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u Exod. xx. 1. derers: 53 ud who have received the law by the disposition
Gal. iii. 19. Heb. ii. 2. x ch. v. 33.
When they heard
of angels, and have not kept it. 54 these things, they were cut to the heart, on him with their teeth. 55 But he, Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of 16. God, 56 and said, zf Behold, I see the heavens opened, and
z Ezek. i. 1.
ch. x. 11.
b 1 Kings xxi.
Dan. vii. 13, the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped
him with one accord, 58 and and stoned him: and the
y ch. vi.5.
e Lev. xxiv. 19. their ears, and ran upon
d Deut. xiii. 9,
cast him out of the city,
10: xvii. 7.
ch. viii. 1:
render, men who received. f render, Lo,
Matt. xxvi. 14–16:—murderers, by the hands of the Romans; ch. ii. 23, note. 53. at the injunction of angels] Many explanations have been given of these words. An enumeration and description of them may be seen in my Greek Testament. The key to the right understanding of them seems to be the similar expression in Gal. iii. 19, "the law,... ordained by [means of] angels." The law was given by God, but announced by angels. The people received God's law then, at the injunction of angels. 54.] were cut to the heart, see ch. v. 33, note. 55.] Certainly, in so far as the vision of Stephen was supernatural, it was not necessary that the material heavens should have been visible to him: but from the words looked up stedfastly into [the] heaven, it would seem that they were. We are not told where the Sanhedrim were assembled. It does not seem as if they were convened in the ordinary session room: it may have been in one of the courts of the temple, which would give room for more than the members of the Sanhedrim to be present, as seems to have been the case. standing] A reason why the glorified Saviour was seen standing and not sitting, has been pleasingly given by Chrysostom, "Why standing and not sitting? that He may shew His attitude of help to the martyr. For of the Father also it is said, 'Arise, O God."" See also the collect for St. Stephen's day. But not perhaps correctly: for 'help' does not seem here to be the applicable idea, but the confirmation of his faith by the ecstatic vision of the Saviour's glory at God's right hand.-I should be rather disposed to think that there was reference in the vision to that in Zech. iii.
1, where Zechariah sees "Joshua [Jesus] the High Priest standing before the angel
and they gnashed being full of the
e render, at the injunction. I behold.
of the Lord." Stephen, under accusation of blaspheming the earthly temple, is granted a sight of the heavenly temple; being cited before the Sadducee High Priest, who believed neither angel nor spirit, he is vouchsafed a vision of the heavenly HIGH PRIEST, standing and ministering at the Throne, amidst the angels and just men made perfect. 56.] This is the only time that our Lord is by human lips called the SON OF MAN after His Ascension (Rev. i. 13; xiv. 14, are not instances). And why here? I believe for this reason. Stephen, full of the Holy Ghost, speaking now not of himself at all (ver. 55), but entirely by the utterance of the Spirit, repeats the very words, Matt. xxvi. 64, in which Jesus Himself, before this council, had foretold His glorification; -and assures them that that exaltation of the SON OF MAN, which they should hereafter witness to their dismay, was already begun and actual. 58. cast him out of the city] See Levit. xxiv. 14. The Rabbinical books say, "The place of stoning was outside the city: for all walled cities were considered to correspond to the camp of Israel." Compare also Heb. xiii. 12, 13. and stoned him] An anticipation of the fact, the details of which follow. Stoning was the punishment of blaspheming, Levit. xxiv. 16. The question whether this was a legal proceeding on sentence, or a tumultuary one, is not easy to answer. It would appear from John xviii. 31, that the Jews had not legally the power of putting any man to death (see note there). Certainly, from the narrative before us, and from the fact of a bloody persecution having taken place soon after it, it seems that the Jews did, by connivance of, or in the absence of the Procurator, administer summary punishments of
witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul. 59 And they stoned Stephen, eg calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, f receive spirit. 60 And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
this kind. But here no sentence is recorded and perhaps the very violence and fanatical character of the execution might constitute it, not an encroachment on the power of the Procurator, as it would have been if strictly in form of law, but a mere outbreak, and as such it might be allowed to pass unnoticed. That they observed the forms of their own law, in the place and manner of the stoning, is no objection to this view. the witnesses] See Deut. xvii. 7, where it is enacted that the hands of the witnesses were to be first on the criminal to put him to death, and afterward the hands of all the people. they laid down their clothes] They disencumbered themselves of their loose outer garments, that they might be light and unimpeded in the throwing of the stones. They laid them at Saul's feet that he might keep them in safety. Such notices are deeply interesting, when we recollect by whom they were in all probability carefully inserted. See ch. xxii. 19, 20, and note on ch. xxvi. 10-from which it appears that Saul can certainly not have been less than thirty at this time. He was a member of the Sanhedrim, and soon after was despatched on an important mission with their authority. 59.] All attempts to escape from this being a direct prayer to the Saviour are vain, as I have shewn in my Greek Testament. receive my spirit] The same prayer in substance had been made by our Lord on the Cross (Luke xxiii. 46) to His Father. To Him was now committed the key of David. Similarly, the young man Saul, in after years: "I am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed to him against that day." 2 Tim. i. 12. 60. lay not
e ch. ix. 14. f Ps. xxxi. 5.
