Chrysostom on Acts 1900
ACTS VIII. 26, 27.—“And the Angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, arise and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert. And he arose and went.”
It seems to me, this1 (Philip) was one of the seven; for from Jerusalem he would not have gone southwards, but to the north; but from Samaria it was “towards the south. The same is desert:” so that there is no fear of an attack from the Jews. And he did not ask, Wherefore? but “arose and went. And, behold,” it says, “a man of Ethiopia, an 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.” (v. 27, 28). High encomiums for the man, that he, residing in Ethiopia and beset with so much business, and when there was no festival going on, and living in that superstitious city, came “to Jerusalem for to worship.” Great also is his studiousness, that even “sitting in his chariot he read.2 And,” it says, “the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot. And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him reading the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest? And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me?” (v. 29–31). Observe again his piety; that though he did not understand, he read, and then after reading, examines. “And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him. The place of the Scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened He not His mouth: in His humiliation His judgment was taken away: and who shall declare His generation? for His life is taken from the earth. And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man? Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same Scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.” (v. 32–35). Observe how it is Providentially ordered. First he reads and does not understand; then he reads the very text in which was the Passion and the Resurrection and the Gift. “And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?” (v. 36). Mc the eager desire, mark3 the exact knowledge. “And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.” (v. 38, 39). But why did the Spirit of the Lord bear him away? (Hereby) the occurrence was shown to be more wonderful. Even then, the eunuch did not know him. Consequently this was, done, that Philip might afterwards be a subject of wonder to him.4 “For,” it says, “he went on his way rejoicing. But Philip was found at Azotus: and passing through he preached in all the cities, till he came to Caesarea.” (v. 40). This (Philip, therefore) was one of the seven; for there in fact he is afterwards found at Caesarea. It was well and expedient therefore that the Spirit caught Philip away; else the eunuch would have desired to go with him,5 and Philip would have grieved him by declining to comply with his request, the time being not yet come. (a) But6 at the same time here was an encouraging assurance for them that they shall also prevail over the heathen: for7 indeed the high character (to axiopiston) of the (first) believers was enough to move them. If however the eunuch had stayed there, what fault could have been found? [But he knew him not]: for this is why it says, “he went on his way rejoicing:” so that had he known him, he would not have been (so) delighted.
“And the Angel of the Lord,” etc. (Recapitulation, 5,26). (b) See Angels assisting the preaching, and not themselves preaching, but calling these (to the work), But the wonderful nature of the occurrence is shown also by this: that what of old was rare, and hardly done, here takes place with ease,8 and see with what frequency! (c) “An eunuch,” it says, “a man of great authority, under Candace, queen of the Ethiopians.”9 (v. 27). For there women bore rule of old, and this was the law among them. Philip did not yet know for whose sake he had come into the desert: (d) but10 what was there to hinder his learning all (these particulars) accurately, while in the chariot? “Was reading the prophet Esaias.” (v. 28). For the road was desert, and there was no display in the matter. Observe also at what time: in the most violent heat (of the day). (e) “And the Spirit said unto him.” (v. 29). Not now the Angel11 but the Spirit urges him. Why is this? “Then,” the vision took place, in grosser form, through the Angel, for this is for them that are more of the body, but the Spirit is for the more spiritual. And how did He speak to him? Of course, suggested it to him. Why does not the Angel appear to the other, and bring him to Philip? Because it is likely he would not have been persuaded, but rather terrified. Observe the wisdom of Philip: he did not accuse him, not say, “I know these things exactly:” did not pay court to him, and say, “Blessed art thou that readest.” But mark his speech, how far it is from harshness alike and from adulation; the speech rather of a kind and friendly man. “Understandest thou what thou readest?” (v. 30). For it was needful that he should himself ask, himself have a longing desire. He plainly intimates, that he knows that the other knew nothing: and says, “Understandest thou what thou readest?” at the same time he shows him that great was the treasure that lay therein. It tells well also, that the eunuch looked not to the outward appearance (schma) (of the man), said not, “Who art thou?” did not chide, not give himself airs, not say that he did know. On the contrary, he confesses his ignorance: wherefore also he learns. He shows his hurt to the physician: sees at a glance, that he both knows the matter, and is willing to teach. Look12 how free he is from haughtiness; the outward appearance announced nothing splendid. So desirous was he of learning, and gave heed to his words; and that saying, “He that seeketh, findeth,” (Mt 7,8). was fulfilled in him. “And,” it says, “he besought Philip, that he would come up and sit with him.” (v. 31). Do you mark the eagerness, the longing desire? But should any say he ought to have waited for Philip (to speak), (the answer is), he does not know what is the matter: he could not in the least tell what the other was going to say to him, but supposed merely that he was about to receive some (lesson of) prophecy. And moreover, this was more respectful, that he did not draw him into his chariot, but besought him. “And Philip,” we have read, “ran to him, and heard him reading;” even the fact of his running, showed13 that he wished to say (something). “And the place,” it says, “of the Scripture which he read was this: As a sheep He was led to the slaughter.”14 (v. 32). And this circumstance, also, is a token of his elevated mind, (filosofia") that he had in hand this prophet, who is more sublime than all others. Philip does not relate matters to him just as it might happen, but quietly: nay, does not say anything until he is questioned. Both in the former instance he prayed him, and so he does now, saying, “I pray thee of whom speaketh the prophet this?” That15 he should at all know either that the Prophets speak in different ways about different persons, or that they speak of themselves in another person—the question betokens a very thoughtful mind.16 Let us be put to shame, both poor and rich, by this eunuch. Then, it says, “they came to a certain water, and he said, Lo, here is water.” (v. 36). Again, of his own accord he requests, saying, “What doth hinder me to be baptized?” And see again his modesty: he does not say, Baptize me, neither does he hold his peace; but he utters somewhat midway betwixt strong desire and reverent fear, saying, “What doth hinder me?” Do you observe that he has the doctrines (of faith) perfect? For indeed the Prophet had the whole, Incarnation, Passion, Resurrection, Ascension, Judgment to come. And if he shows exceeding earnestness of desire, do not marvel. Be ashamed, all ye as many as are unbaptized. “And,” it says, “he commanded the chariot to stand still.” (v. 38). He spoke, and gave the order at the same moment, before hearing (Philip’s answer). “And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip;” (v. 39) in order that the occurrence might be shown to be of God; that he might not consider it to be merely man. “And he went,” it says, “on his way rejoicing.” (P. 121, note 2). This hints, that he would have been grieved had he known: for the greatness of his joy, having had the Spirit also vouchsafed to him, he did not even see things present—“But Philip was found at Azotus.” (v. 40). Great was the gain to Philip also:—that which he heard concerning the Prophets, concerning Habakkuk, concerning Ezekiel, and the rest, he saw done in his own person. (Bel. & DR 5,36 Ez. 3,12). Thence it appears that he went a long distance, seeing he “was found at Azotus.” (The Spirit) set him there, where he was thenceforth to preach: “And passing through, he preached in all the cities, until he came to Caesarea.”
