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God, they sent unto them Peter and John : 15 who, when
on this point the remarks of Calvin are too thing peculiar to the case before us must important to be omitted : “Here a ques- have prompted this journey. And here tion arises. He says that they were only again we have a question: Was that moving baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus, cause in the Samaritans, or in Philip? and consequently were not yet partakers of I believe the true answer to the question the Spirit. But either Baptism has no will be found by combining both. Our virtue and grace at all; or it has whatever Lord's command (ch. i. 8) had removed all efficacy it possesses from the Holy Spirit. doubt as to Samaria being a legitimate field In Baptism we are washed from sins: but for preaching, and Samaritan converts being Paul shews that this washing is the work admissible. (So also with regard to Genof the Holy Ghost (Tit. iii. 5). The water tile converts,—see ch. x., notes: but, as of Baptism is the symbol of Christ's blood: the church at this time believed, they but Peter says that it is the Spirit by must be circumcised, which the Samaritans whom we are washed in the blood of already were, -and keep the law, which Christ. In Baptism our old man is cruci- after their manner the Samaritans did.) fied that we may be raised into newness of The sudden appearance, however, of a body life (Rom. vi. 6): whence is all this but by of baptized believers in Samaria, by the sanctification of the Spirit ? So that Bap- agency of one who was not one of the tism will have nothing left, if it be dis Apostles,—while it would excite in them sociated from the Spirit. Therefore it every feeling of thankfulness and joy, must not be denied, that the Samaritans, would require their presence and power, as who had duly put on Christ in Baptism, Apostles, to perform their especial part had been also invested with the Spirit as the divinely appointed Founders of the (Gal. iii. 27). And indeed Luke here Church. Add to this, that the Samaritans speaks, not of the ordinary grace of the appear to have been credulous, and easily Spirit by which God regenerates us as moved to attach themselves to individuals, sons to Himself, but of those special gifts whether it were Simon, or Philip; which with which it was the Lord's will to endow might make the Apostles desirous to be some persons in the beginning of the Gos- present in person, and examine, and pel for the furnishing of the Kingdom strengthen their faith. Another reason of Christ.” And a little after :
may have been not without its influence : Papists, in their wish to extol their the Jewish church at Jerusalem would fictitious Confirmation, do not hesitate to naturally for the most part be alienated go even so far as to utter this sacrilegious in mind from this new body of believers. diction, that those are only half Christians, The hatred between Jews and Samaritans on whom hands have not yet been laid. was excessive and unrelenting. It would It is intolerable that they should have therefore be in the highest degree imporfixed on the Church as a perpetual law, tant that it should be shewn to the church what was a mere temporal symbol ... for at Jerusalem, that these Samaritans, by even they themselves are obliged to con- the agency of the same Apostles, were parfess, that the Church was only for a time takers of the same visibly testified gifts of adorned with those gifts. Whence it fol- the one Spirit. The use of this argument, lows that the imposition of hands which which was afterwards applied by Peter in the Apostles here performed, came to an the case of the Gentiles, unexpected even end when its effect ceased.” The English by himself, ch. xi. 17,—was probably no church, in retaining the rite of Confirma- small part of the purpose of this journey tion, has not grounded it on any institution to Samaria. 14. Peter and John] by the Apostles, but merely declared the Perhaps two, in accordance with their laying on of hands on the candidates, to having been sent out two and two on their certify them (by this sign) of God's favour first missionary journey (Mark vi. 7): so and goodness towards them, to be “after Paul and Barnabas afterwards (ch. xii. 2): the example of the holy Apostles.' Nor is and the same principle seems to have been there any trace in the office, of the adhered to even when these last separated : conferring of the Holy Ghost by con- Paul chose Silas, Barnabas took Mark.firmation; but a distinct recognition of PETER,—because to him belonged, in this the former reception of the Holy Spirit early part of the gospel, in a remarkable (at Baptism), and a prayer for the increase manner, the first establishing of the church; of His influence, proportioned to the ma- it was the fulfilment of the promise "upon turer life now opening on the newly con- this rock I will build my church.” It was firmed. (2) If then we have here no in- he who had (in common with all the Aposstitution of a perpetual ordinance, some- tles, it is true, but in this early period more
1 ch. ii. 38.
och. x. 48:
xix. 5. pch. vi. 6:
they were come down, prayed for them, that they m ch. xix. 2. might receive the Holy Ghost: 16 formas yet he was n Matt... fallen upon none of them : only " they ? were baptized a in
o the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then Plaid they their Kit & ile hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.
