Saul Persecutes the Church

Saul wholeheartedly approved of Stephen’s death.

And on that day a great and relentless persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem; and the believers were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except for the apostles. Some devout men buried Stephen, and [a]mourned greatly over him [expressing a personal sense of loss]. But Saul began ravaging the church [and assaulting believers]; entering house after house and dragging off men and women, putting them in prison.

Philip in Samaria

Now those [believers] who had been scattered went from place to place preaching the word [the good news of salvation through Christ]. [b]Philip [the evangelist] went down to the city of Samaria and began proclaiming Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed) to them.(A) The crowds gathered and were paying close attention to everything Philip said, as they heard [the message] and saw the [miraculous] signs which he was doing [validating his message]. For unclean spirits (demons), shouting loudly, were coming out of many who were possessed; and many who had been paralyzed and lame were healed. So there was great rejoicing in that city.

Now there was a man named Simon, who previously practiced magic in the city and amazed the people of Samaria, claiming to be someone great. 10 They all paid [a great deal of] attention to him, from the least to the greatest, saying, “This man is what is called the Great Power of God!” 11 They were paying attention to him because for a long time he had mystified and dazzled them with his magic. 12 But when they believed Philip as he preached the [c]good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were being baptized, both men and women. 13 Even Simon believed [Philip’s message of salvation]; and after being baptized, he continued on with Philip, and as he watched the attesting signs and great miracles taking place, he was constantly amazed.

14 When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that [the people of] Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. 15 They came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit; 16 for He had not yet fallen on any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus [as His possession]. 17 Then Peter and John laid their hands on them [one by one], and they received the Holy Spirit. 18 Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, 19 saying, “Give me this authority and power too, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” 20 But Peter said to him, “May your money be destroyed along with you, because you thought you could buy the [free] gift of God with money! 21 You have no part or share in this matter, because your heart (motive, purpose) is not right before God.(B) 22 So repent of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, this thought of your heart may be forgiven you. 23 For I see that you are [d]provoked by bitterness and bound by sin.”© 24 But Simon answered, “Pray to the Lord for me both of you, so that nothing of what you have said will come upon me.”

An Ethiopian Receives Christ

25 So, when Peter and John had given their testimony and preached the word of the Lord, they started back to Jerusalem, preaching the good news [about salvation] in many Samaritan villages [along the way].

26 But an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Get up and go south to the road that runs from Jerusalem down to Gaza.” (This is a desert road). 27 So he got up and went; and there was an Ethiopian eunuch [a man of great authority], a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure. He had come to Jerusalem to worship, 28 and he was returning, and sitting in his chariot he was reading [the scroll of] the prophet Isaiah. 29 Then the [Holy] Spirit said to Philip, “Go up and join this chariot.” 30 Philip ran up and heard the man reading the prophet Isaiah, and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” 31 And he said, “Well, how could I [understand] unless someone guides me [correctly]?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. 32 Now this was the passage of Scripture which he was reading:

“Like a sheep He was led to the slaughter;

And as a lamb before its shearer is silent,

So He does not open His mouth.


“In humiliation His judgment was taken away [justice was denied Him].

Who will describe His generation?

For His life is taken from the earth.”(D)

34 The eunuch replied to Philip, “Please tell me, about whom does the prophet say this? About himself or about someone else?” 35 Then Philip spoke and beginning with this Scripture he preached Jesus to him [explaining that He is the promised Messiah and the source of salvation]. 36 As they continued along the road, they came to some water; and the eunuch exclaimed, “Look! Water! What forbids me from being baptized?” 37 [e][Philip said to him, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he replied, “I do believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”] 38 And he ordered that the chariot be stopped; and both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and Philip baptized him. 39 When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord [suddenly] took Philip [and carried him] away [to a different place]; and the eunuch no longer saw him, but he went on his way rejoicing. 40 But Philip found himself at [f]Azotus, and as he passed through he preached the good news [of salvation] to all the cities, until he came to [g]Caesarea [Maritima].


  1. Acts 8:2 It was customary to hire professional mourners for most funerals to ensure that the deceased would be properly mourned, but those who mourned Stephen needed no such assistance because they expressed their own heartfelt grief.
  2. Acts 8:5 One of the Seven named in 6:5; 21:8.
  3. Acts 8:12 In ancient Greece the word translated as “good news” or “gospel” was used to denote any good fortune, including success in a battle.
  4. Acts 8:23 Lit in the gall of.
  5. Acts 8:37 Early mss do not contain this v.
  6. Acts 8:40 OT Ashdod.
  7. Acts 8:40 Caesarea Maritima (Caesarea-on-the-Sea) was a coastal city and artificial harbor built by Herod the Great. It was an important city, both politically and militarily, and its harbor was the largest on the eastern Mediterranean coast. It was the capital of Judea, and the official residence of the prefects and procurators appointed by Rome. Both Pontius Pilate (prefect, a.d. 26-36) and Antonius Felix (procurator, a.d. 52-60) would have been based here during their respective terms of office.

Cross references

  1. Acts 8:5 : Acts 6:5
  2. Acts 8:21 : Ps 78:37
  3. Acts 8:23 : Deut 29:18; Is 58:6
  4. Acts 8:33 : Is 53:7, 8