Acts 8:5
Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Christ to them.
Preaching ChristR. Tuck Acts 8:5
After Stephen, PaulActs 8:1-8
Stephen and SaulCanon Liddon.Acts 8:1-8
Strong Contrasts of Moral CharacterJ. S. Exell, M. A.Acts 8:1-8
The Apostles Stayed Bravely in JerusalemS. G. Green, D. D.Acts 8:1-8
The DispersionDean Plumptre.Acts 8:1-8
The Effect of PersecutionArchdeacon Farrar.Acts 8:1-8
The Extension of the ChurchC. H. Spurgeon.Acts 8:1-8
The Persecution After StephenD. Thomas, D. D.Acts 8:1-8
The Scattered Church; or Good Out of EvilW. H. Davison.Acts 8:1-8
The Wonderful Ways of the Lord in the Propagation of His KingdomK. Gerok.Acts 8:1-8
Three Great Figures in the ChurchJ. Parker, D. D.Acts 8:1-8
Incidents of Persecution and DispersionE. Johnson Acts 8:1-13
Christ in Every SermonActs 8:5-8
Christ not in the SermonActs 8:5-8
Fruit -- JoyW. Arnot, D. D.Acts 8:5-8
Genuine and Spurious MiraclesDean Goulburn.Acts 8:5-8
How Christ Should be PreachedC. H. Spurgeon.Acts 8:5-8
Joyful Import of the GospelJ. Benson.Acts 8:5-8
Joyousness of ChristianityActs 8:5-8
Philip At SamariaT. Kelly.Acts 8:5-8
Philip Preaching At SamariaD. J. Burrell, D. D.Acts 8:5-8
Philip Preaching in a Samaritan CityW. Arnot, D. D.Acts 8:5-8
Philip's Ministry in SamariaD. Thomas, D. D.Acts 8:5-8
Preaching ChristC. Hodge, D. D.Acts 8:5-8
Samaria EvangelizedR.A. Redford Acts 8:5-8
Samaria Made JoyfulW. Dransfield.Acts 8:5-8
The Advent of the Gospel to SamariaDean Goulburn.Acts 8:5-8
The Christian CityBp. Phillips Brooks.Acts 8:5-8
The Duty of Christians to Speak About ChristJ. L. Nye.Acts 8:5-8
The Grounds of Christian JoyA. Thomson, D. D.Acts 8:5-8
The Joy of SalvationActs 8:5-8
The Only Cure for Soul DisordersJ. S. Pawlyn.Acts 8:5-8
The Spiritual Miracles of the GospelK. Gerok.Acts 8:5-8
The Unique Effects of the GospelLord Bacon.Acts 8:5-8
Success and Disappointment in Christian WorkW. Clarkson Acts 8:5-25

I. A LARGE MEASURE OF SUCCESS. We must consider:

1. The special obstacles in the way, viz.

(1)the people of Samaria were to some extent alien; they were likely to be less friendly than those who were wholly foreign, for their connection with the Jews as their near neighbors had led to the bitterest jealousies and animosities.

(2) They were under the spell of a skilful and powerful impostor (vers. 9-11).

2. The means by which success was gained.

(1) Philip presented to the people the one great truth which they needed to know: he "preached Christ unto them" (ver. 5). Obstacles must be mighty indeed if there are not found hearts to respond when a once crucified, now exalted Savior is preached, whose death is the sacrifice for sin, and who offers himself to our souls as our living Lord and unchanging Friend.

(2) The preached truth was confirmed by striking and gladdening proofs of Divine power: they gave heed," seeing the miracles which he did" (ver. 6); and great wonders were wrought in their midst, so numerous and beneficent that "there was great joy in that. city."

3. The magnitude of the success.

(1) They gave unanimous attention: "with one accord they gave heed" (ver. 6).

(2) They believed and avowed their faith: "they were baptized, both men and women" (ver. 12).

(3) The impostor himself made profession of faith (ver. 13).

4. Confirmation of it, both human and Divine.

(1) Human: the apostles sent down Peter and John, who witnessed and owned the work as genuine (vers. 14, 15).

(2) Divine: the Holy Ghost descended upon them, in (doubtless) miraculous bestowments (ver. 17).

II. A SERIOUS DISCOURAGEMENT. There is no more disheartening blow which can fall on the heart of an earnest Christian worker than to find that his converts have not really changed their mind, but only their creed. Very bitter must have been the cup to the Christian community in Samaria when Simon made the miserable exhibition of himself recorded in the text (vers. 18, 19). Either he had been utterly insincere throughout, or, as is more likely, he was convinced that Philip and the apostles were masters of some great powers he had not been able to gain; but completely mistook the character of their mission, thinking they were out on an errand of self-aggrandizement. Whether Simon's was a guilty simulation or a blasphemous error, it was rebuked with an almost terrible severity (vers. 20-23), which evidently affected and even affrighted the sorcerer (ver. 24). In tones of unwonted sternness, such as the occasion required, Peter rejected the infamous proposal to receive money for the impartation of Divine power, and assured Simon that he was still in the very depth of folly and of sin, from which nothing but repentance could deliver him.

1. We also may have a large measure of success in our work. We have all the materials of success, if we will use them: the needed saving truth; the beneficent agencies which spring from Christian sources, and which commend the Christian cause; the presence in the Church of the Holy Spirit of God.

2. We shall always be liable to disappointment. Some whom we believe to be possessed of the truth and to be brought beneath its vital power will prove to be only just touched by it, or to be mere pretenders and deceivers.

3. Spite of painful drawbacks, we may thank God for good work done. It was with joyous and grateful hearts, we may be sure, that the apostles "returned to Jerusalem" (ver. 25). They had not forgotten Simon's defection; they would never forget that disappointing moment when he made his humiliating offer. But, after all, he was in the dark and far background; in front of him and in full view of their gladdened souls was the testimony they had borne for their Master, the Church they had gathered, the good work they had wrought in Samaria. - C.

Then Philip wont down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ unto them.
I. THE PREACHER — "Philip."

1. His native place — "Caesarea," most likely.

2. His official status — "Evangelist," and one of the first deacons.

3. His new charge — "Samaria."

4. His specific work "Preached."

5. His theme — "Christ."

6. His directness — "Unto them."He took aim at his audience. He did not take long range at antediluvian iniquity, but poured hot shot and shell into the living iniquities of Samaria.


1. He made a fine impression — "The people with one accord gave heed," were impressed with his


(2)Character, and


2. He impressed them with his power — "Seeing the miracles."

3. He surprised them by his authority — "Unclean spirits crying came out."

4. He blessed them by his presence — "Many with palsies."

5. He gladdened them by his ministry — "There was great joy in that city."

(T. Kelly.)

