Acts 8:40
But Philip was found at Azotus: and passing through he preached in all the cities, till he came to Caesarea.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(40) Philip was found at Azotus.—The city so named, the Ashdod of the Old Testament, was, like Gaza, one of the cities of the Philistines, about three miles from the sea, and half-way between Gaza and Joppa. Like Gaza its history was chiefly marked by successive sieges: by Tartan, the Assyrian General B.C. 716 (Isaiah 20:1); by Psammetichus, B.C. 630, (Herod. ii. 157); the Maccabees (1 Maccabees 5:68; 1 Maccabees 10:34). It was restored by the Roman general Gabinius in B.C. 55. In remoter times it had been one of the headquarters of the worship of Dagon (1Samuel 5:5), The old name lingers in the modern Esdud, but the city has sunk into a decayed village. The narrative suggests the thought that here also Philip continued his work as an evangelist. Philistia was, as of old, to be joined with Ethiopia in furnishing the city of God with converts who should be written among the people (Psalm 87:4).

He preached in all the cities.—The route which Philip would naturally take on this journey led through Lydda and Joppa, and we may probably trace the effect of his labours in the appearance in Acts 9:32; Acts 9:36, of organised and apparently flourishing Christian societies in both these towns.

Till he came to Cæsarea.—The historical importance of the city, lying on the line of the great road from Tyre to Egypt, dates, as its name shows, from the Roman period. As described by Strabo, it was known only as Strato’s Tower, with a landing place for ships. It rose to magnificence, however, under Herod the Great, who built theatres, amphitheatres, and temples, and constructed a harbour as large as the Piræus at Athens. In honour of his imperial patron he named it Cæsarea Sebaste (the latter word meaning Augusta) (Jos. Ant. xvi. 5, § 1). It became, after the deposition of Archelaus, the official residence of the Roman Procurator, and is, as the sequel shows, prominent in the early history of the Church. Tacitus (Hist. ii. 79) speaks of it as the chief city—the caput of Judæa. It appears from Acts 21:8 that Philip took up his abode there and made it the head-quarters of his work as an evangelist. In ecclesiastical history it became famous as the scene for a time of the labours of the great Origen, and as the home of the historian-bishop Eusebius.

Acts 8:40. But Philip — Quickly after he was separated from the eunuch; was found at Azotus — Or Ashdod, a city that was more than thirty miles from Gaza. Probably none saw him from the time of his leaving the eunuch till he was there. And passing through — That part of the country; he preached in all the cities — Namely, Joppa, Lydda, Saron, and all the other cities along the coast of the Mediterranean sea; till he came to Cesarea — Namely, Cesarea in Palestine, a city far distant from Cesarea Philippi, (mentioned Matthew 16:13, where see the notes,) which was situate to the north of the tribe of Naphtali, and near the sources of Jordan. Wherever the word Cesarea occurs without Philippi, the former place is intended. It was anciently called Stratonice, or Straton’s Tower, and was rebuilt by Herod the Great in honour of Augustus Cesar, and greatly enlarged and beautified with many fine edifices of polished marble; but the greatest and most beneficial of all his works here was the harbour, which he made equal in largeness to the Piræus at Athens. The beauty of this Cesarea, and the conveniences of its situation, were so great, that when the Romans reduced Judea into the form of a province, they made it the seat of their government, in preference even to Jerusalem itself. It appears that Philip settled here for some time, probably for life, for we find him long after this residing here with his four unmarried daughters, who were prophetesses, and entertaining Paul and his company many days at his house, when on their way to Jerusalem. See Acts 21:8-9. It is likely, therefore, that his itinerant mission ended here. It is reasonable to suppose, however, that he still continued to preach the gospel to those Jews who were disposed to attend his ministry, and that he made, at least, some converts among them. He doubtless also performed the work of an evangelist in some other places in those parts. 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.But Philip was found - That is, he came to Azotus, or he was not heard of until he reached Azotus. The word is often used in this sense. See 1 Chronicles 29:17, margin; 2 Chronicles 29:29, margin; Genesis 2:20; see also Luke 17:18; Romans 7:10. In all these places the word is used in the sense of to be, or to be present. It does not mean here that there was any miracle in the case, but that Philip, after leaving the eunuch, came to or was in Azotus.

