Acts 8:5
Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them.
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(5) Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria.—More accurately, “a city.” The sequence of events implies that it was not the Apostle, but his namesake who had been chosen as one of the Seven. As having been conspicuous in the work of “preaching the glad tidings of Christ,” he was afterwards known as Philip the Evangelist (Acts 21:8). It was natural enough that the identity of name should lead writers who were imperfectly informed to confuse the two, as Polycrates, Bishop of Ephesus, seems to have done in the passage quoted by Eusebius (Hist. iii. 31). The “city of Samaria” is described in precisely the same terms as in John 4:5, where it is identified with Sychar, the Sichem of the Old Testament. (See Note on John 4:5.) “Samaria,” throughout the New Testament (as, e.g., in Acts 9:31; Luke 17:11; John 4:4-5), is used for the province, and not for the city to which it had been attached in earlier times. This had been new-named Sebaste (the Greek equivalent of Augusta) by Herod the Great in honour of the Emperor, and this had more or less superseded the old name (Jos. Ant. xv. 8, § 5). Assuming the identity with Sychar, the narrative of John 4 suggests at once the reason that probably determined Philip’s choice. The seed had already been sown, and the fields were white for harvest (John 4:35). Possibly, as suggested above (Note on Acts 7:16), there may have been some previous connection with the district. Some of that city had already accepted Jesus as the Christ.

Preached Christ.—The verb is not the same as in Acts 8:4, and is the word used for “preaching” or “proclaiming.” The tense implies continued action, extending, it may be, over weeks or months. We find in John 4:25 that the expectation of the Messiah was as strong among the Samaritans as among the Jews, and Philip’s work therefore was to proclaim that the long-expected One had come, and that the Resurrection was the crowning proof that He was the Christ the Son of God. The readiness with which the proclamation was accepted shows that in spite of the adverse influence which had come into play since our Lord had taught there, the work then done had not been in vain.

Hearing and seeing the miracles which he did.—Better, the signs, as being closer, here as elsewhere, to the force of the Greek. It is remarkable that they had believed in the first instance without any other sign than the person and the teaching of the Lord Jesus. Miracles came not as the foundation, but for the strengthening of their faith; perhaps also as a corrective to the adverse influence of which we are so soon to hear.

Acts 8:5-7. Then Philip, &c. — The sacred historian here proceeds to record one particular instance of the success of the preaching of the persons dispersed by the above-mentioned persecution. The Philip here spoken of was not the apostle of that name, for all the apostles continued at Jerusalem, (Acts 8:1,) and this Philip, as appears from Acts 8:14-17, had not the power of communicating the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit, by laying on of hands. He was, therefore, Philip the deacon, mentioned Acts 6:5; no other of that name, besides the apostle, having been mentioned in this history. Went down to the city of Samaria — Or, as some read it, to a city of Samaria; as it is not specified what city of that country it was. The mode of expression, however, seems to point out the capital of Samaria, which was Sychar, or Sichem, where Christ had preached in the beginning of his ministry: and preached Christ unto them — It is certain that the Samaritans were better prepared to receive the gospel than most of the Gentile nations, as they worshipped the true God, and acknowledged the authority of the pentateuch. Nay, indeed, in some respects they were better prepared than the body of the Jewish nation, as we do not find that they had either such notions of the Messiah’s temporal reign as the Jews had, or had received the Sadducean principles, which were both very strong prejudices against the Christian doctrine. And the people — Who inhabited that city, notwithstanding their natural prejudices against the Jews; with one accord — Ομοθυμαδον, unanimously; gave heed unto those things which Philip spake — Of the truth and importance of which, upon their attending to them, they were soon persuaded; hearing — The rational and convincing arguments which he used; and seeing the miracles — Which he performed, in confirmation of his doctrine. For unclean spirits — At Philip’s command, came out of many persons that had been possessed by them, crying with a loud voice — Which showed that they came out with great reluctance, and much against their wills, but were forced to acknowledge themselves overcome by a superior power. And there was great joy in that city — Both on account of those benevolent miracles which were performed by Philip in it, and of that excellent doctrine which he preached among them, containing such welcome tidings of pardon and eternal salvation.

8:5-13 As far as the gospel prevails, evil spirits are dislodged, particularly unclean spirits. All inclinations to the lusts of the flesh which war against the soul are such. Distempers are here named, the most difficult to be cured by the course of nature, and most expressive of the disease of sin. Pride, ambition, and desire after grandeur have always caused abundance of mischief, both to the world and to the church. The people said of Simon, This man is the great power of God. See how ignorant and thoughtless people mistake. But how strong is the power of Divine grace, by which they were brought to Christ, who is Truth itself! The people not only gave heed to what Philip said, but were fully convinced that it was of God, and not of men, and gave up themselves to be directed thereby. Even bad men, and those whose hearts still go after covetousness, may come before God as his people come, and for a time continue with them. And many wonder at the proofs of Divine truths, who never experience their power. The gospel preached may have a common operation upon a soul, where it never produced inward holiness. All are not savingly converted who profess to believe the gospel.Then Philip - One of the seven deacons, Acts 6:5. He is afterward called the "evangelist," Acts 21:8.

