Notes and References
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Acts of the Apostles
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Acts Chapter 8
First off before we start this study, I want to clarify a remark I made in the Acts 6 and 7 study video. Stephen, one of the seven anointed by the apostles in chapter 6, was one of only two non- apostolic disciples who performed miracles. The only other mentioned in Acts, as we will see here later in these verses of Chapter 8, is Philip.
Emphasis added in these verses is mine. All scripture is the KJV.
1And Saul was consenting unto his (Stephen's) 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.
Again the "church" is assembly, more specifically an assembly of Jews.
"Consenting" is such a sterile word. Saul (Paul) was the leader of the pack! The (false) witnesses of Stephen cast their cloaks at his feet as though overseer of the execution, while the (false) witnesses acted as executioners according to Mosaic Law (Deut 17:7). We will read Paul's (Saul's) own words:
Paul writing to the Galatians
13For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews' religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it:
14And profited in the Jews' religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.
Paul speaking to the Jewish mob at the temple at Jerusalem before his arrest and imprisonment, and through this arrest becomes a prisoner of Rome
3I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel (Acts 5:34), and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day.
4And I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women.
5As also the high priest doth bear me witness, and all the estate of the elders: from whom also I received letters unto the brethren, and went to Damascus, to bring them which were there bound unto Jerusalem, for to be punished.
Paul appealing to king Agrippa on his way as a prisoner to Rome to appeal to Caesar
9I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.
10Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them.
11And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities.
12Whereupon as I went to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests,
So you see Paul was not just a consenting bystander, he gave the consent for the stoning of Stephen.
2And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him.
3As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison.
4Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.
Now if we do not know the scripture, we would assume those believers that were scattered preached every where and preached to everyone. NOT SO!
The time period for this scattering is approximately AD 37, a full 7 years after the resurrection. There are no Gentiles in this group and this is not the church as we know it. It is the assembly of Jewish believers. This is still full blown Judaism in its fullness with Jesus Christ being proclaimed as Mashiac to Israel, whom they slew, but is alive and will return, if they would repent. It remained full blown Judaism in Jerusalem up until the end. How do we know this?
18And the day following Paul went in with us unto James (the Apostle James the son of Alphaeus); and all the elders were present.
19And when he had saluted them, he declared particularly what things God had wrought among the Gentiles by his ministry.
20And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord, and said unto him, Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the law:
Nothing had changed in Jerusalem regarding the Jewish believers under the twelve apostle's teachings. They were called Jews by the Apostle James! They are not "Christians". "Christian" was a Gentile term referring to Gentile believers in Antioch (Acts 11:26), for the Gentiles could certainly not claim to be Jewish or proselytes. At this time in Acts 21, it is approximately the year AD 59 and 30 years after the resurrection! The Apostles James, the brother of John, and Philip are already martyred. If you look at the Acts Intro Study Timeline many of the other apostles are either already martyred or soon will be.
19Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only.
JEWS only! If that isn't plain enough to see that the Gentiles were NOT included, well I need not say any more. Let's move on.
Most notable is all were scattered, except the apostles. All means every one of them, not some, but all, EXCEPT the twelve. Why did the twelve stay behind? I have some thoughts:
- They were God's anointed under a commission - no one else was given the commission.
- Israel must repent, starting at Jerusalem. If Jerusalem fails, all of Israel shall fail with them.
- They were somewhat 'untouchable'. Ananias and Sapphira died at their feet. If imprisoned, the angels release them, and will yet again.
- They were the 12 eye witnesses ordained with power from on high.
Soon the curtain will fall upon this scene. The miracles of the apostles will cease. The "Last Days" of Israel will come to a close, but not before it murders its greatest of prophets. The intermission of the Gentile dispensation is still playing. The stage is being set. Israel is returned to her place. Soon the curtain will rise and this intermission will be over. The final scenes of Israel will be finally played out, beginning with tragedy and ending in triumph.
5Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them.
Down being down in elevation, Samaria is just a few miles north.
6And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did.
7For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies (paralyzed), and that were lame, were healed.
Philip the only other non-apostolic disciple that did miracles. Again I mention that he was one of the "seven" and anointed by the laying on of hands of the apostles. There was something special about the "seven". Philip is mentioned in Acts 21:8 called an "evangelist" and "one of the seven".
8And there was great joy in that city.
9But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one:
10To whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God.
11And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries.
12But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.
13Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done.
14Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John:
15Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost:
16(For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)
Here is where we start to get a departure from the ordinary pattern of things in Jerusalem.
- the people repent
- the people are baptized
- the Holy Spirit falls upon them
17Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.
Here the Holy Spirit does not fall and the Apostles must come from Jerusalem and lay hands upon them. One commentator thought because it was in Samaria, and the Samaritans did not worship in Jerusalem, that the power of God and authority must be shown as coming from Jerusalem. OK, I can understand that, but Philip was from Jerusalem and did miracles!
