And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understand you what you read?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Understandest thou what thou readest?—The Greek play upon the word for understand (Ginôskein) and read (Anaginôskein) cannot well be produced in English, but is worth noting as parallel to a like play in the well-known saying of the Emperor Julian (Anegnôn; egnôn; kategnôn)—“I read; I understood; I condemned.”
(1) To do our duty at once, without hesitation or debate.
(2) we shall often be disappointed in regard to subjects of this kind. We shall find candid, humble, Christian conversation far more acceptable to strangers, to the rich, and to the great, than we commonly suppose. If, as in this case, they are "alone"; if we approach them kindly; if we do not rudely and harshly address them, we shall find most people willing to talk on the subject of religion. I have conversed with some hundreds of persons on the subject of religion, and do not now recollect but two instances in which I was rudely treated, and in which it was not easy to gain a respectful and kind attention to Christian conversation.
And heard him read - He was reading "loud" - sometimes the best way of impressing truth on the mind in our private reading the Scriptures.
And said ... - This question, there might have been reason to fear, would not be kindly received. But the eunuch's mind was in such a state that he took no offence from such an inquiry, though made by a footman and a stranger. He doubtless recognized him as a brother Jew. It is an important question to ask ourselves when we read the Sacred Scriptures.Philip ran thither to him; hastening to obey the Divine command, and coveting to gain a soul.
Heard him read the prophet Esaias, with a loud voice, it is like, to instruct some of his attendants.
Understandest thou what thou readest? Without understanding our reading is but as the tinkling of a cymbal.
and heard him read the prophet Esaias; that is, "the Book of Isaiah the Prophet"; as before; and so the Ethiopic and Arabic versions read here, as there: he read it out, with a clear and distinct voice, so that Philip could hear him; and this he did, partly through reverence to the word of God, and partly to fix his attention to it the more, that he might the better understand and remember it, and also for delight and pleasure: it is very likely, that it was the Book of Isaiah in the Hebrew tongue in which he was reading, and which language he might understand, though he might be at a loss about the sense of the prophet:
and said, understandest thou what thou readest? meaning not the language, but the sense; for overhearing him, he perceived it was a prophecy in Isaiah he was reading; which was not so easy to be understood as laws and precepts are, which command this, and forbid that; whereas prophecies were more abstruse, and regarded things to come.And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest?
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Acts 8:30. προσδραμὼν δὲ: rightly taken to indicate the eagerness with which Philip obeyed.—Αρά γε—the γε strengthens the ἆρα, dost thou really understand? Numbers igitur? ἆρα without γε is only found elsewhere in Luke 18:8, and in Galatians 2:17 (W.H, and also Lightfoot, Galatians, l.c.), see Blass, in loco, and Grammatik, p. 254. In LXX very rare, see Hatch and Redpath, sub v., and Viteau, Le Grec du N. T., p. 22 (1893).—γιν. ἃ ἀναγ.: for paronomasia, see Blass, Gram., p. 292, where other instances in N.T. are given, and also Wetstein, in loco. Julian’s well-known saying with reference to the Christian writings, and the famous retort, are quoted by Alford, Plumptre, Page, Meyer-Wendt, in loco.
 Westcott and Hort’s The New Testament in Greek: Critical Text and Notes.30. And Philip ran thither to him] Better, ran up. There is only the verb in the Greek.
Understandest thou, &c.] Philip’s question refers to the application of the words. Of their reference to Jesus the eunuch could of course know nothing, but he might have heard some of the Jewish expositions of the passage. There is a play on the words in the original which it is impossible to reproduce in a translation.Acts 8:30. Ἤκουσεν, heard) The text was known well to Philip.—ἆρά γε, dost thou at all) A marvellous address to make to one unknown, and him too a great man. In holy conversation we ought, without circumlocution, to come at once to the truth itself. Philip did not make a beginning, as is usually done, with such topics as these—the weather, the news of the day, etc.Verse 30. - Ran for ran thither, A.V.; reading-Isaiah the prophet for read the prophet Esaias, A.V. and T.R. Heard him. He was reading aloud. In Hebrew, the word for "to read" (קָרָא) means "to call," "to proclaim aloud." Hence the keri, that which is read, as distinguished from the cethib, that which is written. Reading Isaiah the prophet. The same providence which sent Philip to meet him in the desert doubtless directed his reading to the fifty-third chapter of the great evangelical prophet.
The play upon the words cannot be translated. The interrogative particles which begin the question indicate a doubt on Philip's part.
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