g ch. ix. 40:
xxi. 5. h Matt. v. 44. Luke vi. 28: xxiii. 34.
VIII. And a Saul was consenting unto his death. ach. vii. 58: And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all b ch. xi. 19. + scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judæa and Samaria, except the apostles. 2 And devout men carried
g better, praying: it is literally, invoking: no word such as God" is expressed.
h literally, in that day.
this sin to their charge] This again was somewhat similar (though not exactly, see note there) to our Lord's prayer, Luke xxiii. 34. he fell asleep] Not a Christian expression only: there are Jewish examples and we have some even in Greek heathen poetry. But it became the usual Christian term for death. Its use here, when the circumstances, and the actors in them, are remembered, is singularly touching, from the contrast.
CHAP. VIII. 1-4.] PERSECUTION OF THE CHURCH BY SAUL, CONSEQUENT ON THE DEATH OF STEPHEN. 1. consenting] The same Greek word is rendered "allow" in Luke xi. 48: "have pleasure" in Rom. i. 32. Compare St. Paul's own confession, ch. xxvi. 9-11. From this time, the narrative takes up Saul, and, at first with considerable interruptions (ch. viii. x. xi. xii.), but after ch. xiii. 1 entirely, follows his history. in that day, can hardly mean, as some would render it, on that very day, viz. when Stephen was stoned. For what follows, "they were all scattered abroad"... cannot have happened on the same day, but would take some little time. We have the same expression used indefinitely, Luke vi. 23; John xiv. 20; xvi. 23, 26. In Luke xvii. 31, it has direct reference to a day just mentioned. all] Not perhaps literally,- -or some of them soon returned: see ch. ix. 26-30. It may describe the general dispersion, without meaning that every individual fled. Samaria] Connected with ver. 4: this word is not without importance, as introducing the next step in the dissemination of the Gospel, according to our Lord's command in ch. i. 8. except the apostles] Perhaps,
made great lamentation over 3 As for Saul, he made havock of the Church,
e Gen. xxiii. 2: Stephen to his burial, and
1. 10. 2 Sam.
g Mark xvi. 17.
d ch. vii. 58: ix. 1, 13, 21:
xxii. 4: xxvi. entering into every house, and i haling men and women
10, 11. 1 Cor.
IV. 9. Gal. i. committed them to prison.
13. Phil. iii.
6. 1 Tim. i.
e Matt. x 23.
ch. xi. 19. fch. vi. 5.
4k Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word. 51 Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them. 6 And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. 7 For
unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken
ii. e. dragging. 1 render, And.
n render, when they heard them, and saw.
from their exalted position of veneration by the people, the persecution did not extend to them: perhaps they remained, as possessed of superior firmness and devotion. But this latter reason is hardly applicable, after the command of our Lord When they persecute you in one city, flee to another.' Matt. x. 23. Stier refers their remaining to an intimation of the Spirit, to stay and strengthen those who were left. Mr. Humphry cites an ancient tradition, mentioned by Clement of Alexandria, and by Eusebius from the Apocryphal work called the Preaching of Peter, that the Apostles were ordered by our Lord to remain at Jerusalem twelve years. But this could not be the case, as we have Peter and John going down to Samaria, ver. 14. 2. devout men] Whether Jews or Christians, is not certain. Ananias is so called, ch. xxii. 12, and he was a Christian. Olshausen thinks that, if they had been Christians the term "brethren" would have been used: but this does not seem by any means certain: we can hardly reason so minutely from the diction of one section in the narrative to that of another, especially in the case of a section so distinct and peculiar as this one. Besides, “brethren" in this very general sense does not occur till ch. ix. 30. Probably they were pious Jews, not yet converts, but hearers and admirers of Stephen. 3. made havock of] The word so rendered is properly used of wild beasts, or of hostile armies, devastating and ravaging.
