Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


Acts 8:40

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Philip was found at Azotus - Prom the time he left the eunuch, he was not heard of till he got to Azotus, which, according to Dr. Lightfoot, was about 34 miles from Gaza, and probably it was near Gaze that Philip met the eunuch. The Azotus of the New Testament is the Ashdod of the old. It was given by Joshua to the tribe of Judah, Joshua 15:47. It was one of the five lordships which belonged to the Philistines, and is a seaport town on the Mediterranean Sea, between Gaza on the south, and Joppa or Jaffa on the north. Herodotus reports, lib. ii. cap. 157, that Psammeticus, king of Egypt, besieged this city 29 years, which, if true, is the longest siege which any city or fortress ever endured.

Preached in all the cities, till he cams to Caesarea - This was Caesarea in Palestine, formerly called Strato's Tower, built by Herod the Great in honor of Augustus. There was an excellent harbour here made by Herod; and, after the destruction of Jerusalem, it became the capital of the whole land of Judea. It must be always distinguished from Caesarea Philippi, which was an inland town not far from the springs of Jordan. Whenever the word Caesarea occurs without Philippi, the former is intended. As Philip preached in all the cities of Palestine till he came to Caesarea, he must have preached in the different cities of the Philistine country, Ashdod, Akkaron, and Jamnia, and also in the principal parts of Samaria, as these lay in his way from Gaza to Caesarea. As there was a readier disposition to receive the word in those places, the Spirit of the Lord, under whose guidance he acted, did not suffer him to accompany the eunuch to Abyssinia. It appears, from Acts 21:8, that Philip settled at Caesarea, where he had a house and family, four of his unmarried daughters being prophetesses. It is likely that his itinerant mission ended here; though he continued occasionally to perform the work of an evangelist, and to bring up his family in the knowledge and fear of God, which is the most imperious duty that any master of a family can be called on to perform, and which it is impossible for any man to accomplish by substitute; and which none can neglect without endangering his own salvation.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

But Philip was found - That is, he came to Azotus, or he was not heard of until he reached Azotus. The word is often used in this sense. See 1 Chronicles 29:17, margin; 2 Chronicles 29:29, margin; Genesis 2:20; see also Luke 17:18; Romans 7:10. In all these places the word is used in the sense of to be, or to be present. It does not mean here that there was any miracle in the case, but that Philip, after leaving the eunuch, came to or was in Azotus.

Azotus - This is the Greek name of the city which by the Hebrews was called Ashdod. It was one of the cities which were not taken by Joshua, and which remained in the possession of the Philistines. It was to this place that the ark of God was sent when it was taken by the Philistines from the Israelites; and here Dagon was cast down before it, 1 Samuel 5:2-3. Uzziah, King of Judah, broke down its wall, and built cities or watch-towers around it, 2 Chronicles 26:6. It was a place of great strength and consequence. It was distant about thirty miles from Gaza. It was situated on the coast of the Mediterranean, and had a seaport, which has now entirely disappeared. The sea is now some two miles distant, and the intervening space is a desert of moving sand, which has reached the outskirts of the town (Land and the Book, Dr. Thomson, vol. ii, p. 320). Prof. Hackett (Illustrations of Scripture, pp. 142,143) says of this place: “A little village called Esdud perpetuates the ancient name. Ashdod was one of the chief cities of the Philistines, but is now utterly forsaken. The prophet‘s sentence has been executed upon it to the letter: ‹I will cut off the inhabitant from Ashdod‘ Amos 1:8. The only marks of antiquity which I could discover were a high mound, where the old city stood, covered now with fragments of pottery; two or three cellars or cisterns that seemed to have been recently laid open; two marble columns, one prostrate in the court of a neighboring khan, and the other made into a drinking-trough; several broken pieces of columns or tablets, mostly built into a sakieh, or watering machine; and a few traces of masonry near the Jaffa road, which may have belonged to the city walls. These last are so concealed as to be found only with special pains.”

He preached in all the cities - Joppa, Lydda, Askelon, Arimarthea, etc., lying along the coast of the Mediterranean.

Cesarea - This city was formerly called Strato‘s Tower. It is situated on the coast of the Mediterranean, at the mouth of a small river, and has a fine harbor. It is 36 miles south of Acre, and about 62 miles northwest of Jerusalem, and about the same distance northeast of Azotus. The city is supposed by some to be the Hazor mentioned in Joshua 11:1. It was rebuilt by Herod the Great, and named Caesarea in honor of Augustus Caesar. The city was dedicated to him, and was called Sebaste, the Greek word for Augustus. It was adorned with most splendid houses; and the Temple of Caesar was erected by Herod over against the mouth of the haven, in which was placed the statue of the Roman emperor. It became the seat of the Roman governor while Judea was a Roman province, Acts 23:33; Acts 25:6, Acts 25:13. Philip afterward resided at this place. See Acts 21:8-9. Caesarea at present is inhabited only by jackals and beasts of prey. “Perhaps,” says Dr. Clarke, “there has not been in the history of the world an example of any city that in so short a space of time rose to such an extraordinary height of splendor as did this of Caesarea, or that exhibits a more awful contrast to its former magnificence by the present desolate appearance of its ruins. Not a single inhabitant remains. Of its gorgeous palaces and temples, enriched with the choicest works of art, scarcely a trace can be discerned. Within the space of 10 years after laying the foundation, from an obscure fortress, it became the most flourishing and celebrated city of all Syria.” Now it is in utter desolation. See Robinson‘s Calmet, “Caesarea.”

