Acts 8:3

The indications given in this verse of Saul's intensity should be noticed; he added personal cruelties to judicial severity, manifested almost an insane ferocity and wanton brutality, as he afterwards acknowledged (Acts 26:11). The grounds of Saul's prejudice against Christ and Christianity should be carefully traced, as the nature of his mistaken sentiments helps to explain the entire change of his thoughts and conduct when Christ spoke to him from heaven. A Pharisee such as Saul would have a general offence against Christ

(1) as having deluded the people, and led them away from their proper teachers;

(2) as daring to claim the Messiahship, when he was known to be only a poor Nazarene carpenter. But he would have further and deeper grounds of offence in the facts

(3) that Jesus had openly opposed and endeavored to discredit the Pharisee class to which he belonged;

(4) that Jesus was proved to have wrought sham miracles by the fact that he could not deliver himself from the cross; and

(5) that it was a public insult to the intelligence of the people for these disciples to go on asserting that this crucified impostor had risen from the dead, and had ascended to heaven, and was now showing signs of his Divine power. Saul thought he had a plain case and good grounds for his persecuting zeal; and so he had, assuming that his view was correct. But, suppose he was wrong, and Jesus after all was Messiah? Suppose it could be shown him in a moment that Jesus was alive and exalted? Then the very foundations of all his arguments were plucked away, and a new impulse urged him to consecrate himself, once for all, to the service of Jesus the Nazarene.

I. THE INTENSITY OF AN IMPULSIVE CHARACTER. Illustrate from the Saul who was the first king of Israel; from incidents in the life of the Apostle Peter, and from the later story of Saul, or Paul. This intensity often does good service; it overleaps difficulties which hinder the quieter and calmer class of men. It bears others along on its own tide of impetuosity. It becomes holy boldness, wise enterprise, and steadfast endurance when it is duly toned, sanctified, and guided by the indwelling Holy Ghost. There is more or less of impulsiveness in each of the apostles of whom anything is narrated. James and John followed the impulse stirred by the Master's call, and left their fisher-work and fisher-folk, to become servants of Christ and fishers of men; and an impulsive spirit is sealed in the surname which our Lord fixed upon them. Matthew seems immediately to have obeyed, and left the receipt of custom, when the Master touched his heart with the call, "Follow me;" and it was evidently in the intensity of deep feeling that he gathered his friends to a parting feast. Thomas speaks impetuously, "Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails... I will not believe;" and still more impetuously he cries, "My Lord and my God," when constrained to believe by the condescending grace of the Redeemer. Peter represents to us the exaggeration of impulsiveness; and he never reveals his character more fully than when smitten down, penitent and broken-hearted, because of the second cock-crowing and the Savior's reproachful look.

II. THE WEAKNESS OF THE IMPULSIVE CHARACTER. This finds expression in such things as:

1. A disposition to overvalue mere religious feeling.

2. To take up new ideas or new schemes, under the urgings of sentiment rather than sound judgment.

3. A tendency to give up schemes with as little thought as they were taken up.

4. A foolish expectation that every one must be as intense as the impulsive one is.

5. And an inability fairly to estimate the reasons that make slow progress alone safe and sure. In the Christian life, as in common life, seasons of undue elevation are sure to be followed by seasons of undue depression, and such seasons are very disappointing and humiliating. St. Peter illustrates the weaknesses of the impulsive. Our Lord had even to reprove him severely. From Saul, or Pan], may be shown the solid excellence of character which the naturally impulsive man may gain when piety, principle, and noble sentiments come to rule and guide and tone his impulses. Some of the grandest sentences of St. Paul's Epistles are the utterances possible only to a sanctified man of intensity and strong impulses; e.g. Philippians 1:21-23. - R.T.

