1 And Saul agreed completely with killingtn The term ἀναίρεσις (anairesi") can refer to murder (BDAG 64 s.v.; 2 Macc 5:13; Josephus, Ant. 5.2.12 [5.165]). him.
Saul Begins to Persecute the Church
Now on that day a greattn Or “severe.” persecution begantn Grk “Now there happened on that day a great persecution.” It is less awkward to say in English “Now on that day a great persecution began.” against the church in Jerusalem,map For location see Map5-B1; Map6-F3; Map7-E2; Map8-F2; Map10-B3; JP1-F4; JP2-F4; JP3-F4; JP4-F4. and allsn All. Given that the Jerusalem church is still active after this and that the Hellenists are the focus of Acts 6-8, it is possible to argue that only the Hellenistic Christians were forced to scatter. except the apostles were forced to scatter throughout the regionstn Or “countryside.” of Judea and Samaria.
2 Sometn “Some” is not in the Greek text, but is implied. devout men buried Stephen and made loud lamentationsn Made loud lamentation. For someone who was stoned to death, lamentation was normally not allowed (m. Sanhedrin 6:6). The remark points to an unjust death. over him.tn Or “mourned greatly for him.”
3 But Saul was trying to destroytn Or “began to harm [the church] severely.” If the nuance of this verb is “destroy,” then the imperfect verb ἐλυμαίνετο (elumaineto) is best translated as a conative imperfect as in the translation above. If instead the verb is taken to mean “injure severely” (as L&N 20.24), it should be translated in context as an ingressive imperfect (“began to harm the church severely”). Either option does not significantly alter the overall meaning, since it is clear from the stated actions of Saul in the second half of the verse that he intended to destroy or ravage the church. the church; entering one house after another, he dragged offtn The participle σύρων (surwn) has been translated as an finite verb due to requirements of contemporary English style. both men and women and put them in prison.tn BDAG 762 s.v. παραδίδωμι 1.b has “εἰς φυλακήν put in prison Ac 8:3.”
Philip Preaches in Samaria
4 Now those who had been forced to scatter went around proclaiming the good news of the word.
5 Philip went down to the main city of Samariatn The word “main” is supplied in the translation to clarify that “Samaria” is not the name of the city (at least in NT times). See both BDAG 912 s.v. Σαμάρεια, and L&N 93.568.sn The main city of Samaria most likely refers to the principal city of Samaria, rebuilt by Herod the Great as Sebaste in honor of Augustus (J. Boehmer, “Studien zur Geographie Palästinas bes. im Neuen Testament,” ZNW 9 [1908]: 216-18; D. Gill and C. Gempf, eds., The Book of Acts in its Graeco-Roman Setting, 272). This is the best option if the article before “city” is taken as original. If the reading without the article is taken as original, then another city may be in view: Gitta, the hometown of Simon Magus according to Justin Martyr (cf. C. K. Barrett, Acts [ICC], 1:402-3; F. F. Bruce, Acts [NICNT], 165). and began proclaimingtn The imperfect ἐκήρυσσεν (ekhrussen) has been translated as an ingressive, since this is probably the first time such preaching took place. the Christtn Or “Messiah”; both “Christ” (Greek) and “Messiah” (Hebrew and Aramaic) mean “one who has been anointed.”sn See the note on Christ in 2:31. to them.
6 The crowds were paying attention with one mind to what Philip said,tn Grk “to what was being said by Philip,” a passive construction that has been changed to active voice in the translation. as they heard and saw the miraculous signstn Here the following context indicates the miraculous nature of the signs mentioned. This term appears 13 times in Acts, but only twice more after Acts 8:13 (i.e., 14:3; 15:12). he was performing.
7 For unclean spirits,sn The expression unclean spirits refers to evil supernatural spirits which were ceremonially unclean, and which caused the persons possessed by them to be ceremonially unclean. crying with loud shrieks, were coming out of many who were possessed,tn Grk “For [in the case of] many who had unclean spirits, they were coming out, crying in a loud voice.” and many paralyzed and lame people were healed.
