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Acts Chapter 8
An Understandable Version of ACTS
Translation by William E. Paul
Concise PRESENTATION NOTES
by Charles Dailey

(Black underlined words match words in the Bible text.)
  The powerful story of the resurrection has been confined to Jerusalem, except for those who carried it back to their synagogues from the first Pentecost. Now the message begins on its journey to the "uttermost parts of the earth." Luke is beginning to describe the second phase of the church's worldwide development.
  - It was necessary for some social and cultural lines to be crossed for the gospel to go to Samaria. John has told us "the Jews have no dealing with the Samaritans." John 4:9.
1) And Saul was in full agreement with Stephen being put to death.
 
  And a great persecution broke out against the Jerusalem church, and all the disciples, except the apostles, were scattered throughout the districts of Judea and Samaria.
Saul has been introduced and his position is clearly defined by Luke. His mindset has crystalized. Paul said it himself in Acts 22:20.
- The church is dispersed and the preachers stay in town.
- For the Apostles to have left this soon would have discouraged the new disciples. Anyway, the officials had agreed with Gamaliel not to bother them. Acts 5:40.
- The price of discipleship is getting higher.
2) The godly men who buried Stephen's body mourned over his loss very deeply. Unlike Ananias and Sapphira, Stephen was given a customary funeral.
3) But Saul brought devastation to the church by entering everyone's house and dragging men and women off to jail. Later Saul went house-to-house to teach Jesus. Acts 20:20.
- It was no longer popular to be a follower of Jesus.
- Luke frequently notes the presence of women.
 
4) Now the disciples, who had become scattered all over, went everywhere preaching the message [of God]. The disciples, the members of the church preached.
- Those who had not shared their possessions lost them in this persecution. Hebrews 10:34.
5) And Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed Christ to them. We met Philip back in Acts 6:5-6 where he received the "laying on" of the hands of the apostles and received power to perform miracles. Samaria is also known as Sebaste.
6) Great crowds of people joined together in accepting Philip's message when they heard and saw the [miraculous] signs he was able to perform. Luke is clear that miraculous signs were the foundation for accepting the message that Philip preached. Philip is later called an evangelist. Acts 21:8.
7) Evil spirits came out, with loud shrieks, from many persons and large numbers of people were healed of their paralysis and crippled conditions. Luke distinguishes between evil spirits and paralysis. He had introduced evil spirits earlier. Acts 5:16.
- Imagine the reduced problems in many households.
8) And there was much rejoicing in Samaria [over the wonderful effects of Philip's ministry]. The joy must have been twofold: over healing and salvation.
- Jesus had a favorable reception among these people, too. John 4:39-41.
 
9) But a certain man named Simon, from there in Samaria, who had been amazing the people with his magical powers, was claiming to be someone great. Simon had a following as the local scam artist.
- Sorcery has been defined as the "use of supernatural power over others through the assistance of spirits; witchcraft." Simon probably specialized in "white" or "good" magic in the light of verse 10.
10) Everyone, from the least to the greatest [in importance], was being impressed by him. They were saying, "This man is being called Great [and has] power from God." Simon was viewed as closely connected with God.
11) And people were paying attention to him because he had been amazing them with his magic for a long time. There was a spiritual vacuum in Samaria if Simon was the leading spiritual force.
12) When people believed the good news about God's kingdom and the name of Jesus Christ, which Philip was preaching, both men and women were immersed [in water]. The kingdom of God was present and was even put before the name of Jesus by Luke. It is unpopular today to preach about the kingdom, the church. In a parody, one preacher said, "Take the church, but give me Jesus."
- Was the "Woman at the Well" immersed? John 4:29.
13) And [this] Simon also believed [Philip's message] and was immersed. [After that] he continued [to travel] with Philip and was amazed by the [supernatural] signs and great miracles he saw [him perform]. Simon had now seen the genuine. He was convinced by Philip's authentic signs. Luke clearly said he believed and was immersed. Those who believe it is impossible to fall away from Christ find fault with this conversion.
- Simon even apprenticed himself to Philip.
- Notice that Simon did not have any gift.
 