18 b And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, 19 saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay Chands, he may receive the Holy Ghost. 20 But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee,
because thou d hast thought that 'the gift of God may be sch. 11.88 : r. purchased with money. 21 Thou hast neither part nor lot
in this matter : for thy heart is not right in the sight of God. 22 Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and
q Matt. x. 8.
see 2 Kings 45: xi. 17.
Z render, had been.
a literally, into.
C render, my hands.
especially committed to him) the keys of from the narrative, Simon himself did not the kingdom of heaven, -who opened the receive the Spirit by the laying on of door to the 3000 on the day of Pentecost, hands. His nefarious attempt to treat --Now (as a formal and ratifying act) to with the Apostles was before he himself the Samaritans,-and in ch. x. to the Gen- had been presented to them for this pur. tiles. So far, is plain truth of Scripture pose. 20.] The solemn denunciation history. The monstrous fiction begins, of Peter, like the declaration of Paul, 1 Cor. when to Peter is attributed a fixed diocese vi. 13, has reference to the perishableness and successors, and to those successors a of all worldly good, and of those with it, delegated power more like that ascribed to whose chief end is the use of it (see Col. Simon Magus than that promised to Peter. ii. 22). “Thy gold and thou are equally
- This is the last time that John appears on the way to corruption: thy gold, as its in the Acts. He is only once more men- nature is : thou with it, as having no higher tioned in the New Testament (except in life than thy natural corrupt one: as being the Revelation), viz. as having been pre- bound in the bond of iniquity. The erpres. sent in Jerusalem at Paul's visit, Gal. ii. 9. sion of the same Peter, 1 Pet. i. 7,“ gold that
15. prayed for them] So laying on perisheth,” is remarkably parallel with this of hands is preceded by prayer, ch. vi. 6; (see too 1 Pet. i. 18). thou thoughtxiii. 3. 18. when Simon saw] Its est] not thou hast thought,' as A. V. effects were therefore visible (see above), The historic force of the tense is to be and consequently the effect of the laying kept here: the Apostle uses it as looking on of the Apostles' hands was not the in- forward to the day of his destruction, 'Let ward but the outward miraculous gifts of thy lot be destruction, and that because the Spirit. he offered them money] De thou thoughtest,' &c. to acquire, not Wette excellently remarks, 'He regarded passive, as A. V., ungrammatically. the capability of imparting the Holy Spirit, 21. neither part nor lot] The two words -rightly, as something conferred, as a de- are apparently synonymous: the first being rived power (see Matt. x. 1), but wrongly, literal, the second figurative, but not withas one to be obtained by an external out reference perhaps to the inheritance of method, without an inward disposition: the kingdom of God, the incorruptible inand, since in external commerce every heritance, 1 Pet. i. 4. this matter] thing may be had for gold, he wanted to i.e. the matter now spoken of,-'to which buy it. This is the essence of the sin of I now allude.' thy heart is not right, Simony, which is intimately connected with -sincere, single-meaning,-in God's preunbelief in the power and signification of sence, 'as God sees it :' i. e. seen as it the Spirit, and with materialism.'-Clearly, really is, by God, is not in earnest in its
u Gen. xx. 7,
22. if per
pray e God, s if perhaps the thought of thine heart f may be s Dan. iv. 27; forgiven thee. 23 For I perceive that thou art in the gall + Heb. xii. 15. of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity.
24 Then answered Simon, and said, “ Pray ye to the Lord for me, that none of these things which ye have spoken come upon me.
25 & And they, when they had testified and preached the Job alii. word of the Lord, h returned to Jerusalem, and i preached 18. the gospel in many villages of the Samaritans.
