Acts 8:36
And as they went on their way, they came to a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what does hinder me to be baptized?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(36) They came unto a certain water.—Men have naturally endeavoured to identify the locality. In the time of Jerome, probably in that of Eusebius (de loc.), it was fixed at Bethsura, the Bethzur of 2Chronicles 11:7), about twenty miles from Jerusalem, and two from Hebron. A fountain, now known as Ain-Edh-Dhirweh rises near the town, which retains the old name in the slightly altered form of Beit-Sur. On the other hand, Robinson is inclined to find the spring in the Wady-el-Hasey, between Eleutheropolis and Gaza, not far from the old sites of Lachish and Eglon. This agrees better with the mention of Gaza and with the epithet “desert” as attached to the “way.”

Acts 8:36-37. And as they went on their way — Discoursing together of the person and sufferings of Christ, and of the method of salvation by him; they came to a certain water — For even the circumstances of the journey were under the direction of God; and the eunuch, having learned what was the rite of initiation which the great Prophet and Sovereign of the church had appointed, and being willing to embrace the first opportunity that Providence offered of making a surrender of himself to Christ, and of being received into the number of his people; said, Here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? — Why should I not, from this hour, become one of the Christian community? Probably he had been circumcised; otherwise Cornelius would not have been the first-fruits of the Gentiles. Observe, reader, in the solemn dedicating of ourselves to God, it is good to make haste, and not delay, for the present time is the best time. Thus the psalmist, I made haste and delayed not to keep thy commandments, Psalm 119:60; and thus the eunuch here: he feared lest the good affections now working in him should abate; and therefore was desirous immediately to bind his soul with the baptismal bonds unto the Lord, that he might bring the matter to a good issue. And Philip said, If thou believest with all thy heart, thou mayest — That is, if thou believest this doctrine which I have preached to thee concerning Jesus; if thou receivest the record God has given concerning him, and set to thy seal that it is true; if thou not only assentest to the gospel truths in thy understanding, but embracest gospel blessings in thy affections, and consentest in thy will to obey the gospel precepts; if thou indeed believest with thy heart unto righteousness, thou art by that faith united to Christ, and mayest, by baptism, be joined to his church. And he answered, I believe that Jesus Christ — Whom thou hast now been preaching to me; is the Son of God — And the promised Messiah, who was to be sent into the world for the salvation of lost sinners. He was before a worshipper of the true God, so that all he had now to do, in order to be a true Christian, was thus to receive Christ Jesus the Lord. In many ancient copies and versions this verse is omitted; (see Dr. Mill on the place.) “Nevertheless,” says Beza,

“God forbid I should think it ought to be expunged, since it contains such a confession of faith as in the apostolic times was required of the adult, in order to their being admitted to baptism.” Allowing it to be genuine, it fully proves that Philip had opened to the eunuch the doctrine of Christ’s divinity; and indeed, if he had not done it, he must have given him a very imperfect account of the gospel.8:26-40 Philip was directed to go to a desert. Sometimes God opens a door of opportunity to his ministers in very unlikely places. We should study to do good to those we come into company with by travelling. We should not be so shy of all strangers as some affect to be. As to those of whom we know nothing else, we know this, that they have souls. It is wisdom for men of business to redeem time for holy duties; to fill up every minute with something which will turn to a good account. In reading the word of God, we should often pause, to inquire of whom and of what the sacred writers spake; but especially our thoughts should be employed about the Redeemer. The Ethiopian was convinced by the teaching of the Holy Spirit, of the exact fulfilment of the Scripture, was made to understand the nature of the Messiah's kingdom and salvation, and desired to be numbered among the disciples of Christ. Those who seek the truth, and employ their time in searching the Scriptures, will be sure to reap advantages. The avowal of the Ethiopian must be understood as expressing simple reliance on Christ for salvation, and unreserved devotion to Him. Let us not be satisfied till we get faith, as the Ethiopian did, by diligent study of the Holy Scriptures, and the teaching of the Spirit of God; let us not be satisfied till we get it fixed as a principle in our hearts. As soon as he was baptized, the Spirit of God took Philip from him, so that he saw him no more; but this tended to confirm his faith. When the inquirer after salvation becomes acquainted with Jesus and his gospel, he will go on his way rejoicing, and will fill up his station in society, and discharge his duties, from other motives, and in another manner than heretofore. Though baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, with water, it is not enough without the baptism of the Holy Ghost. Lord, grant this to every one of us; then shall we go on our way rejoicing.As they went on their way - In their journey.

