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God, they sent unto them Peter and John: 15 who, when
on this point the remarks of Calvin are too important to be omitted: "Here a question arises. He says that they were only baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus, and consequently were not yet partakers of the Spirit. But either Baptism has no virtue and grace at all; or it has whatever efficacy it possesses from the Holy Spirit. In Baptism we are washed from sins: but Paul shews that this washing is the work of the Holy Ghost (Tit. iii. 5). The water of Baptism is the symbol of Christ's blood: but Peter says that it is the Spirit by whom we are washed in the blood of Christ. In Baptism our old man is crucified that we may be raised into newness of life (Rom. vi. 6): whence is all this but by sanctification of the Spirit? So that Baptism will have nothing left, if it be dissociated from the Spirit. Therefore it must not be denied, that the Samaritans, who had duly put on Christ in Baptism, had been also invested with the Spirit (Gal. iii. 27). And indeed Luke here speaks, not of the ordinary grace of the Spirit by which God regenerates us as sons to Himself, but of those special gifts with which it was the Lord's will to endow some persons in the beginning of the Gospel for the furnishing of the Kingdom of Christ." And a little after: "The Papists, in their wish to extol their fictitious Confirmation, do not hesitate to go even so far as to utter this sacrilegious diction, that those are only half Christians, on whom hands have not yet been laid. It is intolerable that they should have fixed on the Church as a perpetual law, what was a mere temporal symbol... for even they themselves are obliged to confess, that the Church was only for a time adorned with those gifts. Whence it follows that the imposition of hands which the Apostles here performed, came to an end when its effect ceased." The English church, in retaining the rite of Confirmation, has not grounded it on any institution by the Apostles, but merely declared the laying on of hands on the candidates, to certify them (by this sign) of God's favour and goodness towards them, to be after the example of the holy Apostles.' Nor is there any trace in the office, of the conferring of the Holy Ghost by confirmation; but a distinct recognition of the former reception of the Holy Spirit (at Baptism), and a prayer for the increase of His influence, proportioned to the maturer life now opening on the newly confirmed. (2) If then we have here no institution of a perpetual ordinance, some
thing peculiar to the case before us must
1 ch. ii. 38.
mch. xix. 2. n Matt. xxiii.
19. ch. ii. 38. o ch. x. 48:
they were come down, prayed for them, 'that they might receive the Holy Ghost: 16 for mas yet he was fallen upon none of them: only " they were baptized a in 17 Then Plaid they their
the name of the Lord Jesus.
pch. vi. 6:
xix 6. Heb hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.
apostles' hands the
18 b And when Simon saw that through laying on of the
q Matt. x. 8. see 2 Kings
r ch. ii. 38: x. 45: xi. 17.
Z render, had been.
a literally, into.
especially committed to him) the keys of the kingdom of heaven,-who opened the door to the 3000 on the day of Pentecost, -now (as a formal and ratifying act) to the Samaritans,-and in ch. x. to the Gentiles. So far, is plain truth of Scripture history. The monstrous fiction begins, when to Peter is attributed a fixed diocese and successors, and to those successors a delegated power more like that ascribed to Simon Magus than that promised to Peter. -This is the last time that JOHN appears in the Acts. He is only once more mentioned in the New Testament (except in the Revelation), viz. as having been present in Jerusalem at Paul's visit, Gal. ii. 9. 15. prayed for them] So laying on of hands is preceded by prayer, ch. vi. 6; xiii. 3. 18. when Simon saw] Its effects were therefore visible (see above), and consequently the effect of the laying on of the Apostles' hands was not the inward but the outward miraculous gifts of the Spirit. he offered them money] De Wette excellently remarks, He regarded the capability of imparting the Holy Spirit, -rightly, as something conferred, as a derived power (see Matt. x. 1), but wrongly, as one to be obtained by an external method, without an inward disposition: and, since in external commerce every thing may be had for gold, he wanted to buy it. This is the essence of the sin of Simony, which is intimately connected with unbelief in the power and signification of the Spirit, and with materialism.'-Clearly,
d render, thoughtest to acquire the gift of God.
render, my hands.