“And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, and desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.” (ch. 9,1, 2). He fiftly mentions Paul’s zeal, and shows that in the very midst of his zeal he is drawn. “Yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter,” and not yet sated with the murder of Stephen, he was not yet glutted with the persecution of the Church, and the dispersion. Lo, this was fulfilled which was spoken by Christ, that “they which kill you shall think they offer worship to God.” (Jn 16,2). He then in this wise did it, not as the Jews: God forbid! For that he did it through zeal, is manifest from his going abroad even to strange cities: whereas they would not have cared even for those in Jerusalem; they were for one thing only, to enjoy honor. But why went he to Damascus? It was a great city, a royal city: he was afraid lest that should be preoccupied. And observe his strong desire and ardor (and), how strictly according to the Law he went to work: he goes not to the governor, but “to the priest. That if he found any of this way:” for so the believers were called, probably because of their taking the direct way that leads to heaven. And why did he not receive authority to have them punished there, but brings them to Jerusalem! He did these things here with more authority. And mark on what a peril he casts himself. He17 was not afraid lest he should take any harm, but (yet) he took others also with him, “that if,” it says, “he found any of this way, whether they were men or women”—Oh, the ruthlessness!—“he might bring them bound.” By this journey of his, he wished to show them all (how he would act): so far were they from being earnest in this matter. Observe him also casting (people) into prison before this. The others therefore did not prevail: but this man did prevail, by reason of his ardent mind. “And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: and he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?” (v. 3, 4). Why not in Jerusalem? why not in Damascus? That there might be no opening for different persons to relate the occurrence in different ways, but that he alone should be the authentic narrator (axiopisto"), he that18 went for this purpose. In fact, he says this [both in his oration on the stairs], and when pleading before Agrippa. “Fell to the earth”: (ch. xxii, 6: 26,12) for excess of light is wont to shock, because the eyes have their measure: it is said also that excess of sound makes people deaf and stunned (as in a fit) (apoplhga"). But19 him it only blinded, and extinguished his passion by fear, so that he should hear what was spoken. “Saul, Saul,” saith He, “why persecutest thou me?” And He tells him nothing: does not say, Believe, nor anything whatever of the kind: but expostulates with him, all but saying, What wrong, great or small, hast thou suffered from Me, that thou doest these things? “And he said, Who art Thou Lord?” (v. 5) thus in the first place confessing himself His servant. “And the Lord said, I am Jesus, whom thou persecutest:” think not thy warring is with men.20 And they which were with him heard the voice of Paul, but saw no person to whom he answered—for (the Lord) suffered them to be hearers of what was less important. Had they heard the other Voice, they would not have believed; but perceiving Paul answering (some person), they marvelled. “But arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.” (v. 6). Observe, how He does not immediately add all, but first softens his mind. In the same way He called the disciples also a second time.21 “It shall be told thee,” etc.: He gives him good hopes, and (intimates) that he shall recover his sight also. “And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man. And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus” (v. 7, 8):—the spoils of the devil (ta skeuh autou), “his goods” (Mt 13,29), as from some city, yea, some metropolis which has been taken. And the wonder of it is, the enemies and foes themselves brought him in, in the sight of all! “And for three days he neither did eat nor drink, being blinded.” (v. 9). What could equal this? To compensate the discouragement in the matter of Stephen, here is encourment, in the bringing in of Paul: though that sadness had its consolation in the fact of Stephen’s making such an end, yet it also received this further consolation: moreover, the bringing in of the villages of the Samaritans afforded very great comfort.—But why did this take place not at the very first, but after these things? That it might be shown that Christ was indeed risen. This furious assailant of Christ, the man who would not believe in His death and resurrection, the persecutor of His disciples, how should this man have become a believer, had not the power of His resurrection been great indeed? Be it so, that the other Apostles favored (His pretensions22 ): what say you to this man? Why then not immediately after His resurrection? That his hostility might be more clearly shown as open war. The man who is so frantic as even to shed blood and cast men into prisons, all at once believes! It was not enough that he had never been in Christ’s company: the believers must be warred upon by him with vehement hostility: he left to none the possibility of going beyond him in fury: none of them all could be so violent. But when he was blinded,23 then he saw the proofs of His sovereignty and loving kindness: then he answers, “Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?” that none may say that he played the hypocrite, he that was even eager for blood, and went to the priests, and flung himself upon such dangers, in persecuting and bringing to punishment even them that were in foreign parts—under these circumstances he now acknowledges His sovereignty. And why was he shone upon by that light not within the city, but before it? The many would not have believed, since even there (at Jerusalem when the people heard the voice which came from above, they said that “it thundered” (Jn 12,29, supra, note 2P 123); but this man was authority enough in reporting what was his own affair. And bound he was brought in, though not with bonds upon him: and they drew him, who had expected to draw the others. “And he eat not, neither drank:” he condemned himself for the past, he confessed, prayed, besought God. But should any say, This was the effect of compulsion: (we answer) The same thing happened to Elymas: then how came it that he was not changed? (ch. 13,de Laud. Pauli Hom. 4,§1, t. 2,p. 491). What (evidence) could be more compulsory than the earthquake at the Resurrection, the report of the soldiers, the other miracles, the seeing Himself risen? But these things do not compel (belief) they are calculated to teach (it) (ouk anagkastika alla didaktika). Why did not the Jews believe when they were told of these things? That he spoke truth was manifest: for he would not have been changed, had this not happened; so that all were bound to believe. He was not inferior to them that preached the Resurrection, and was more credible, by being all at once converted. He had no intercourse with any of the believers; it was at Damascus that he was converted, or rather before he came to Damascus that this happened to him. I ask the Jew: Say, by what was Paul converted? He saw so many signs, and was not converted: his teacher (Gamaliel, supra, p. 87, note 1) was converted, and he remained unconverted. Who convinced him—and not only convinced, but all at once inspired him with such ardent zeal? Wherefore was it, that he wished even to go into hell itself24 for Christ’s sake? The truth of the facts is manifest.
