LORD: 'To the eunuchs who keep My Sabbaths, And choose what pleases Me, And hold fast My covenant,
(Isa 56:5 NKJV) Even to them I will give in My house And within My walls a place and a name Better than that of sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name That shall not be cut off.
(Isa 56:6 NKJV) Also the sons of the foreigner Who join themselves to the LORD, to serve Him, And to love the name of the LORD, to be His servants - Everyone who keeps from defiling the Sabbath, And holds fast My covenant -
(Isa 56:7 NKJV) Even them I will bring to My holy mountain, And make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices Will be accepted on My altar; For My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.'
(Isa 56:8 NKJV) The Lord GOD, who gathers the outcasts of Israel, says, 'Yet I will gather to him Others besides those who are gathered to him.' "
This passage might well have caught the attention of the eunuch and caused him to return to the Book of Isaiah again and again. And so he was reading in Isa 53:7-8 on his chariot when Philip arrived - a passage which led directly to Philip's proclamation of the gospel.
Note that the Greek word transliterated "eunouchos" frequently appears in the LXX and in Greek vernacular writings to name high officials who are not necessarily emasculated. By the time of Jesus, Hellenistic influences caused a more lenient attitude toward eunuchs in some circles, e.g., in Herods court, where Josephus tells us the three chamberlains were eunuchs. (Theological Dictionary of the New Testament: Abridged in One Volume, (TDNT, 2:7666). Therefore, we are probably justified in taking the word rendered "eunuch" to be a governmental title in an Oriental kingdom; emphasizing two facts when considering the Ethiopian eunuch's relationship with Judaism: (1) he had been on a religious pilgrimage to Jerusalem and (2) he was returning with a copy of the prophecy of Isaiah in his possession, which would have been difficult for a non-Jew to get access to much less be in a position to purchase a copy. For the scroll of Isaiah would have to be hand copied and would be extremely expensive. We are probably to understand that this Ethiopian government official was a proselyte or near-proselyte to Judaism.
So at the time of his encounter with Philip, the eunuch was returning from Jerusalem - having worshipped there in the Temple. He was sitting in his chariot reading aloud from Isaiah the Prophet. Note that in those ancient times it was common practice in the ancient world to read aloud. Whereupon the Spirit of God said to Philip, "Go near and [join yourself to in the sense of cling to] this chariot, implying that Philip was to run after the Chariot and join the Ethiopian and share the gospel with him, was evidently moving along in his chariot. He evidently had a servant who was driving it while he was reading aloud from the Book of Isaiah. Note that Philip was guided first by the Angel of the LORD, (v. 26), and then by the Holy Spirit; implying that the sovereignty of God was superintending over Philip's actions, (Acts 8:27-29).
So when Philip ran up to him and heard him reading aloud, he asked the man, "Do you understand what you are reading?" And the Ethiopian answered, "Why, how am I able if some one may not guide me?" Then he called in the sense of exhorted Philip to come up into the chariot to sit with him, implying to guide him to understand what he was reading, (Acts 8:30-31).
The Ethiopian was reading Isaiah chapter 53:7-8, evidently from the Septuagint / Greek translation of the Old Testament which author Luke reports as follows: "He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; And as a lamb before its shearer is silent, So He opened not His mouth. In His humiliation His justice was taken away, And who will declare [of] His generation [in the sense of asking the question, 'Who of His generation considered His death important?' For His life was taken from the earth."
2) [Compare Isa 53:7-8 Septuagint / Greek Old Testament]:
(Isa 53:7 Septuagint) "And he, because of his affliction, opens not his mouth: he was led as a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before the shearer is dumb, so he opens not his mouth.
(Isa 53:8 Septuagint) In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken away from the earth: because of the iniquities of my people he was led to death."
3) [Compare Isa 53:7-8 NASB]:
(Isa 53:7 NASB) "He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, So He did not open His mouth.
[He was oppressed - persecuted in the sense of one who is innocent yet persistently attacked as if guilty. And He was afflicted - tortured. And through this, the Arm = the Strength and Representative of God submitted to the sacrifice of Himself willingly as a sheep led to the slaughter - in silence, without complaint. He was sacrificed for the sins of the whole world so as to bring to mankind - Jew and Gentile alike - the availability of eternal and temporal peace and spiritual healing = eternal forgiveness of their sins - all through believing in this availability through His sacrifice, (v. 1)]
(Isa 53:8 ASV) By oppression and judgment he [has been] taken away; and as for His generation, who among them considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living for the transgression of My people to whom the [blow] was due?"
[The Servant would be unjustifiably oppressed - unlawfully arrested, bound and taken away as a prisoner. He would be judged and sentenced to die, not because of any sins of His own, (for He was without sin, (ref. Isa 53:9, 11); but for the sins of His generation, and for all mankind, (cf. Isa 52:15), to whom such a punishment He received, was due. The phrase rendered "And as for His generation who among them considered that He was cut of out of the land of the living for the transgressions of My people to whom the [blow] was due?" implies an answer of only a few if any at all of those who would be living at the time would consider the Servant's death significant toward providing payment for the sins of all mankind]. This passage begins with Isa 52:10, 13-15 . where God refers to the coming Messiah as My Servant. Suffering Servant, the Messiah would be the One to carry out God's work - to be the One Who was to suffer for the sins of others - of all mankind, not for any sins of his own, for he would commit no sins. He would be the Lamb of God who would take away the sin of the world. Like a sheep led to be slaughtered for sacrifice, so He would give His life for sinners. Like a lamb, He would come patiently, and without any word against His captors He would give himself. The eunuch considered that Isaiah was not in view in this passage implying that he knew no one who could accomplish this. Surely it must have been exciting to Philip as he saw how wonderful and how exact God's timing was.