The early Christians were not disposed to leave Jerusalem. They had been counselled to abide in Jerusalem until they were endued with power from on high; but Pentecost had come and gone, and still they tarried. Perhaps they were in a measure constrained by their lingering prejudice against the gathering in of the Gentiles. The martyrdom of Stephen was the stirring up of the nest. The infatuated Jews who wrought that murderous deed may have fondly hoped that it would prove the death-blow of the little Christian Church. But God maketh the wrath of men to praise Him. Thus it is written, "The disciples that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the Word." The Church perforce begins her aggressive march. Providence made them all missionaries. The apostles alone remained in Jerusalem, which became henceforth "a centre not of concentration, but of radiation."

I. Philip, the evangelist, COMES TO SAMARIA. Among those who fled from Jerusalem at this juncture was Philip, one of the seven deacons. He was a man full of the Holy Ghost and power, and with a special fitness for evangelistic work. On reaching the city of Samaria he began at once to "preach Christ unto them." In all the world there was probably, at that moment, no city whose conditions were more unfavourable to Christian effort. The people were half heathen at the best. Rejecting all of the Scriptures except the five books of Moses, they were addicted to all manner of superstitious observances. Just now they were under the spell of a certain necromancer, known to us as Simon Magus, who called himself "The Great Power of God." Under these circumstances a prudent evangelist might have thought best to pass on to more congenial soil. But Philip was not prudent in that wise. He followed the lead of Providence, the only safe plan. For "he that observeth the wind shall not sow; and he that regardeth the clouds shall not reap" (Ecclesiastes 11:4).

II. His coming is FOLLOWED BY A REVIVAL. Some men are a curse to the cities they live in; others are a blessing. At once he set about two things: —

1. "He preached Christ." It is noteworthy how often we come upon this and similar expressions in the Scriptures — "preaching the Word," "preaching the gospel," "preaching the Lord Jesus," "preaching peace by Jesus Christ." Nothing is said about fine essay work in the pulpit or about profound scientific and philosophical disquisitions. No truth was presented which did not emanate from Christ as a sunbeam from the sun. The mission of a minister is to preach the gospel; and the gospel is the good tidings that Jesus saves. A hundred philosophers, bending all their efforts for a hundred years upon a single sinner would fail to save him, but one faithful herald of the old-fashioned gospel of the Cross can stir a whole city to its depth. Philip was only a deacon, an evangelist; there were many wiser men in Samaria; but, alas! the truth as it is in Jesus had not set their hearts on fire. So he had the advantage of them all. "And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which he spake."

2. And they were all the readier to listen to him by reason of the miracles which he wrought in the name of Jesus. "For unclean spirits came out of many that were possessed; and many taken with palsies and that were lame were healed; and there was great joy in that city." The very best evidence of the truth of Christ's gospel is in its influence upon the community. Take a map of the world and mark off the countries where happiness and prosperity prevail in largest measure, and in every instance they are the countries that acknowledge Jesus as the Christ. The gospel, wherever it goes, proves its Divineness by working miracles of beneficence. And the Christian proves the truth of his message by showing what it has done for his own heart and conscience, and by dispensing of its virtues to all around him. So one man turned Samaria upside down. Before the people knew, probably before he himself realised it, they were in the midst of a great revival.

III. PETER AND JOHN COME TO HIS RELIEF. No better could have been selected than these two whom we so often find in each other's company — Peter the Man of Rock, and John the Son of Thunder. We may imagine the delight with which the faithful, overworked evangelist welcomed them. These apostles came, moreover, not only to preach Christ to the Samaritans, but to confer upon the Christian workers the charismata, or gifts of the Holy Ghost. On the arrival of these apostles the work went forward with renewed energy, but Philip was less conspicuous. No doubt he recognised their superior fitness, and was content to take a subordinate place. Where the mind of Jesus prevails there is neither clash nor jealousy. There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.

(D. J. Burrell, D. D.)

Consider the suggestions arising from —

I. THE SCENE of his ministry. In selecting the "city of Samaria" we discover —

1. His practical sagacity. Christ had been there and had prepared the way.

2. His obedience to Christ. Christ had commanded it (Acts 1:8).

3. His largeness of soul. They were a people hostile to his own, by political and religious prejudices.

4. His intrepidity of conduct. He was doing that which would put him directly against the Jews.

II. THE SUBJECT. "Christ," not Moses; Christ, not creed — the living Christ, the anointed of God, the Saviour of the world — probably: —

1. As the burden of past promises, as "Him of whom Moses and the prophets did write." This is what we have to do.

2. As the foundation of all future hopes. His the " only name given," etc. No one else to look forward to.

III. THE RECEPTION (ver. 6). They gave proper attention to what he said. What would be proper attention to a theme like this?

1. Profoundly reverential. It is a Divine communication.

2. Devoutly grateful. Infinite love is displayed in the message.

3. Earnestly practical. Demanding most strenuous personal application.

IV. THE ATTESTATION. His miracles which were —

1. Illustrations of the benign glories of his ministry.

2. Powers to impress the Divinity of his ministry.

V. THE INFLUENCE (ver. 8). They had been partly prepared for this by Christ's conversation with the woman. The gospel brings joy to a people because it is "good tidings," etc.

(D. Thomas, D. D.)

Philip —


1. Went down, i.e., from Jerusalem. The place physically was high; it was also the centre of government and worship — hence the expressions "going up" and "going down." If there is one super-eminent mountain in a country the clouds of heaven congregate round it, and from it the water flows in every direction to refresh the land. Such, spiritually, was Jerusalem. The clouds gathered round it at Pentecost, and under the influence of the mighty rushing wind they were precipitated, and bore the gospel of grace to all nations. Christ's name and work is that central mountain now. The Spirit without measure is poured out upon Him. The Jerusalem that now is is His Church, around which all heavenly influences congregate, and from which they flow forth. Hence missions. Christians engage in mission work as mountains discharge rivers; they cannot help it, it is a law of their being. Love in redeemed hearts swells, and would rend them unless they opened.

2. To a city. The efforts of the first Christians were directed chiefly to the great cities. When the strongholds are won, the surrounding country is more easily occupied. Cities seem destined to play a greater part in modern than they did in ancient times. As yet no symptom appears of any natural law that shall check their increase. The thought of London makes the heart falter. But "this is the victory that overcometh the world," etc. Lord increase our faith.

3. A city of Samaria. It was near; it was needy. Its inhabitants were a mixed people with a patchwork religion. Samaria is near us to-day, and if we are willing to go, we need not lack a mission-field.