But, as I said, for the present let us take: shame to ourselves (when we think of) the eunuch, both in his baptism and his reading. Do ye mark how he was in a station of great authority, how he was in possession of wealth, and even on his journey allowed himself no rest? What must he have been at home, in his leisure hours, this man who rested not even on his travels? What must he have been at night? Ye that are in stations of dignity, hear: imitate his freedom from pride,25 (de Lazaro, Conc. 3,§3, t. 1,p. 748. c) his piety. Though about to return home, he did not say to himself: “I am going back to my country, there let me receive baptism;” those cold words which most men use! No need had he of signs, no need of miracles: from the Prophet merely, he believed. (b) But26 why is it (so ordered) that he sees (Philip) not before he goes to Jerusalem, but after he has been there? It was not meet that he should see the Apostles under persecution. Because27 he was yet weak, the Prophet was not easy; (but yet the Prophet) catechized him. For even now, if any of you would apply himself to the study of the Prophets, he would need no miracles. And, if you please, let us take in hand the prophecy itself. “He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened He not His mouth: in His humiliation His judgment was taken away: and who shall declare His generation? for His life is taken from the earth.28 (v. 22, 23). It is likely he had heard that He was crucified, [and now he learns], that “His life is taken away from the earth,” and the rest that “He did no sin, nor deceit in His mouth:” that He prevailed to save others also: [and] who He is, Whose generation is unutterable. It is likely he had seen the riven rocks there (on the spot), and (had heard) how the veil was rent, and how there was darkness, and so forth: and all these things Philip mentioned, merely taking his text from the Prophet. It is a great thing, this reading of the Scriptures! That was fulfilled which was spoken by Moses, “Sitting, lying down, rising up, and walking, remember the Lord thy God.” (Dt 6,7). For the roads, especially when they are lonely, give us opportunity for reflection, there being none to disturb us. Both this man is on the road and Paul on the road: howbeit the latter no than draws, but Christ alone. This was too great a work for the Apostles: and, greater still, in that, the Apostles being at Jerusalem, and no person of authority at Damascus, he nevertheless returned thence converted: yet those at Damascus knew that he did not come from Jerusalem converted, for he brought letters, that he might put the believers in bonds. Like a consummate Physician, when the fever was at its height, Christ brought help to him: for it was needful that he should be quelled in the midst of his frenzy. For then most of all would he be brought down, and condemn himself as one guilty of dreadful audacity. (a) For these things Paul deplores himself, saying, “Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all His long suffering. (). Verily one has reason to admire this eunuch. He did not see Christ, he saw no miracle: he beheld Jerusalem standing yet entire (sunestwta): he believed Ph How came he to behave thus? His soul was earnest (memerimnhmenh). Yet the thief (on the cross) had seen miracles: the wise men had seen a star; but this man, nothing of the kind. So great a thing is the careful reading of the Scriptures! What of Paul then! did he not study the law? But he, it seems to me, was specially reserved, for the purpose which I have already mentioned by anticipation, because Christ would fain draw to Himself the Jews by inducements from every quarter. For had they been in their right mind, nothing was so likely to do them good as this; for this, more than miracles and all else, was calculated to attract them: as,29 on the other hand, nothing is so apt to prove a stumbling block to men of duller minds. See then how, after the Apostle, we have God also doing miracles. They accused the Apostles after these [miracles of theirs]; they cast them into prison: see thereupon God doing the miracles. For instance, the bringing them out of prison, was His miracle: the bringing Philip, His miracle: the bringing Paul over, was His.—Observe in what way Paul is honored, in what way the eunuch. There, Christ appears, probably because of his hardness, and because Ananias30 would not (else) have been persuaded. Conversant with these wonders, let us show ourselves worthy. But many in these times, even when they come to church, do not know what is read; whereas the eunuch, even in public (ep agora") and riding in his chariot, applied himself to the reading of the Scriptures. Not so you: none takes the Bible in hand: nay, everything rather than the Bible.
