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Philip Preaches in Samaria

Now those who had been forced to scatter went around proclaiming the good news of the word. Philip went down to the main city of Samaria[a] and began proclaiming[b] the Christ[c] to them. The crowds were paying attention with one mind to what Philip said,[d] as they heard and saw the miraculous signs[e] he was performing. For unclean spirits,[f] crying with loud shrieks, were coming out of many who were possessed,[g] and many paralyzed and lame people were healed. So there was[h] great joy[i] in that city.

Now in that city was a man named Simon, who had been practicing magic[j] and amazing the people of Samaria, claiming to be someone great. 10 All the people,[k] from the least to the greatest, paid close attention to him, saying, “This man is the power of God that is called ‘Great.’”[l] 11 And they paid close attention to him because he had amazed them for a long time with his magic. 12 But when they believed Philip as he was proclaiming the good news about the kingdom of God[m] and the name of Jesus Christ,[n] they began to be baptized,[o] both men and women. 13 Even Simon himself believed, and after he was baptized, he stayed close to[p] Philip constantly, and when he saw the signs and great miracles that were occurring, he was amazed.[q]

14 Now when the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word[r] of God, they sent[s] Peter and John to them. 15 These two[t] went down and prayed for them so that they would receive the Holy Spirit. 16 (For the Spirit[u] had not yet come upon[v] any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)[w] 17 Then Peter and John placed their hands on the Samaritans,[x] and they received the Holy Spirit.[y]

18 Now Simon, when he saw that the Spirit[z] was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, offered them money, 19 saying, “Give me this power[aa] too, so that everyone I place my hands on may receive the Holy Spirit.” 20 But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you,[ab] because you thought you could acquire[ac] God’s gift with money! 21 You have no share or part[ad] in this matter[ae] because your heart is not right before God! 22 Therefore repent of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord[af] that he may perhaps forgive you for the intent of your heart.[ag] 23 For I see that you are bitterly envious[ah] and in bondage to sin.” 24 But Simon replied,[ai] “You pray to the Lord for me so that nothing of what you have said may happen to[aj] me.”

25 So after Peter and John[ak] had solemnly testified[al] and spoken the word of the Lord,[am] they started back to Jerusalem, proclaiming[an] the good news to many Samaritan villages[ao] as they went.[ap]