The city of Samaria - This does not mean a city whose "name" was Samaria, for no such city at that time existed. Samaria was a "region," Matthew 2:22. The ancient city Samaria, the capital of that region, had been destroyed by Hyrcanus, so completely as to leave no vestige of it remaining; and he "took away," says Josephus, "the very marks that there had ever been such a city there" (Antiq., book 13, chapter 10, section 3). Herod the Great afterward built a city on this site, and called it "Sebaste"; that is, "Augusta," in honor of the Emperor Augustus (Josephus, Antiq., book 15, chapter 8, section 5). Perhaps this city is intended, as being the principal city of Samaria; or possibly "Sychar," another city where the gospel had been before preached by the Saviour himself, John 4.

And preached Christ - Preached that the Messiah had come, and made known his doctrines. The same truths had been before stated in Samaria by the Saviour himself John 4; and this was doubtless one of the reasons why they so gladly now received the Word of God. The field had been prepared by the Lord Jesus. He had said that it was white for the harvest John 4:35, and into that field Philip now entered, and was signally blessed. His coming was attended with a remarkable "revival of religion." The word translated "preach" here is not what is used in the previous verse. This denotes to "proclaim as a crier," and is commonly employed to denote the preaching of the gospel, so called, Mark 5:20; Mark 7:36; Luke 8:39; Matthew 24:14; Acts 10:42; Romans 10:15; 1 Corinthians 9:27; 1 Corinthians 15:12; 2 Timothy 4:2. It has been argued that because "Philip" is said thus to have preached to the Samaritans, that "therefore" all "deacons" have a right to preach, or that they are, under the New Testament economy, an "order" of ministers. But this is by no means clear. For:

(1) It is not evident, nor can it be shown, that the "other" deacons Acts 6:1-15 ever preached. There is no record of their doing so; and the narrative would lead us to suppose that they did not.

(2) they were "appointed" for a very different purpose Acts 6:1-5; and it is fair to suppose that, as "deacons," they confined themselves to the design of their appointment.

(3) it is not said that "Philip" preached in virtue of his being a "deacon." From anything in "this" place, it would seem that he preached as the other Christians did - wherever he was.

(4) but "elsewhere" an express distinction is made between Philip and the others. A new appellation is given him, and he is expressly called the "evangelist," Acts 21:8. From this, it seems that he preached, not "because" he was a "deacon," but because he had received a special "appointment" to this business as an evangelist.

(5) this same office, or rank of Christian teachers, is expressly recognized elsewhere, Ephesians 4:11. All these considerations show that there is "not" in the sacred Scriptures an order of ministers appointed to preach "as deacons."

Ac 8:5-25. Success of Philip's Preaching in Samaria—Case of Simon Magus.

5. Then Philip—not the apostle of that name, as was by some of the Fathers supposed; for besides that the apostles remained at Jerusalem, they would in that case have had no occasion to send a deputation of their own number to lay their hands on the baptized disciples [Grotius]. It was the deacon of that name, who comes next after Stephen in the catalogue of the seven, probably as being the next most prominent. The persecution may have been directed especially against Stephen's colleagues [Meyer].

the city of Samaria—or "a city of Samaria"; but the former seems more likely. "It furnished the bridge between Jerusalem and the world" [Baumgarten].

Philip; not the apostle, but the deacon of that name; for the apostles remained at Jerusalem, as Acts 8:1.

Samaria is a name both of a city and a country, so called from the chief city, 1 Kings 16:24: here it is taken for that city, or at least a city in that country.

Preached Christ; the doctrine of Christ, his miraculous birth, holy life and death, and glorious resurrection and ascension, together with remission of sins only by faith in his name, &c.

Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria,.... The city which was formerly called Samaria, but now Sebaste; it had been destroyed by Hyrcanus, and was rebuilt by Herod; and called by him, in honour of Augustus, by the name of Sebaste (d); and so R. Benjamin says (e), that

"from Luz he came in a day to Sebaste, , "this is Samaria"; where yet may be discerned the palace of Ahab king of Israel-----and from thence are two "parsas" to Neapolis, this is Sichem.''