Say, what are the Scriptures for? For as much as in you lies, it is all undone. What is the Church for? Tie up31 the Bibles: perhaps the judgment would not be such, not such the punishment: if one were to bury them in dung, that he might not hear them, he would not so insult them as you do now. For say, what is the insult there? That the man has buried them. And what here? That we do not hear them. Say, when is a person most insulted—when he is silent, and one makes no answer, or, when he does speak (and is unheeded)? So that the, insult is greater in the present case, when He does speak and thou wilt not hear: greater the contempt. “Speak not to us” (Is 30,10), we read, they said of old to the Prophets: but ye do worse, saying, Speak:32 we will not do. For there they turned them away that they should not even speak, as feeling that from the voice itself they got some sort of awe and obligation; whereas you, in the excess of your contempt, do not even this. Believe me, if you stopped our33 mouths by putting your hands over them, the insult would not be so great as it is now. For say, whether shows greater contempt, he that hears, even when hindering by this action, or, he that will not even hear? Say—if we shall look at it as a case of an insult offered—suppose one person to check the party insulting him, and to stop his mouth, as being hurt by the insults, and another person to show no concern, but pretend not even to hear them: whether will show most contempt? Would you not say the latter? For the former shows that he feels himself hit: the latter all but stops the mouth of God. Did ye shudder at what was said? Why, the mouth by which God speaks, is the mouth of God. Just as our mouth is the mouth of our soul, though the soul has no mouth, so the mouth of the Prophets is the mouth of God. Hear, and shudder. There, common (to the whole congregation) stands the deacon crying aloud, and saying, “Let us attend to the reading.” It is the common voice of the whole Church, the voice which he utters, and yet none does attend. After him begins the Reader, “The Prophecy of Esaias,” and still none attends, although Prophecy has nothing of man in it. Then after this, he says, “Thus saith the Lord,34 and still none attends. Then after this punishments and vengeances, and still even then none attends. But what is the common excuse? “It is always the same things over again.” This it is most of all, that ruins you. Suppose you knew the things, even so you certainly ought not to turn away: since in the theatres also, is it not always the same things acted over again, and still you take no disgust? How dare you talk about “the same things,” you who know not so much as the names of the Prophets? Are you not ashamed to say, that this is why you do not listen, because it is “the same things over again,” while you do not know the names of those who are read, and this, though always hearing the same things? You have yourself confessed that the same things are said. Were I to say this as a reason for finding fault with you, you would need to have recourse to quite a different excuse, instead of this which is the very thing you find fault with.—Do not you exhort your son? Now if he should say, “Always the same things!” would not you count it an insult? It would be time enough to talk of “the same things,” when we both knew the things, and exhibited them in our practice. Or rather, even then, the reading of them would not be superfluous. What equal to Timothy? tell me that: and yet to him says Paul, “Give attention to reading, to exhortation. (1Tm 4,13). For it is not possible, I say not possible, ever to exhaust the mind of the Scriptures. It is a well which has no bottom. “I said,” saith the Preacher, “I am become wise:35 and then it departed from me.”— (Qo 7,24). Shall I show you that the things are not “the same?” How many persons, do you suppose, have spoken upon the Gospels? And yet all have spoken in a way which was new and fresh. For the more one dwells on them, the more insight does he get, the more does he behold the pure light. Look, what a number of things I am going to speak of:—say, what is narrative? what is prophecy? what is parable? what is type? what is allegory? what is symbol? what are Gospels? Answer me only to this one point, which is plain: why are they called Gospels, “good tidings?” And yet ye have often heard that good news ought to have nothing sad in it: yet this “good news” has abundance of sadness in it. “Their fire,” it saith, “shall never be quenched: their worm shall not die:” (Mc 9,44). “Shall appoint his portion,” it saith, “with the hypocrites,” with them that are “cut asunder: then shall He say, I know you not: Depart from Me, ye that work iniquity.” (Mt 24,51 Mt 7,23). Surely,36 we do not deceive ourselves, when we imagine that we tell you in your own mother-tongue (AEEllhnisti) these good tidings? You look downcast; you are stunned; you are struck all of a heap, unable to hold up your heads. “Good news” should have nothing in it of a duty to be done, but rather should counsel what is good: whereas these “Gospels” have endless duties to be done. And again, to mention other things, as for instance, Except a man hate father and mother, he is not worthy of Me” (Lc 14,26): and “I am not come to bring peace upon earth, but a sword” (Mt 10,34 Lc 12,51): and “In the world ye shall have tribulation—John 16,33). excellent37 good tidings these, are they not! For good news is such as this—“You shall have this and that good thing:” as in common life men say one to another, “What shall I have for my good news? Your father is coming, or, your mother:” he does not say, “You must do this or that.”—Again, tell me, how do the Gospels differ from the Prophets? Why are not the Prophecies also called Gospels, good tidings? For they tell the same things: for instance, “The lame shall leap as an hart.” (Is 35,6). “The Lord shall give the word to them that preach the Gospel” (Ps 68,11): and, “A new heaven and a new earth.” (Is 65,17). Why are not those also called Gospels? But if, while you do not so much as know what “Gospels” mean, you so despise the reading of the Scriptures, what shall I say to you?—Let me speak of something else. Why four Gospels? why not, ten? why not twenty? If “many have taken in hand to set forth a narrative” (Lc 1,1), why not one person? Why they that were disciples (i.e. Apostles)? why they that were not disciples? But why any Scriptures at all? And yet, on the contrary, the Old Testament says, “I will give you a New Testament.” (Jr 31,31). Where are they that say, “Always the same things?” If ye knew these, that, though a man should live thousands of years, they are not “the same things,” ye would not say this. Believe me, I will not tell you the answers to any of these questions; not in private, not in public: only, if any find them out, I will nod assent. For this is the way we have made you good-for-nothing, by always telling you the things ready to your hands, and not refusing when we ought. Look, you have questions enough: consider them, tell me the reasons. Why Gospels? Why not Prophecies? Why duties, to be done, in the Gospels? If one is at a loss, let another seek the answer, and contribute each to the others from what he has: but now we will hold our peace. For if what has been spoken has done you no good, much less would it, should we add more. We only pour water into a vessel full of holes. And the punishment too is all the greater for you. Therefore, we will hold our peace. Which that we may not have to do, it rests with yourselves. For if we shall see your diligence, perhaps we will again speak, that both ye may be more approved, and we may rejoice over you, in all things giving glory to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ: to Him be glory and dominion now and ever, and world without end. Amen).