1. He preached — the first and chief work of a missionary, as a herald of peace from the king to a rebel country. Teaching and printing are useful auxiliaries, but they must not usurp the first place.

2. He preached Christ. To this the teaching of the Bible constantly comes round. Not law, morality, philosophy, or even the Scriptures or true doctrine, but Christ.

3. Unto them — to each heart. Not a general scheme of redemption, but a personal Saviour to a personal soul. Let the sunbeams passing through ordinary glass be spread over your naked band and the effect is imperceptible; but let the rays pass through a convex glass and be concentrated on one point, and they will shine brilliantly and go to the quick. The gospel may be preached or heard in both these ways; hence its diverse effects.

(W. Arnot, D. D.)

With the history of Philip commences a new stage in the development of the Church. In the first commission to the twelve the glad tidings were restricted to the Jews, to the express exclusion of the Samaritans. This, however, was cancelled in the final commission, and Samaria first and then the whole world were thrown open to the gospel. But the honour of executing this commission, in both its narrowest and widest extent, fell not to an apostle, but to a deacon. Samaria directly, and Africa indirectly, were evangelised by Philip, the forerunner of Paul in his work as Stephen was in his preaching. "Coming events cast their shadows before." The forms of Stephen and Philip, projected on the canvas of sacred history, give us some idea of the gigantic figure in reserve. What moved Philip is not recorded. Perhaps the persecution was specially directed against him, as his name occurs next to Stephen's, and because he was as a Graecized Jew more liberal than his brethren in Palestine. He went down to a (not the) city of Samaria, probably Sebaste or Sychar. The orderliness of the spread of the gospel should be noted. It was to begin from Jerusalem as its centre, and first to permeate Judaea, the province of which Jerusalem was the metropolis, and thence to Samaria, the contiguous province, and thence to the uttermost parts of the earth. Now this collocation of Samaria (between Judaea and the uttermost parts of the earth) is not so much to be understood geographically as morally. The Samaritans were Judaised Gentiles, just as the Hellenists were Gentilised Jews. And it is obvious that Judaised Gentiles might play the same part which Hellenists played — act as a bridge between Judaism and heathenism. The Samaritans were probably purely heathen by extraction, descendants of those with whom Shalmanezer repeopled the desolated country (2 Kings 17.), whose corrupt religion soon found for itself a local habitation and a name. Manasseh, the son of a Jewish high priest, being threatened with expulsion from the priesthood for contracting marriage with a Samaritan lady, permanently sided with them, built a rival temple on Gerizim, and founded a rival priesthood. The Samaritan Bible was a copy of the law of Moses, and that only, showing, however, many alterations of the text. Thus where Moses commands the people to build an altar on Mount Ebal, Gerizim is substituted for Ebal. Thus the Samaritan religion was a spurious and mutilated Judaism. And hence the antipathy of the Jews to them exceeded their antipathy to mere Gentiles. Nothing do men hate more than a caricature of themselves. Accordingly Samaritans were cursed in every synagogue, excluded as witnesses from Jewish courts of justice, and could never become proselytes. These rancorous prejudices were foreign to the Spirit of Christ, and He took every opportunity of counteracting them. But while He forbids all animosity against them, He gave no sanction to their religious claims. It will be seen, therefore, that a strict Jew of the high orthodox school would have had a vast deal of prejudice to surmount in carrying the gospel to Samaria. But Philip did not belong to this school. His circumstances and office would give him wider sympathies than were to be found among Hebrews of the Hebrews. The original diaconate was now broken up, and Philip, the distributor of alms, appears in the new character of evangelist — a striking proof that the wisest plans for Church government must be subject to modifications by the Providence of God. Yet while the form of the early diaconate passed away, its principles remained, and we hear of deacons at Philippi, and of a gift of "helps " at Corinth. A concluding word on the slow development of the ideas which were to form Christendom. The Church had much to learn after Pentecost, which experience and struggle only could teach. The outpouring was not a magical enlightenment on all points of truth, but rather the implantation of a principle of light and love, which was to work out its results according to the laws of the human mind. Placed under the guidance of the Spirit the views of the apostles became gradually clearer and wider. Pentecost did for society what conversion does for the individual. Conversion is a period of warm and lively emotions, but the work of sanctification, so far from being finished, has only begun. Our young strength has to be approved by trial, and our little knowledge to be enlarged by experience. So it was with the early Church.

(Dean Goulburn.)

I. THE PREACHING OF CHRIST. Christ is to be preached as —

1. All almighty;

2. All sufficient;

3. Only;

4. Gracious and compassionate, Saviour.


1. The blessings it brings.

2. The prospects it unfolds.Conclusion:

1. What reasons we have to be thankful for the gospel!

2. What use are we making of it?

(W. Dransfield.)


1. That the subject of preaching was not the wisdom of the world.

2. That it was the revelation concerning Christ.

(1)The nature of His person.

(2)The character of His work in all His offices.

(3)The method of salvation through Him: what we must do to obtain an interest in His salvation.

(4)The duties we owe Him.

II. CHRIST AS THE OBJECT OF PREACHING. The objects which men have are various, and some selfish and degrading. Some preach Christ of strife and envy. Others have objects which are legitimate, but subordinate, as the temporal or eternal well-being of men. The true specific and appropriate object is the exaltation and glory of Christ; that He may be known, worshipped, and obeyed.


1. He is our God and Saviour.

2. This is requisite to men becoming Christians.

3. To make men Christians is the best means of glorifying God, and the only means of promoting the happiness, holiness, and salvation of men.

IV. TO PREACH CHRIST IS A GRACE. The reasons why it is so great a favour are because —

1. It is the highest service of God and Christ.

2. To serve Him is the highest honour, and the greatest source of happiness.

(C. Hodge, D. D.)



1. Very man.

2. Very God.


1. Atoning for sin.

2. Triumphing over death.


1. For Himself.

2. For His people.

V. AS JUDGE. Living to make Christ known: — I wonder how many Christian people here could have their biographies condensed into this line, "He lived to make Christ known." Might it not be said of one, he lived to open a shop, and then to open a second? or of another, be lived to save a good deal of money, and take shares in limited liability companies? or of a third, he lived to paint a great picture? or of a fourth, he was best known for his genial hospitality? Of many a minister it might be said — he lived to preach splendid sermons, and to gain credit for fine oratory. What of all these? If it can be said of a man, "He lived to glorify Christ," then his life is a life. Every Christian man ought so to live. Oh that my memorial might be: "He preached Christ crucified"!