14) Now when the apostles in Jerusalem heard that the people of Samaria had responded to the message of God, they sent Peter and John to them. It appears the apostles worked by consensus. Peter may have been first among equals, but the others sent Peter and his working partner, John. Hardly suitable conduct for a pope.
15) When these two apostles had come [to Samaria] they prayed for some [of the disciples] to receive [miraculous power from] the Holy Spirit, The top leaders of Christianity are bringing spiritual gifts to long-alienated Samaritans. The walls of prejudice are falling.
- John had an unsavory experience with these people. Luke 9:52-56.
- The apostles worked in tandem with heaven.
16) for as yet [such power] had not fallen on any of them; they had only been immersed into the name of the Lord Jesus [i.e., with no accompanying miraculous powers]. Luke uses the miracle-working term here: fallen. They had received the personal presence of the Holy Spirit when they were immersed (Acts 2:38), but Luke is not describing that.
17) Then the apostles placed their hands on [some of] them [and prayed, see verse 15] and they received [miraculous power from] the Holy Spirit. Those receiving special gifts from the Holy Spirit to empower their leadership did not include Simon, the one-time sorcerer.
 
18) Now when Simon saw that through the placing of the apostles' hands [on people] the Holy Spirit was given [Note: The fact that Simon "saw" something happen suggests it was supernatural and therefore highly desirable by Simon], he offered to pay them money [for this power], What the apostles conveyed could be seen. It was the miracle-working measure of the Spirit.
- The gifts did not come through Philip because he could not pass them on the gifts that he used. Only the Apostles could distribute them in conjunction with the Holy Spirit.
- Simon saw an excellent marketing opportunity. He wanted to be a distributor of this power and was willing to purchase a franchise. He viewed the gifts as a commodity.
19) saying, "Give me also the ability to place my hands on people [and pray] so that they will receive [the miraculous power of] the Holy Spirit." Our English word "simony" originates here. It is the purchasing of a church office or title.
- Magical secrets were normally purchased from those who did them.
20) But Peter said to him, "You and your money will both be destroyed for thinking you could buy the gift from God with money.
 
21) You do not have any share or involvement in this matter because your heart is not right before God. If Simon believed and was immersed and continued with Philip (verse 13), then he was saved, but here he is not. This shows that salvation can be lost.
22) So, repent [i.e., change your heart and life] of such a terrible thing and pray for the Lord to forgive you for even thinking of such a thing. Perhaps He will [if you are really sincere]. Simon was a believer, but with a view not acceptable to the Lord of the church. Repentance and prayer were the only way back.
- Notice the interchangeable use of God and Lord. This is affirming the deity of Jesus.
23) For I can see that your life is as bitter gall [i.e., very evil] and you are enslaved by [your] sins." Simon was enslaved by love for money and power.
24) And Simon answered, "[Please] pray to the Lord for me so that nothing you have said about me will [really] happen." His answer sounds contrite, but Luke does not choose to tell us how the story ended.
 
25) When Peter and John had testified [regarding the truth] and had proclaimed the message of God [to the people] they returned to Jerusalem, preaching the good news [about Jesus] in many Samaritan villages [on their way back]. Peter and John affirmed the work of Philip among the Samaritans and then preached in many more Samaritan villages on the way back to Jerusalem, where they were currently living.
- The church is on the move! The message is outward bound.
- Justin Martyr came from this area. He was born in A. D. 110. His birthplace was Flavia Neapolis, known as Nablus. He mentioned this in his First Apology 1.1.
 