A certain water - The expression used here does not determine whether this was a river, a brook, or a standing pool. And there are no circumstances to determine that. It is well known, however, that there is no large river or very considerable stream in this vicinity. All that is intimated is that there was water enough to perform the rite of baptism. Grotius says they came "to a fountain which was in the neighborhood of Bethsora, in the tribe of Juda, at the twentieth milestone from Aelia (Jerusalem) to Hebron." This is, however, a tradition taken from Eusebius. The place is still shown (Pococke).

What doth hinder me ... - This shows that he had been instructed by Philip on the nature and design of baptism. It evinces also a purpose at once to give himself to Christ, to profess his name, and to be dedicated to his service.

To be baptized - On the meaning of the word "baptize" βαπτίζω baptizō, see all the notes on Matthew 3:6, Matthew 3:16.

36. See, here is water—more simply, "Behold water!" as if already his mind filled with light and his soul set free, he was eagerly looking out for the first water in which he might seal his reception of the truth and be enrolled among the visible disciples of the Lord Jesus.

what doth hinder me to be baptized?—Philip had probably told him that this was the ordained sign and seal of discipleship, but the eunuch's question was likely the first proposal of its application in this case. (Ac 8:37 is wanting in the principal manuscripts and most venerable versions of the New Testament. It seems to have been added from the formularies for baptism which came into current use).

A certain water; this water is supposed to be a fountain in a town called Bethsora, or a river called Eleutherus, which in that road must needs be passed over; it being otherwise very dry, and water very scarce there.

What doth hinder me to be baptized? Although it was not expressly mentioned, Philip had informed this eunuch concerning baptism, its nature and use, which made him express such desire after it; which else he had not done. And as they went on their way,.... In the road from Jerusalem to Gaza; Philip preaching, and the eunuch hearing, and conversing in a religious and spiritual way together; and Beza says in one exemplar it is added, "conferring one with another"; about the person and office of Christ, the doctrines of the Gospel, and the ordinances of it; as appears by what follows, both by the eunuch's request to be admitted to baptism, and his confession of faith:

they came unto a certain water; which some say was at Bethhoron, in the tribe of Judah or Benjamin; and others think it was the river Eleutherus; the former is more likely; concerning which Jerom (f) gives this account:

"Bethzur in the tribe of Judah, or Benjamin, and now called Bethhoron, is a village as we go from Aella (or Jerusalem) to Hebron, twenty miles from it; near which is a fountain, springing up at the bottom of a mountain, and is swallowed up in the same ground in which it is produced; and the Acts of the Apostles relate, that the eunuch of queen Candace was baptized here by Philip.''

This place was about two miles from Hebron; since that, according to the same writer (g), was twenty two miles from Jerusalem. Borchardus (h) seems to place it further off from Hebron:

"from Hebron are three "leucas", or six miles, northward, declining a little to the west, to Nehel Escol, that is, "the brook of the cluster", from whence the spies carried the cluster of grapes; to the left of this valley, for the space of a mile, or half a leuca, runs a river, in which Philip baptized the, eunuch of queen Candace, not far from Sicelech.''

And, according to Jerom (i), Escol lay in the way from Bethzur to Hebron. This account of the historian sets aside that weak piece of criticism on

Ac# 8:38 used by some persons; as if when Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, no more is meant, than that they went to the water side, or descended to the bank and brink of the river; seeing, here it is said, they came to a certain place of water; they came to the river itself, or the river side, and after this went down into it.

And the eunuch said, see here is water, what doth hinder me to be baptized? This question shows, that he had some knowledge of the ordinance of baptism, which he had received from the ministry and conversation of Philip; and that he had some desire after it, as regenerate persons have, after divine things, after Christ, his word, and ordinances; and that he was willing to take the first opportunity of submitting to it, but was jealous lest he should not be qualified for it; and therefore modestly proposes the affair to Philip, and desires to be examined and judged by him: and it also suggests, that there are some things which might be a just bar to this ordinance, as want of grace, and a disorderly life and conversation, which were the hindrances to the Pharisees and Sadducees, who came to John's baptism; and these are sufficient ones, even though persons may be born in a Christian land, and of believing parents, and have had a good education; yea, though they may have much notional light and speculative knowledge: but where the good work of grace is begun, and when a soul is spiritually enlightened, and has evangelical repentance for sin, and true faith in Christ, and sincere love to him, nothing should hinder: not any thing on his side; not a sense of his own unworthiness, which will never be otherwise, but rather increase; nor the corruptions of his heart and nature, which will always remain, as long as he is in the body; nor fears of falling away, since there cannot be more danger after baptism than before, and Christ is the same who is always able to keep from it; nor the reproaches of the world, which should be esteemed above riches; and more especially, since to be ashamed of Christ, his word, or ordinances, is highly resented by him; nor the opposition of relations and friends, who, though they are to be regarded and listened to in civil matters, yet should have no sway in religious ones to move from the cause of Christ; nor any difficulty in the ordinance itself, since it is but water baptism, and not a bloody one, such as Christ was baptized with, and some of his followers have been called unto: nor should anything hinder on the side of the administrator, when the above is the case; as not being circumcised, but Gentiles, as in the times of the apostles, Acts 10:47 so not the former life and conversation of the person, though it has been ever so wicked, as the instances of the crucifiers of Christ, of the jailor, of Saul the persecutor, and many of the Corinthians, show; nor the weakness of grace; the day of small things is not to be despised, nor a bruised reed to be broken, or smoking flax to be quenched: agreeably to this the Ethiopic version renders it, "who doth hinder", &c.