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

The late Bishop F — , of Salisbury, having procured a young clergyman of promising abilities to preach before the king; and the young man having, in his lordship's opinion, acquitted himself well, the bishop, in conversation with the king afterwards, wishing to get his sovereign's opinion, took the liberty to say, "Does not your majesty think that the young man, who had the honour to preach before your majesty, is likely to make a good clergyman, and has this morning delivered a very good sermon?" To which the king in his blunt manner, hastily replied, "It might have been a good sermon, my lord; but I consider no sermon good that has nothing of Christ in it."

A lady named Ruth Montgomery, writing in an American journal, tells us of hearing a young man just entering the ministry, who visited her grandfather when she was a little girl, deliver an address on some public secular occasion. Years afterwards, when grown to womanhood, she heard the same speaker deliver a lecture of deep interest, in a town in the interior of New York. Standing at the entrance of the pew, as he passed down the aisle to the door, she shook hands with him, and said: "I am little Ruth." A smile lighted up his countenance, and he replied, "Do you know that you said something to me when I was at your grandfather's that I have never forgotten?" "Oh, no," I said; "it cannot be possible!" "Yes, you did," he replied; "when I returned from the lecture, you said, 'Dr. D., you didn't forget to bring in the Saviour into your lecture.' And I determined then I never would forget it. I have remembered it from that day to this, and tried to keep my resolution."

Many years ago, when S. D. Rickards was walking home with a young lady, talking to her of the good Lord and His willingness to help us (in accordance with a resolution made still farther back that he would never be alone with any young person without speaking concerning "the better things"), he found that she had been longing to be a Christian for a considerable time; she wanted to love and trust the Lord Jesus, but she did not know how. In the simplest way he told her how — that trusting Christ was no more difficult than trusting him. Did she believe that he would save her if he could, if she asked him? And when the reply came, "Yes," the question was put whether He, the Infinitely Good, was not much more to be trusted than a poor weak being like himself. Would He not be sure to save her if she asked Him, and could she not trust Him to say yes? A few days after, a little note came, thanking him for the conversation, relating how now she could say she trusted the Lord Jesus and was glad in Him, and adding these few words: "If any one during the last three years had spoken to me as you did the other night, I should have been a Christian. It was just what I was wanting. I often wonder Christians talk so little about Christ."

(J. L. Nye.)

And the people with one accord gave heed unto these things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. —
I. THE PEOPLE LISTENED TO THE MESSENGER. There was great earnestness and unanimity. They did not oppose him or remain unmoved. It is a great advantage when an awaking becomes general. Solitary Christians are like solitary trees near the sea coast; the cold winds keep down their growth or kill them. But in a thick wood all contribute to shelter each. So quickly and generally did this harvest grow up to Philip's hand that we are compelled to believe that a sower had been previously at work. This was so. The Master had sown, the servant now reaped.

II. THE PEOPLE BOTH HEARD HIS DOCTRINES, AND SAW HIS MIGHTY WORKS. We have the same doctrines and the same results in conversion, but not the miracles? Why? They were the credentials of the first preachers; why, then, cannot we have them to authenticate ours? For the same reason, perhaps, that the miracle of Creation has not been repeated. To set the world going powers were necessary that are not necessary now. The present organic laws are sufficient for the continuance of the species, but not to account for the commencement. Why, then, should it be thought impossible that God should exert a power to establish the gospel which was not needed afterwards? Existing spiritual forces are sufficient for all gospel purposes, and are mightier even than the miracles employed to establish it.

III. THERE WAS GREAT JOY IN THE CITY. Hear this, ye butterfly flutterers, that flit from flower to flower, satiate with each sweet as soon as you alight upon it, and hastening unhappy to another, trying every flower all day, and at night bringing no honey home! Hear this, all ye who study hard to keep religion at arm's length, lest it should cast a gloom over your heart or home! When an earnest missionary who had risked his life for Christ's name preached in a city, the people, instead of growing gloomy, became glad. This is a phenomenon worthy of study. But do not mistake its meaning. The instinct which prompts the vain and worldly to keep religion away, lest it should destroy their pleasure, is a true instinct. Every creature's instinct is for its own preservation. To embrace Christ is to crucify the old man, who does not die without struggle and pain. But when he is put off a new nature is put on, and the new nature has new joys. What the Samaritans felt is the ultimate result, not the first effect, of preaching Christ offered to a city or a soul, and kept out seems a terror, but received becomes a joy which life cannot give or death destroy.

(W. Arnot, D. D.)

Undesigned coincidences are a most satisfactory evidence of the truth of Scripture. We have one here. From the account of our Lord's sojourn in Sychar, given by John — a very different writer from Luke — we gather that the Samaritans were a simple-minded people, with childlike taste for the marvellous, and an equally childlike credulity, keenly anticipating the coming of a great Prophet and Deliverer, but having the moral faculties undeveloped. Now it is exactly among such a people that magic is likely to make way, as the narrative tells us it did. Thus the Samaritans of the Acts are true to the character incidentally ascribed to them in St. John. But among nations of a much higher civilisation there was at the time a susceptibility to magical arts. Religious ideas were in a state of fermentation, and religious minds in a state of high excitement. There was a general expectation of the advent of a great Ruler, due partly to the dissemination of Jewish ideas and associations through Israel's dispersion, and to the growing disbelief in mythology. Men must have some religion, and so intelligent heathens held on to the old forms, with an occasional sneer, for the want of a better, but they yearned for something truer and more satisfying. Now this state is connected with credulity and an appetite for signs and wonders; and wherever there is a demand there is sure to be a supply. And, to go beyond the phenomena to the causes, by the manifestation of God in the flesh, the powers of evil were stirred up to a desperate effort for the maintenance of their supremacy. Demoniacal possession was one result of this effort; a great swarm of impostors was another. Apollonius of Tyana is said to have performed miracles which are parodies of those in the Gospels. By the side of the genuine coin which God minted was issued from the devil's mint a whole school of counterfeit coins. The gospel was to fare as the law had done; when the sorcerers were able to do the same wonders as Moses up to a certain point, after which they are constrained to see "the finger of God." So here the magician is forced to acknowledge that God is in the gospel, and is baptized, though without change of heart. His policy was, without relinquishing the purpose of his life, to ascertain the secret of this new power: and he seems to have regarded baptism as a magical rite on a level with his own spells. And Luke, in describing his state of mind while beholding the miracles of the gospel, used the same Greek word which he employed to describe the effect of Simon's own powers. "He bewitched the people of Samaria,... and beholding the miracles and signs which were done, he was bewitched." Note some of the characteristics of Philip's miracles which distinguished them from those of the sorcerer. The former had upon them —

I. THE SEAL OF GOD'S GLORY. The sorcerer preached himself — "Gave out that he was some great one"; whereas Philip "preached Christ" and "the things concerning the kingdom of God." He announced that the devil's empire was broken, and that whosoever would come to God might have priceless blessings. Miracles of a corresponding character attested the message. Unclean spirits were expelled in token of Satan's shattered kingdom, and in evidence that a new power had come into humanity many were healed. At the sight of these miracles the people rejoiced. But mere wonders have no aptitude to produce joy. Simon's sorceries produced only amazement and dread. What produced the joy was the glad tidings which Philip preached. Where miracles redound, by many thanksgivings unto the praise of God, we may believe that they had their origin from God; but when they redound to the glorification of men, we may suspect them.