26 k 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, 1 which is desert. 27 And he arose e read, the Lord.
literally, evangelizing many villages. k render, But an. 1 literally, this (way)
this (way) is desert. seeking after the gospel, but seeks it with me becoming another man in thoughts and unworthy ends in view.'
aims. haps] The uncertainty refers, not to the 25—40.] CONVERSION OF THE Æthiodoubt whether Simon would repent or not PIAN EUNUCH BY PHILIP'S TEACHING. (see below): but as to whether or not his 25.] So then indicates (see note on sin may not have come under the awful ver. 4) that the paragraph should begin category of those unpardonable ones spe- here, not at ver. 26 as commonly. citied by our Lord, Matt. xii. 31, to which villages of the Samaritans] It is interest. words this sentence seems to have a tacit ing to recall Luke ix. 52, where on their reference. Peter does not pronounce bis entering into a village of the Samaritans, sin to have been such, but throws in this the same John wishes to call down fire from doubt, to increase the motive to repent, heaven, and consume them. The gradual and the earnestness of his repentance. sowing of the seed further and further This verse is important, taken in connexion from Jerusalem is advancing: not only with John xx. 23, as shewing how com- is this eunuch to carry it to a far distant pletely the Apostles themselves referred land, but Philip is sent to a desert road, the forgiveness of sins to, and left it in, away from town or village, to seek him. the sovereign power of God, and not to The imperfect tenses, “were returning their own delegated power of absolution. &c.,” are significant. They were on their
23.] For gives the reason, not why way back to Jerusalem, and were evangeit would be difficult for forgiveness to take lizing the Samaritan villages, when the place, but why he had such extreme need angel spake to Philip. 26.] An angel, of repentance and prayer, as being tied visibly appearing : not in a dream,—which and bound by the chain of sin. the is not, as some suppose, implied by the gall of bitterness] See Deut. xxix. 18; command to arise. The ministration of Lam. iii. 15,— the gall which is the very angels introduces and brings about several seat and essence of bitterness '-a very occurrences in the beginning of the church, gall of bitterness. The poison of serpents see ch. v. 19; x. 3; xii. 7 (xxvii. 23). The was considered to be seated in their gall: appearance seems to have taken place in so “ the gall of asps is within him," Job Samaria, after the departure of Peter and
24.] Simon speaks here much John. He would reach the place appointed as Pharaoh, Exod. (viii. 28; ix. 28) x. 17, by a shorter way than through Jerusalem : — who yet hardened his heart afterwards. he would probably follow the high road (of It is observable also that he wishes merely the itineraries, see map in Cony beare and for the averting of the punishment. The Howson's St. Paul) as far as Gophna, and words, “that none of these things which thence strike across the country south-westye have spoken come upon me," seem re- ward to join, at some point to which be markably to set forth the mere terror of would be guided, the road leading from Jethe carnal man, without any idea of the rusalem to Gaza. Gaza] The south
x Zeph. ii, 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 to have had one design, connected with the portion of Judah (Josh. xv. 47), but this fact. The walls of partition were one soon taken from that tribe by the Philis. after another being thrown down: the tines, and always spoken of as a Philistian Samaritans were already in full possession city (1 Sam. vi. 17; 2 Kings xviii. 8; Amos of the Gospel : it was next to be shewn i. 6-8; Zeph. iii. 4; Zech. ix. 5). In Jer. that none of those physical incapacities xlvii. 1, we have ‘before Pharaoh (Necho ?) which excluded from the congregation of smote Gaza,' — implying that at one time it the Lord under the old covenant, formed was under Egypt. Alexander the Great any bar to Christian baptism and the intook it after a siege of five months, but heritance among believers; and thus the did not destroy it, for we find it a strong way gradually to be paved for the great and place in the subsequent Syrian wars, see as yet incomprehensible truth of Gal. iii. 28. 1 Macc. ix. 52; xi. 61 f.; xii. 43; xiv. 7;
Candace (pronounced Candăcé, not xv. 28; xvi. 1.