Azotus - This is the Greek name of the city which by the Hebrews was called Ashdod. It was one of the cities which were not taken by Joshua, and which remained in the possession of the Philistines. It was to this place that the ark of God was sent when it was taken by the Philistines from the Israelites; and here Dagon was cast down before it, 1 Samuel 5:2-3. Uzziah, King of Judah, broke down its wall, and built cities or watch-towers around it, 2 Chronicles 26:6. It was a place of great strength and consequence. It was distant about thirty miles from Gaza. It was situated on the coast of the Mediterranean, and had a seaport, which has now entirely disappeared. The sea is now some two miles distant, and the intervening space is a desert of moving sand, which has reached the outskirts of the town (Land and the Book, Dr. Thomson, vol. ii, p. 320). Prof. Hackett (Illustrations of Scripture, pp. 142, 143) says of this place: "A little village called Esdud perpetuates the ancient name. Ashdod was one of the chief cities of the Philistines, but is now utterly forsaken. The prophet's sentence has been executed upon it to the letter: 'I will cut off the inhabitant from Ashdod' Amos 1:8. The only marks of antiquity which I could discover were a high mound, where the old city stood, covered now with fragments of pottery; two or three cellars or cisterns that seemed to have been recently laid open; two marble columns, one prostrate in the court of a neighboring khan, and the other made into a drinking-trough; several broken pieces of columns or tablets, mostly built into a sakieh, or watering machine; and a few traces of masonry near the Jaffa road, which may have belonged to the city walls. These last are so concealed as to be found only with special pains."

He preached in all the cities - Joppa, Lydda, Askelon, Arimarthea, etc., lying along the coast of the Mediterranean.

Cesarea - This city was formerly called Strato's Tower. It is situated on the coast of the Mediterranean, at the mouth of a small river, and has a fine harbor. It is 36 miles south of Acre, and about 62 miles northwest of Jerusalem, and about the same distance northeast of Azotus. The city is supposed by some to be the Hazor mentioned in Joshua 11:1. It was rebuilt by Herod the Great, and named Caesarea in honor of Augustus Caesar. The city was dedicated to him, and was called Sebaste, the Greek word for Augustus. It was adorned with most splendid houses; and the Temple of Caesar was erected by Herod over against the mouth of the haven, in which was placed the statue of the Roman emperor. It became the seat of the Roman governor while Judea was a Roman province, Acts 23:33; Acts 25:6, Acts 25:13. Philip afterward resided at this place. See Acts 21:8-9. Caesarea at present is inhabited only by jackals and beasts of prey. "Perhaps," says Dr. Clarke, "there has not been in the history of the world an example of any city that in so short a space of time rose to such an extraordinary height of splendor as did this of Caesarea, or that exhibits a more awful contrast to its former magnificence by the present desolate appearance of its ruins. Not a single inhabitant remains. Of its gorgeous palaces and temples, enriched with the choicest works of art, scarcely a trace can be discerned. Within the space of 10 years after laying the foundation, from an obscure fortress, it became the most flourishing and celebrated city of all Syria." Now it is in utter desolation. See Robinson's Calmet, "Caesarea."

40. Philip was found—that is, "found himself," "made his appearance": an expression confirming the miraculous manner of his transportation.

at Azotus—the ancient Ashdod.

preached in all the cities—along the coast, proceeding northward.

till he came to Cæsarea—fifty-five miles northwest of Jerusalem, on the Mediterranean, just south of Mount Carmel; and so named by Herod, who rebuilt it, in honor of Cæsar Augustus. Henceforth we lose sight of zealous and honored Philip, as by and by we shall lose sight even of Peter. As the chariot of the Gospel rolls on, other agents are raised up, each suited to his work. But "he that soweth and he that reapeth shall rejoice together." (See on [1965]Joh 4:31-38).

Philip was set down by the Spirit at Ashdod of the Philistines, which is called by the Septuagint

Azotus: names of persons and places do in tract of time vary. This place had been famous for the idol Dagon, 1 Samuel 5:3, and for being a chief place of the Philistines, those enemies to God’s church; but Christ, when he comes, can cast Satan out of his strongest holds. This Azotus is accounted thirty-four miles from Gaza. But Philip was found at Azotus,.... The same with the Ashdod of the Philistines, famous for the temple of Dagon, 1 Samuel 5:1 where the Septuagint call it Azotus, as here: and so it is called in the Apocrypha:

"Howbeit all the hindmost of them were slain with the sword: for they pursued them unto Gazera, and unto the plains of Idumea, and

Azotus, and Jamnia, so that there were slain of them upon a three thousand men.'' (1Mac 4:15)

"Whereof when Apollonius heard, he took three thousand horsemen, with a great host of footmen, and went to

Azotus as one that journeyed, and therewithal drew him forth into the plain. because he had a great number of horsemen, in whom he put his trust.'' (1Mac 10:77)

"But Jonathan set fire on

Azotus, and the cities round about it, and took their spoils; and the temple of Dagon, with them that were fled into it, he burned with fire.'' (1Mac 10:84)

