Acts 8:37
And Philip said, If you believe with all your heart, you may. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(37) And Philip said. . . .—The verse is a striking illustration of the tendency which showed itself at a very early period to improve the text of Scripture with a view to greater edification. It existed in the time of Irenæus, who quotes it (3:12), but is wanting in all the best MSS., including the Sinaitic, and many versions. The motive for the interpolation lies on the surface. The abruptness of the unanswered question, and the absence of the confession of faith which was required in the Church’s practice on the baptism of every convert, seemed likely to be stumbling-blocks, and the narrative was completed according to the received type of the prevailing order for baptism. Even with the insertion, the shortness of the confession points to a very early stage of liturgical development, as also does the reference to it in Irenæus.

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.And Philip said ... - This was stated by Philip as the proper qualification for making a profession of religion. The terms are:

(1) "Faith," that is, a reception of Jesus as a Saviour; yielding the mind to the proper influences of the truths of redemption. See the notes on Mark 16:16.

(2) there is required not merely the assent of the understanding, but a surrender of the "heart, the will, the affections," to the truth of the gospel. As these were the proper qualifications then, so they are now. Nothing less is required; and nothing but this can constitute a proper qualification for the Lord's Supper.

I believe ... - This profession is more than a professed belief that Jesus was "the Messiah." The name "Christ" implies that. "I believe that Jesus the Messiah is the Son of God." He professed his belief that he was the "Son of God" - showing either that he had before supposed that the Messiah "would be" the Son of God, or that Philip had instructed him on that point. It was natural for Philip, in discoursing on the humiliation and poverty of Jesus, to add also that he sustained a higher rank of being than a man, and was the Son of God. What precise ideas the eunuch attached to this expression cannot be now determined. This verse is missing in a very large number of manuscripts (Mill), and has been rejected by many of the ablest critics. It is also omitted in the Syriac and Ethiopic versions. It is not easy to conceive why it has been omitted in almost all the Greek mss. unless it is spurious. If it was not in the original copy of the Acts , it was probably inserted by some early transcriber, and was deemed so important to the connection, to show that the eunuch was not admitted hastily to baptism, that it was afterward retained. It contains, however, an important truth, elsewhere abundantly taught in the Scriptures, that "faith" is necessary to a proper profession of religion.

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).

With all thine heart: a verbal profession is not a sufficient believing, Romans 10:10 though we can discern no other, yet God can, and will not he mocked: Philip, in God’s name, requires a faith with all the heart, and not such as Simon Magus had, who is said to believe, and be baptized, Acts 8:13.

I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God; this was the only thing necessary, either then or now, if rightly understood. The eunuch was instructed concerning God out of the law, and was one of them that waited for his salvation; which here he acknowledgeth to be only found in Christ, whom he owns to be the Messiah, who made his soul an offering for sin, Isaiah 53:10, and did bear our griefs, and carried our sorrows, Isaiah 53:4, and was wounded for our transgressions, Isaiah 53:5; for all these things Philip had told him were meant of our Saviour, which he did believe were so to be understood. And Philip said, if thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest,.... Intimating, that if he did not believe, he had no right to that ordinance; though he was a proselyte to the Jewish religion, a serious and devout man, and was employed in a religious way, when Philip came up to him, and was very desirous of being instructed in the knowledge of divine things; and yet notwithstanding all this, he had no right to the ordinance of baptism, unless he had faith in Christ, and made a profession of it; nor would Philip administer it to him without it; from whence it appears, that faith in Christ, and a profession of it, are necessary prerequisites to baptism: and this faith should not be a mere historical and temporary faith, nor a feigned one, but a believing in Christ with the heart unto righteousness; or such a faith by which a soul relinquishes its own righteousness, and looks and goes unto Christ for righteousness, life, and salvation, and rests and relies upon him for them; and it should be a believing in him with the whole heart, which does not design a strong faith, or a full assurance of faith, but an hearty, sincere, and unfeigned one, though it may be but weak, and very imperfect. And that this is necessary to baptism is manifest, because without this it is impossible to please God; nor can submission and obedience to it be acceptable to him: nor indeed can the ordinance be grateful and pleasing to unbelievers; for though it is a command that is not grievous, and a yoke that is easy, yet it is only so to them that believe; nor can any other see to the end of this ordinance, or behold the burial, and resurrection of Christ represented by it, or be baptized into his death, and partake of the benefits of it; and besides, whatsoever is not of faith is sin.