As for Saul, he made havoc of the Church.
Read and compare the following passages, the text and Acts 14:19; Acts 9:1 and Acts 23:12; Galatians 1:13 and 2 Corinthians 11:23; Acts 26:10 and Acts 16:23; Ezekiel 18:25 and Galatians 6:7. All these experiences were undergone by the same man — the persecutor was persecuted; he who breathed out threatenings and slaughter against the saints was himself pursued by the vengeance of furious men. Note, then —

I. THAT A MAN'S LIFE COMES BACK UPON HIM (Galatians 6:7). One feels in reading such experience that the sense of justice is satisfied. Had Saul after his conversion settled down into a state of Christian enjoyment there would have been a want of moral completeness. Paul himself would have been injured. He must reap what he had sown. Such is the severe but beneficent law which keeps all things equal. If any man could mingle bitter cups for others and never be compelled to drink them himself, he would soon become a devil. God shows him that his turn is coming. All history has shown this — e.g., Adonibezek, Agag, etc. The testimony of Holy Writ is consistent and emphatic. "He shall have judgment without mercy that showeth no mercy." See how literally and terribly this was fulfilled in the case of Paul. God forgot not one of his misdemeanours, and the most terrible of persecutors received the measure of his own fury.

II. THAT A MAN'S CHRISTIAN EXPERIENCE MUST BE AFFECTED BY THE UNCHRISTIAN LIFE HE HAS LIVED. One would suppose that after conversion all the former life would be done away. But physically it is not so, and why should it be so spiritually? Look at the reasonableness of the doctrine. A man has lived a self-indulgent life, been careless of the rights of others, etc. After all this he is converted; is he then to complain of the trials of the Christian way as if some strange thing had happened to him? Is there not a cause? Old neglects have to be made up; old wrongs have to be avenged. Is not the way of the Lord equal? We complain of the arduousness of the Christian way, but was the devil's way easy? What about the cost and consequences of vicious luxuries? We were selfish, tyrannical, inconsiderate, and is it likely that all this can have passed away without leaving deep effects on our life? Across our very prayers there will be blown the bitter wind of the land we have lived in so long; and through our tenderest charities there may be breathed somewhat of the old selfishness which once enclosed us in its prison. Let us, in honesty, trace many of our trials to the life we have lived in the flesh rather than to any arbitrariness of Divine grace. Conclusion: In reviewing these statements in the light of history and revelation we see —

1. That the distribution of penalties is God's work and not man's. "Vengeance is Mine," etc.

2. That under all the apparent confusion of life there is a principle of justice.

3. That the greatest sufferings may be borne with patience and hopefulness. When did Paul complain of his lot? When did he say that he had suffered more than his share? From him let us learn how good a thing it is to suffer and be strong.

(J. Parker, D. D.)

They say that martyrdoms are ended. It is true that the stake is abandoned; Bloody Mary is dead; Smithfield is a commonplace sheep-market, with only an inscription on one side of it to record the fidelity of John Rogers. And perhaps it is not necessary to force the rhetoric which calls Abraham Lincoln the "martyr president," or to assert beyond strict accuracy that an assassin could make President Garfield a martyr by shooting him. We need not plant ourselves upon a plane so high or so tragic as this. There are small martyrdoms for Christ's sake which in ordinary life are quite within the reach of our attainment. It is a very plain truth that we find in the line of the German poet, Heinrich Heine: "Wheresoever a great thought is born, there always has been a Golgotha." When any genuine man is called into conspicuousness, and forced to take a stand for an unpopular or advanced principle against obloquy and opposition, there will be persecution as common as "the common prison" into which the apostles were hurried after they preached the resurrection.

(C. S. Robinson, D. D.)

When I am driven from the city, I care nothing for it; but I say to myself, If the empress wishes to banish me, the earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof. If she would saw me in sunder, let her do it; I have Isaiah for a pattern. If she would plunge me into the sea, I remember Jonah. If she would thrust me into the fiery furnace, I see the three Hebrew children enduring that. If she would cast me to the wild beasts, I call to mind Daniel in the den of lions. If she would take my head from me, I think of John the Baptist. If she would deprive me of worldly goods, let her do it; naked came I into the world, and naked I shall go out of it.

( Chrysostom.)