8 So there wastn Grk “and there came about,” but this is somewhat awkward in English. great joysn Great joy. The reason for eschatological joy was that such events pointed to God’s decisive deliverance (Luke 7:22-23). Note how the acts of healing extend beyond the Twelve here. in that city.
9 Now in that city was a man named Simon, who had been practicing magictn On the idiom προϋπῆρχεν μαγεύων (prouphrcen mageuwn) meaning “had been practicing magic” see BDAG 889 s.v. προϋπάρχω. and amazing the people of Samaria, claiming to be someone great.
10 All the people,tn Grk “all of them”; the referent (the people) has been specified in the translation for clarity. from the least to the greatest, paid close attention to him, saying, “This man is the power of God that is called ‘Great.’”tn Or “This man is what is called the Great Power of God.” The translation “what is called the Great Power of God” is given by BDAG 263 s.v. δύναμις 5, but the repetition of the article before καλουμένη μεγάλη (kaloumenh megalh) suggests the translation “the power of God that is called ‘Great.’”
11 And they paid close attention to him because he had amazed them for a long time with his magic.
12 But when they believed Philip as he was proclaiming the good news about the kingdom of Godsn The kingdom of God is also what Jesus preached: Acts 1:3. The term reappears in 14:22; 19:8; 28:23, 31. and the name of Jesus Christ,tn Or “Messiah”; both “Christ” (Greek) and “Messiah” (Hebrew and Aramaic) mean “one who has been anointed.” they began to be baptized,tn The imperfect verb ἐβαπτίζοντο (ebaptizonto) has been translated as an ingressive imperfect. both men and women.
13 Even Simon himself believed, and after he was baptized, he stayed close totn Or “he kept close company with.” Philip constantly, and when he saw the signs and great miracles that were occurring, he was amazed.sn He was amazed. Now Simon, the one who amazed others, is himself amazed, showing the superiority of Philip’s connection to God. Christ is better than anything the culture has to offer.
14 Now when the apostles in Jerusalemmap For location see Map5-B1; Map6-F3; Map7-E2; Map8-F2; Map10-B3; JP1-F4; JP2-F4; JP3-F4; JP4-F4. heard that Samaria had accepted the wordtn Or “message.” of God, they sentsn They sent. The Jerusalem church with the apostles was overseeing the expansion of the church, as the distribution of the Spirit indicates in vv. 15-17. Peter and John to them.
15 These twotn Grk “who.” The relative pronoun was replaced by the phrase “these two” and a new sentence was begun in the translation at this point to improve the English style. went down and prayed for them so that they would receive the Holy Spirit.
16 (For the Spirittn Grk “For he”; the referent (the Spirit) has been specified in the translation for clarity. had not yet come upontn Or “fallen on.” any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)sn This is a parenthetical note by the author.
17 Then Peter and John placed their hands on the Samaritans,tn Grk “on them”; the referent (the Samaritans) has been specified in the translation for clarity. and they received the Holy Spirit.sn They received the Holy Spirit. It is likely this special distribution of the Spirit took place because a key ethnic boundary was being crossed. Here are some of “those far off” of Acts 2:38-40.
18 Now Simon, when he saw that the Spirittc Most witnesses (Ì45,74 A* C D E Ψ 33 1739 Ï latt sy bo) here read “the Holy Spirit” (τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον, to pneuma to {agion), while a few key mss have simply τὸ πνεῦμα (א Ac B sa mae). Although it is possible that some scribes omitted τὸ ἅγιον because of its perceived superfluity (note vv. 15, 17, 19), it is far more likely that others added the adjective out of pious motives. was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, offered them money,
19 saying, “Give me this powertn Or “ability”; Grk “authority.” too, so that everyone I place my hands on may receive the Holy Spirit.”
20 But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you,tn Grk “May your silver together with you be sent into destruction.” This is a strong curse. The gifts of God are sovereignly bestowed and cannot be purchased. because you thought you could acquiretn Or “obtain.” God’s gift with money!
21 You have no share or parttn The translation “share or part” is given by L&N 63.13. in this mattertn Since the semantic range for λόγος (logos) is so broad, a number of different translations could be given for the prepositional phrase here. Something along the lines of “in this thing” would work well, but is too colloquial for the present translation. because your heart is not right before God!