"And when he came near to

Azotus, they shewed him the temple of Dagon that was burnt, and

Azotus and the suburbs thereof that were destroyed, and the bodies that were cast abroad and them that he had burnt in the battle; for they had made heaps of them by the way where he should pass.'' (1Mac 11:4)

where mention is made of Beth Dagon, and the idol's temple in it; and by Herodotus (p), Pliny (q), and Ptolomy (r); and it is now called Palmis, according to R. Benjamin (s); it was about fifty four miles from Jerusalem, and two hundred and seventy furlongs, Or four and thirty miles (t) from Gaza:

and passing through; or, as he passed along through that and other places:

he preached in all the cities; that lay in his way; which shows his zeal and diligence:

till he came to Caesarea; not Caesarea Philippi, Matthew 16:13 but that which was before called Strato's tower, and was rebuilt by Herod, and called Caesarea, in honour of Augustus Caesar (u); and not by Caesar himself, as R. Benjamin says (w): it was six hundred furlongs, or seventy five miles from Jerusalem (x), This place was famous for Jewish Rabbins, and their schools of learning; frequent mention is made of , "the Rabbins of Caesarea" (y); here Philip seems to have stopped, and stayed awhile.

continued...

But Philip was found at Azotus: and passing through he preached in all the cities, till he came to Caesarea.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Acts 8:40. εὑρέθη εἰς Ἄ.: constructio prægnans = was borne to and found at, cf. Acts 21:13; or, as εἰς means more than ἐν, implying that he had come into the city and was staying there, cf. Esther 1:5; marg. Hebrew “found,” A. V., εὑρίσκω, מָצָא, is very often found in the LXX in similar phrases, e.g., 1 Chronicles 29:17, 2 Chronicles 31:1, 1 Samuel 13:15, etc. The word may imply, however, much more than the fact that Philip was present at Azotus, and Alford sees in it a probable reference to 2 Kings 2:17 (cf. passages in O.T. above), where the same word is used, εὑρέθη. Blass takes it to mean “vento quasi ibi dejectus,” but see above on Acts 8:39.—Ἄζωτον, אַשְׁדּוֹד: only mentioned here in N.T., but in LXX Ashdod, Joshua 11:22; Joshua 13:3; Joshua 15:46, 1 Samuel 5:5, 2 Chronicles 26:6, Nehemiah 4:7; Nehemiah 13:20, Jeremiah 25:20; Jeremiah 47:5, Amos 1:8, Zephaniah 2:4, Zechariah 9:6; Azotus in 1Ma 5:18; 1Ma 10:84; Herod., ii., 157: Herod, speaks of the siege of the twenty-nine years under Psammetichus as the longest in history (ζ = σδ, as in Ὠρομάζης, Ahuramazda, Blass, in loco). An old Philistine town, and one of the five chief cities—it might be regarded as the half-way station on the great road between Gaza and Joppa. Schürer holds that the population was Jewish to a considerable extent, as we find that Vespasian was obliged to place a garrison there (Jos., B. J., iv., 3, 2); it is now a mere village of no importance, and still bearing the name Esdûd. Schürer, Jewish People, div. ii., vol. i., pp. 62, 67 ff., E.T.; G. A. Smith, Hist. Geog. of the Holy Land, pp. 192, 193; Hamburger, Real-Encyclopädie des Judentums, i., 1, 124, “Ashdod,” B.D.2, “Azotus,” and also Col. Conder sub v., Hastings’ B.D.—διερχόμενος εὐηγγελ., see above on Acts 8:4 and also Acts 13:6, and cf. Luke 9:6 for a similar combination of the two verbs.—τὰς πόλεις πάσας: from their position between Azotus and Cæsarea, Lydda and Joppa may well have been included, cf. Acts 9:32; Acts 9:36, in which we may see something of the effects of St. Philip’s preaching, “hic quoque, uti in urbe Samariæ, Apostolis auditores præparavit,” Bengel.—Καισαρείαν (mentioned no less than fifteen times in Acts): its full name was Καισαρεία Σεβαστή, so named by Herod the Great in honour of Augustus (Jos., Ant., xvi., 5, 1); sometimes also παράλιος or ἡ ἐπὶ θαλάττῃ (Jos., B. J., iii., 9, 1; vii., 1, 3); it was also called “Straton’s Tower” (cf. Κ. ἡ Στράτωνος, Apost. Const., vi., 12), although it was virtually a fresh site. Schürer derives this latter name from Straton, the name of one or more of the last kings of Sidon, who towards the end of the Persian period were probably in possession of the strip of coast upon which the tower was built (Schürer, u. s., div. ii., vol. i., p. 84 ff.). Herod’s lavish expenditure and enlargement gave it such importance that it came to be called Caput Judaeæ, Tacitus, Hist., ii. 79, i.e., of the Roman Province, for it never could be called truly Judæan. For its magnificence, see Jos., Ant., xv., 9; B. J., i., 21, cf. Ant., xvi., 5. It was a seaport suited to his taste, which Herod wanted, and in Cæsarea he found it—“Joppa, Jerusalem’s port, was Jewish, national, patriotic; Cæsarea, Herodian, Roman in obedience, Greek in culture”. The buildings were magnificent—a temple with its two statues of Augustus and of Rome, a theatre, an amphitheatre; but above all, the haven was the chief work of art, Sebastos Limen, so large and important that the name of the city was even dwarfed beside it (see especially Dr. G. A. Smith, u. s., p. 140). Here the Roman procurators had their abode, both before and after Agrippa’s reign; here, too, was the chief garrison of the troops of the province. The population was chiefly heathen, but with a considerable mixture of Jews, and so both Gentile and Jew had equal rights, while each claimed exclusive powers. In the time of Felix things came to such a pass that bloodshed ensued, and Felix exasperated the Jews by leaving the sole direction of the town in the hands of the heathen party. It was this which in the first place provoked the great rising of the Jews, A.D. 66 (Jos., Ant., xx., 8, 7, 9; B. J., ii., 13, 7; 14, 4, 5). The war broke out, and, according to Josephus, all the Jewish inhabitants, habitants, twenty thousand in number, were massacred in an hour. Here the famous Rabbi Akiba met a martyr’s death, here Eusebius of Cæsarea and Procopius were born, and hither Origen fled. See Schürer, u. s.; Hamburger, Real-Encyclopädie des Judentums, ii., 1, 123; G. A. Smith, u. s., pp. 138, 143 ff., B.D.2; Edersheim, History of the Jewish Nation, pp. 21, 23, 156, 199, 251, 265, etc. Among the Jews Cæsarea was called by the same name by which we know it, but sometimes from its fortifications, Migdal Shur, or after its harbour, Migdal Shina, or after both, and once by its ancient name, “Straton’s Tower” (cf. also Strabo, xvi., p. 758), but as the seat of the Roman power, and for its preponderating heathen population, it was specially hated; and so it was designated “the daughter of Edom,” although the district, so rich and fertile, was still called “the land of life”. Edersheim, Jewish Social Life, pp. 24, 72, 202, and Hamburger, u. s. Cæsarea is mentioned in the verse before us not because of its political and commercial importance, but because it became the after home of Philip, Acts 21:8. But it also might be named here as marking a further and interesting stage in the progress of the Gospel (see also below on chap. 10). We cannot say whether at the time of the narrative in chap. 10. Philip had already settled and worked in Cæsarea.40. But Philip was found at Azotus] That is, he appeared again and continued the work of his ministry. The expression is a translation of a Hebrew verb which is often rendered in A.V. “to be present.” Cp. Esther 1:5, “that were present,” and in the margin, Heb. “found.”