4-12.] PREACHING OF THE GOSPEL IN SAMARIA BY PHILIP. 4.] So then resumes the subject dropped at the end of ver. 1, and determines this verse to be the opening of a new section, not the close of
render, So then.
m render, multitudes. see note.
preaching the word] Here first we become acquainted with the missionary language so frequent in the rest of the book and we have the word, an abbreviated expression very familiar among Christians when the book was written, for the fuller one which must have prevailed at first, "the word of God." 5. Philip] The deacon: not one of the Twelve: this is precluded by vv. 1 and 14. And it is probable, that the persecution should have been directed especially against the colleagues of Stephen. Philip is mentioned again as the Evangelist,-probably from his having been the first recorded who preached (evangelized) the word,-in_ch. xxi. 8,-as married, and having four daughters, virgins, who prophesied. the city of Samaria] Verbatim as John iv. 5, in which case it is specified as being Sychar (Sichem). As the words stand here, seeing that Samaria (vv. 9, 14; ch. ix. 31; xv. 3) signifies the district, I should be inclined to believe that Sychem is here also intended. It was a place of rising importance, and in after-times eclipsed the fame of its neighbour Samaria, which latter had been, on its presentation by Augustus to Herod the Great, re-fortified and called Sebaste. It still, however, bore the name of Samaria. them] The inhabitants, implied in the word city. 6. gave heed...] If this place was Sychem, the narrative in John iv. will fully account for the readiness with which these people received the proclamation of the Christ. 7.] According to the reading in the genuine text, which is too strongly upheld by manuscript authority to be rejected for the easier ordinary one, the literal rendering is as follows: For in the case of many who
with palsies, and that were lame, were healed. 8 And there was great joy in that city. 9 But there was a certain man, called Simon, which P beforetime in the same city, a used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, h ch. xiii. 6. giving out that himself was some great one: 10 to whom i ch. v. 36. they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God. 11 And to him
I render, using.
P render, was beforetime. rrender, bewitching.
See note, ver. 11.
3 literally, in all our oldest MSS., the power of God which is called great.
had unclean spirits, they crying out with a loud voice, came out. The A.V., though founded on a different reading, comes to the same. 9. Simon] Neander, in the course of some excellent remarks on this whole history (see further on ver. 14), identifies, and I believe with reason, this Simon with one mentioned as living from ten to twenty years after this by Josephus, and as having been employed by the procurator Felix to tempt Drusilla to leave her husband, and live with him. Simon is there called "a Jew, born in Cyprus, and held to be a magician." The only difficulty seems to be, that Simon is stated by Justin Martyr, himself a Samaritan, to have been
a Samaritan, from a village called Gitton." But it has struck me that either Justin, or perhaps more probably Josephus, may have confounded Ghittim with Chittim, i. e. Citium in Cyprus. The account in Josephus is quite in character with what we here read of Simon: not inconsistent with ver. 24, which appears to have been uttered under terror occasioned by the solemn denunciation of Peter.-Justin goes on to relate that he was worshipped as a god at Rome in the time of Claudius Cæsar, on account of his magical powers, and had a statue on the island in the Tiber, inscribed Simoni Deo Sancto' (to Simon the Holy God). Singularly enough, in the year 1574, a stone was found in the Tiber (or standing on the island in the year 1662, according to Smith's Dictionary of Biography and Mythology), with the inscription SEMONI SANCO DEO FIDIO SACRUM, i. e. sacred to the god Semo Sancus, the Sabine Hercules; - which makes it probable that Justin may have been misled. The history of Simon is full of legend and fable. He is said to have studied at Alexandria, and to have originally been, with the heresiarch Dositheus, a disciple of John the Baptist. Of Dositheus he became first the disciple, and then the
