Acts of Apostles 8:1-40

8  Saul, for his part, approved of his murder.+ On that day great persecution arose against the congregation that was in Jerusalem; all except the apostles were scattered throughout the regions of Ju·deʹa and Sa·marʹi·a.+  But devout men carried Stephen away to bury him, and they made a great mourning over him.  Saul, though, began to ravage the congregation. He would invade one house after another, dragging out both men and women and turning them over to prison.+  However, those who had been scattered went through the land declaring the good news of the word.+  Now Philip+ went down to the city of Sa·marʹi·a+ and began to preach the Christ to them.  The crowds with one accord were paying attention to what Philip said while they listened and observed the signs he was performing.  For many had unclean spirits, and these would cry out with a loud voice and come out.+ Moreover, many who were paralyzed and lame were cured.  So there came to be a great deal of joy in that city.  Now in the city was a man named Simon, who prior to this had been practicing magical arts and amazing the nation of Sa·marʹi·a, claiming that he was somebody great. 10  All of them, from the least to the greatest, would pay attention to him and say: “This man is the Power of God, which is called Great.” 11  So they would pay attention to him because he had amazed them for quite a while by his magical arts. 12  But when they believed Philip, who was declaring the good news of the Kingdom of God+ and of the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were getting baptized.+ 13  Simon himself also became a believer, and after being baptized, he continued with Philip; and he was amazed at seeing the signs and great powerful works taking place. 14  When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Sa·marʹi·a had accepted the word of God,+ they sent Peter and John to them; 15  and these went down and prayed for them to get holy spirit.+ 16  For it had not yet come upon any one of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.+ 17  Then they laid their hands on them,+ and they began to receive holy spirit. 18  Now when Simon saw that the spirit was given through the laying on of the hands of the apostles, he offered them money, 19  saying: “Give me this authority also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive holy spirit.” 20  But Peter said to him: “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could acquire the free gift of God with money.+ 21  You have neither part nor share in this matter, for your heart is not straight in the sight of God. 22  So repent of this badness of yours, and supplicate Jehovah that, if possible, the wicked intention of your heart may be forgiven you; 23  for I see you are a bitter poison and a slave of unrighteousness.” 24  In answer Simon said to them: “Make supplication for me to Jehovah that none of the things you have said may come upon me.” 25  Therefore, when they had given the witness thoroughly and had spoken the word of Jehovah, they started back toward Jerusalem, and they went declaring the good news to many villages of the Sa·marʹi·tans.+ 26  However, Jehovah’s angel+ spoke to Philip, saying: “Get up and go to the south to the road that runs down from Jerusalem to Gazʹa.” (This is a desert road.) 27  With that he got up and went, and look! an E·thi·oʹpi·an eunuch, a man who had authority under Can·daʹce, queen of the E·thi·oʹpi·ans, and who was in charge of all her treasure. He had gone to Jerusalem to worship,+ 28  and he was returning and was sitting in his chariot, reading aloud the prophet Isaiah. 29  So the spirit said to Philip: “Go over and approach this chariot.” 30  Philip ran alongside and heard him reading aloud Isaiah the prophet, and he said: “Do you actually know what you are reading?” 31  He said: “Really, how could I ever do so unless someone guided me?” So he urged Philip to get on and sit down with him. 32  Now this was the passage of Scripture that he was reading: “Like a sheep he was brought to the slaughter,+ and like a lamb that is silent before its shearer, so he does not open his mouth.+ 33  During his humiliation, justice was taken away from him.+ Who will tell the details of his generation? Because his life is taken away from the earth.”+ 34  The eunuch then said to Philip: “I beg you, about whom does the prophet say this? About himself or about some other man?” 35  Philip began to speak, and starting with this scripture, he declared to him the good news about Jesus. 36  Now as they were going along the road, they came to a body of water, and the eunuch said: “Look! Here is water; what prevents me from getting baptized?” 37  —— 38  With that he commanded the chariot to halt, and both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him. 39  When they came up out of the water, Jehovah’s spirit quickly led Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him anymore, but he went on his way rejoicing. 40  Philip, however, found himself in Ashʹdod, and he went through the territory and kept on declaring the good news to all the cities until he got to Caes·a·reʹa.+