II. THE SEAL OF LOVE TO MAN. They brought relief to suffering humanity. But not a word is said of the beneficence of Simon's miracles — they were simply wonders that bewitched folk. Conclusion:

1. True miracles are never shown for their own sake, but for some doctrine which has to be attested by them. They are never advanced to make people wonder, but as signs to make them believe. Hence, as soon as the doctrine has gained a firm footing, the miracles cease. When marvels are professed to be wrought by some occult power, do not credit them unless they are in confirmation of some Divine message.

2. There is a correspondence between the character of a true miracle and the doctrine which it is wrought to establish. Thus, e.g., the plagues of Egypt were all directed to establish the superiority of Jehovah to the idols of Egypt, and those of Philip to prove that the gospel was good tidings of great joy. And the people saw the correspondence between the two (ver. 8).

(Dean Goulburn.)




1. At the forgiveness of sins.

2. In the enjoyment of God.

3. In the hope of eternal salvation.

(K. Gerok.)

Some years ago I was at Birmingham when the onion fair was being held, and thousands of people came from the Black Country to attend it, and to witness the sights that seem to be a part of all such gatherings. The London Bible Society sent an agent to sell copies of the Bible. There was also a woman selling a patent medicine, and some young fellows from the Black Country went up to her, and one of them said, "Missis, can you cure us?" "What's the matter?" inquired the woman. "Oh, we've got the devil in us," was the reply. "No, young man," said the woman, with a reverence for the truth that deserved something better than to be selling patent medicine, "I cannot cure you. Your disorder is of the soul; my physic is only for the body. If you want to be cured, you must go to the man that's selling Bibles yonder."

(J. S. Pawlyn.)

And there was great joy in
There was joy on account of —

I. TEMPORAL MERCIES. The circumstances attending the benefits, as well as the benefits themselves, would render this joy peculiarly great. For many hopeless maladies were cured instantaneously and completely, neither subjecting the patient to any painful operation, nor leaving any portion of the distemper unremoved. And their joy would be still more enhanced by perceiving the hand of God in all this, and that it was illustrative of the mercy and power on which they might rest their confidence in Him for future and higher blessings. For they welcomed the redeeming message thus recommended and attested, and embraced the faith and hope of the gospel. Now, when any blessing is put into your lot, your hearts will doubtless be affected with joy. And the joy will be in proportion to the native sensibility of your minds and to the blessing received. But the great subject of anxiety should be that your joy shall be worthy of the faculties with which God has endowed you, and of those sentiments and anticipations which He has taught you to entertain. What is the nature of your joy after temporal benefit? Is it a mere animal excitement, like the gratification of the brutes when they are getting their hunger and thirst appeased, or when they are liberated from pain or confinement? Or is it the feeling of those worldlings who are happy only when their lower appetites are ministered to? In order for the joy to be Christian, those blessings by which the emotion has been excited must be considered as to their origin and as to the higher purposes which they are designed to subserve, both in your present and your future condition.

1. You are joyful for temporal benefits, but remember that these are not the fruits of your own exertion, or of the benevolence of your fellow-men, or of fate or accident. They are the gifts of God. The kind interpositions here recorded were miraculous; but if you have taken your principles and impressions from the Holy Scriptures, you will not need a miracle to lift your contemplation to Him by whom a mercy has been manifested. Every comfort you will regard as descending from heaven. And how sweet and satisfying is that joy which you draw from this reference of every blessing to God! Were you to be informed that any happy event which had befallen you originated in the contrivance of an individual, who combined with general worth a strong and disinterested attachment to you, would not this discovery add much to your pleasure by giving birth to sympathies which could not otherwise have existed? And if this individual should turn out to be the father whom you had done much to displease, would not this increase the enjoyment to a still higher degree? And must not this be realised in a style which no reciprocity of kindness between man and man can ever exemplify, and in a degree which no display of mere human generosity can ever create, when you are able to receive all the good things of life as proceeding from the hand of your Father in heaven? And in proportion as you see the finger of God in whatever contributes to your preservation and your comfort will your joy be regulated, not by the greatness of the prosperity which gives occasion for it, but by the Divine bounty which it indicates whether it be great or small.

2. But besides this, you should be joyful in the experience of temporal good, because it restores or increases your means of personal improvement and of social usefulness. There can be little doubt that many of the rejoicing Samaritans felt in this way. From their having been subject to various infirmities, they must have been not only debarred from useful exertion, but have even been a burden both to themselves and to their friends. But when freed from such bodily calamities, the faith they embraced in consequence of this Divine interposition would lead them to employ their recovered powers in advancing their own good and the good of their neighbours, and to rejoice that the ability was restored, while the inclination was also given, to glorify God in practical acknowledgments of His healing mercy. And, as under the impulse of this holy ambition every, thing which retards your progress will be a subject of regret, so whatever tends to promote it will make you glad in proportion to its power of adding to the warmth of your piety and the extent of your virtue. Nor can you fail to be conscious of the same emotions in reference to the welfare of others.(1) You were long confined, perhaps, to a bed of sickness, which has interrupted your course of active duty. Now that, through Divine mercy, you are permitted to exchange the chamber of disease for the scene of wonted industry, you indulge in the gladness of soul which such a transition is fitted to inspire. But are you glad merely that you are again permitted to partake of the amusements, or mingle in the business, of the world? No; your gladness, if it be Christian, will rather arise from this — that you can now follow out the important purposes for which your Lord has qualified you.(2) Perhaps you had a dear friend in whom you trusted for advice and encouragement; and as it had pleased God to afflict him, so it has pleased God to give him back to your prayers and your affections. But you must have poorly appreciated his value if you did not hail his return, not merely on the ground of friendship, but because you were to be again blessed with his counsels and admonitions and example.(3) Or perhaps you have been rescued from worldly embarrassments which had checked you in the cultivation of your talents, and almost destroyed your power of promoting the good of your fellow-men. And in the relief from these embarrassments this will hold an influential and distinguished place, that you have recovered that by which you can make greater progress in the things that are excellent, and be instrumental in furthering the grand interests of humanity and religion in the world.