from the narrative, Simon himself did not receive the Spirit by the laying on of hands. His nefarious attempt to treat with the Apostles was before he himself had been presented to them for this pur pose. 20.] The solemn denunciation of Peter, like the declaration of Paul, 1 Cor. vi. 13, has reference to the perishableness of all worldly good, and of those with it, whose chief end is the use of it (see Col. ii. 22). Thy gold and thou are equally on the way to corruption: thy gold, as its nature is thou with it, as having no higher life than thy natural corrupt one: as being bound in the bond of iniquity. The expres sion of the same Peter, 1 Pet. i. 7," gold that perisheth," is remarkably parallel with this (see too 1 Pet. i. 18). thou thoughtest] not thou hast thought,' as A. V. The historic force of the tense is to be kept here: the Apostle uses it as looking forward to the day of his destruction, 'Let thy lot be destruction, and that because thou thoughtest,' &c. to acquire, not passive, as A. V., ungrammatically. 21. neither part nor lot] The two words are apparently synonymous: the first being literal, the second figurative, but not without reference perhaps to the inheritance of the kingdom of God, the incorruptible inheritance, 1 Pet. i. 4. this matter] i. e. the matter now spoken of,—' to which I now allude.' thy heart is not right, -sincere, single-meaning,-in God's presence, as God sees it: i. e. seen as it really is, by God, is not in earnest in its
pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart forgiven thee. 23 For I perceive that thou art in of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity. answered Simon, and said, " Pray ye to the Lord for me, that u Gen. xx. 7, none of these things which ye have spoken come upon me.
17. Exod. viii. 8. Num. xxi.7.
1 Kings xii. 8. James v.
25 And they, when they had testified and preached the Job xlii. word of the Lord, h returned to Jerusalem, and preached the gospel in many villages of the Samaritans. 26k 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
e read, the Lord.
g render, So then.
read, were returning . . . . and preaching &c.
seeking after the gospel, but seeks it with
may be Dan. iv. 27.
2 Tim. ii. 25.
the gall t
Heb. xii. 15.
render, But an.
me becoming another man in thoughts and aims.
25-40.] CONVERSION OF THE ÆTHIOPIAN EUNUCH BY PHILIP'S TEACHING. 25.] So then indicates (see note on ver. 4) that the paragraph should begin here, not at ver. 26 as commonly. villages of the Samaritans] It is interesting to recall Luke ix. 52, where on their entering into a village of the Samaritans, the same John wishes to call down fire from heaven, and consume them. The gradual sowing of the seed further and further from Jerusalem is advancing: not only is this eunuch to carry it to a far distant land, but Philip is sent to a desert road, away from town or village, to seek him. The imperfect tenses, "were returning &c.," are significant. They were on their way back to Jerusalem, and were evangelizing the Samaritan villages, when the angel spake to Philip. 26.] An angel, visibly appearing: not in a dream,-which is not, as some suppose, implied by the command to arise. The ministration of angels introduces and brings about several occurrences in the beginning of the church, see ch. v. 19; x. 3; xii. 7 (xxvii. 23). The appearance seems to have taken place in Samaria, after the departure of Peter and John. He would reach the place appointed by a shorter way than through Jerusalem: he would probably follow the high road (of the itineraries, see map in Conybeare and Howson's St. Paul) as far as Gophna, and thence strike across the country south-westward to join, at some point to which he would be guided, the road leading from Jerusalem to Gaza. GAZA] The south
x Zeph. iii. 10. and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candacé queen of the Ethiopians, y John xii. 20 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 m Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot. m render, And.
ernmost city of Canaan (Gen. x. 19), in the portion of Judah (Josh. xv. 47), but soon taken from that tribe by the Philistines, and always spoken of as a Philistian city (1 Sam. vi. 17; 2 Kings xviii. 8; Amos i. 6-8; Zeph. iii. 4; Zech. ix. 5). In Jer. xlvii. 1, we have before Pharaoh (Necho?) smote Gaza,'-implying that at one time it was under Egypt. Alexander the Great took it after a siege of five months, but did not destroy it, for we find it a strong place in the subsequent Syrian wars, see 1 Macc. ix. 52; xi. 61 f.; xiii. 43; xiv. 7; xv. 28; xvi. 1.—It was destroyed by the Jewish king Alexander Jannæus (96 A.C.), after a siege of a year, but rebuilt again by the Roman general Gabinius,-afterwards given by Augustus to Herod, and finally after his death attached to the province of Syria. Mela, in the time of Claudius, calls it 'a vast city, and strongly fortified,' with which agree Eusebius and Jerome. At present it is a large town by the same name, with from 15,000 to 16,000 inhabitants. The above chronological notices shew that it cannot have been "desert" at this time: see below. this is desert] The words, I believe, of the angel, not of St. Luke. There appear to have been two (if not more) ways from Jerusalem to Gaza. But Robinson found, besides, an ancient road leading direct from Jerusalem to Gaza, through the Wadi Musurr, and over the Beit Jiibrin, which certainly at present is "desert," without towns or villages. Thus the words will refer to the way: and denote, the way of which I speak to thee is desert. See in my Greek Test. further proofs of the inapplicability of the epithet "desert" to Gaza. 27. an eunuch] The very general use of eunuchs, in the East for filling offices of confidence, and the fact that this man was minister to a female sovereign, makes it probable that he was literally an eunuch. If not so, the word would hardly have been expressed. No difficulty arises from Deut. xxiii. 1, for no inference can be drawn from the history further than that he may have been a proselyte of the gate, in whose case the prohibition would not apply.-Nay, the whole occurrence seems