The laying on of hands is an ancient tradition of conferring a blessing or spiritual gift. Here is where I break from the main stream, again. I believe only the apostles, including Paul in the future, were the only ones who could baptize the Jews in the Holy Spirit. Thus Philip must not be the Apostle Philip, because 1. all the apostles stayed in Jerusalem and 2. he could not baptize in the Holy Spirit. Notice here, as witnesses, two apostles were sent.
18And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money,
19Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost.
We cannot put our Gentile salvation experience upon Simon to judge him. The scripture says he believed and was baptized. Believing Jesus was the Mashiac and being baptized for it, does not denote a repentance from his personal sins, but a Jewish repentance for the death of Jesus and then the promise to him was that his sins would be forgiven. Sacrifice in the temple does that for a Jew as well temporarily.
20But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.
21Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God.
22Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.
23For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity.
24Then answered Simon, and said, Pray ye to the Lord for me, that none of these things which ye have spoken come upon me.
Peter and John, as apostles, could discern the intent of the heart. Just as with Ananias and Sapphira, they could speak to the heart of Simon. Simon obviously had not tried to deceive them or God and was quite openly honest in his evil request. He did not try to bribe Philip. Philip healed the sick and cast out devils! Simon saw the super power of the apostles and in his degenerate mind thought the apostles could sell their power, just as he had been doing himself as a sorcerer, not recognizing he was asking to purchase the power of God.
Now I have met and known some honestly bad people. They don't think they are bad. They will lie, lie, lie, and think nothing of it. Or Steal as though it were a game, stealing from even friends and family! No big deal. In today's society, sexual immorality is rampant and morality is practically non-existent in the secular mind. People can be so steeped in their iniquity, they are honestly blinded to it.
How many Christian ministers today, sell their gifts and anointings or even worse sell the power of God, asking for a "love gift"? How many are rich beyond compare, soley because of the gospel messages they convey? How many of these people are pillars of our Christian community? Whether it is "The Four Blood Moons" or A.D. the mini-series. All you have to do is turn on Christian television and open your eyes and listen. Everything is for sale, teachings, videos, books, oils, everything from blessings (or the opposite to keep from being cursed or attacked by the enemy), to healings, to even prosperity! Always the sales pitch is, "God will bless you". No, He won't! Not if you are giving to persons, "in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity"! Oh, you might be able to go to their church for free, but anything beyond that is going to cost you.
It is entirely different to be "supported to do God's work" or "cover costs of ministry". Anything beyond that to gain wealth is pure thievery. While I am at it, widows are not supposed to tithe. Widows are to be supported by ministry, not the supporters of ministry. I will do a whole study on that later.
Only the Holy Spirit can convict the unsaved of iniquity and cause them to see it. If they are willing to recognize it, turn to Jesus and accept The Helper, who will circumcise their heart, purify it with fire, change and sanctify them from within, and He will save them to the uttermost.
Simon here is given opportunity, by the command of Peter, to repent of his wickedness or perish, unlike Ananias and Sapphira who were judged and died instantly. And for the most part he does, but the scripture goes no further regarding him.
25And they, when they had testified and preached the word of the Lord, returned to Jerusalem, and preached the gospel in many villages of the Samaritans.
Where did the apostles go? Back to Jerusalem! They had to finish the commission. So far, some 7 - 8 years after the resurrection, the gospel had only reached Samaria, a few miles north of Jerusalem, and not by the preaching of the apostles, except on their return trip back to Jerusalem.
26And 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.
27And 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,
28Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias (Isaiah) the prophet.
This is either a Jew or a Proselyte from Ethiopia and a treasurer with great authority of an entire country! How do we know he was either Jewish or a Proselyte? Well he was worshipping at Jerusalem. That is the first clue. He was reading the scroll of Isaiah, the second. And thirdly, no Gentiles were approached by anyone yet.
29Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot.
30And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest?
31And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him.
32The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth:
33In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth.
34And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man?
35Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.
36And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?
37And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
38And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.
Philip was preaching the very same word as the apostles, believe that Jesus was the Christ, the Mashiac, repent, and be baptized.
39And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.
40But Philip was found at Azotus: and passing through he preached in all the cities, till he came to Caesarea.
Now notice the Ethiopian was not baptized in the Holy Spirit. He was saved none-the-less and baptized by full immersion. Baptism is not what saves the soul. It represents a spiritual cleansing and was a Jewish ritual.
Philip was immediately "translated" or supernaturally carried away at least 20 miles or more. We do not know how far exactly he traveled before coming upon the Ethiopian. Some commentators do not agree that this is a miracle. Most agree that it was, only because of the strange language here.
- the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip
- the eunuch saw him no more
- Philip was found at Azotus (Ashdod)
Normal language would have been similar to Philip's first instruction - " Arise, and go toward the south ". Normal language would go something like this, "The Spirit said to Philip hurry and go to Azotus. Parting from the Ethiopian, knowing they would not see each other again they bade each other well and Philip headed south toward Gaza." The language in this scripture is mysterious and can only be recognized as a miracle. I believe God can do anything.
For nothing is impossible with God! God, who could take a wretch like me, and make me a new creation, through the Faith, in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, that he would seal me with the Holy Spirit of promise so that I might have everlasting life!