II. SPIRITUAL MERCIES. Philip preached Christ to the Samaritans, and they embraced Him as an all-sufficient Redeemer, and by baptism vowed to undertake all the duties of their Christian profession. Now, if we have welcomed the gospel as they did, we must be similarly affected with joy. The gospel is of such an interesting description, and is so calculated to work upon the principles and susceptibilities of our nature, that whenever it meets with. belief and obedience it cannot fail to produce joy. So much is this the case that Christianity is distinctively "good tidings of great joy."

1. Let us only think of the information which Christianity conveys, that we may see how necessarily it excites gladness.(1) Do we rejoice to learn that some temporary evil that we greatly feared has been averted? Well, then, we learn from the gospel that the greatest of all calamities is provided against so effectually that there is "no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus."(2) Do we rejoice to be assured that some earthly friend to whom we had given just offence is willing to reinstate us in his favour? Well, then, the gospel assures us that God Himself, whose favour is life, whose displeasure is death, but against whom we had sinned, has made such arrangements that our iniquities may be blotted out, and our peace with Him regained and secured.(3) Do we rejoice to be told that a distemper which threatened to be mortal may be arrested? Well, then, the gospel tells us that death, which we so much dreaded, is deprived of its sting — stripped of its terrors — and that it need not be feared any more.(4) Do we rejoice when, through the unmerited kindness of some relative, we have the reversion of a fortune or an estate which we must soon leave to others? Well, then, the gospel informs us that God has reserved for us "an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, and that fadeth not away."

2. But it behoves us to have this feeling of interest in the blessings of the gospel created and established according to the Scriptural method. Some people are comforted and gladdened by the discoveries of the gospel without any good warrant. They imagine that merely because a Saviour is provided, and a wink of redemption accomplished, they may banish all their fears and be "joyful in the Lord." Whereas, according to the gospel scheme, this fact is of no avail to any sinner till it is received by him, and submitted to by him, "as a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation." Now, this attainment is made by faith in Christ, and the moment that Christ becomes our Saviour joy exists there, and ought to be cherished there, as sanctioned by Him from whom the pardon and salvation which produce it have been derived — as itself a privilege which He confers, equally valuable and divine. We are not to rejoice because we believe, as if our joy were to arise from anything within ourselves, but because the Saviour, in whom we trust, is all-sufficient for us. Thus it was with the Samaritan converts. They had great joy. But it was an immediate sequence of their "believing the things that Philip preached concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ." There may be a strong faith, and there may be a weak faith. The clearer and more multiplied our evidence is of the truths of the gospel, and of the sufficiency of Jesus Christ in whatsoever that evidence may consist, the more vivid and vigorous will be our faith; and the more vivid and vigorous our faith, the more lively, substantial, unmingled will be that joy which faith, in its every degree, is fitted to produce. And, therefore, that we may abound in joy, let it be our care and our study to abound in faith.

3. But remember that the same authority which commands you to believe and to rejoice, also presents to you delineations and enforcements of a character which you must possess, otherwise all your "religion is vain." The faith which you repose in Christ, and which gives joy to your heart, is a faith which receives Him, that He may redeem you from the power and pollution of sin, and consecrate you to the service of God; and were it possible for you to believe in Him to the exclusion of that part of His saving character, your joy would be presumptuous and delusive. So that spiritual joy and spiritual renovation are inseparably united. And as you believe and rejoice, so you must give all diligence to abound in godliness. The Samaritans acted in this manner. We do not read of their after conduct; but so far as the narrative goes they did all of which their time and opportunities admitted. They were baptized — and this implied incalculably more than it does among us. By undergoing the rite, they braved all the terrors of persecution, and pledged themselves to maintain that purity of demeanour which the washing with water signified. A holy life, in reference to our spiritual joy, is of vast importance in two ways.(1) It is the test by which we are to ascertain that our joy is not false and delusive. There is a joy which proceeds from frames, and feelings, and fancies. To guard against a deception so fatal, it is necessary that we "examine ourselves whether we be in the faith," wanting which the gospel speaks nothing that is good to us, and whether we are entitled to be glad in the Lord as our Lord, our Saviour, and our portion.(2) While practical godliness thus satisfies us that we are not rejoicing without warrant, the more we possess of that character, the stronger evidence do we obtain of our interest in the blessings of redemption, and the stronger reason have we for encouraging ourselves in that joy with which the blessings of redemption are so well fitted to fill the spirit.

(A. Thomson, D. D.)

I. IT IS DESERVING OF REMARK, THAT THE SEAT OF THIS HOLY TRIUMPH WAS "THE CITY OF SAMARIA." Well may it be said, "The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them, and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom like the rose;" for such indeed was the city of Samaria. Thus the Lord builds up Jerusalem, and gathers together the. outcasts of Israel (Psalm 147:2; Isaiah 56:6-8).

II. THE JOY WHICH NOW PREVAILED IN THE CITY OF SAMARIA IS FULLY ACCOUNTED FOR BY THE CAUSE WHICH PRODUCED IT. Joy is never incited but on some great occasion, and the seasons of religious joy are distinguished by some interesting or extraordinary occurrence. Such was the joy and gladness at the preparation for building the temple of Jerusalem (1 Chronicles 24:9), at Hezekiah's passover (2 Chronicles 30:25, 26), at the rebuilding and dedication of the city wall (Nehemiah 12:43), at the birth of Christ (Luke 2:10-14), at the appearance of the star to the eastern magi (Matthew 2:13), and at the ascension of our blessed Saviour (Luke 24:52). All these were great events, and furnished an abundant source of joy and rejoicing. We may therefore expect something great and interesting in the present instance, to fill a whole city with joy — and what was it?

1. Is it not ground for joy that the Lord is come into the world to save sinners?

2. Is it not ground for joy that Christ has laid down His life for us, and redeemed us unto God by His blood?

3. Is it not a matter of great joy that Christ is risen from the dead? This proves that He was the true Messiah, that His sacrifice is accepted, and that justice is fully satisfied.

4. Is it not matter of joy, too, that Christ has ascended into. glory, and that He ever liveth to make intercession for us?

5. That through faith in His name there is forgiveness of sin, and acceptance with God?

6. Is it not a source of joy that this gospel is now sent to all nations?

7. Was it not a special matter of joy to the Samaritans, that they themselves had believed the gospel?Reflections:

1. If, then, the gospel bring tidings of great joy, why is it reproached as tending to gloom and melancholy? Can anything be more unreasonable and unjust?