26) [Meanwhile] an angel [sent] from the Lord spoke to Philip and said, "Get up and travel south on the road from Jerusalem to Gaza; that is a deserted region." Peter and John had equipped men of Samaria for leadership and it was time for Philip to extend the kingdom to yet others who were related to the Jews, but out of the main stream.
27) So, he went and [eventually] came across a man who was the Ethiopian Queen Candace's treasurer. He was a high official and was also a eunuch [Note: This was a man without normal sexual activity], who had been to Jerusalem to worship [i.e., probably as a Jewish proselyte]. This man was highly placed in Ethiopia.
- Candace is a title, like Pharaoh.
- Sometimes high officials were made eunuchs so they could not be emotionally influenced to betray their employer, or in this case, have an affair with her.
- He was not in the category of Gentiles. Their time was coming shortly.
28) He was returning [to his home in Ethiopia] and was sitting in his chariot [Note: Chariots were stopped on long journeys occasionally for resting, eating, reading, etc.] reading [a scroll of] the prophet Isaiah. The Treasurer was obeying Deuteronomy 6:7 that teaches us to focus on God's Word as we travel.
29) The Holy Spirit said to Philip, "Go on up close to the chariot." The Holy Spirit used extra-ordinary means to get the preacher and the disciple together, but the gospel is always spoken person-to-person. God only makes the contact.
30) So, Philip ran over to it and [when he got near enough] he heard the Ethiopian eunuch reading from Isaiah the prophet and asked him, "Do you understand what you are reading?" Reading was customarily out loud.
- He may have purchased the scroll on this trip to Jerusalem.
 
- Philip's question takes his spiritual temperature.
31) And the man replied, "How can I, except with someone's guidance?" Then he urged Philip to come and sit with him [in the chariot]. The implied "no" lets Philip know where to begin teaching him.
- This man was hungering and thirsting after righteousness and was soon satisfied. Matthew 5:6.
 
32) Now the passage of Scripture he was reading said [Isa. 53:7ff], "He was led out to be slaughtered as a sheep; He made no sound, just like a lamb when it was being sheared. Isaiah 53:7,8 LXX. He was reading, as expected, from the Greek version of the Old Testament. This link will take the reader to Fred Miller's exposition of Isaiah 53.
- The timing of God can be seen in both the event of meeting and the passage of Scripture that needed explaining.
- See the chart about Isaiah 53 connected to these Concise Presentation Notes.
- Jesus did not answer as in Matthew 26:63; 27:14.
33) He was subjected to [terrible] humiliation and deprived of justice. Who will [there be to] trace His descendants, since His life was taken from Him, [leaving no posterity]." He was deprived of justice as in Luke 23:22.
- The Treasurer may himself have experienced rejection if he was a eunuch. They were once barred from the Jewsh assembly.
- As a eunuch, he understood the heartache of not having descendants.
34) The [Ethiopian] eunuch then asked Philip "Please tell me, is the prophet [Isaiah] writing about himself or about someone else?" The prophets sometimes spoke of themselves like David in Psalm 16:8 where the real object is Christ, not David
35) So, Philip opened his mouth, and beginning [his message] from this Scripture [passage], he preached to him [about] Jesus. Philip had such a wonderful launching pad.
- Preaching Jesus included his death, burial and resurrection.
 
36) As they [i.e., Philip, the Ethiopian eunuch and his attendants] traveled along they came to a certain [body of] water. The [Ethiopian] eunuch said, "Look, here is [a body of] water, why can't I be immersed [right now]?" The story of Jesus (verse 35) included the teaching of immersion to identify with the resurrected Christ.
 
- He did not choose to delay his immersion to a later time.
{Verse 37 is absent from many manuscripts.}
 
38) So, the eunuch ordered the chariot to be stopped; then both Philip and the [Ethiopian] eunuch went down into the water and Philip immersed the eunuch [into Christ]. This implies there was a driver present.
  - They went down into the water and in verse 39 they came out of the water. This was not sprinkling or pouring of water.
39) And when they came up out of the water, the Holy Spirit of the Lord [supernaturally?] directed Philip to go elsewhere and the eunuch did not see him anymore, as he continued on his journey rejoicing. The Lord has sent Philip to the encounter and now he removes Philip from the scene, directing him elsewhere.
- Philip is sent to other people. The eunuch took the message back to his countrymen. He was one happy traveler.
- Among the Jews, he was looked down upon, but he was a first class citizen in the Kingdom of Christ! That's enough to make anyone happy.
40) But [later on] Philip appeared at Azotus and after leaving there he preached the good news [of Jesus] to all the towns along the way until he reached Caesarea. [Note: Caesarea was a town on the west coast of Palestine, named after the emperor Caesar]. Philip settled at Caesarea. He shows up again years latter, still living there.

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