Candace, Esaias, Ethiopians, Isaiah, John, Peter, Philip, Saul, Simon, Stephen
Azotus, Caesarea, Gaza, Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria
Assembly, Burning, Church, Committed, Cruelly, Delivered, Destroy, Dragged, Dragging, Entering, Giving, Haling, Harassed, Hate, Hauling, Havoc, Havock, Houses, Laid, Making, Prison, Putting, Ravaged, Ravaging, Saul, Taking, Threw, Waste, Women
1. By occasion of the persecution in Jerusalem, the church being planted in Samaria,
4. by Philip the deacon, who preached, did miracles, and baptized many;
9. among the rest Simon the sorcerer, a great seducer of the people;
14. Peter and John come to confirm and enlarge the church;
15. where, by prayer and imposition of hands giving the Holy Spirit;
18. when Simon would have bought the like power of them,
20. Peter sharply reproving his hypocrisy and covetousness,
22. and exhorting him to repentance,
25. together with John preaching the word of the Lord, return to Jerusalem;
26. but the angel sends Philip to teach and baptize the Ethiopian Eunuch.

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Acts 8:3

     5040   murder
     5344   imprisonment
     5461   prisoners
     8730   enemies, of believers

Acts 8:1-3

     2426   gospel, responses
     8483   spiritual warfare, causes
     8739   evil, examples of

Acts 8:1-4

     8027   faith, testing of

Acts 8:1-5

     8498   witnessing, and Holy Spirit

Simon the Sorcerer
'Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God.'--ACTS viii. 21. The era of the birth of Christianity was one of fermenting opinion and decaying faith. Then, as now, men's minds were seething and unsettled, and that unrest which is the precursor of great changes in intellectual and spiritual habitudes affected the civilised world. Such a period is ever one of predisposition to superstition. The one true bond which unites God and man being obscured,
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture: The Acts

Philip the Evangelist
'But Philip was found at Azotus: and passing through he preached in all the cities, till he came to Caesarea.'--ACTS viii. 40. The little that is known about Philip, the deacon and evangelist, may very soon be told. His name suggests, though by no means conclusively, that he was probably one of the so-called Hellenists, or foreign-born and Greek-speaking Jews. This is made the more probable because he was one of the seven selected by the Church, and after that selection appointed by the Apostles,
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture: The Acts

Seed Scattered and Taking Root
'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. 2. And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him. 3. As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison. 4. Therefore they that were scattered abroad went everywhere
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture: The Acts

A Meeting in the Desert
'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. 27. 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, 28. Was returning, and sitting in his chariot, read Esaias the prophet. 29. Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture: The Acts

The General Spread of the Gospel
"The earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters covers the sea." Isa. 11:9. 1. In what a condition is the world at present! How does darkness, intellectual darkness, ignorance, with vice and misery attendant upon it, cover the face of the earth! From the accurate inquiry made with indefatigable pains by our ingenious countryman, Mr. Brerewood; (who travelled himself over a great part of the known world, in order to form the more exact judgment;) supposing the world to be divided
John Wesley—Sermons on Several Occasions

Twenty-Sixth Day for the Holy Spirit on Young Converts
WHAT TO PRAY.--For the Holy Spirit on Young Converts "Peter and John prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost; for as yet He was fallen upon none of them: only they had been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus."--ACTS viii. 15, 16. "Now He which establisheth us with you in Christ, and anointed us, is God; who also gave us the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts."--2 COR. i. 21, 22. How many new converts who remain feeble; how many who fall into sin; how many who backslide
Andrew Murray—The Ministry of Intercession

Period iii. The Critical Period: A. D. 140 to A. D. 200
The interval between the close of the post-apostolic age and the end of the second century, or from about 140 to 200, may be called the Critical Period of Ancient Christianity. In this period there grew up conceptions of Christianity which were felt by the Church, as a whole, to be fundamentally opposed to its essential spirit and to constitute a serious menace to the Christian faith as it had been commonly received. These conceptions, which grew up both alongside of, and within the Church, have
Joseph Cullen Ayer Jr., Ph.D.—A Source Book for Ancient Church History

After very many histories of this place in the Holy Bible, which there is no need to repeat here,--in this city did Alexander the Great, at length, besiege Babemeses the Persian, by the space of two months. "And that city, which before-time was most famous, was laid waste by him, and rendered desert." Not that he had destroyed the building of the city, or consumed it with fire; for presently after his death, Antigonus and Ptolemy, his captains, fighting, it had walls, gates, and fortifications: but
John Lightfoot—From the Talmud and Hebraica