2. Why do individuals despond while there is such an exhibition of mercy? Because they do not hearken to the gospel, nor receive the record which God hath given of His Son.

3. Why do not Christians possess more joy and peace in believing? Because we have not more religion, do not live more under the influence of the gospel. Lord, increase our faith.

(J. Benson.)

John Bowen, afterwards Bishop of Sierra Leone, being, while a young farmer in Canada, converted by a sermon, wrote in his diary, "I experienced such an ecstasy last evening in prayer that I doubted if I were in my right senses. Christ was slain for me. I could give myself up to Him unreservedly. I cannot describe my sensations of joy. I could not praise God sufficiently for the great scheme of salvation. I remained a long time giving thanks and praying that such a heavenly joy might not be taken away from me."

Religion is good both for a man's body and soul, both for time and eternity. It has the promise of the life that now is, and also of that which is to come. It not only teaches men to govern their spirits, but also to take care of their bodies; not only to watch over their tempers and dispositions, but also to manage, in a prudent manner, their worldly business. If men were truly religious, they would not only have brighter prospects for heaven, but they would also have far more cheerful and happy homes on earth. Religion brightens everything it touches. It strengthens the weak, comforts the disconsolate, encourages the despondent, lifts up those that are bowed down, and fills the mind, even amid worldly anxieties and cares, with peace and joy and hope.

There was never found in any age of the world, either philosophy or sect, or law or discipline, which could so rightly exalt the public good as the Christian faith.

(Lord Bacon.)

1. All around Philip was the misery and sin of a great city. He told them of Him who had come to relieve misery and forgive sin. As a symbol of the new life which he told them of, he touched some of their sick and their health came back to them. Not merely a few scattered souls caught the new inspiration; it seemed to fill the air and flow through all the life of the whole town.

2. There is something clear and peculiar in this joy of a whole city over a new faith. We can all feel it when a thought or an emotion which has lingered in a few minds starts up and takes possession of a whole community. It is as when a quiver of flame which has lurked about one bit of wood at last gets real possession of the heap of fuel, and the whole fireplace is in a blaze. There came a time when Christianity, which had lived in scattered congregations, at last seized on the prepared mind of the Roman Empire, and all Europe was full of Christianity. So it is a phenomenon possessing its own interest and demanding its own study, when beyond Christian souls you have a whole community inspired with the feelings and acting under the motives of Christianity. A city as well as an individual is capable of a Christian experience and character. It is more than an aggregate of the experience of the souls within it, as a chemical compound has qualities which did not appear in either of its constituents; it is a real new being with qualities and powers of its own.

3. Christianity is primarily a personal force, and only secondarily does it deal with communities. The souls of men must be converted; and out of those the Christian Church or the Christian State must. grow. To begin by making the structure of a Church or a State, and expect so to create personal character, is as if you began to build a forest from the top. This is the error of all merely ecclesiastical and political Christianity. But none the less is it true that when a great multitude of personal believers, who have been fused together by the fire of their common faith, present before the world the unity of a Christian Church or nation, that new unity is a real unit, a genuine being with its own character and power.

4. We see the Church possessed as a whole of qualities which she must gather, of course, from her parts, but which we can find in no one of her parts. She is more permanent, more wise, more trustworthy than the wisest and most trustworthy of the men who compose her membership. The city is a being dearer to us than any of the citizens who compose it. Many a man goes out to war and gives his life gladly for his country who would not have dreamed of giving it for any countryman. The Bible is full of this thought. Israel is more than any Israelite; Jerusalem is realer and dearer than any Jew. The New Testament reverts to the individual, but it too advances towards its larger personality, and leaves the strong figure of the Christian Church and the brilliant architecture of the New Jerusalem burning upon its latest pages.

5. But let us come to our subject. Is anything more to be expected than that here and there throughout a city men and women should be Christians? Can we conceive of Christianity so pervading the life of a community that the city shall be distinctly different in its corporate life and action from a heathen city? Christianity, or the change of man's life by Christ, has three ways in which it makes its power known. It appears either as truth, as righteousness, or as love. Every soul which is really redeemed by Christ will enter into new beliefs, higher ways of action, and deeper affections towards fellow-men. Now take these one by one, and ask if a city is not capable of them as well as aa individual.

I. Look first at FAITH.

1. Perhaps this seems the hardest to establish. There was a time, we say, when cities had their beliefs, when no man could live comfortably in Rome without believing like the Pope, or in Geneva without believing like Calvin. Then every proclamation was based upon a creed. But see how that is altered now. A thousand different beliefs fight freely in our streets, and it is almost true that no man is the less a citizen for anything that he believes or disbelieves. But this implies that the only exhibition of a faith must be in formal statement. It ignores for the city what we accept for the individual, that the best sign that a man believes anything is not his repetition of its formulas, but his impregnation with its spirit. It may have grown impossible, at least for the present, that cities should write confessions of faith in their charters; but if it is possible — nay, if it is necessary — that the prevalence through all a city's life of a belief in God and Christ and the Holy Spirit should testify of itself by the creation of certain spiritual qualities in that city, then have we not the possibility of a believing city even without a written creed or a formal proclamation. Just look at London. This is a believing city. And why? Not because an occasional document is solemnised with the name of God, nor because a few verses of the Bible are read each morning in your public schools, but because that spirit which has never been in the world save as the fruit of Christian faith prevails in and pervades your government and social life, the spirit of responsibility, of trust in man, and of hopefulness. This is the Christian faith of your community, showing in all your public actions. It has not come by accident. It has entered into you through the long belief of your fathers which you yourselves still keep in spite of all your scepticisms and disputes.

2. If we doubt this, we have only to forecast the consequence if a heathen belief were prevalent. We have some men who disbelieve intensely and bitterly in every Christian doctrine. The spirit of these men we know: it is hopeless, cynical, despairing. If they are naturally sensual, they plunge into debauchery; if they are naturally refined they stand aside and sneer at or superciliously pity the eager work and exuberant feeling of other men. Now fancy such men's faith made common. What would be the result? Would any generous work be done? Could either popular government or an extended system of business credit still survive, since both are based on that trust of man in man which is at the bottom a Christian sentiment? Would you not have killed enterprise when you had taken hopefulness away, and given the deathblow to public purity when you had destroyed responsibility?