22 Therefore repent of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lordtn Or “and implore the Lord.” that he may perhaps forgive you for the intent of your heart.tn Grk “that if possible the intent of your heart may be forgiven you.” The passive construction is somewhat awkward in contemporary English and has thus been converted to an active construction in the translation.
23 For I see that you are bitterly envioustn Grk “in the gall of bitterness,” an idiom meaning to be particularly envious or resentful of someone. In this case Simon was jealous of the apostles’ power to bestow the Holy Spirit by the laying on of hands, and wanted that power for himself. The literal phrase does not convey this to the modern reader, and in fact some modern translations have simply rendered the phrase as involving bitterness, which misses the point of the envy on Simon’s part. See L&N 88.166. The OT images come from Deut 29:17-18 and Isa 58:6. and in bondage to sin.”
24 But Simon replied,tn Grk “Simon answered and said.”sn Given that Simon does not follow Peter’s call for repentance, many interpreters read this reply as flippant rather than sincere. But the exact nature of Simon’s reply is not entirely clear. “You pray to the Lord for me so that nothing of what you have said may happen totn Grk “may come upon.” me.”
25 So after Peter and Johntn Grk “after they”; the referents (Peter and John) have been specified in the translation for clarity. had solemnly testifiedtn The verb διαμαρτύρομαι (diamarturomai) can mean “warn,” and could be taken to refer specifically to the warning given to Simon in the preceding verses. However, a more general reference is more likely, referring to parting exhortations from Peter and John to the entire group of believers. and spoken the word of the Lord,sn The word of the Lord is a technical expression in OT literature, often referring to a divine prophetic utterance (e.g., Gen 15:1, Isa 1:10, Jonah 1:1). In the NT it occurs 15 times: 3 times as ῥῆμα τοῦ κυρίου (rJhma tou kuriou; Luke 22:61, Acts 11:16, 1 Pet 1:25) and 12 times as λόγος τοῦ κυρίου (logo" tou kuriou; here and in Acts 13:44, 48, 49; 15:35, 36; 16:32; 19:10, 20; 1 Thess 1:8, 4:15; 2 Thess 3:1). As in the OT, this phrase focuses on the prophetic nature and divine origin of what has been said. they started back to Jerusalem, proclaimingtn Grk “they were returning to Jerusalem and were proclaiming.” The first imperfect is taken ingressively and the second is viewed iteratively (“proclaiming…as they went”). the good news to many Samaritan villagessn By proclaiming the good news to many Samaritan villages, the apostles now actively share in the broader ministry the Hellenists had started. as they went.tn “As they went” is not in the Greek text, but is implied by the imperfect tense (see tn above).
Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch
26 Then an angel of the Lordtn Or “the angel of the Lord.” See the note on the word “Lord” in 5:19. said to Philip,tn Grk “Lord spoke to Philip, saying.” The redundant participle λέγων (legwn) has not been translated. “Get up and go southtn Or “Get up and go about noon.” The phrase κατὰ μεσημβρίαν (kata meshmbrian) can be translated either “about noon” (L&N 67.74) or “toward the south” (L&N 82.4). Since the angel’s command appears to call for immediate action (“Get up”) and would not therefore need a time indicator, a directional reference (“toward the south”) is more likely here. on the road that goes down from Jerusalemmap For the location of Jerusalem see Map5-B1; Map6-F3; Map7-E2; Map8-F2; Map10-B3; JP1-F4; JP2-F4; JP3-F4; JP4-F4. to Gaza.” (This is a deserttn Or “wilderness.” road.)tn The words “This is a desert road” are probably best understood as a comment by the author of Acts, but it is possible they form part of the angel’s speech to Philip, in which case the verse would read: “Get up and go south on the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza – the desert road.”sn The concluding note about the road appears to be a parenthetical note by the author.