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Philip was directed to go to a desert. Sometimes God opens a door of opportunity to his ministers in very unlikely places. We should study to do good to those we come into company with by travelling. We should not be so shy of all strangers as some affect to be. As to those of whom we know nothing else, we know this, that they have souls. It is wisdom for men of business to redeem time for holy duties; to fill up every minute with something which will turn to a good account. In reading the word of God, we should often pause, to inquire of whom and of what the sacred writers spake; but especially our thoughts should be employed about the Redeemer. The Ethiopian was convinced by the teaching of the Holy Spirit, of the exact fulfilment of the Scripture, was made to understand the nature of the Messiah's kingdom and salvation, and desired to be numbered among the disciples of Christ. Those who seek the truth, and employ their time in searching the Scriptures, will be sure to reap advantages. The avowal of the Ethiopian must be understood as expressing simple reliance on Christ for salvation, and unreserved devotion to Him. Let us not be satisfied till we get faith, as the Ethiopian did, by diligent study of the Holy Scriptures, and the teaching of the Spirit of God; let us not be satisfied till we get it fixed as a principle in our hearts. As soon as he was baptized, the Spirit of God took Philip from him, so that he saw him no more; but this tended to confirm his faith. When the inquirer after salvation becomes acquainted with Jesus and his gospel, he will go on his way rejoicing, and will fill up his station in society, and discharge his duties, from other motives, and in another manner than heretofore. Though baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, with water, it is not enough without the baptism of the Holy Ghost. Lord, grant this to every one of us; then shall we go on our way rejoicing.
Ellen G. White
The Acts of the Apostles, 107-11

Philip's work in Samaria was marked with great success, and, thus encouraged, he sent to Jerusalem for help. The apostles now perceived more fully the meaning of the words of Christ, “Ye shall be witnesses unto Me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” Acts 1:8. AA 107.1

While Philip was still in Samaria, he was directed by a heavenly messenger to “go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza.... And he arose and went.” He did not question the call, nor did he hesitate to obey; for he had learned the lesson of conformity to God's will. AA 107.2

“And, behold, a man of Ethiopia, a 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, was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet.” This Ethiopian was a man of good standing and of wide influence. God saw that when converted he would give others the light he had received and would exert a strong influence in favor of the gospel. Angels of God were attending this seeker for light, and he was being drawn to the Saviour. By the ministration of the Holy Spirit the Lord brought him into touch with one who could lead him to the light. AA 107.3

Read in context »
Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8, 57-8

God declares: “I will sow her unto Me in the earth; and I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy; and I will say to them which were not My people, Thou art My people; and they shall say, Thou art my God.” Hosea 2:23. “And He said, It is a light thing that Thou shouldest be My Servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give Thee for a light to the Gentiles, that Thou mayest be My salvation unto the end of the earth.” Isaiah 49:6. 8T 57.1

God has poured out richly of His Holy Spirit upon the believers in Battle Creek. What use have you made of these blessings? Have you done as did the men upon whom the Holy Spirit came on the Day of Pentecost? Then “they that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the word.” Acts 8:4. Has this fruit been seen in Battle Creek? Have the church been taught of God to know their duty, and to reflect the light which they have received? 8T 57.2

Read in context »
Ellen G. White
SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 6 (EGW), 1057

27. An Example of Obedience—When God pointed out to Philip his work, the disciple did not say, “The Lord does not mean that.” No; “he arose and went.” He had learned the lesson of conformity to God's will. He realized that every soul is precious in the sight of God, and that angels are sent to bring those who are seeking for light into touch with those who can help them. 6BC 1057.1

Today as then angels are waiting to lead men to their fellow men.... In the experience of Philip and the Ethiopian is presented the work to which the Lord calls His people (The Review and Herald, March 2, 1911). 6BC 1057.2

Read in context »
Ellen G. White
The Ministry of Healing, 473

If the Lord desires us to bear a message to Nineveh, it will not be as pleasing to Him for us to go to Joppa or to Capernaum. He has reasons for sending us to the place toward which our feet have been directed. At that very place there may be someone in need of the help we can give. He who sent Philip to the Ethiopian councilor, Peter to the Roman centurion, and the little Israelitish maiden to the help of Naaman, the Syrian captain, sends men and women and youth today as His representatives to those in need of divine help and guidance. MH 473.1

Our plans are not always God's plans. He may see that it is best for us and for His cause to refuse our very best intentions, as He did in the case of David. But of one thing we may be assured, He will bless and use in the advancement of His cause those who sincerely devote themselves and all they have to His glory. If He sees it best not to grant their desires He will counterbalance the refusal by giving them tokens of His love and entrusting to them another service. MH 473.2

Read in context »
More Comments