Study Notes

evangelizer: The basic meaning of the Greek term eu·ag·ge·li·stesʹ, rendered “evangelizer,” is “a proclaimer of good news.” (See study note on Mt 4:23.) While all Christians are commissioned to proclaim the good news (Mt 24:14; 28:19, 20; Ac 5:42; 8:4; Ro 10:9, 10), the context of the three scriptures where this Greek term occurs shows that “evangelizer” can be used in a special sense (Ac 21:8; Eph 4:11; ftn.; 2Ti 4:5; ftn.). For example, when it is used of a person opening up new fields where the good news had never been preached, the Greek term could also be rendered “missionary.” After Pentecost, Philip pioneered the work in the city of Samaria with great success. He was also directed by an angel to preach the good news about Christ to the Ethiopian eunuch, whom he baptized. Then Philip was led away by the spirit to preach in Ashdod and all the cities on the way to Caesarea. (Ac 8:5, 12, 14, 26-40) Some 20 years later, when the events recorded at Ac 21:8 occurred, Philip is still referred to as “the evangelizer.”

Philip: According to Ac 8:1, “all except the apostles were scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria.” Therefore, the Philip mentioned here is not the apostle Philip. (Mt 10:3; Ac 1:13) Rather, it is apparently the Philip who was among the “seven reputable men” appointed to organize the daily distribution of food among the Greek-speaking and Hebrew-speaking Christian widows in Jerusalem. (Ac 6:1-6) After the events recorded in Acts chapter 8, Philip is mentioned just once more, at Ac 21:8, as “Philip the evangelizer.”​—See study note on Ac 21:8.

the city: Or, according to some manuscripts, “a city.” This is apparently referring to the main city of the Roman district of Samaria. The name Samaria originally referred to the capital city of the ten-tribe kingdom of Israel as well as to the entire territory of that kingdom. Samaria was the capital until that kingdom was overthrown by the Assyrians in 740 B.C.E. The city, however, remained throughout Roman times, and in Jesus’ day, Samaria was also the name of the Roman district that lay between Galilee in the N and Judea in the S. (See Glossary, “Samaria.”) Herod the Great rebuilt the city of Samaria and renamed it Sebaste in honor of Roman Emperor Augustus. (The name Sebaste is a feminine Greek form of the Latin name Augustus.) The present-day Arabic name, Sabastiya, preserves the name Herod gave it.​—See App. B10.

Samaria . . . accepted the word of God: After Jesus preached to a Samaritan woman, “many of the Samaritans” put faith in him. (Joh 4:27-42) This may have laid the foundation for many of these Samaritans to respond to Philip’s preaching.​—Ac 8:1, 5-8, 14-17.

Simon . . . offered them money: From this Bible account comes the term “simony,” referring to the buying or selling of positions, specifically in a religious context. Peter’s reply to Simon, recorded at Ac 8:20-24, shows that Christians must be on guard against the wicked practice of trying to gain “authority” by using money or other means.​—Ac 8:19; 1Pe 5:1-3.

supplicate Jehovah: The Greek verb for “supplicate” is used in the Septuagint in connection with prayers, requests, and pleadings addressed to Jehovah. In these scriptures, the divine name is often used in the Hebrew text. (Ge 25:21; Ex 32:11; Nu 21:7; De 3:23; 1Ki 8:59; 13:6) The reasons why the New World Translation uses the name Jehovah in this verse, although available Greek manuscripts read “the Lord” (Greek, tou Ky·riʹou), are explained in App. C1 and C3 introduction; Ac 8:22.​—For a discussion of the Greek word for “supplicate,” which can also be rendered “make supplication,” see study note on Ac 4:31.