And on the Day Following He Went Forth Still More Eagerly Bent on The...
11. And on the day following he went forth still more eagerly bent on the service of God and having fallen in with the old man he had met previously, he asked him to dwell with him in the desert. But when the other declined on account of his great age, and because as yet there was no such custom, Antony himself set off forthwith to the mountain. And yet again the enemy seeing his zeal and wishing to hinder it, cast in his way what seemed to be a great silver dish. But Antony, seeing the guile of
Athanasius—Select Works and Letters or Athanasius

Whether Baptism Can be Conferred in the Name of Christ?
Objection 1: It seems that Baptism can be conferred in the name of Christ. For just as there is "one Faith," so is there "one Baptism" (Eph. 4:5). But it is related (Acts 8:12) that "in the name of Jesus Christ they were baptized, both men and women." Therefore now also can Baptism be conferred in the name of Christ. Objection 2: Further, Ambrose says (De Spir. Sanct. i): "If you mention Christ, you designate both the Father by Whom He was anointed, and the Son Himself, Who was anointed, and the
Saint Thomas Aquinas—Summa Theologica

Whether Chrism is a Fitting Matter for this Sacrament?
Objection 1: It seems that chrism is not a fitting matter for this sacrament. For this sacrament, as stated above (A[1], ad 1), was instituted by Christ when He promised His disciples the Holy Ghost. But He sent them the Holy Ghost without their being anointed with chrism. Moreover, the apostles themselves bestowed this sacrament without chrism, by the mere imposition of hands: for it is written (Acts 8:17) that the apostles "laid their hands upon" those who were baptized, "and they received the
Saint Thomas Aquinas—Summa Theologica

Whether the Imposition of the Priest's Hands is Necessary for this Sacrament?
Objection 1: It would seem that the imposition of the priest's hands is necessary for this sacrament. For it is written (Mk. 16:18): "They shall lay hands upon the sick, and they shall recover." Now sinners are sick spiritually, and obtain recovery through this sacrament. Therefore an imposition of hands should be made in this sacrament. Objection 2: Further, in this sacrament man regains the Holy Ghost Whom he had lost, wherefore it is said in the person of the penitent (Ps. 1:14): "Restore unto
Saint Thomas Aquinas—Summa Theologica

Whether Penance is a Sacrament?
Objection 1: It would seem that Penance is not a sacrament. For Gregory [*Cf. Isidore, Etym. vi, ch. 19] says: "The sacraments are Baptism, Chrism, and the Body and Blood of Christ; which are called sacraments because under the veil of corporeal things the Divine power works out salvation in a hidden manner." But this does not happen in Penance, because therein corporeal things are not employed that, under them, the power of God may work our salvation. Therefore Penance is not a sacrament. Objection
Saint Thomas Aquinas—Summa Theologica

Whether Baptism Should be Deferred?
Objection 1: It seems that Baptism should be deferred. For Pope Leo says (Epist. xvi): "Two seasons," i.e. Easter and Whitsuntide, "are fixed by the Roman Pontiff for the celebration of Baptism. Wherefore we admonish your Beatitude not to add any other days to this custom." Therefore it seems that Baptism should be conferred not at once, but delayed until the aforesaid seasons. Objection 2: Further, we read in the decrees of the Council of Agde (Can. xxxiv): "If Jews whose bad faith often "returns
Saint Thomas Aquinas—Summa Theologica

Whether those who had Been Baptized with John's Baptism had to be Baptized with the Baptism of Christ?
Objection 1: It would seem that those who had been baptized with John's baptism had not to be baptized with the baptism of Christ. For John was not less than the apostles, since of him is it written (Mat. 11:11): "There hath not risen among them that are born of women a greater than John the Baptist." But those who were baptized by the apostles were not baptized again, but only received the imposition of hands; for it is written (Acts 8:16,17) that some were "only baptized" by Philip "in the name
Saint Thomas Aquinas—Summa Theologica

Whether Simony is an Intentional Will to Buy or Sell Something Spiritual or Connected with a Spiritual Thing?
Objection 1: It would seem that simony is not "an express will to buy or sell something spiritual or connected with a spiritual thing." Simony is heresy, since it is written (I, qu. i [*Can. Eos qui per pecunias.]): "The impious heresy of Macedonius and of those who with him impugned the Holy Ghost, is more endurable than that of those who are guilty of simony: since the former in their ravings maintained that the Holy Spirit of Father and Son is a creature and the slave of God, whereas the latter
Saint Thomas Aquinas—Summa Theologica