1 (So all the mss. and the Catena: except E. which having already made Chrys. affirm that Philip was one of the seven). supra, p. 115, and note 1, gives a different turn to this passage. “It seems to me, that he received this command while in Samaria: because from Jerusalem one does not go southward, but to the north: but from Samaria it is to the south.” An unnecessary comment; for it would hardly occur to any reader of the Ac to suppose that Philip had returned to Jerusalem.
2 “Behold, an eunuch (comp. p. 122, note 4), a barbarian—both circumstances calculated to make him indisposed to study —add to this, his dignified station and opulence: the very circumstance of his being on a journey, and riding in a chariot: for to a person travelling in this way, it is not easy to attend to reading, but on the contrary very troublesome: yet his strong desire and earnestness set aside all these hindrances,” etc). Hom. in Gen. xxxv. §1. Throughout the exposition of the history of the eunuch there given (t. 4,p. 350–352) he is called a barbarian: so in the tenth of the “Eleven Homilies,” §5, t. 12,393, 394, he is called a “barbarian,” and “alien,” allofulo", but also “a Jew:” allAE ouc o barbaro" tote ekeino" tauta eipe (viz excuses for delaying baptism) kai tauta AEIoudaio" wn k. t. l. i.e. as Matthai explains in l., “a Jewish proselyte.” —Both expositions should be compared with this in the text).
3 akribeian. Below, ora" oti ta dogmata aphrtismena eice. The 37th verse (Philip’s answer and the Eunuch’s confession) seems to have been absent from St. Chrysostom’ copy (unless indeed it is implied in the passage just cited). It is found in Laud’s Gr. and Lat. copy of the Acts, part is cited by St. Irenaeus p. 196. and part by St. Cypr. p. 318, but unknown to the other ancient authorities.
4 wste oun usteron auton qanmasqhnai, touto egeneto: i.e. as below, the eunuch saw that it was the work of God: it was done in order that he might not think oti anqrwpo" estin astin aplw".—Edd. from E. “Why, it may be asked, did the Spirit of the Lord carry Philip away? Because he was to pass through other cities, and to preach the Gospel. Consequently this was done, etc. that he might not think what had happened to him was of man, but of God.”
5 sunapelqein (Oec). sumparelqein) auta. As there is no auton, the meaning seems to be as above expressed, not, “would have desired Philip to go with him.”
6 What follows is confused in the mss. and Edd., by transposition of the portions of text here marked a, b; and c, d: the order in the mss. being b, a, d. c, e.
7 Kai gar to twn pioteuontwn axiopiston ikanon autou" arai ei de epmmeinen (B). epemenon) ekei, poion to egklhma; Meaning, perhaps, that the character and station of such converts as the eunuch would weigh much with their countrymen (tou" allofulou"). Though if the eunuch had stayed behind in Judea, who could have blamed him?—The modern text: “—sufficient to persuade the learners to be roused up themselves also to the same zeal.”
8 eucerw", ora meqÖ osh" afqonia". Cat. The mss. omit eucerw". He means, angelic manifestations.
9 It is probable that this eunuch was an Ethiopian by birth and a Jewish proselyte. It was customary for such foreign proselytes, as well as for Jewish non-residents, to go up to Jerusalem to worship. Others suppose him to have been a Jew, resident in Ethiopia; but he is designated as “an Ethiopian.” The fact that those in his condition were not admitted to full standing in the congregation of Israel (Dt 23,1) is not a sufficient reason for the opinion of Meyer that this man must have been an uncircumcised heathen—a “proselyte of the gate,” since he could occupy the same relation as native Jews in his condition. Ethiopia lay to the S. of Egypt and Candace was queen of Meroe, the northern portion of the country. Eunuchs not only served as keepers of the harem but sometimes, as here, as royal treasurers.—G. B. S.
10 ti de ekwlusen panta auton akribw" maqein kai en tw ochmati onta; kai gar erhmo" hn kai ouk hn to pragma epideixi". We conjecture the first clause to be meant as the answer to an objection: How should Philip know all these particulars? It may indeed relate to the eunuch’s accurate knowledge (akribeia) above mentioned, note 1. The latter part, however, seems to belong to 5,28 to which the Catena refers the mention of the calepwtaton kauma.—Edd. (from E. alone), “Pray what hindered, say you, that he should learn all, even when in the chariot, and especially in the desert? Because the matter was not one of display. But let us look over again what has been read. And beholds,” etc).
11 arpazei: but this, derived from 5,39 is not the right word here.—This, with the clause immediately preceding in the mss., is thus altered by the innovator (E. Edd).: “So little did P. know (outw" ouk hdei F). for whose sake he was come into the desert: because also (oti kai, F. D). oqen) not now an Angel, but the Spirit bears him away. But the eunuch sees none of these things, being as yet not fully initiated (atelh", imperfectus Ben).; or because also these things are not for the more bodily, but for the more spiritual: nor indeed does he learn the things which Philip is fully taught (ekdidasketai).”