had made supplication: Or “had prayed earnestly (pleadingly).” The Greek verb deʹo·mai refers to the offering of earnest prayer coupled with intense feeling. The related noun deʹe·sis, rendered “supplication,” has been defined as “humble and earnest entreaty.” In the Christian Greek Scriptures, the noun is used exclusively in addressing God. Even Jesus “offered up supplications and also petitions, with strong outcries and tears, to the One who was able to save him out of death.” (Heb 5:7) The use of the plural “supplications” indicates that Jesus implored Jehovah more than once. For example, in the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed repeatedly and fervently.​—Mt 26:36-44; Lu 22:32.

gall: The Greek word kho·leʹ here refers to a bitter liquid made from plants or a bitter substance in general. Showing that this event was a fulfillment of prophecy, Matthew quotes Ps 69:21, where the Septuagint uses this Greek word to render the Hebrew word for “poison.” Apparently, women of Jerusalem had prepared the mixture of wine and gall to dull the pain of those being executed, and the Romans did not object to its use. The parallel account at Mr 15:23 says that the wine was “drugged with myrrh,” so the drink evidently contained both myrrh and bitter gall.

a bitter poison: Lit., “gall of bitterness.” The Greek word kho·leʹ literally refers to the fluid produced by the liver and stored in the gallbladder. Gall, or bile, is an extremely bitter yellowish or greenish fluid used by the body in digestion. Gall came to be associated with something that is bitter or poisonous, and that is how the word is used here.​—Compare study note on Mt 27:34.

supplicate Jehovah: The Greek verb for “supplicate” is used in the Septuagint in connection with prayers, requests, and pleadings addressed to Jehovah. In these scriptures, the divine name is often used in the Hebrew text. (Ge 25:21; Ex 32:11; Nu 21:7; De 3:23; 1Ki 8:59; 13:6) The reasons why the New World Translation uses the name Jehovah in this verse, although available Greek manuscripts read “the Lord” (Greek, tou Ky·riʹou), are explained in App. C1 and C3 introduction; Ac 8:22.​—For a discussion of the Greek word for “supplicate,” which can also be rendered “make supplication,” see study note on Ac 4:31.

Make supplication for me to Jehovah: See study note on Ac 8:22 and App. C3 introduction; Ac 8:24.

the word of Jehovah: This expression has its background in the Hebrew Scriptures, where it appears as a combination of a Hebrew term for “word” and the divine name. Together with the expression “Jehovah’s word,” it occurs in some 200 verses. (Some examples are found at 2Sa 12:9; 24:11; 2Ki 7:1; 20:16; 24:2; Isa 1:10; 2:3; 28:14; 38:4; Jer 1:4; 2:4; Eze 1:3; 6:1; Ho 1:1; Mic 1:1; Zec 9:1.) When this expression occurs at Zec 9:1 in an early copy of the Septuagint found at Nahal Hever, Israel, in the Judean Desert near the Dead Sea, the Greek word loʹgos is followed by the divine name written in ancient Hebrew characters (). This parchment scroll is dated between 50 B.C.E. and 50 C.E. The reasons why the New World Translation uses the expression “the word of Jehovah” in the main text, although many Greek manuscripts of Ac 8:25 read “the word of the Lord,” are explained in App. C3 introduction; Ac 8:25.

Jehovah’s angel: Starting at Ge 16:7, this phrase is often found in the Hebrew Scriptures as a combination of the Hebrew word for “angel” and the Tetragrammaton. When it occurs at Zec 3:5, 6 in an early copy of the Septuagint, the Greek word agʹge·los (angel; messenger) is followed by the divine name written in Hebrew characters. This fragment, found in a cave in Nahal Hever, Israel, in the Judean Desert, is dated between 50 B.C.E. and 50 C.E. The reasons why the New World Translation uses the expression “Jehovah’s angel” in the main text, although available Greek manuscripts of Ac 5:19 read “Lord’s angel,” are explained in App. C1 and C3 introduction; Ac 5:19.

have made themselves eunuchs: Or “have chosen to live as eunuchs.” Here “eunuchs” does not refer to males who have physically castrated themselves or have been emasculated. Instead, these voluntarily remain in a state of singleness.​—See Glossary, “Eunuch.”