......................................................... (Acts 8:32-33).
So the eunuch further answered Philip's question of "Do you understand what you are reading?" in verse 30, with a specific question to Philip about the content of Isa 53:7-8 as follows: "I ask you, of whom does the prophet say this, of himself or of some other man?" The quotation from Isaiah 53:7-8, which most closely parallels the Septuagint Greek translation of the Old Testament, was perplexing to the eunuch. Welcoming the opportunity to have Philip explain the passage, the eunuch invited the apostle into his chariot. Contrary to the absence in ancient Jewish writings such as Jewish Messianic literature, the Talmud and the Targums, of an understanding that this passage spoke of an individual person as a Suffering Servant; the Ethiopian evidently determined himself that the passage described an individual Suffering Servant. Hence he asked Philip whether or not the prophet Isaiah was in view as that individual or someone else. Whereupon, Philip answered beginning with the context of these two verses and from there proclaimed the good news of Jesus Christ as he did to the Samaritans in Acts 8:12, evidently using other passages as well - "preaching the good news about the Kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ" - a moment of faith in Him for forgiveness of sins unto eternal life in the Eternal Kingdom of God, (cf. Acts 2:38 ) ........................................................................................................................... (Acts 8:34-35).
And as they were going on the way, they came upon a certain water, and the eunuch said, "[Behold], water; what [hinders] me [from being] baptized?" This is a possible corroboration that the eunuch was a Jewish proselyte or near-proselyte, for proselytes were water baptized as an external symbol for a Gentile's repentance and conversion to the religion of Israel. Therefore, it would have been quite natural for him to view baptism as the appropriate expression for his conversion to faith in Christ, Whom he had come to trust as the fulfillment of Israel's hope and promised Messiah. On the other hand, Philip's message might have been similar to Peter's at Pentecost, which included being water baptized, (cf. Acts 2:38 ), (Acts 8:36).
Note that verse 37 is omitted in the better / earlier MSS. Manuscript "D " is missing verses 8:36-10:14; but E, a number of minor texts, and such church fathers as Irenaeus, Tertullian, Cyprian, Ambrosiaster, Ambrose, and Augustine add the verse with minor variations. Despite the fact that the Byzantine text omits verse 37, Erasmus included it in his critical editions because he concluded that it had only inadvertantly fallen out of the textual tradition he knew, and therefore it became embedded in the TR and the KJV. In the final analysis, the verse adds nothing to the narrative except to make explicit what is already implied.
Philip answered in verse 37, 'If you believe with all your heart, you may.' And the Ethiopian enuch answered and said, 'I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God,' in the sense of what the passage in Isaiah stipulated which passage the eunuch was reading in chapter 53: that it was Jesus Christ Who took upon Himself the iniquities of all mankind for his justification, (cf. Isa 53:5, 8, 12). Notice that Phillip stipulated, "If you believe with all your heart," that you will be forgiven of your sins unto eternal life in the Eternal Kingdom of God; whereupon Philip would then baptize him in water. Whereupon the Ethiopian eunuch responded, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God," which implies that he did believe in Christ's sacrifice for his sins unto eternal life, then Philip baptized him. Hence Philip's statement "believe with all your heart, you may [be baptized]" implies believing in the sense of having no reservations. Hence a special kind of believing with the whole heart which includes a faithful comittment to behave righteously as some contend is NOT in view here or anywhere in Scripture.
4) [Compare on saving faith unto eternal life]
............................................................................................................................... (Acts 8:36-37).
In verse 38, author Luke declared that the Ethiopian eunuch commanded the chariot to stand still. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and Philip baptized him - implying baptism by immersion. And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the LORD caught away Philip, and the eunuch saw him no more, and nevertheless he went on his way." Note that the eunuch was evidently not taken aback by Philip's disappearance, and thereafter Scripture does not indicate whatever happened to the eunuch, except that he went away rejoicing, (Acts 8:38-39).
The Spirit moved Philip to Azotus 20 miles away on the coast of the Mediterranean, to continue with his evangelistic mission. It was an ancient Philistine capital known also as Ashdod. From there Philip proceeded northward along the coast, continuing to proclaim the good news to all the cities he came upon until he came to Caesarea, where he settled, where he became known as Philip the evangelist. Caesarea was the capital of the Roman province of Judea, built by Herod the Great. He was still there about 20 years later with his four prophetess daughters in connection with Paul's last visit to Jerusalem.
5) [Compare Acts 21:8-9]:
(Acts 21:8 NKJV) "On the next day we who were Paul's companions departed and came to Caesarea, and entered the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven, and stayed with him.
(Acts 21:9 NKJV) Now this man had four virgin daughters who prophesied."
.................................................................................................................................... (Acts 8:40).