12 [Idete (ide B)). to (ton N)). atufon. ouden lampron epefereto schma. Read to schma.—E. D. F. Edd., Eide and oude gar). Vidit illum esse a fastu alienum: neque enim splendidum gestabat vestitum. Ben. and similarly Erasm. as if the meaning were, “the eunuch saw there was no pride in Philip, for he had no splendid clothing.” But it is the eunuch in whom this (to atufon) is praised, (see (below, §4 init.)that he did not disdain Philip for the meanness of his appearance: comp). Hom. in Gen. 35,§2. “For when the Apostle (supra, p. 115, note 1) had said, “Knowest thou,” and came up to him in mean attire (meta eutelou" schmato"), the eunuch did not take it amiss, was not indignant, did not think himself insulted. …but he, the man in great authority, the barbarian, the man riding in a chariot, besought him, the person of mean appearance, who might for his dress have easily been despised, to come up and sit with him,” etc.
13 edeiknu boulomenon eipein. This seems meant to explain why the eunuch at once besought Philip to come up into the chariot: his running showed that he wished to say something.—E. Edd. “was a sign of his wishing to speak, and the reading (a sign) of his studiousness. For he was reading at a time when the sun makes the heat more violent.”
14 The rendering of h de perioch th" grafh" given in the text (A. V). is also that of the R. V. Another interpretation is referred by many scholars: “the content of the Scripture” (grafh being used in the limited sense of the particular passage in question). This view harmonizes with the derivation of perioch (periecelv) meaning an enclosure, or that which is enclosed). Irafh is also used in the limited sense in 5,35 (So, Meyer, Hackett, and Thayer’s Lex).
15 ]H (N. om. Cat). to) olw" eidnai ooti allw" kai (om. C). peri allwn legousin oi profhtai, h oti k. t. l. A). b.c. Cat. We read, to olw" eidenai h. …But the modern text: “It seems to me that he knew not that the prophets speak of other persons: or if not this, he was ignorant that they discourse concerning themselves in another person;” omitting the last clause, sfodra epskemmenou (Cat). perieskemmenh) h erwthsi".—In the next sentence B. has retained the true reading, ektomian, for which the rest have tamian. N). tamieian.
16 The eunuch must have heard much said about Jesus at Jerusalem for he had been crucified but five or six years before. In this time of persecution and excitement, discussions would be rife concerning the Christian interpretation of prophecy. The eunuch seems to have heard two theories concerning the prophecies (e.g. Is. liii). relating to the “Servant of Jehovah,” one that the prophet was speaking of the Messiah (whom the Christians asserted Jesus to be) and the other that the prophet spoke concerning himself in these prophecies, an opinion not wholly abandoned in modern times. The eunuch’s sudden conversion presupposes prolonged consideration of the claims of Jesua to be the Messiah and a keen interest in religious truth.—G. B. S).
17 Edd. “on what danger casting himself, still even so he is afraid lest he should suffer some harm. This is the reason why he takes others with him, probably to rid himself of his fear: or also, because they were many against whom he was going, he takes many, in order that the more boldly, whomsoever he should find, both men and women,” etc. Just the opposite to C.’s meaning: viz. “It is not to be supposed, because he took many with him, that he had any fears for himself: he was above all such regards. The fact is, he wished to show them all (both the Jews at Jerusalem, and the companions of his journey), how they ought to act:” dia th" odou pasin autoi" deixai ebouleto. C. however has pasin autou, N). pasin autou", meaning: “by means of his journey, he wished to show them (the Christians bound) to all.” Perhaps the true reading is autou thn proqumian, or the like. E. D. F. Edd. “Especially as by means of the journey he wished to show them all (pasin autoi"), that all depended on him (autou to pan on).”
18 o dia touto apiwn: i.e. who would have a right to be believed, because it was known that he left Jerusalem for the purpose of persecuting. Had it taken place in Jerusalem or in Damascus, some would have given one account of the matter, some another—as, in the case of our Lord, when the voice came to Him from heaven at Jerusalem, “some said it thundered, some that an Angel spake to Him,” (so Chrys. explains below, p. 125)—but, happening in the way it did, the person most interested in it, and who by this very thing was caused to take so momentous a step, was the authentic narrator; i.e. the story was to come from him, as the only competent authority: allAE auto" axiopisto" hn dihgoumeno" (so Cat.: C., hn dihghsasqai: the other mss. hdihgoumeno") o dia touto apiwn: Infra, p. 125, outo" de axiopisto" hn apaggellwn mallon ta eautou.—In the next sentence, Touto goun legei, kai pro" AEAgrippan apologoumeno", something seems wanting before kai, as supplied in the translation: but also both before and after these words: e.g. For the men which were with him, heard not the voice, and were amazed and overpowered. In fact, he says this in his oration on the stairs, “They heard not the voice of Him that spake to me,” and when pleading before Agrippa, he says, “And when we were all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice.” etc).
19 AEAlla touton monon ephrwse: may be rendered, They all saw the light, but it blinded only Paul:—or, Him however it only blinded, did not cast him into insensibility, but left him otherwise in possession of his faculties.
20 The remainder of the verse and the first part of 5,6 to pro" auton, were absent from Chrysostom’s copy (and Cat. Oec. Theoph). as from Codd. A). b.c. (of New Test). and Laud’s Gr. and Lat. of Acts: but the last have the clause, sklhron soi p. k. l. after diwkei", 5,4. St. Hil. omits the clause durum est, etc. but has, tremens et pavens, etc.—“The voice of Paul:” Didymus in Cat. gives this as Chrysostom’s solution of the seeming contradiction between this statement and that of St. Paul in 22,9. “In the first narrative, they heard Paul’s voice, saying, Who art thou, Lord? But saw no man save Paul: in the second, they saw the light, but did not hear the voice of the Lord.”
