Acts 8:25
And they, when they had testified and preached the word of the Lord, returned to Jerusalem, and preached the gospel in many villages of the Samaritans.
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(25) And they, when they had testified . . .—The statement involves a stay of some duration, long enough to found and organise a community of disciples. And this was followed, not by an immediate return to Jerusalem, but, as the Greek tense shows, by one with many halts, at each of which the glad tidings of “the word of the Lord” were proclaimed, and a Church founded. Did the Apostles enter on this journey into the village on which one of them had sought to call down fire from heaven (Luke 9:54)? Now, at least, he had learnt to know what manner of Spirit claimed him as his own.

The curtain falls at the close of this drama on the Christians of Samaria, and we know but little of their after history. The one glimpse of them which we get is, however, of very special interest. When Paul and Barnabas after their first missionary journey went up to Jerusalem, they passed “through Phenico and Samaria” (Acts 15:3). St. Paul also had conquered the antagonism that divided the Jew, and, above all, the Pharisee, from the Samaritan. The Samaritans heard with joy of that conversion of the Gentiles which showed that old barriers and walls of partition were broken down. Many, we may believe, would elect to take their stand on the ground of the freedom of the gospel rather than on any claim to Jewish descent or the observance of the Jewish Law. Others, however, we know, adhered to that Law with a rigorous tenacity, and left their creed and ritual, their Gerizim worship and their sacred Books, as an inheritance to be handed down from century to century, even to the present day. The whole nation suffered severely in the wars with Rome under Vespasian, and Sychem was taken and destroyed, a new city being built by the emperor on the ruins—a Roman city with Temples dedicated to Roman gods—to which, as perpetuating the name of his house and lineage, he gave the name of Flavia Neapolis (= New Town), which survives in the modern Nablous. In the early history of the Church there attaches to that city the interest of having been the birthplace of the martyr Justin, and of the heretic Dositheus. In one of the Simon legends, as stated above, the latter appears as the instructor of the sorcerer, but this is probably a distortion of his real history.

Acts 8:25. And when they had testified, and preached the word of the Lord — Had borne a solemn testimony by word and deed to the truth of the gospel, and confirmed what Philip had preached; they returned to Jerusalem — To the other ten apostles, having executed their commission, and performed the errand on which they were sent; and preached the gospel — As they went along; in many villages of the Samaritans — Which lay in their way, doubtless confirming their doctrine by miracles, though none are here recorded.

8:14-25 The Holy Ghost was as yet fallen upon none of these coverts, in the extraordinary powers conveyed by the descent of the Spirit upon the day of Pentecost. We may take encouragement from this example, in praying to God to give the renewing graces of the Holy Ghost to all for whose spiritual welfare we are concerned; for that includes all blessings. No man can give the Holy Spirit by the laying on of his hands; but we should use our best endeavours to instruct those for whom we pray. Simon Magus was ambitious to have the honour of an apostle, but cared not at all to have the spirit and disposition of a Christian. He was more desirous to gain honour to himself, than to do good to others. Peter shows him his crime. He esteemed the wealth of this world, as if it would answer for things relating to the other life, and would purchase the pardon of sin, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and eternal life. This was such a condemning error as could by no means consist with a state of grace. Our hearts are what they are in the sight of God, who cannot be deceived. And if they are not right in his sight, our religion is vain, and will stand us in no stead. A proud and covetous heart cannot be right with God. It is possible for a man to continue under the power of sin, yet to put on a form of godliness. When tempted with money to do evil, see what a perishing thing money is, and scorn it. Think not that Christianity is a trade to live by in this world. There is much wickedness in the thought of the heart, its false notions, and corrupt affections, and wicked projects, which must be repented of, or we are undone. But it shall be forgiven, upon our repentance. The doubt here is of the sincerity of Simon's repentance, not of his pardon, if his repentance was sincere. Grant us, Lord, another sort of faith than that which made Simon wonder only, and did not sanctify his heart. May we abhor all thoughts of making religion serve the purposes of pride or ambition. And keep us from that subtle poison of spiritual pride, which seeks glory to itself even from humility. May we seek only the honour which cometh from God.In many villages ... - They went at first directly to the "city" of Samaria. On their return to Jerusalem they travelled more at leisure, and preached in the villages also - a good example for the ministers of the gospel, and for all Christians, when traveling from place to place. The reason why they returned to Jerusalem, and made that their permanent abode, might have been, that it was important to bear witness to the resurrection of Christ in the very city where he had been crucified, and where his resurrection had occurred. If the doctrine was established "there," it would be more easy to establish it elsewhere. 25. and they—Peter and John.

when they had … preached—in the city where Philip's labors had been so richly blessed.

returned … and preached … in many villages of the Samaritans—embracing the opportunity of their journey back to Jerusalem to fulfil their Lord's commission to the whole region of Samaria (Ac 1:8).