27 Sotn Grk “And,” but καί (kai) carries something of a resultative force in this context because what follows describes Philip’s response to the angel’s command. he got uptn Grk “So getting up he went.” The aorist participle ἀναστάς (anastas) has been translated as a finite verb due to requirements of contemporary English style. and went. Theretn Grk “And there.” Because of the difference between Greek style, which often begins sentences or clauses with “and,” and English style, which generally does not, καί (kai) has not been translated here. he mettn Grk “and behold.” This expression is used to portray Philip’s encounter with the Ethiopian in a vivid way. In the English translation this vividness is difficult to convey; it is necessary to supply the words “he met.” an Ethiopian eunuch,sn The term eunuch normally referred to a man who had been castrated, but this was not always the case (see Gen 39:1 LXX, where Potiphar is called a eunuch). Such castrated individuals were preferred as court officials in the East, although Judaism opposed the practice. The Mosaic law excluded eunuchs from Israel (Deut 23:1), although God certainly accepted them (Isa 56:3-5; Wis 3:14). This individual was a high official, since he was said to be in charge of all her treasury. He may or may not have been a eunuch physically. He appears to be the first fully Gentile convert to Christianity, since the Samaritans mentioned previously (Acts 8:4-25) were regarded as half-breeds. a court official of Candace,tn Or “the Candace” (the title of the queen of the Ethiopians). The term Κανδάκης (Kandakh") is much more likely a title rather than a proper name (like Pharaoh, which is a title); see L&N 37.77. A few, however, still take the word to be the name of the queen (L&N 93.209). BDAG 507 s.v. Κανδάκη, treats the term as a title and lists classical usage by Strabo (Geography 17.1.54) and others.sn Candace was the title of the queen of the Ethiopians. Ethiopia refers to the kingdom of Nubia in the northern Sudan, whose capital was Meroe (not to be confused with Abyssinia, which was later called Ethiopia and converted to Christianity in the 4th century a.d.). Classical writers refer to several queens of Meroe in the 1st century b.c. and 1st century a.d. who had the title Candace (Kandake). The Candace referred to here was probably Amantitere, who ruled a.d. 25-41. queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasury. Hetn Grk “who was over all her treasury, who.” The two consecutive relative clauses make for awkward English style, so the second was begun as a new sentence with the pronoun “he” supplied in place of the Greek relative pronoun to make a complete sentence in English. had come to Jerusalem to worship,sn Since this man had come to Jerusalem to worship, he may have been a proselyte to Judaism. This event is a precursor to Acts 10.
28 and was returning home, sittingtn Grk “and was sitting.” Because of the difference between Greek style, which often begins sentences or clauses with “and,” and English style, which generally does not, καί (kai) has not been translated here. in his chariot, readingtn Grk “and was reading.” Because of the difference between Greek style, which often begins sentences or clauses with “and,” and English style, which generally does not, καί (kai) has not been translated here.sn The fact that this man was reading from a scroll (an expensive item in the first century) indicates his connection to a wealthy house. the prophet Isaiah.
29 Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and join this chariot.”
30 So Philip ran uptn The participle προσδραμών (prosdramwn) is regarded as attendant circumstance. to ittn The words “to it” are not in the Greek text but are implied. and heard the mantn Grk “heard him”; the referent (the man) has been specified in the translation for clarity. reading Isaiah the prophet. Hetn Grk “and he.” Because of the length of the Greek sentence, the conjunction καί (kai) has not been translated here. Instead a new English sentence is begun. asked him,tn Grk “he said”; but since what follows is a question, it is better English style to translate the introduction to the question “he asked him.” “Do you understand what you’re reading?”
31 The mantn Grk “He”; the referent (the man) has been specified in the translation for clarity. replied, “How in the world can I,tn Grk “How am I able, unless…” The translation is based on the force of the conjunction γάρ (gar) in this context. The translation “How in the world can I?” is given in BDAG 189 s.v. γάρ 1.f. unless someone guides me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.
32 Now the passage of scripture the mantn Grk “he”; the referent (the man) has been specified in the translation for clarity. was reading was this:
He was led like a sheep to slaughter,
and like a lamb before its shearer is silent,
so he didtn Grk “does.” The present tense here was translated as a past tense to maintain consistency with the first line of the quotation (“he was led like a sheep to slaughter”), which has an aorist passive verb normally translated as a past tense in English. not open his mouth.