3. No, the city has its Christian faith. Its belief is far from perfect: it is all stained and broken with scepticism, but it is vastly more strong than many of you believe. Every now and then comes a revival. "What does it mean?" we say; "when men seem settling placidly down into unbelief and indifference, all of a sudden this great outbreak? People crowding by tens of thousands to hear some homely preacher, the city shaken with the storm of hymns, thousands confessing their sins and crying out for pardon?" Is it not clear enough what it means? Here many of the men to whom the people most looked up have been sending down to the uplooking people the barren gospel of their scepticism. But by and by they have pressed too terribly upon the spiritual consciousness; the sense of God, the certainty of immortality, has risen in rebellion; the great reaction comes; the wronged affections reassert themselves. One must rejoice in such a healthy outburst. To complain of its extravagances or faults of taste is as if you complained of the tempest which cleared your city of the cholera because it shook your windows and stripped the leaves off your trees.

4. The methods by which this faith may be perpetuated and kept pure are open to endless discussion. No doubt the city in which it is liveliest stands the most in danger of ecclesiasticim on the one hand, and of dogmatic quarrelsomeness on the other; but about this one fact we are most clear, that a city may believe, and as a city may be blessed by its belief. It seems to open an appeal to any generous and public-spirited young man, to which he surely ought to listen. Not only for your own soul and its interests you ought to seek the truth, but for the community, because these streams of public and social life which run so shallow need to be deepened with eternal interests, because your faith in God will help to make God a true inspiration to the city's life. Remember the simple old parable in Ecclesiastes 9:14-16. Wisdom in the Old Testament means what faith means in the New.


1. A man who is a Christian holds certain truth, and then he does certain goodness. And every city has a moral character distinguishable from, however it may be made up of, the individual character of its inhabitants. This is seen in two ways.(1) In the official acts which it must do, the acts of justice or injustices by which it appears as a person acting in its official unity among its sister cities.(2) In the moral atmosphere which pervades it, and which exercises power on all who come within it. You send a child to live in some heathen brutal community where vice is in the very atmosphere, and he is certainly contaminated. What is it that contaminates him? Not this man's or that man's example, but the whole character of the city where he lives. The brutality is everywhere, in all its laws, its customs, its standards, its traditions. You send him back to live in old Pompeii, where the abominations which modern times have uncovered and made the subject of cool archaeological study were live things, the true expression of the heathen city's spirit. As he enters in you see his soul wither and grow spotted with corruption. Then bring your boy and put him here in Christian London. It is not only this or that Christian whom he meets. It is a Christian goodness everywhere: in the just dealing of the streets, in the serene peace of the homes, in the accepted responsibilities and obligations of friends and neighbours, in the universal liberty, in the absence of cruelty, in the purity and decency, in the solemn laws and courteous ceremonies — everywhere there is the testimony of a city wherein dwelleth righteousness. And when we think how imperfectly Christ has been welcomed and adopted here — how only to the outside of our life He has penetrated, then there opens before us a glorious vision of what the city might be where He should be wholly King.

2. We dwell on the iniquity of city life in modern times. But it is not the riotous and boastful wickedness of heathen times. Men have at least seen clearly enough the Christian standard to be ashamed of what they are not willing to renounce, and hide in secret chambers the villainies which use to flaunt upon the public walls. It is one stage in every conversion of the converted city as of the converted man. The next stage is to cast away the wickedness of which one has become ashamed. Of cities in the first stage there are instances everywhere through Christendom. Of the second stage — of the city totally possessed by Christ and so casting all wickedness away, there is as yet no specimen upon the earth, only the glowing picture of the apocalyptic city, the New Jerusalem. That sounds very visionary and far away; but consider that to bring about that city so different from your London you need only vastly more of the same power that has made your London so different from Pompeii.

3. Again we come to a lofty ground of appeal. If you are pure and true remember that your righteousness is not for yourself alone, nor for the few whom you immediately touch; it is for your city. I am speaking to business men who may help to put a more Christian character into business life; to women of society who may make the social character of the town more Christ-like; to young men on whom it rests to develop or to destroy for their city the character that their fathers gave her. If you fail, you Christian men and women, what chance is there for the city?

III. CHARITY. When a man becomes a Christian, he believes right, and then he does right; and then he tries to help his fellow-men. And now again the question comes, can a city too do good as the issue and utterance of its Christian character? The Christian character of charity is very apt to elude us, and the connection of a charitable act with Christian faith is lost. You say it is all impulse when you give your money to the poor; but what is the impulse? Is it the same as the savage's? Has Christianity done nothing to keep down the other impulse to harm, and to strengthen this? And so you say the city's charity is all economy; her hospitals are merely expedients for saving so much available human life. But who taught her this economy, and that a human life was worth the saving, and how is it that the most highly organised among un-Christian nations have had but the merest rudiments of hospitals? No! The charity of a city is a distinct testimony to one thing which has been wrought into the convictions of that city — the value of a man; and that conviction has come out of Christian faith. A poor neglected creature drops in the crowded street; a horse strikes him, and the heavy waggon crushes him as he lies; or in the blazing summer sun he is smitten to the ground insensible. Instantly the city — not this pitying man or that, but the pitying city — stoops and gathers him up tenderly, and carries him to the hospital, which it has built. Is there no Christ there? Once there was a city which, when Christ came to it, hated and scorned Him, and would not be satisfied till it had seen Him die in agony. To-day here is a city which, if Christ came to it in person, would go out and welcome Him, would call Him Lord and Master, and hang upon His words and glory in the privilege of giving Him its best. In that first city there was no hospital; in this new city the hospitals stand thick for every kind of misery. Has not the Christian city a right to hear the Saviour's words as if He spoke to her: "Inasmuch as thou hast done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, thou hast done it unto Me"? Who doubts that if the city were tenfold more Christian than she is the hospitals would be multiplied and enriched till it should be an impossibility for any sick man to be left unhelped. Deepen the city's Christianity and the city's charity must deepen and widen too.

(Bp. Phillips Brooks.)

Candace, Esaias, Ethiopians, Isaiah, John, Peter, Philip, Saul, Simon, Stephen
Azotus, Caesarea, Gaza, Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria
Christ, Philip, Preached, Preaching, Proclaimed, Proclaiming, Samaria, Sama'ria, Teaching
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 8:5

     2369   Christ, responses to
     5335   herald
     7726   evangelists, ministry
     7756   preaching, content

Acts 8:1-5

     8498   witnessing, and Holy Spirit

Acts 8:4-5

     7725   evangelists, identity
     8426   evangelism, motivation

Acts 8:4-8

     7953   mission, of church

Acts 8:4-17

     7560   Samaritans, the

Acts 8:5-8

     8149   revival, nature of

Acts 8:5-13

     7757   preaching, effects

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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