Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible
back to: Acts
Book: Acts
Chapter: 8

Saul persecutes the Church. (1-4) Philip's success at Samaria.
Simon the Sorcerer baptized. (5-13) The hypocrisy of Simon
detected. (14-25) Philip and the Ethiopian. (26-40)

1-4 Though Persecution must not drive us from our work, yet it
may send us to work elsewhere. Wherever the established believer
is driven, he carries the knowledge of the Gospel, and makes
known the preciousness of Christ in every place. Where a simple
desire of doing good influences the Heart, it will be found
impossible to shut a Man out from all opportunities of

5-13 As far as the Gospel prevails, evil spirits are dislodged,
particularly unclean spirits. All inclinations to the lusts of
the Flesh which War against the soul are such. Distempers are
here named, the most difficult to be cured By the course of
nature, and most expressive of the disease of Sin. Pride,
ambition, and desire after grandeur have always caused abundance
of mischief, both to the world and to the Church. The people
said of Simon, This Man is the great power of God. See how
ignorant and thoughtless people mistake. But how strong is the
power of Divine Grace, By which they were brought to Christ, who
is Truth itself! The people not only gave heed to what Philip
said, but were fully convinced that it was of God, and not of
men, and gave up themselves to be directed thereby. Even bad
men, and those whose hearts still go after Covetousness, may
come before God as his people come, and for a time continue with
them. And many wonder at the proofs of Divine truths, who never
experience their power. The Gospel preached may have a common
operation upon a soul, where it never produced inward Holiness.
All are not savingly converted who profess to believe the

14-25 The Holy Ghost was as yet fallen upon none of these
converts, in the extraordinary powers conveyed By the descent of
the Spirit upon the Day of Pentecost. We may take encouragement
from this Example, in praying to God to give the renewing graces
of the Holy Ghost to all for whose spiritual welfare we are
concerned; for that includes all blessings. No Man can give the
Holy Spirit By the laying On of his hands; but we should use our
best endeavours to instruct those for whom we pray. Simon Magus
was ambitious to have the honour of an Apostle, but cared not at
all to have the Spirit and disposition of a Christian. He was
more desirous to gain honour to himself, than to do good to
others. Peter shows him his crime. He esteemed the wealth of
this world, as if it would answer for things relating to the
other Life, and would purchase the Pardon of Sin, the Gift of
the Holy Ghost, and eternal Life. This was such a condemning
error as could By No means consist with a state of Grace. Our
hearts are what they are in the sight of God, who cannot be
deceived. And if they are not right in his sight, our religion
is vain, and will stand us in No stead. A proud and covetous
Heart cannot be right with God. It is possible for a Man to
continue under the power of Sin, yet to Put On a form of
Godliness. When tempted with Money to do evil, see what a
perishing thing Money is, and scorn it. Think not that
Christianity is a trade to live By in this world. There is much
wickedness in the thought of the Heart, its false notions, and
corrupt affections, and wicked projects, which must be repented
of, or we are undone. But it shall be forgiven, upon our
Repentance. The doubt here is of the sincerity of Simon's
Repentance, not of his Pardon, if his Repentance was sincere.
Grant us, Lord, another sort of Faith than that which made Simon
wonder only, and did not sanctify his Heart. May we abhor all
thoughts of making religion serve the purposes of pride or
ambition. And keep us from that subtle Poison of spiritual
pride, which seeks Glory to itself even from Humility. May we
seek only the honour which cometh from God.

26-40 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.