Ethiopian: From the region of an ancient nation S of Egypt, then referred to as Ethiopia. The Greek word for “Ethiopia” (Ai·thi·o·piʹa, meaning “Region of Burnt Faces”) was the name applied by the ancient Greeks to the region of Africa S of Egypt. It generally corresponded with the Hebrew name Cush, which primarily embraced the southernmost part of modern-day Egypt and the present Sudan. When the Septuagint translation was made, the translators used the Greek term “Ethiopia” to render the Hebrew “Cush” in almost all passages. One example is Isa 11:11, where “Cush” (“Ethiopia” in LXX) is mentioned as one of the lands to which the Jewish exiles were scattered after the Babylonian conquest of Judah. Hence, this Ethiopian official may have had association with Jews in his area or perhaps in Egypt, where many Jews resided.

eunuch: In a literal sense, the Greek word eu·nouʹkhos refers to a man deprived of his ability to procreate. Castrated men were often appointed to serve in various capacities in ancient royal courts of the Middle East and northern Africa, especially as attendants or caretakers of the queen and the concubines. However, the term “eunuch” was not always used of men who had been castrated. It came to refer more generally to men assigned to various official duties in royal courts. Similar to the Greek term, the Hebrew word for “eunuch” (sa·risʹ) can refer to a royal officer. For example, Potiphar, a married man, is called “a court official [lit., “a eunuch”] of Pharaoh.” (Ge 39:1) In this account, the Ethiopian man who oversaw the royal treasury is referred to by the term “eunuch,” apparently used in the sense of a court official. He was obviously a circumcised proselyte​—that is, a non-Jew who had embraced the worship of Jehovah​—for he had just gone to Jerusalem to worship. (See Glossary, “Proselyte.”) The Mosaic Law forbade castrated men from coming into the congregation of Israel (De 23:1), so he could not have been a literal eunuch. Therefore, this Ethiopian proselyte was apparently not viewed as a Gentile and did not precede Cornelius as the first uncircumcised Gentile to convert to Christianity.​—Ac 10:1, 44-48; for an explanation of the figurative use of the term “eunuch,” see study note on Mt 19:12.

Candace: Instead of being a specific personal name, Candace, like Pharaoh and Caesar, is considered to be a title. Ancient writers, including Strabo, Pliny the Elder, and Eusebius used this designation in referring to queens of Ethiopia. Pliny the Elder (c. 23-79 C.E.) wrote that “the town [Meroë, capital of ancient Ethiopia] possesses few buildings. They said that it is ruled by a woman, Candace, a name that has passed on through a succession of queens for many years.”​—Natural History, VI, XXXV, 186.

eunuchs: In a literal sense, castrated men. In this verse, the term is used in both a literal and a figurative sense.​—See Glossary, “Eunuch.”

know: Or “understand.” The Greek word gi·noʹsko basically means “to know” but is broad in meaning and can also be rendered “understand; perceive.”

his generation: In this quote from Isa 53:8, the term “generation” apparently refers to one’s “descent,” or “family history.” When Jesus was on trial before the Sanhedrin, its members did not take into account his background​—that he fulfilled the requirements for the promised Messiah.

getting baptized: Or “being immersed.” The Greek word ba·ptiʹzo means “to dip; to plunge.” The context indicates that baptism involves complete immersion. If pouring or sprinkling water were all that was needed, it would not have been necessary for the eunuch to halt his chariot at a body of water. Although it cannot be determined whether this was a river, a stream, or a pond, the account says that “both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water.” (Ac 8:38) Other Biblical references agree with the idea that being baptized means being totally immersed in a body of water. For example, Jesus was baptized in a river, the Jordan. Also, on one occasion John the Baptist chose a location in the Jordan Valley near Salim to baptize people “because there was a great quantity of water there.” (Joh 3:23) It is worth noting that the Greek word ba·ptiʹzo is used in the Septuagint at 2Ki 5:14 when recounting how Naaman “plunged into the Jordan seven times.” Further, the Scriptures equate baptism with burial, indicating that a person who is baptized is completely submerged.​—Ro 6:4-6; Col 2:12.