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  1. Acts 8:5 tn The word “main” is supplied in the translation to clarify that “Samaria” is not the name of the city (at least in NT times). See both BDAG 912 s.v. Σαμάρεια, and L&N The main city of Samaria most likely refers to the principal city of Samaria, rebuilt by Herod the Great as Sebaste in honor of Augustus (J. Boehmer, “Studien zur Geographie Palästinas bes. im Neuen Testament,” ZNW 9 [1908]: 216-18; D. Gill and C. Gempf, eds., The Book of Acts in its Graeco-Roman Setting, 272). This is the best option if the article before “city” is taken as original. If the reading without the article is taken as autographic, then another city may be in view: Gitta, the hometown of Simon Magus according to Justin Martyr (cf. C. K. Barrett, Acts [ICC], 1:402-3; F. F. Bruce, Acts [NICNT], 165).
  2. Acts 8:5 tn The imperfect ἐκήρυσσεν (ekērussen) has been translated as an ingressive, since this is probably the first time such preaching took place.
  3. Acts 8:5 tn Or “Messiah”; both “Christ” (Greek) and “Messiah” (Hebrew and Aramaic) mean “one who has been anointed.”sn See the note on Christ in 2:31.
  4. Acts 8:6 tn Grk “to what was being said by Philip,” a passive construction that has been changed to active voice in the translation.
  5. Acts 8:6 tn Here the following context indicates the miraculous nature of the signs mentioned. This term appears 13 times in Acts, but only twice more after Acts 8:13 (i.e., 14:3; 15:12).
  6. Acts 8:7 sn The expression unclean spirits refers to evil supernatural spirits which were ceremonially unclean, and which caused the persons possessed by them to be ceremonially unclean.
  7. Acts 8:7 tn Grk “For [in the case of] many who had unclean spirits, they were coming out, crying in a loud voice.”
  8. Acts 8:8 tn Grk “and there came about,” but this is somewhat awkward in English.
  9. Acts 8:8 sn Great joy. The reason for eschatological joy was that such events pointed to God’s decisive deliverance (Luke 7:22-23). Note how the acts of healing extend beyond the Twelve here.
  10. Acts 8:9 tn On the idiom προϋπῆρχεν μαγεύων (proupērchen mageuōn) meaning “had been practicing magic” see BDAG 889 s.v. προϋπάρχω.
  11. Acts 8:10 tn Grk “all of them”; the referent (the people) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  12. Acts 8:10 tn Or “This man is what is called the Great Power of God.” The translation “what is called the Great Power of God” is given by BDAG 263 s.v. δύναμις 5, but the repetition of the article before καλουμένη μεγάλη (kaloumenē megalē) suggests the translation “the power of God that is called ‘Great.’”
  13. Acts 8:12 sn The kingdom of God is also what Jesus preached; see Acts 1:3. The term reappears in Acts 14:22; 19:8; 28:23, 31. The nature of the kingdom of God in the NT and in Jesus’ teaching has long been debated by interpreters and scholars, with discussion primarily centering around the nature of the kingdom (earthly, heavenly, or both) and the kingdom’s arrival (present, future, or both). An additional major issue concerns the relationship between the kingdom of God and the person and work of Jesus himself. See also Luke 6:20; 11:20; 17:20-21.
  14. Acts 8:12 tn Or “Messiah”; both “Christ” (Greek) and “Messiah” (Hebrew and Aramaic) mean “one who has been anointed.”
  15. Acts 8:12 tn The imperfect verb ἐβαπτίζοντο (ebaptizonto) has been translated as an ingressive imperfect.
  16. Acts 8:13 tn Or “he kept close company with.”
  17. Acts 8:13 sn He was amazed. Now Simon, the one who amazed others, is himself amazed, showing the superiority of Philip’s connection to God. Christ is better than anything the culture has to offer.
  18. Acts 8:14 tn Or “message.”
  19. Acts 8:14 sn They sent. The Jerusalem church with the apostles was overseeing the expansion of the church, as the distribution of the Spirit indicates in vv. 15-17.
  20. Acts 8:15 tn Grk “who.” The relative pronoun was replaced by the phrase “these two” and a new sentence was begun in the translation at this point to improve the English style.
  21. Acts 8:16 tn Grk “For he”; the referent (the Spirit) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  22. Acts 8:16 tn Or “fallen on.”
  23. Acts 8:16 sn This is a parenthetical note by the author.
  24. Acts 8:17 tn Grk “on them”; the referent (the Samaritans) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  25. Acts 8:17 sn They received the Holy Spirit. It is likely this special distribution of the Spirit took place because a key ethnic boundary was being crossed. Here are some of “those far off” of Acts 2:38-40.
  26. Acts 8:18 tc Most witnesses (P45,74 A* C D E Ψ 33 1739 M latt sy bo) here read “the Holy Spirit” (τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον, to pneuma to hagion), while a few key mss have simply τὸ πνεῦμα (א Ac B sa mae). Although it is possible that some scribes omitted τὸ ἅγιον because of its perceived superfluity (note vv. 15, 17, 19), it is far more likely that others added the adjective out of pious motives.
  27. Acts 8:19 tn Or “ability”; Grk “authority.”
  28. Acts 8:20 tn Grk “May your silver together with you be sent into destruction.” This is a strong curse. The gifts of God are sovereignly bestowed and cannot be purchased.
  29. Acts 8:20 tn Or “obtain.”
  30. Acts 8:21 tn The translation “share or part” is given by L&N 63.13.
  31. Acts 8:21 tn Since the semantic range for λόγος (logos) is so broad, a number of different translations could be given for the prepositional phrase here. Something along the lines of “in this thing” would work well, but is too colloquial for the present translation.
  32. Acts 8:22 tn Or “and implore the Lord.”
  33. Acts 8:22 tn Grk “that if possible the intent of your heart may be forgiven you.” The passive construction is somewhat awkward in contemporary English and has thus been converted to an active construction in the translation.
  34. Acts 8:23 tn Grk “in the gall of bitterness,” an idiom meaning to be particularly envious or resentful of someone. In this case Simon was jealous of the apostles’ power to bestow the Holy Spirit by the laying on of hands, and wanted that power for himself. The literal phrase does not convey this to the modern reader, and in fact some modern translations have simply rendered the phrase as involving bitterness, which misses the point of the envy on Simon’s part. See L&N 88.166. The OT images come from Deut 29:17-18 and Isa 58:6.
  35. Acts 8:24 tn Grk “Simon answered and said.”sn Given that Simon does not follow Peter’s call for repentance, many interpreters read this reply as flippant rather than sincere. But the exact nature of Simon’s reply is not entirely clear.
  36. Acts 8:24 tn Grk “may come upon.”
  37. Acts 8:25 tn Grk “after they”; the referents (Peter and John) have been specified in the translation for clarity.
  38. Acts 8:25 tn The verb διαμαρτύρομαι (diamarturomai) can mean “warn,” and could be taken to refer specifically to the warning given to Simon in the preceding verses. However, a more general reference is more likely, referring to parting exhortations from Peter and John to the entire group of believers.
  39. Acts 8:25 sn The word of the Lord is a technical expression in OT literature, often referring to a divine prophetic utterance (e.g., Gen 15:1, Isa 1:10, Jonah 1:1). In the NT it occurs 15 times: 3 times as ῥῆμα τοῦ κυρίου (rhēma tou kuriou; Luke 22:61, Acts 11:16, 1 Pet 1:25) and 12 times as λόγος τοῦ κυρίου (logos tou kuriou; here and in Acts 13:44, 48, 49; 15:35, 36; 16:32; 19:10, 20; 1 Thess 1:8; 4:15; 2 Thess 3:1). As in the OT, this phrase focuses on the prophetic nature and divine origin of what has been said.
  40. Acts 8:25 tn Grk “they were returning to Jerusalem and were proclaiming.” The first imperfect is taken ingressively and the second is viewed iteratively (“proclaiming…as they went”).
  41. Acts 8:25 sn By proclaiming the good news to many Samaritan villages, the apostles now actively share in the broader ministry the Hellenists had started.
  42. Acts 8:25 tn “As they went” is not in the Greek text, but is implied by the imperfect tense (see tn above).