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1: At that time there was great persecution against the
Church - Their adversaries having tasted blood, were the more
eager. And they were all dispersed - Not all the Church: if so,
who would have remained for the apostles to teach, or Saul to
persecute? But all the teachers except the apostles, who,
though in the most danger, stayed with the flock.
2: Devout men - Who feared God more than persecution. And yet
were they not of little faith? Else they would not have made
so great lamentation.
3: Saul made havoc of the Church - Like some furious beast of prey.
So the Greek word properly signifies. Men and women - Regarding
neither age nor sex.
4: Therefore they that were dispersed went every where - These
very words are reassumed, after as it were a long parenthesis,(Ac 11:19) and the thread of the story continued.
5: Stephen - Being taken away, Philip, his next colleague, (not
the apostle,) rises in his place.
9: A certain man - using magic - So there was such a thing as
witchcraft once! In Asia at least, if not in Europe or America.
12: But when they believed - What Philip preached, then they saw
and felt the real power of God, and submitted thereto.
13: And Simon believed - That is, was convinced of the truth.
14: And the apostles hearing that Samaria - The inhabitants of
that country, had received the word of God - By faith, sent Peter
and John - He that sends must be either superior, or at least
equal, to him that is sent. It follows that the college of
the apostles was equal if not superior to Peter.
15: The Holy Ghost - In his miraculous gifts? Or his sanctifying
graces? Probably in both.
18: Simon offered them money - And hence the procuring any
ministerial function, or ecclesiastical benefice by money,
is termed Simony.
21: Thou hast neither part - By purchase, nor lot - Given gratis,
in this matter - This gift of God. For thy heart is not right
before God - Probably St. Peter discerned this long before he had
declared it; although it does not appear that God gave to any
of the apostles a universal power of discerning the hearts of
all they conversed with; any more than a universal power of
healing all the sick they came near. This we are sure St. Paul
had not; though he was not inferior to the chief of the apostles.
Otherwise he would not have suffered the illness of Epaphroditus
to have brought him so near to death, (Php 2:25-27); nor have
left so useful a fellow labourer as Trophimus sick at Miletus,(2Ti 4:20).
22: Repent - if perhaps the thought of thy heart may be forgiven
thee - Without all doubt if he had repented, he would have been
forgiven. The doubt was, whether he would repent. Thou art in
the gall of bitterness - In the highest degree of wickedness,
which is bitterness, that is, misery to the soul; and in the bond
of iniquity - Fast bound therewith.
26: The way which is desert - There were two ways from Jerusalem
to Gaza, one desert, the other through a more populous country.
27: An eunuch - Chief officers were anciently called eunuchs,
though not always literally such; because such used to be
chief ministers in the eastern courts. Candace, queen of
the Ethiopians - So all the queens of Ethiopia were called.
28: Sitting in his chariot, he read the Prophet Isaiah - God
meeteth those that remember him in his ways. It is good to
read, hear, seek information even in a journey. Why should
we not redeem all our time?
30: And Philip running to him, said, Understandest thou what
thou readest? - He did not begin about the weather, news, or the
like. In speaking for God, we may frequently come to the point
at once, without circumlocution.
31: He desired Philip to come up and sit with him - Such was his
modesty, and thirst after instruction.
32: The portion of Scripture - By reading that very chapter, the
fifty - third of Isaiah, many Jews, yea, and atheists, have been
converted. Some of them history records. God knoweth them all.(Isa 53:7)
33: In his humiliation his judgment was taken away - That is,
when he was a man, he had no justice shown him. To take away a
person's judgment, is a proverbial phrase for oppressing him.
And who shall declare, or count his generation - That is, who can
number his seed,(Isa 53:10); which he hath purchased by laying down his life?
36: And as they went on the way they came to a certain water
- Thus, even the circumstances of the journey were under the
direction of God. The kingdom of God suits itself to external
circumstances, without any violence, as air yields to all bodies,
and yet pervades all. What hindereth me to be baptized? - Probably
he had been circumcised: otherwise Cornelius would not have been
the first fruits of the Gentiles.
38: And they both went down - Out of the chariot. It does not
follow that he was baptized by immersion. The text neither
affirms nor intimates any thing concerning it.
39: The Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip - Carried him away
with a miraculous swiftness, without any action or labour of
his own. This had befallen several of the prophets.
40: But Philip was found at Azotus - Probably none saw him, from
his leaving the eunuch, till he was there.