- It was destroyed by the Candācé)] As Pharaoh among the EgypJewish king Alexander Jannæus (96 a.c.), tians was the customary name of kings, so after a siege of a year, but rebuilt again Candăcé of the queens among the Ethioby the Roman general Gabinius, - afterpians in upper Egypt, who dwelt in the wards given by Augustus to Herod, and island of Meroe, where Pliny relates that finally after his death attached to the pro- a queen reigned named Candace, and adds, vince of Syria. Mela, in the time of Clau- “which name has now for many years dius, calls it a vast city, and strongly passed from one queen to another." fortified, with which agree Eusebius and had come to Jerusalem for to worship ...] Jerome. At present it is a large town by This did not only Jews and proselytes, but the same name, with from 15,000 to 16,000 also those pious Gentiles who adhered to inhabitants. The above chronological no- Judaism,—the proselytes of the gate, see tices shew that it cannot have been “de. John xii. 20. Eusebius, taking for granted sert” at this time : see below. this that this eunuch was a Gentile, calls him is desert] The words, I believe, of the “the first fruits of the Gentiles throughout angel, not of St. Luke. There appear to the world.” There were (see below, ch. have been two (if not more) ways from xi. 21) cases of Gentile conversion before Jerusalem to Gaza. But Robinson found, that of Cornelius; and the stress of the besides, an ancient road leading direct narrative in ch. x. consists in the miscel. from Jerusalem to Gaza, through the Wadi laneous admission of all the Gentile comMusurr, and over the Beit Jiibrin, which pany Cornelius, and their official re. certainly at present is “ desert,” without ception into the church by that Apostle towns or villages. Thus the words will to whom was especially given the power. refer to the way: and denote, the way of We may remark, that if even the plain which I speak to thee is desert. See in revelation by which the reception of Cor. my Greek Test. further proofs of the in- nelius and his company was commanded applicability of the epithet “desert” to failed finally to convince Peter, so that Gaza. 27. an eunuch] The very gene- long after this he vacillated (Gal. ii. 11, 12), ral use of eunuchs in the East for filling it is no argument for the eunuch not being offices of confidence, and the fact that this a Gentile, that his conversion and baptism man was minister to a female sovereign, did not remove the prejudices of the Jewish makes it probable that he was literally an Christians. 28. read Esaias] aloud, eunuch. If not so, the word would hardly see next ver. Schöttgen quotes from the have been expressed. No difficulty arises Rabbis : “He who journeyeth and hath no from Deut. xxiii. 1, for no inference can be companion, let him study the Law."--He drawn from the history further than that probably read in the LXX, the use of which he may have been a proselyte of the gate, was almost universal in Egypt. 29.] in whose case the prohibition would not This is the first mention of that inner apply.-Nay, the whole occurrence seems prompting of the Spirit, referred to again
30 And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him B 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, 2 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;
what doth hinder me to be baptized ? [37 r And Philip b ch· I. 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 » render, reading
o render, Yea, but understandest. P literally, For how can I ..
9 render, openeth. omit, with all our most ancient authorilies.
probably ch. xiii. 2, but certainly ch. x. ference in the words some other man, to 19; xvi. 6, 7. Chrysostom understands Christ. 36. a certain water] Traditions the words of the appearance of an angel, about the situation of this spring are found but the text hardly allows it. 30.] in some ancient notes to Jerome. It is Yea, but ....: i. e. “It is well, thou art said to be near a place named Bethsur. well employed : but. ..?” The form of Eusebius states it to be twenty miles south the question assumes, modestly, that he of Jerusalem in the direction of Hebron : did not understand what he was reading and so it is set down in the ancient itine
31.] For (see margin) gives the raries. Pocock found there a fountain reason of the negative which is understood. built over, and a village called Betur on The answer expresses at once humility and the left. Fabri describes the fountain as the docility. 32.] Perhaps it is best to head of a considerable brook, and found near render, The contents of the (passage of) it the ruins of a Christian church. There Scripture which he was reading were as is no improbability in the tradition, except follows. 33] This stands in the He- that, even supposing a way going across brew • He was taken away by distress and from Hebron straight to Gaza to be called judgment' (so in the margin of the A.V.): desert, this would not be on that portion i.e. as Lowth, 'by an oppressive judgment.' of it, but on the high road. what
his generation) i. e. the age in doth hinder me to be baptized ?] There is which he shall live-'the wickedness of bis no reason for supposing Philip to have contemporaries. The fathers, and Bede preached to him the necessity of baptism : and some modern Commentators, explain his own acquaintance with Jewish practices, * His generation' of His eternal Sonship and perhaps his knowledge of the proand His miraculous Incarnation. But the gress of the new faith in Jerusalem, would Hebrew does not seem to bear this out. account for the proposition. 37.]
34. answered] to the passage of The authorities against this verse are too Scripture, considered as the question pro- strong to permit its insertion.
It appears posed : not, to the question in ver. 30. to have been one of those remarkable adWe can hardly suppose any immediate re- ditions to the text of the Acts, common