Not only in the chief city, but in the smallest villages, these great apostles spend their pains; for so it was promised unto them that they should receive power to do, Acts 1:8.

And they, when they had testified, &c. That is, Simeon (or Peter) and John, as the Syriac version expresses it; when they had bore their testimony to, and by it confirmed the Gospel as preached by Philip, and had established the young converts in it, and against the errors of Simon Magus:

and preached the word of the Lord; or of "God", as read the Alexandrian copy, and the Syriac, Arabic, and Ethiopic versions; when they had preached the Gospel in the city of Samaria, the same as Philip had preached before; whereby it appeared, that there was an harmony and agreement between them:

returned to Jerusalem; to the rest of the apostles there, to give them an account, how they found things at Samaria; what they had done, and what they had met with: and upon their return, whilst on their journey, they stopped at several places, which lay in their way;

and preached the Gospel in many villages of the Samaritans; their first commission in Matthew 10:5 being now cancelled, and a new one given them to preach the Gospel to every creature; and being appointed witnesses for Christ in Samaria, as well as in Jerusalem and Judea; Acts 1:8.

And they, when they had testified and preached the word of the Lord, returned to Jerusalem, and preached the gospel in many villages of the Samaritans.
Acts 8:25-26. Τὸν λόγ. τ. κυρ.] The word which they spoke was not their word, but Christ’s, who caused the gospel to be announced by them as His ministers and interpreters. Comp. Acts 13:48 f., Acts 15:35 f, Acts 19:10; Acts 19:20. But the auctor principalis is God (Acts 10:36), hence the gospel is still more frequently called ὁ λόγος τοῦ Θεοῦ (Acts 4:29; Acts 4:31, Acts 6:2, and frequently).

πολλάς τε κώμαςεὐηγγελ.] namely, on their way back to Jerusalem.

εὐαγγελίζεσθαι, with the accusative of the person (Luke 3:18; Acts 14:21; Acts 16:10), is rare, and belongs to the later Greek. See Lobeck, ad Phryn. p. 267 f.

ἄγγελος δὲ κυρίου] is neither to be rationalized with Eichhorn to the effect, that what is meant is the sudden and involuntary rise of an internal impulse not to be set aside; nor with Olshausen to the effect, that what is designated is not a being appearing individually, but a spiritual power, by which a spiritual communication was made to Philip (the language is, in fact, not figurative, as in John 1:51, but purely historical). On the contrary, Luke narrates an actual angelic appearance, that spoke literally to Philip. This appearance must, in respect of its form, be left undefined, as a vision in a dream (Eckermann, Heinrichs, Kuinoel) is not indicated in the text, not even by ἀνάστηθι, which rather (raise thyself) belongs to the pictorial representation; comp. on Acts 5:17. Philip received this angelic intimation in Samaria (in opposition to Zeller, who makes him to have returned with the apostles to Jerusalem), while the two apostles were on their way back to Jerusalem.

Γάζα, עַזָּה, i.e. the strong (Genesis 10:19; Joshua 15:45; Jdg 3:3; Jdg 16:1; 1Ma 11:16), a strongly fortified Philistine city, situated on the Mediterranean, on the southern border of Canaan. See Stark, Gaza u. d. philistäische Küste, Jena 1852; Ritter, Erdk. XVI. l, p. 45 ff.; Arnold in Herzog’s Encykl. IV. p. 671 ff. It was conquered (Plut. Alex. 25; Curt. iv. 6) and destroyed (Strabo, xvi. 2. 30, p. 759) by Alexander the Great,—a fate which, after many vicissitudes, befell it afresh under the Jewish King Alexander Jannaeus, in B.C. 96 (Joseph. Antt. xiii. 13. 3, Bell. i. 4. 2). Rebuilt as New Gaza farther to the south by the Proconsul Gabinius, B.C. 58, the city was incorporated with the province of Syria. Its renewed, though not total destruction by the Jews occurred not long before the siege of Jerusalem (Joseph. Bell. Jud. ii. 18. 1). It is now the open town Ghuzzeh.