Which last place, Sichem, is by Josephus said to be the "metropolis" of Samaria; and is thought by Dr. Lightfoot to be the city Philip went to, and where our Lord had before been, and preached to the conversion of many persons: this place lay lower than Jerusalem, and therefore Philip is said to go down to it; and who was not Philip the apostle, but Philip the deacon, for the apostles abode at Jerusalem; and beside, though this Philip preached the Gospel, and baptized, and wrought miracles, yet did not lay on hands, in order that persons might receive the extraordinary gifts of the Holy Ghost; this was peculiar to the apostles, and therefore Peter and John came down for this purpose, when they heard of the success of Philip's ministry: the subject matter of which follows:

and preached Christ unto them; that Christ was come in the flesh, that Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ, and that he was the Son of God, and the alone Saviour of men; who by his obedience, sufferings, and death, had wrought righteousness, procured peace and pardon, and obtained eternal redemption for his people; and was risen again, and ascended into heaven, and was set down at the right hand of God, where he ever lived to make intercession, and would come again a second time to judge both quick and dead.

(d) Joseph de Bello Jud. l. 1. c. 2. sect. 7. & c. 21. sect. 2. Plin. l. 5. c. 13. (e) Itinerar. p. 38.

{4} Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them.

(4) Philip, who was before a deacon in Jerusalem, is made an evangelist by God in an extraordinary way.

Acts 8:5. φίλιππος δὲ: the Evangelist, cf. Acts 21:8, and note on Acts 6:5.—εἰς πόλιν: if we insert the article (see above on critical notes), the expression means “the city of Samaria,” i.e., the capital of the district (so Weiss, Wendt, Zöckler, see Blass, in loco), or Sebaste, so called by Herod the Great in honour of Augustus, Σεβαστή (Jos., Ant., xv., 7, 3; 8, 5; Strabo, xvi., p. 860), see Schürer, Jewish People, div. ii., vol. 1, p. 123 ff., E.T., and O. Holtzmann, Neutest. Zeitgeschichte, p. 93.—ἐκήρυσσεν: the revisers distinguish between this verb and εὐαγγελ. in Acts 8:4, the latter being rendered “preaching,” or more fully, preaching the glad tidings, and the former “proclaimed” (see also Page’s note on the word, p. 131), but it is doubtful if we can retain this full force of the word always, e.g., Luke 4:44, where R.V. translates κηρύσσων, “preaching”.—αὐτοῖς, i.e., the people in the city mentioned, see Blass, Grammatik, p. 162, and cf. Acts 16:10, Acts 20:2.

5–13. Philip’s Preaching in Samaria and its effects

5. Then [And] Philip] The second named in the list of the seven deacons (Acts 6:5). He is only mentioned in this chapter and Acts 21:8 where he is called Philip the Evangelist.

went down to the city of Samaria] i.e. the capital city of the district of Samaria. It was at this time called Sebaste = Augusta, in honour of Augustus Cæsar (Joseph. Antiq. xv. 8. 5).

and preached [proclaimed] Christ unto them] Better, the Christ. His preaching was that Jesus was the promised Messiah. The verb is not the same as that rendered “preaching” in the previous verse, but is used (Matthew 3:1; Matthew 4:17) of the commencement of John the Baptist’s preaching, and of Christ’s. In like manner, Philip goes forth uttering his voice in the new fields of labour.

Acts 8:5. Φίλιππος, Philip) When Stephen was taken away, Philip rises, the colleague who was next to him; [who is elsewhere called the Evangelist.—V. g.] For it is not Philip the apostle who is treated of here: with this comp. Acts 8:18; Acts 8:25 (wherein the apostles are distinguished from Philip).—εἰς πόλιν, to a city) The article is not added. It was one of the many cities of the Samaritans.—ἐκηρύσσεν, preached) openly.—τὸν Χριστὸν, the Christ) This is the sum of the Gospel.

Verse 5. - And for then, A.V. ; proclaimed unto them the Christ for preached Christ unto them, A.V. Philip; the deacon and evangelist (Acts 6:7; Acts 21:8), not the apostle. As regards Samaria, it is always used in the New Testament of the country, not of the city, which at this time was called Sebaste, from Σεβαστός, i.e. Augustus Caesar (see Acts 25:21, 26, etc.; John 4:5; and Josephus, 'Ant. Jud.,' 15. 7:9). Whether, therefore, we read with the T.R. πόλιν, or with the R.T. τὴν πόλιν, we must understand Samaria to mean the country, and probably the city to be the capital, Sebaste. Alford, however, with many others, thinks that Sychem is meant, as in John 4:5. Acts 8:5Philip

The deacon (Acts 6:5). Not the apostle. On the name, see on Mark 3:18.

Christ (τὸν Χριστόν)

Note the article, "the Christ," and see on Matthew 1:1.

He did (ἐποίει)

Imperfect. Kept doing from time to time, as is described in the next verse.

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