to have had one design, connected with this fact. The walls of partition were one after another being thrown down: the Samaritans were already in full possession of the Gospel: it was next to be shewn that none of those physical incapacities which excluded from the congregation of the Lord under the old covenant, formed any bar to Christian baptism and the inheritance among believers; and thus the way gradually to be paved for the great and as yet incomprehensible truth of Gal. iii. 28. Candace (pronounced Candăcé, not Candacé)] As Pharaoh among the Egyptians was the customary name of kings, so Candacé of the queens among the Ethiopians in upper Egypt, who dwelt in the island of Meroe, where Pliny relates that a queen reigned named Candace, and adds, "which name has now for many years passed from one queen to another.” had come to Jerusalem for to worship . . .] This did not only Jews and proselytes, but also those pious Gentiles who adhered to Judaism, the proselytes of the gate, see John xii. 20. Eusebius, taking for granted that this eunuch was a Gentile, calls him "the firstfruits of the Gentiles throughout the world." There were (see below, ch. xi. 21) cases of Gentile conversion before that of Cornelius; and the stress of the narrative in ch. x. consists in the miscellaneous admission of all the Gentile company of Cornelius, and their official reception into the church by that Apostle to whom was especially given the power. We may remark, that if even the plain revelation by which the reception of Cornelius and his company was commanded failed finally to convince Peter, so that long after this he vacillated (Gal. ii. 11, 12), it is no argument for the eunuch not being a Gentile, that his conversion and baptism did not remove the prejudices of the Jewish Christians. 28. read Esaias] aloud, see next ver. Schöttgen quotes from the Rabbis: "He who journeyeth and hath no companion, let him study the Law."-He probably read in the LXX, the use of which was almost universal in Egypt.
29.] This is the first mention of that inner prompting of the Spirit, referred to again
30 And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest? 31 And he said, P How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him. 32 The place of the scripture which he read was this, " He was led as a sheep to the z Isa. liii. 7, 8. slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so I opened he not his mouth: 33 in his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth. 34 And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man? 35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and a Luke xxiv. began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus. 28. 36 And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water and the eunuch said, See, here is water; b what doth hinder me to be baptized? [37 And Philip b ch. x. 47. said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of
27. ch. xviii.
n render, reading.
P literally, For how can I . .
render, Yea, but understandest.
probably chr. xiii. 2, but certainly ch. x. 19; xvi. 6, 7. Chrysostom understands the words of the appearance of an angel, but the text hardly allows it. 30.] Yea, but....: i. e. "It is well, thou art well employed: but. . . . ?" The form of the question assumes, modestly, that he did not understand what he was reading. 31.] For (see margin) gives the reason of the negative which is understood. The answer expresses at once humility and docility. 32.] Perhaps it is best to render, The contents of the (passage of) Scripture which he was reading were as follows. 33] This stands in the Hebrew He was taken away by distress and judgment' (so in the margin of the A.V.): i. e. as Lowth, by an oppressive judgment.' his generation] i. e. the age in which he shall live-'the wickedness of his contemporaries.' The fathers, and Bede and some modern Commentators, explain 'His generation' of His eternal Sonship and His miraculous Incarnation. But the Hebrew does not seem to bear this out.
34. answered] to the passage of Scripture, considered as the question proposed not, to the question in ver. 30. We can hardly suppose any immediate re
ference in the words some other man, to Christ. 36. a certain water] Traditions about the situation of this spring are found in some ancient notes to Jerome. It is said to be near a place named Bethsur. Eusebius states it to be twenty miles south of Jerusalem in the direction of Hebron: and so it is set down in the ancient itineraries. Pocock found there a fountain built over, and a village called Betur on the left. Fabri describes the fountain as the head of a considerable brook, and found near it the ruins of a Christian church. There is no improbability in the tradition, except that, even supposing a way going across from Hebron straight to Gaza to be called desert, this would not be on that portion of it, but on the high road. what doth hinder me to be baptized?] There is no reason for supposing Philip to have preached to him the necessity of baptism : his own acquaintance with Jewish practices, and perhaps his knowledge of the progress of the new faith in Jerusalem, would account for the proposition. 37.] The authorities against this verse are too strong to permit its insertion. It appears to have been one of those remarkable additions to the text of the Acts, common