(f) De locis Hebraicis, fol. 89. 6. (g) Ib. fol. 87. E. (h) Decscript. Terrae Sanct. c. 9. (i) Epitaph. Paulae, fol, 59. 6. H.

And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Acts 8:36. ἰδοὺ ὕδωρ: “intus fides, foris aqua præsto erat” Bengel. According to Jerome (Epist., ciii.) and Eusebius (περὶ τόπων), the site of the baptism was placed at Bethsura (Bethzur, Joshua 15:28, 2 Chronicles 11:17, Nehemiah 3:16, etc.), about twenty miles from Jerusalem, and two from Hebron. Robinson (Biblical Researches, ii., 749) thinks that the place is more probably to be found on the road between Eleutheropolis (Beit—Jibrin) and Gaza, whilst Professor G. A. Smith (see above on Acts 8:26) considers that the fact that Philip was found immediately after at Azotus suggests that the meeting and baptism took place, not where tradition has placed them, among the hills of Judæa, but on the Philistine plain (Hist. Geog. of the Holy Land, pp. 186, 240). But as he finds it impossible to apply the epithet “desert” to any route from Jerusalem to Gaza, whether that by Beit—Jibrin, or the longer one by Hebron, he does not hesitate to apply the epithet to Gaza itself, and as the meeting (according to his view) took place in its neighbourhood, the town would naturally be mentioned. Gaza and Azotus, Acts 8:40, are the only two Philistine towns named in the N. T.—τί κωλύει με βαπτισθῆναι; “mark the eager desire, mark the exact knowledge … see again his modesty; he does not say Baptise me, neither does he hold his peace, but he utters somewhat betwixt strong desire and reverent fear” Chrys., Hom., xix.36. And as they went on their [the] way] We must suppose that Philip travelled for some time with the eunuch, for not only has he explained that in Jesus was fulfilled all that the prophets had spoken concerning the sufferings of the Messiah, but has taught him that believers in Jesus are to be admitted into the Christian Church by baptism, of which sacrament he desires to be a partaker at once.Acts 8:36. Κατὰ τὴν ὁδὸν, along the way) Even the circumstances of one’s journey are divinely guided. The kingdom of GOD adapts itself to external circumstances without force: as air yields to all bodies, and yet permeates all things: ch. Acts 13:5; Acts 13:14, Acts 16:13, Acts 17:2; Acts 17:17, Acts 21:3.—τί κωλύει, what doth hinder) He was prepared and eager to submit himself to whatever even yet remained to be done. Faith within, and water without, were ready (were here).—βαπτισθῆναι, to be baptized) Therefore he had heard from Philip as to baptism. It is probable that the Eunuch had been circumcised; for Philip presented himself to him: whereas Cornelius [who was uncircumcised] had to send for Peter. Peter at the beginning hesitated, ch. Acts 10:14; but Philip did not hesitate. At least the proceeding with the Eunuch at that time was secret. For it is in the case of Cornelius that the beginning of the call of the Gentiles is fixed.Verse 36. - The way for their way, A.V.; saith for said, A.V.; behold for see, A.V. Here is water. "When we were at Tell-el-Hasy, and saw the water standing along the bottom of the adjacent wady, we could not but remark the coincidence of several circumstances with the account of the eunuch's baptism. This water is on the most direct road from Belt Jibrin (Eleutheroplis) to Gaza, on the most southern road from Jerusalem, and in the midst of a country now 'desert,' i.e. without villages or fixed habitations. There is no other similar water on this road" (Robinson,' Bibl. Res.,' vol. it. p. 345). There were three roads from Jerusalem to Gaza, of which the one above described still exists, "and actually passes through the desert" (ibid. p. 514). What doth hinder me to be baptized! This question clearly shows that the doctrine of baptism had formed part of Philip's preaching, as it had of Peter (Acts 2:18).
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