Daily Bible Studies & Sermon Notes

Acts 8:32-9:1
Pastor Steve Schell
Sunday: Acts 8:32, 33
vs32-33: The verses Philip heard him read aloud were Isaiah 53:7, 8. Luke quotes them from the Septuagint, which is a Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible. It’s possible the man was reading from the original Hebrew, but as a court official, particularly one who worked in the area of finance, it’s very likely he spoke fluent Greek because that was the language of commerce. So he was probably reading from the Septuagint. The passage vividly describes the Messiah dying for the sins of the human race. He’s pictured as a sacrificial lamb who did not resist being executed. The original Hebrew literally prophesies that He would be taken out of prison and denied justice. Then it says the people of Israel who were alive when all this would take place would not understand that He was dying for them.

Monday: Acts 8:34
v34: The court official must have re-read or pointed to the passage when he said, ”I ask you, of whom does the prophet say this? About himself or about someone else?” The identity of the central figure in this passage of Isaiah is still debated today. Some choose to believe the prophet was speaking about his own sufferings as a prophet. Others believe he was describing the sufferings of the Nation of Israel. But when this passage (Isa 52:13-53) is read in context (Isa 49-53), and when its grammar is taken literally, it clearly describes a righteous individual who would be despised by the nation, upon whom God would place the sins of humanity, and who, by his sacrifice would make possible the salvation of Gentiles as well as Jews. It vividly pictures a substitutionary death. When read in context, the “Servant” Isaiah describes is unmistakeably the Messiah. What makes the passage so problematic for some is that it pictures a Messiah who is not only triumphant, but who also suffers and dies. It teaches that “the Lord caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him” (v6), that He would be a “guilt offering” (v10), that He would “justify the many” (v11), and that “He Himself bore the sin of many and interceded for transgressions” (v12). It teaches that guilt can be transferred from one person to another, and that someone can die as our substitute. And it says the One who would do this is the Messiah.

Tuesday: Acts 8:35-37
vs35-37: It’s hard to imagine that Philip didn’t smile when he heard the man’s question. Had he ever been given an easier opportunity to preach the gospel than this? Luke simply says: “And opening his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture he preached Jesus to him.” v36: As the carriage rolled along they passed either a pond or a stream, and the official, who by now had surely been told that he must “repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins…” (Ac 2:38), saw the water and said, “Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?” He was ready to be joined to Christ in His death and resurrection. v37: This verse is not found in some manuscripts, but the substance of what is said is completely true. Whether or not Philip used these exact words, one way or another, he would have told the man to believe with all his heart, and the man’s heartfelt response, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God!” would have been the substance of what he must have said. So, we would do well to accept the verse as part of the story and let it bear its beautiful witness.

Wednesday: Acts 8:38-40
v38: The official commanded his driver to stop the carriage, and there in a nearby creek or pond he and Philip waded into the water where Philip must have reminded him of the meaning of baptism and then listened to the man’s prayer of surrender and faith. Then Philip baptized him. v39: Both men walked out of the water, but as soon as they reached the shore Philip suddenly disappeared. The word Luke uses to describe what happened to Philip means to “seize forcefully” (Jn 6:15; 10:12, 28, 29; Ac 23:10; Jd 23) or “snatch away,” and is used elsewhere when God lays hold of someone and brings them up to Him (2Co 12:2, 4; 1Th 4:17; Rev 12:5). (W.E. Vine, Expository Dictionary of New Testment Words, Fleming H. Revell, 1966, p. 174). Luke says, “the Spirit seized Philip and the eunuch did not see him anymore.” Apparently, he was miraculously transported to another location in an instant (Jn 6:21). This miracle would have confirmed to the official that God had sent Philip, “…for he went on his way rejoicing.” v40: Philip found himself in the middle of a city called Azotus (ancient Ashdod) which is also located on the Via Maris, about 25 miles north of Gaza Deserta (read comments on v26). Starting in Azotus, he slowly worked his way north up the Via Maris (coastal trade highway) evangelizing each city until he arrived at Caesarea, 75 miles to the north, and there in that Roman port-city he settled down and raised a family (Ac 21:8, 9).

Thursday: Acts 9 (introduction)
As we read through the Book of Acts we can often guess the names of those who were Luke’s likely sources of information. In the prologue to his gospel he said he gathered information from “…those who from the beginning were eye witnesses and servants of the word…” (Lk 1:2). In other words, he compiled his gospel by using written records and verbal testimony from those who had been with Jesus. It seems he did the same with this history of the early church. The first chapters (Ac 1-5) appear to have Peter and John as their source. One or both are present at nearly every event and preached the sermons that are quoted. Philip must have narrated much of the account of the evangelization of Samaria (Ac 8:4-40), and Paul is almost certainly the eye witness to the stoning of Stephen and to now this account of his conversion. All we need to do is substitute first person pronouns into his sentences and we can “listen” to him give his testimony.

Friday: Acts 9:1
v1: Luke leaves Philip in Caesarea and returns to the horror taking place in Jerusalem. While Samaria was being evangelized, Saul continued attacking the church, and by this point in time must have arrested every believer he could find because his attention had turned to pursuing those who had fled the city. Somehow he discovered many had sought refuge in Damascus and the new faith was spreading in its synagogues. Damascus is located about 140 miles northeast of Jerusalem, and since he was in a hurry, he probably took the most direct route up the Jordan River valley to the Yarmuk River, and then up that valley to the ancient highway which ran across grasslands to Damascus (Y. Aharoni and M. Avi-Yonah, The Macmillan Bible Atlas, New York, 1968, p. 17). The city had a sizeable Jewish population with many synagogues (J. D. Douglas, ed., The New Bible Dictionary, Eerdmans, 1971, p. 289). Some of those who had been persecuted in Jerusalem must have found shelter there among relatives or friends or the growing community of believers (Ac 9:19, 21).

Saturday: Acts 9:1
v1 (continued): Luke uses an odd word to describe Saul’s state of mind. He pictures him literally “breathing in boastful threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord.” It would seem more logical for Saul to “breath out” such things and there is indeed a Greek word built on the same root (pneo) which means exactly that. If that were the word Luke had used it would mean Saul was constantly speaking out such things and undoubtedly he was. But for him to breathe them in may indicate that he had fallen prey to demonic influence. It appears he was being infused with rage. This insight would never excuse him for the violence he was committing, but it may help explain his zeal (Eph 2:1-3).

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