Some later Greek manuscripts and some ancient translations into other languages, with slight variations in wording, add: “Philip said to him: ‘If you believe with all your heart, it is permissible.’ In reply he said: ‘I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.’” However, these words do not appear in the earliest and most reliable manuscripts and are most likely not part of the original text of Acts.​—See App. A3.

Jehovah’s spirit: See study note on Ac 5:9 and App. C3 introduction; Ac 8:39.

the spirit of Jehovah: The expression “the spirit of Jehovah” (or, “Jehovah’s spirit”) occurs several times in the Hebrew Scriptures. (Some examples are found at Jg 3:10; 6:34; 11:29; 13:25; 14:6; 15:14; 1Sa 10:6; 16:13; 2Sa 23:2; 1Ki 18:12; 2Ki 2:16; 2Ch 20:14; Isa 11:2; 40:13; 63:14; Eze 11:5; Mic 2:7; 3:8.) The expression “Jehovah’s spirit” is found at Lu 4:18 as part of a quote from Isa 61:1. There and in other Hebrew Scripture occurrences, the original Hebrew text uses the Tetragrammaton together with the word for “spirit.” The reasons why the New World Translation uses the expression “the spirit of Jehovah” in the main text, although available Greek manuscripts of Ac 5:9 read “the spirit of Lord,” are explained in App. C1 and C3 introduction; Ac 5:9.

Ashdod: This is the Hebrew name of the place known by the Greek name Azotus in the first century C.E.​—Jos 11:22; 15:46; see App. B6 and B10.


Activities of Philip the Evangelizer
Activities of Philip the Evangelizer

The Bible records some of the zealous activity of “Philip the evangelizer.” (Ac 21:8) He was one of the “seven reputable men” who distributed food among the Greek-speaking and Hebrew-speaking disciples in Jerusalem. (Ac 6:1-6) After the death of Stephen when “all except the apostles were scattered,” Philip went to Samaria; there he preached the good news and performed miracles. (Ac 8:1, 4-7) Later, Jehovah’s angel sent Philip to a desert road that ran from Jerusalem to Gaza. (Ac 8:26) Philip encountered an Ethiopian eunuch on that road and declared the good news to him. (Ac 8:27-38) Led away by Jehovah’s spirit (Ac 8:39), Philip continued preaching, traveling from Ashdod and through other cities near the coast until he reached Caesarea. (Ac 8:40) Years later, Luke and Paul stayed at Philip’s home in Caesarea. At that time, Philip “had four unmarried daughters who prophesied.”—Ac 21:8, 9.

1. Jerusalem: Performs administrative work.—Ac 6:5

2. Samaria: Preaches the good news.—Ac 8:5

3. Desert road to Gaza: Explains the Scriptures to an Ethiopian eunuch and baptizes him.—Ac 8:26-39

4. Coastal region: Declares the good news to all the cities.—Ac 8:40

5. Caesarea: Philip welcomes Paul to his house.—Ac 21:8, 9


1. Roman theater

2. Palace

3. Hippodrome

4. Pagan temple

5. Harbor

This video of the ruins of Caesarea includes 3-D reconstructions, showing what some of the main buildings may have looked like. The city of Caesarea and its harbor were built by Herod the Great toward the end of the first century B.C.E. Herod named the city after Caesar Augustus. Located about 87 km (54 mi) northwest of Jerusalem on the Mediterranean Coast, Caesarea became an important maritime hub. The city included a Roman theater (1), a palace that extended into the sea (2), a hippodrome, or stadium for horse racing, that could hold an estimated 30,000 spectators (3), and a pagan temple (4). The man-made harbor (5) was an engineering marvel. An aqueduct supplied Caesarea with fresh water, and the city had its own sewer system. The apostle Paul and other Christians traveled to and from Caesarea by boat. (Ac 9:30; 18:21, 22; 21:7, 8, 16) Paul was imprisoned there for about two years. (Ac 24:27) Philip the evangelizer traveled to Caesarea at the end of a preaching tour and possibly settled there. (Ac 8:40; 21:8) Cornelius, the first uncircumcised Gentile to become a Christian, lived in that city. (Ac 10:1, 24, 34, 35, 45-48) It was probably in Caesarea that Luke wrote his Gospel.