αὕτη ἐστὶν ἔρημος] applies to the way (von Raumer, Robinson, Winer, Buttmann, Ewald, Baumgarten, Lange, and older commentators, as Castalio, Beza, Bengel, and others). As several roads led from Jerusalem to Gaza (and still lead, see Robinson, II. p. 748), the angel specifies the road, which he means, more exactly by the statement: this way is desolate, i.e. it is a desert way, leading through solitary and little cultivated districts. Comp. 2 Samuel 2:24, LXX. Such a road still exists; see Robinson, l.c. The object of this more precise specification can according to the text only be this, that Philip should take no other road than that on which he would not miss, but would really encounter, the Ethiopian. The angel wished to direct him right surely. Other designs are imported without any ground in the text, as, e.g., that he wished to raise him above all fear of the Jews (Chrysostom, Oecumenius), or to describe the locality as suitable for undisturbed evangelical operations (Baumgarten), and for deeper conversation (Ewald, Jahrb. V. p. 227), or even to indicate that the road must now be spiritually prepared and constructed (Lange). ἕρημος stands without the article, because it is conceived altogether qualitatively. If αὕτη is to be referred to Gaza (so Stark, l.c. p. 510 ff., following Erasmus, Calvin, Grotius, and others), and the words likewise to be ascribed to the angel, we should have to take ἕρημος as destroyed, and to understand these words of the angel as an indication that he meant not the rebuilt New Gaza, but the old Gaza lying in ruins. But this would be opposed, not indeed to historical correctness (see Stark), but yet to the connection, for the event afterwards related happened on the way, and this way was to be specified. Others consider the words as a gloss of Luke (de Wette, Wieseler, and others, following older interpreters). But if αὕτη is to be referred to the way, it is difficult to see what Luke means by that remark. If it is to indicate that the way is not, or no longer, passable, this has no perceptible reference to the event which is related. But if, as Wieseler, p. 401, thinks, it is meant to point to the fact that the Ethiopian on this solitary way could read without being disturbed, and aloud, no reader could possibly guess this, and at any rate Luke would not have made the remark till Acts 8:28. If, on the other hand, we refer αὕτη in this supposed remark of Luke to the city, we can only assume, with Hug and Lekebusch, p. 419 f., that Luke has meant its destruction, which took place in the Jewish war (Joseph. Bell. ii. 18. 1). But even thus the notice would have no definite object in relation to the narrative, which is concerned not with the city, but with the way as the scene of the event. Hug and Lekebusch indeed suppose that the recent occurrence of the destruction induced Luke to notice it here on the mention of Gaza; but it is against this view in its turn, that Luke did not write till a considerable time after the destruction of Jerusalem (see Introduction, sec. 3). Reland, Wolf, Krebs, inappropriately interpret ἔρημος as unfortified, which the context must have suggested (as in the passages in Sturz, Lex. Xen. II. p. 359), and which would yield a very meaningless remark. Wassenberg, Heinrichs, and Kuinoel take refuge in the hypothesis of an interpolated gloss.

Acts 8:25. οἱ μὲν οὖν: the μὲν οὖν and δέ in Acts 8:26 may connect the return of the party to Jerusalem and the following instructions to Philip for his journey, and so enable us to gather for a certainty that Philip returned to Jerusalem with the Apostles, and received there his further directions from the Lord; see Rendall’s Appendix on μὲν οὖν, Acts, p. 164, but cf. on the other hand, Belser, Beiträge, pp. 51, 52. On the frequent and characteristic use of μὲν οὖν in Luke, see above on Acts 1:6, etc.—ὑπέστρεψαν: if we read the imperfect, we have the two verbs in the verse in the same tense, and the sense would be that the Apostles did not return at once to Jerusalem, but started on their return (imperfect), and preached to the Samaritan villages on the way (as Belser also allows)—the τε closely unites the two verbs (Weiss). The verb is characteristic of St. Luke: in his Gospel twenty-one or twenty-two times; in Acts, eleven or twelve times; in the other Evangelists, only once, Mark 15:40, and this doubtful; only three times in rest of N.T. (Lekebusch, Friedrich).

25. And they [They therefore], when they had testified and preached [spoken] the word of the Lord, returned to [towards] Jerusalem, and preached the gospel in [to] many villages of the Samaritans] Peter and John had not been sent forth to make an extended missionary journey, but only to confirm the work of the Evangelists who had first preached and baptized in Samaria, by laying their hands upon the converts. This done they returned to their place in Jerusalem, but by the way preached in such villages of Samaria as lay in their road.

Acts 8:25. Διαμαρτυράμενοι, having testified) having fulfilled their testimony, which was circulated abroad among all.—εἰς Ἰερουσαλὴμ, towards Jerusalem) for what they did on the way to it is subjoined. As yet it was the province of the apostles for the most part to remain at Jerusalem.—πολλὰς, in many) Divine operations easily succeed: human counsels, only with anxiety.

Verse 25. - They therefore for and they, A.V. ; spoken for preached, A.V.; to many for in many, A.V. Acts 8:25
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