Azotus is the ancient Ashdod (1 Samuel 5:1-7), one of the five chief cities of the Philistines when the Israelites settled in Canaan.

till he came to Cesarea] This was Cæsarea Sebaste, so called in honour of Augustus (Greek, Sebastos) Cæsar (Joseph. Antiq. xvi. 5. 1). It was the chief city of Palestine under the Roman rule, and lay at the extreme north of the plain of Sharon. It is mentioned in the Acts as the place at which Cornelius was stationed (Acts 10:1), and it seems that Philip made his home there (Acts 21:8).Acts 8:40. Εὐρέθη, was found) On the way, neither Philip himself seems to have known where he was, or what was happening to him, nor did any one else see him.—τὰς πόλεις, the cities) Between Gaza and Cæsarea; as, for instance, Joppa, Lydda, etc. Here too, as in the city of Samaria, he prepared hearers for the apostles: ch. Acts 9:32.—εἰς Καισάμειαν, Cæsarea) In this remarkable city lie fixed his residence, being about therein to minister to the supply of the saints on their journey: ch. Acts 21:8-9, “We (Paul, Luke, etc.) entered into the house of Philip the Evangelist, one of the seven, and abode with him.”Verse 40. - He preached the gospel to all the cities for he preached in all the cities, A.V. The sudden rapture of Philip by the Spirit, and his transportation to Azotus, or Ashdod, reminds us forcibly of 1 Kings 18:12, and of the successive journeys of Elijah just prior to his translation. In Philip's case we may suppose a kind of trance, which was not ended till he found himself at Azotus. Passing through. For διέρχομαι (there rendered "went about"), see ver. 4, note. To Caesarea; where we find him domiciled (Acts 21:8). Such coincidences, appearing in the narrative without any explanation, are strong marks of truth. "He journeyed northward from Ashdod, perhaps through Ekron, Ramah, Joppa, and the plain of Sharon" (Meyer).



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