33 In humiliationtc ‡ Most later mss (C E Ψ 33vid Ï sy) read “In his humiliation,” adding αὐτοῦ (autou, “his”) after ταπεινώσει (tapeinwsei, “humiliation”), while the earlier and better witnesses lack the pronoun (so Ì74 א A B 1739 pc lat). However, the LXX of Isa 53:8 also lacks the pronoun, supplying motivation for scribes to omit it here. At the same time, scribes would also be motivated to add the pronoun both for clarity’s sake (note the similar impulse that led to the addition of δέ [de] by many of the same mss at the beginning of the next line) and to give balance to the lines (the pronoun is indisputably used five other times in vv. 32-33 in quoting Isa 53). On balance, the shorter reading is preferred. justice was taken from him.tn Or “justice was denied him”; Grk “his justice was taken away.”
Who can describe his posterity?tn Or “family; or “origin.” The meaning of γενεά (genea) in the quotation is uncertain; BDAG 192 s.v. γενεά 4 suggests “family history.” sn The rhetorical question suggests the insensitivity of this generation for its act against God’s servant, who was slain unjustly as he was silent.
For his life was taken awaytn Grk “is taken away.” The present tense here was translated as a past tense to maintain consistency with the rest of the quotation. from the earth.sn A quotation from Isa 53:7-8.
34 Then the eunuch saidtn Grk “answered and said.” The redundant participle ἀποκριθείς (apokriqei") has not been translated. to Philip, “Please tell me,tn Grk “I beg you,” “I ask you.” who is the prophet saying this about – himself or someone else?”sn About himself, or about someone else? It is likely in 1st century Judaism this would have been understood as either Israel or Isaiah.
35 So Philip started speaking,tn Grk “opening his mouth” (a Semitic idiom for beginning to speak in a somewhat formal manner). The participle ἀνοίξας (anoixa") has been translated as a finite verb due to requirements of contemporary English style. and beginning with this scripturesn Beginning with this scripture. The discussion likely included many of the scriptures Acts has already noted for the reader in earlier speeches. At the least, readers of Acts would know what other scriptures might be meant. proclaimed the good news about Jesus to him.
36 Now as they were going along the road, they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “Look, there is water! What is to stop metn Or “What prevents me.” The rhetorical question means, “I should get baptized, right?” from being baptized?”tc A few later mss (E 36 323 453 945 1739 1891 pc) add, with minor variations, 8:37 “He said to him, ‘If you believe with your whole heart, you may.’ He replied, ‘I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.’” Verse 37 is lacking in {Ì45,74 א A B C 33 614 vg syp,h co}. It is clearly not a part of the original text of Acts. The variant is significant in showing how some in the early church viewed a confession of faith. The present translation follows NA27 in omitting the verse number, a procedure also followed by a number of other modern translations.
38 So he ordered the chariot to stop, and both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water,tn Grk “and they both went down into the water, both Philip and the eunuch.” Since this is somewhat redundant in English, it was simplified to “and both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water.” and Philip baptizedsn Philip baptized. Again, someone beyond the Twelve has ministered an ordinance of faith. him.
39 Now when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him any more, buttn BDAG 189 s.v. γάρ 2 indicates that under certain circumstances γάρ (gar) has the same meaning as δέ (de). went on his way rejoicing.sn Note that the response to the gospel is rejoicing (joy, cf. Acts 11:23; 13:48).
40 Philip, however, found himselftn Or “appeared.” at Azotus,sn Azotus was a city on the coast of southern Palestine, known as Ashdod in OT times. and as he passed through the area,tn The words “the area” are not in the Greek text but are implied. he proclaimed the good newstn Or “he preached the gospel.” to all the townstn Or “cities.” until he came to Caesarea.sn Caesarea was a city on the coast of Palestine south of Mount Carmel (not Caesarea Philippi). See the note on Caesarea in Acts 10:1.map For location see Map2-C1; Map4-B3; Map5-F2; Map7-A1; JP1-F4; JP2-F4; JP3-F4; JP4-F4.