And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God: which though a short, is a very comprehensive summary of the articles of faith respecting the person, offices, and grace of Christ; as that he is a divine person, truly and properly God, the only begotten of the Father, of the same nature with him, and equal to him; that he existed from all eternity, as a divine person with him, and distinct from him; and that he is the Christ, the anointed of God, to be prophet, priest, and King; and is Jesus, the only Saviour of lost sinners, in whom he trusted and depended alone for righteousness, life, and salvation. This whole verse is wanting in the Alexandrian copy, and in five of Beza's copies, and in the Syriac and Ethiopic versions; but stands in the Vulgate Latin and Arabic versions, and in the Complutensian edition; and, as Beza observes, ought by no means to be expunged, since it contains so clear a confession of faith required of persons to be baptized, which was used in the truly apostolic times.

{13} And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, {n} I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.

(13) Profession of faith is required of those being baptized, and therefore it is evident that we are not first ingrafted into Christ when we are baptized, but are already ingrafted, and then are baptized. (Ed.)

(n) The sum of the confession which is necessary for baptism.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
37. And Philip said. If thou believest with all thine hearty thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God] The whole of this verse is omitted in the oldest MSS. It probably found its way into the text of those MSS. where it does exist from the margin. Such a margin would be formulated by those who, when the Church had become more extended, and formal professions of faith were the rule before baptism, felt that there was a want of completeness in the narrative unless some such confession were supposed to have been made. Thus the margin became a kind of exposition, and in the end found acceptance in the text.Acts 8:37. Εἰ πιστεύεις ἐξ ὅλης τῆς καρδίας, if thou believest with all thine heart) Supply from the previous interrogation, then nothing hinders thy being baptized. Some have supplied σωθήσῃ, thou shalt be saved, or ἔξεστιν, thou mayest. Lest the reader should wonder at the fewness of the witnesses for the shorter reading, let him remember the observations which I have made in my Apparatus concerning the multitude of MSS. which are without this verse. The same is the case with the reply given by the Eunuch, to which again many have added the name Χριστὸν, which is so frequent everywhere. It is not found in the MS. cod. Berolinensis in the Latin, and others.[57]—ὅλης, the whole of) which was more than Simon had done: Acts 8:13 [He believed, but not with his whole heart], Philip, though deceived by the magician Simon, does not however hesitate to baptize the believing Eunuch. [He acts cautiously: but not more distrustfully than was proper.—V. g.]

[57] No part of this 37th verse is found either in critical texts or in the first printed edition, viz. the Conrplutensian. Erasmus, though admitting that he found it in no Greek MS., but only in the margin of one MS., has coolly inserted it; and so it has been perpetuated, on the ground of a gratuitous assumption, “arbitror omissum librariorum incuriâ.” Ee, however, with some variations, Cyprian 318, Iren. 196, and Vulg. Amiatinus (alone: the other MSS. of Vulg. omit it), support it. But the weightiest authorities, ABC, Amiat. MS. of Vulg, corrected, Memph. Theb. and Syr. omit the verse.—E. and T.Verse 37. - The whole of ver. 37 of the A.V. is omitted in the R.T., on the authority of the best existing manuscripts. But on the other hand, Irenaeus, in the third book against Heresies, Acts 12:8, distinctly quotes a portion of this verse. The eunuch, he says, when he asked to be baptized said, Πιστεύω τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ Θεοῦ εἴναι τὸν Ιησοῦν Ξριστόν: and Cyprian, in his third book of Testimonies, 43, quotes the other part of the verse. In proof of the thesis that "whoever believes may be immediately baptized," he says, "In the Acts of the Apostles [when the eunuch said], Behold water, what doth hinder me to be baptized? Philip answered, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest." So that in the second and third centuries, long anterior to the oldest existing manuscripts, this entire verse must have been found in the codices both of the Greek and Latin Churches. The best texts omit this verse.
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