21 outw kai tou" maqhta" ekalesen ek deuterou (Cat. and Sav. marg. join ek d. to the next sentence). The meaning is: As here, there is an interval between the conversion of Saul, and Christ’s announcement of the purpose for which he was called (which in Ac 26,15, Ac 26,16 are put together as if all was said at the same time), so in the case of the disciples, Andrew, John, and Simon, there was a first call, related in Jn i.; then after a while, Christ called them a second time, (see (Hom. in Matt. 14,§2) namely, to be fishers of men, Mt 4,In both cases there was an interval, during which he and they were prepared for the further revelation of His will concerning them. The mod. t. (E. Edd). omits this clause, and substitutes, kai di wn parakeleuetai auton poiein paracrhma k. t. l. “And by what He bids him do, straightway gives him.” etc.
22 [Estw ekeinoi autw ecarizonto). Hom. in illud, Saulus adhuc spirans, etc. §5, t. 3,p. 105. “But shameless objectors may say (of Peter), that because he was Christ’s disciple, because he had been partaker at His table, had been with Him three years, had been under His teaching, had been deluded and cajoled by Him (ekolakeuqh upAE autou apathqei"), therefore it is that he preaches His resurrection: but when thou seest Paul, a man who knew Him not, had never heard Him, had never been under His teaching: a man, who even after His crucifixion makes war upon Him, puts to death them that believe in Him, throws all into confusion and disorder, when thou seest him suddenly converted, and in his toils for the Gospel outstripping the friends of Christ: what plea canst thou then have for thine effrontery, in disbelieving the word of the Resurrection?”
23 AEEpeidh de eplhrwqh (eplhroforhqh, A. om., Cat). ephrwqh, E. D. F. Edd)). th" despoteia" autou ta tekmhria kai th" filanqrwpia" tote apokrinetai (for t. a. E. D. F. Edd). gnwrizei, Cat). eiden) ina (gar add B)). mh ti" eiph oti upekrineto, o kai aimatwn epiqumwn k. t. l. (h kai ina mh ti" <`85Ÿupekr. IIw" gar o kai aim. ep. k. t. l. E. D. F. Edd). We read AEEpeidh de ephrwqh, …th" f. eide. Tote ap. Kurie, k. t. 50,ina ln k. t. l).
24 Dia ti kai ei" geennan huxato apelqein uper tou Cristou; The modern text substitutes, “that he wished even to be accursed (Rm 9,2). for Christ,” See Hom. xvi, ad Rm in 1. But Chrys. elsewhere uses as strong expressions as he does here. Hom. 2,in 2Th §4 oude thn peeran th" geennh" hgeito ti einai dia ton tou Cristou poqon. And, dia ton tou C. poqon, katadecetai kai ei" geennan empesein kai th" basileia" ekpesein, (cited in the Ecloga de Laud. Paul. t. 12,p. 659, E).
25 to atufon, above, p. 122, 2. Comp. 10,§5. of the Eleven Homilies, t. 12,p. 393. “Admire how this man, barbarian as he was, and alien, and liable to be puffed up with his great authority, demeaned himself towards a man, poor, beggarly: unknown, whom until then he had never set eyes on. …If our rulers now, believers though they be, and taught to be humble-minded, and with nothing of the barbarian about them, meeting in the public place, I do not say an unknown stranger, but one whom they know, would be in no great hurry to give him a seat beside him (in their carriage), how came this man to condescend so much to a perfect stranger—for I will not cease to insist upon this—a stranger, I say, one whom he had never seen, a mean-looking person, apt to be de. spised for his appearance, as to bid him mount and sit beside him? Yet this he did, and to his tongue committed his salvation, and endured to put himself in the position of a learner: yea, beseeches, intreats, supplicates, saying, ‘I pray thee, of whom saith the Prophet this?’ and receives with profound attention what he says. And not only so, but having received, he was not remiss, did not put off, did not say, ‘Let me get back to my own country, let me see my friends, my family, my kinsfolk’—which is what many Christians say now-a-days when called to baptism: ‘let me get to my country, let me see my wife, let me see my children with my other kinsfolk: with them present, and making holiday with me, so will I enjoy the benefit of baptism, so partake of the Grace.’ But not these words spake he, the barbarian: Jew as he was, and trained to make strict account of places, especially with (the Law) ever sounding in his ears the duty of observing the Place, insomuch that he had gone a long journey to Jerusalem, on purpose that he might worship in the place which God commanded: and behold, all at once casting away all that he had been used to in this regard, and relinquishing this strict observance of place, no sooner is the discourse finished, and he sees a fountain by the roadside, than he says, ‘See, here is water, what doth hinder me to be baptized?’”
26 The letters (a) (b) denote the order of the two parts in mss. and Edd.
27 dia to asqene" eti: Edd, give this to the preceding sentence, and then: Oude proteron outw" hn eukolon, w" ote o profhth" auton kathchsen: “nor was it so easy before, as (it was) when the Prophet had catechized him:” which is irrelevant to the question: for Philip might have found him engaged in the same study then as afterwards. The old text has: ouk hn eukolo", o profhth" gar auton kathchsen, but A. rightly omits gar. Something is wanting; e. g. either, “until Philip catechized him,” or rather, “but yet the prophet catechized him.” What follows is much confused in the mss. By “the prophecy itself” Chrys. probably means more than the two verses given in the Acts, viz. Isai. liii. 7–12.—“It is likely he had heard that He had been crucified,” so C. D. F. (i. e. as appears further on, the eunuch when at Jerusalem had heard of the Crucifixion, had seen the rent in the rocks, etc., another reason why it was fit that he should have first visited Jerusalem:) but B., “Perhaps he had not heard:” and E. Edd., “Hence he learnt.” After “taken from the earth,” C. alone has, kai ta alla osAE (sic) amartian ouk epoihsen, the others, oti am. ouk ep. after which Savile alone adds, “nor was guide found in His mouth.” After estaurwqh something is wanting, e. g). nun de emaqen or kathchqh. In kai ta alla there seems to be a reference to the sequel in “the prophecy itself,” viz. “and the rest which may be read in Isaiah, as that He did no sin,” etc.—A., as usual, omits the whole passage: E. refashions it thus; “Hence He learnt that He was crucified, that His life is taken away from the earth, that He did no sin, that He prevailed to save others also, that His generation is not to be declared, that the rocks were rent, that the veil was torn, that dead men were raised from the tombs: or rather, all these things Philip told him.” etc. so Edd).
