Wesley's Notes on the Bible
And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles.
8:1 At that time there was great persecution against the Church - Their adversaries having tasted blood, were the more eager. And they were all dispersed - Not all the Church: if so, who would have remained for the apostles to teach, or Saul to persecute? But all the teachers except the apostles, who, though in the most danger, stayed with the flock.
And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him.
8:2 Devout men - Who feared God more than persecution. And yet were they not of little faith? Else they would not have made so great lamentation.
As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison.
8:3 Saul made havoc of the Church - Like some furious beast of prey. So the Greek word properly signifies. Men and women - Regarding neither age nor sex.
Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.
8:4 Therefore they that were dispersed went every where - These very words are reassumed, after as it were a long parenthesis, chap. xi, 19, Ac 11:19 and the thread of the story continued.
Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them.
8:5 Stephen - Being taken away, Philip, his next colleague, (not the apostle,) rises in his place.
And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did.
For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed.
And there was great joy in that city.
But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one:
8:9 A certain man - using magic - So there was such a thing as witchcraft once! In Asia at least, if not in Europe or America.
To whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God.
And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries.
But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.
8:12 But when they believed - What Philip preached, then they saw and felt the real power of God, and submitted thereto.
Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done.
8:13 And Simon believed - That is, was convinced of the truth.
Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John:
8:14 And the apostles hearing that Samaria - The inhabitants of that country, had received the word of God - By faith, sent Peter and John - He that sends must be either superior, or at least equal, to him that is sent. It follows that the college of the apostles was equal if not superior to Peter.
Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost:
8:15 The Holy Ghost - In his miraculous gifts? Or his sanctifying graces? Probably in both.
(For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)
Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.
And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money,
8:18 Simon offered them money - And hence the procuring any ministerial function, or ecclesiastical benefice by money, is termed Simony.
Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost.
But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.
Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God.
8:21 Thou hast neither part - By purchase, nor lot - Given gratis, in this matter - This gift of God. For thy heart is not right before God - Probably St. Peter discerned this long before he had declared it; although it does not appear that God gave to any of the apostles a universal power of discerning the hearts of all they conversed with; any more than a universal power of healing all the sick they came near. This we are sure St. Paul had not; though he was not inferior to the chief of the apostles. Otherwise he would not have suffered the illness of Epaphroditus to have brought him so near to death, Php 2:25 - 27; nor have left so useful a fellow labourer as Trophimus sick at Miletus, 2Tim 4:20.
Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.
8:22 Repent - if perhaps the thought of thy heart may be forgiven thee - Without all doubt if he had repented, he would have been forgiven. The doubt was, whether he would repent. Thou art in the gall of bitterness - In the highest degree of wickedness, which is bitterness, that is, misery to the soul; and in the bond of iniquity - Fast bound therewith.
For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity.
Then answered Simon, and said, Pray ye to the Lord for me, that none of these things which ye have spoken come upon me.
And they, when they had testified and preached the word of the Lord, returned to Jerusalem, and preached the gospel in many villages of the Samaritans.
And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert.
8:26 The way which is desert - There were two ways from Jerusalem to Gaza, one desert, the other through a more populous country.
And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship,
8:27 An eunuch - Chief officers were anciently called eunuchs, though not always literally such; because such used to be chief ministers in the eastern courts. Candace, queen of the Ethiopians - So all the queens of Ethiopia were called.
Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet.
8:28 Sitting in his chariot, he read the Prophet Isaiah - God meeteth those that remember him in his ways. It is good to read, hear, seek information even in a journey. Why should we not redeem all our time?
Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot.
And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest?
8:30 And Philip running to him, said, Understandest thou what thou readest? - He did not begin about the weather, news, or the like. In speaking for God, we may frequently come to the point at once, without circumlocution.
And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him.
8:31 He desired Philip to come up and sit with him - Such was his modesty, and thirst after instruction.
The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth:
8:32 The portion of Scripture - By reading that very chapter , the fifty - third of Isaiah, many Jews, yea, and atheists, have been converted. Some of them history records. God knoweth them all. Isaiah 53:7
In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth.
8:33 In his humiliation his judgment was taken away - That is, when he was a man, he had no justice shown him. To take away a person's judgment, is a proverbial phrase for oppressing him. And who shall declare, or count his generation - That is, who can number his seed, Isa 53:10; which he hath purchased by laying down his life?
And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man?
Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.
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?
8:36 And as they went on the way they came to a certain water - Thus, even the circumstances of the journey were under the direction of God. The kingdom of God suits itself to external circumstances, without any violence, as air yields to all bodies, and yet pervades all. What hindereth me to be baptized? - Probably he had been circumcised: otherwise Cornelius would not have been the first fruits of the Gentiles.
And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.
8:38 And they both went down - Out of the chariot. It does not follow that he was baptized by immersion. The text neither affirms nor intimates any thing concerning it.
And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.
8:39 The Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip - Carried him away with a miraculous swiftness, without any action or labour of his own. This had befallen several of the prophets.
But Philip was found at Azotus: and passing through he preached in all the cities, till he came to Caesarea.
8:40 But Philip was found at Azotus - Probably none saw him, from his leaving the eunuch, till he was there.