The Holy Spirit Sending Men Forth to Definite Lines of Work.
We read in Acts xiii. 2-4, "As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate Me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed into Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus." It is evident from this passage that the Holy Spirit calls men into definite lines of work and sends them forth into the work. He not
R. A. Torrey—The Person and Work of The Holy Spirit

Preventive against Backsliding.
It is most instructive to note how exceedingly anxious the early Christians were, that, as soon as a man was converted, he should be "filled with the Holy Ghost." They knew no reason why weary wastes of disappointing years should stretch between Bethel and Peniel, between the Cross and Pentecost. They knew it was not God's will that forty years of wilderness wanderings should lie between Egypt and the Promised Land (Deut. i. 2). When Peter and John came to the Samaritans, and found that they were
John MacNeil—The Spirit-Filled Life

How Long Between?
It is often asked what time must elapse between the regenerating by the Spirit and the filling with the Spirit? for be it remembered the Filling is as real and distinct and definite a blessing as the regenerating. Many people know the moment of their new birth; they were conscious of the change; so also many know when they were "filled with the Holy Ghost;" it was a blessed, bright, conscious experience, and it is as impossible to argue them out of the one experience as out of the other. On the other
John MacNeil—The Spirit-Filled Life

The Early History of Particular Churches.
A.D. 67-A.D. 500 Section 1. The Church of England. [Sidenote: St. Paul's visit to England.] The CHURCH OF ENGLAND is believed, with good reason, to owe its foundation to the Apostle St. Paul, who probably came to this country after his first imprisonment at Rome. The writings of Tertullian, and others in the second and third centuries speak of Christianity as having spread as far as the islands of Britain, and a British king named Lucius is known to have embraced the Faith about the middle of
John Henry Blunt—A Key to the Knowledge of Church History

Philip, the Evangelist
BY REV. GEORGE MILLIGAN, M.A., D.D. Philip the Evangelist must be carefully distinguished from Philip the Apostle. And though it is little that we are told regarding him in Scripture, that little is very significant. He first comes before us as one of the seven chosen by the early Church at Jerusalem to take charge of the daily ministration of charity to the poor widows (Acts vi. I ff.). And when this work is hindered by the outbreak of persecution following on the death of Stephen, we find him
George Milligan—Men of the Bible; Some Lesser-Known

Whether Sanctifying Grace is Bestowed in this Sacrament?
Objection 1: It seems that sanctifying grace is not bestowed in this sacrament. For sanctifying grace is ordained against sin. But this sacrament, as stated above [4492](A[6]) is given only to the baptized, who are cleansed from sin. Therefore sanctifying grace is not bestowed in this sacrament. Objection 2: Further, sinners especially need sanctifying grace, by which alone can they be justified. If, therefore, sanctifying grace is bestowed in this sacrament, it seems that it should be given to those
Saint Thomas Aquinas—Summa Theologica

Whether Only a Bishop Can Confer this Sacrament?
Objection 1: It seems that not only a bishop can confer this sacrament. For Gregory (Regist. iv), writing to Bishop Januarius, says: "We hear that some were scandalized because we forbade priests to anoint with chrism those who have been baptized. Yet in doing this we followed the ancient custom of our Church: but if this trouble some so very much we permit priests, where no bishop is to be had, to anoint the baptized on the forehead with chrism." But that which is essential to the sacraments should
Saint Thomas Aquinas—Summa Theologica

Of the Five Sacraments, Falsely So Called. Their Spuriousness Proved, and their True Character Explained.
1. Connection of the present discussion with that concerning Baptism and the Lord's Supper. Impiety of the popish teachers in attributing more to human rites than to the ordinances of God. 2. Men cannot institute sacraments. Necessary to keep up a distinction between sacraments and other ceremonies. 3. Seven sacraments not to be found in ecclesiastical writers. Augustine, who may represent all the others, acknowledged two sacraments only. 4. Nature of confirmation in ancient times. The laying on
John Calvin—The Institutes of the Christian Religion

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