successor. Origen makes Dositheus also a Samaritan. His own especial followers (Simoniani) had dwindled so much in the time of Origen, that he says there were at that day hardly thirty in the world. There are reports also of subsequent controversies between Simon Magus and Peter, of which the scene is laid at Cæsarea. According to some, he met with his death at Rome, having, during an encounter with Peter, raised himself into the air by the aid of evil spirits, and being precipitated thence at the prayer of Peter and Paul. I saw in the church of S. Francesca Romana, in the forum, a stone with two dents in it, and this inscription: "On this stone rested the knees of S. Peter, when the dæmons carried Simon Magus through the air."-The fathers generally regard him as the founder of Gnosticism: this may be in some sense true: but, from the very little authentic information we possess, it is impossible to ascertain how far he was identified with their tenets. Origen distinctly denies that his followers were Christians in any sense. using sorcery] viz. by exercising magic arts, such as then were very common in the East and found wide acceptance; impostors taking advantage of the very general expectation of a Deliverer at this time, to set themselves up by means of such trickeries as 'some great ones.' We have other examples in Elymas (ch. xiii.); Apollonius of Tyana; and somewhat later, Alexander of Abonoteichos; see these latter in Smith's Dictionary of Biography and Mythology. some great one] Probably not in such definite terms as his followers later are represented by Jerome as putting into his mouth: "I am the Word of God... I am the Paraclete, I am Almighty, I am all that is in God." 10. the great power of God] Literally, according to the best MS. authorities, the power of God
k ch. i. 3.
they had regard, because that of long time the had be-
trender, they had been bewitched by his sorceries.
which is called great. Neander and Meyer think that they must have referred to the Word, the creating and governing manifestation of God, so much spoken of in the Alexandrine philosophy, and must have regarded Simon as an incarnation of the Word; so that their erroneous belief would form some preparation for the great truth of an incarnate Messiah, preached by Philip. But to this De Wette well replies, that we can hardly suppose the Alexandrine philosophy to have been so familiar to the mass of the people; and refers the expression to their popular belief of a great angel, who might, as the angels were called by the Samaritans the powers of God, be designated by these remarkable words. 11.] The rendering "he had bewitched them" is grammatically wrong. The word rendered bewitched" (which is perhaps the best translation here) is "amazed" in Matt. xii. 23,-" astonished" in Mark v. 42, Luke xxiv. 22 &c. 13.] "Simon saw his followers dropping off, and was himself astounded at the miracles wrought by Philip: he therefore thought it best himself also to acknowledge this superior power. He attached himself to Philip, and was baptized like the rest but we are not, as the sequel shews, to understand that the preaching of the Gospel had made any impression on his heart, but that he accounted for what he saw in his own fashion. He was convinced, from the works which Philip did, that he was in league with some powerful spirit: he viewed baptism as the initiation into communion with that spirit, and expected that he should be able to make use of the higher power thus gained for his own purposes, and unite this new magical power to his own. All were baptized who professed belief in Jesus as the Messiah: there was therefore no reason for rejecting Simon,
considering besides, that from the nature of the case he would for the time have given up his magical practices." Neander. "It is plain," says Calvin, "from this example of Simon, that the grace which is figured in Baptism is not conferred on all indifferently. It is a dogma of the Papists, that unless a man place the bar of mortal sin in the way, all receive, with the outward sign, the verity and effect of the Sacraments. Thus they attribute a magical force to the Sacraments, making them profitable without faith. But it is for us to know, that we are offered by God in the Sacraments whatever the promises annexed to them contain, and this in no empty words merely, provided we are led by faith to Christ, and seek from Him what the Sacraments promise. For though the reception of Baptism was of no profit to him, as the matter stood, yet if his conversion had followed afterwards, as some think it did, in that case its profit was not extinguished nor abolished. For it often happens that it is a long time before the Spirit of God works, and causes the Sacraments to begin to prove their efficacy."
14-25.] MISSION OF PETER AND JOHN TO SAMARIA. A question arises on this procedure of the Apostles:-whether it was as a matter of course, that the newly baptized should, by the laying on of hands subsequently, receive the Holy Ghost, or whether there was in the case of these Samaritans any thing peculiar, which caused the Apostles to go down to them and perform this act. (1) The only analogous case is ch. xix. 5, 6: in using which we must observe that there it is distinctly asserted that the miraculous gifts of the Spirit followed the laying on of Paul's hands; and that by the expression "when Simon saw" in ver. 18, which must be taken literally, the same is implied here. And