28 In the quotation the N. T. follows the LXX. (Is 53,7-8), which but imperfectly renders the original. The meaning is obscure in Hebrew, but the best rendering is probably that of the R. V. which renders 5,8 thus: “By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who among them considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living?” for which the LXX. and N. T. have: “In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: His generation who shall declare, for his life is taken from the earth.” It is almost useless to inquire what the LXX. translators could have meant by this rendering. Concerning the meaning of the first clause, there are four theories: (1) The judgment announced by His enemies was taken away, 1,e., annulled by God (Bengel, Lechler). (2) His judicial power was taken away during his humiliation, i.e., he did not appear as men’s judge (Humphrey). (3) His judgment (punishment) was taken away, 1,e., ended—by death (Meyer, Robinson). (4) The judgment due him—the rights of justice—was withheld by his enemies (Gloag, Hackett).
The latter part of the LXX. trans.: “who shall declare,” etc., has been understood in the following ways: (1) Who shall declare his divine Sonship?—the reference being to the “eternal generation” of the Son (the Patristic view). (2) Who shall declare the number of his spiritual seed, i.e., predict the extent of his kingdom? (the Reformers). (3) Who shall declare the wickedness of his contemporaries, for he was put to death (Meyer, De Wette, Lechler, Alford, Gloag). This interp. assigns to the word “generation,” the same meaning which the R. V. gives to it in the original passage and is the preferable view. It should be admitted that this is a probable theory of what the LXX. ought to have meant by the words which they used; that they did consciously mean this is far less certain.—G. B. S.
29 wsper oun ouden outw skandalizein eiwqe tou" pacuterou": i.e. Saul’s conversion would have weighed with the Jews ei noun eicon, but it was a great stumbling-block to them as pacuteroi: “as indeed nothing is so apt to prove a stumbling-block to men of duller minds,” as this is—viz. the sudden conversion of one of their own party to the opposite side.
30 kai oti ouk an epeisqh AEAnania", A). b.c. But Edd. omit Ananias: “because he (Paul) would not otherwise have been persuaded.” In the next sentence, C. F. have AEEntrefomenoi, “nurtured:” B). entrufwnte", “luxuriating:” A. E. D. Edd). enstrefomenoi).
31 dhson. i.e. tie them up, and keep them shut. E. Edd). katacwson, “Bury.” Below, for kai mh akouoi autwn, we read ina mh. C. however has akouei, which may imply that the sentence should be joined to the preceding one, ou toiauth kolasi", ei ti" katacwseien auta en koprw, kai ei mh akouei autwn: “not such the punishment, were one to bury, etc., as it is if he refuse to hear them.”
32 All the mss. and Edd). Mh laleite, “Speak not.” But the context plainly requires the sense. “Speak on, if you will: we will not do what you bid us:” though it should rather be, Ouk akouomen.
33 E). umin, “your mouths,” so Edd. except Sav. and below, o akouwn kai mh peiqomeno" meizonw" katafronei, where the old text has, o akouwn meiz. kat. kai dia toutou kwluwn, “by this,” viz. by putting his hand on the speaker’s mouth.
34 When the Deacon had ordered silence by proclaiming, if need were, several times, IIrosecwmenAE the Reader commenced the Lesson, if from the Old Testament or the Gospels, with the formula, Tade legei Kurio", “Thus saith the Lord:” (for the Epistles. with, “Dearly beloved Brethren.”) See Hom. in 2 Thess. 3,§4. p. 527. D.
35 Eipon, e" ofisqhn, fhsi, kai tote apesth apAE emou. Ben. rendering the passage with Erasmus, “Deceptus sum, et tunc recessit a me,” remarks. “I do not see how this agrees with what precedes.” The Paris Editor, “Novi. inquiunt. et tum miki effluxit,” as if it were a proverb. In the LXX, it is, Eipa, sofisqhsomai, kai auth emakrunqh apAE emou. E. V. said “I will be wise, but it was far from me.”
36 \Ara mh apatwmen eautou", nomizonte" tauta ellhnisti umin legein; mss. and Edd., ara mh without the interrogation. Ben. “Igitur ne decipiamus nosmetipsos hoec Groeco more dici.” The meaning seems to be, “When we tell you these things as euaggelia, do we deceive ourselves in thinking that we are speaking Greek—that we are using the term aright?—Yes to judge from your looks, one may see that they are anything but euaggelia to you). JYmei" kathfeite, umei" kekwfwsqe: apoplhktoi tugcanete katw kuptonte".” The innovator (E. Edd). quite alters the meaning, as if it were, “You look as indifferent as if it were no concern of yours;” viz. “Or, have you nothing to do with thesse things? But you are struck deaf (kekwfwsqe), and as if you were in a fit, hang down your heads.”—Below, for kai palin etera erw, oion, the same have, oiaper esti kai ta toiauta, “such as are also these.”
37 Edd). Kala ge: ou gar tauta euaggelia: read Kalage (ougap;) tauta euaggelia. In the next sentence, Ti moi twn euaggeliwn; Ben. “Quid mihi est evangeliorum.”
Chrysostom on Acts 1900