Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


Acts 8:38

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

And they went down - They alighted from the chariot into the water. While Philip was instructing him, and he professed his faith in Christ, he probably plunged himself under the water, as this was the plan which appears to have been generally followed among the Jews in their baptisms; but the person who had received has confession of faith was he to whom the baptism was attributed, as it was administered by his authority.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

And they went down both into the water - This passage has been made the subject of much discussion on the subject of baptism. It has been adduced in proof of the necessity of immersion. It is not proposed to enter into that subject here (see the Editors‘ Notes at Matthew 3:6, Matthew 3:16). It may be remarked here that the preposition εἰς eistranslated “into,” does not of necessity mean that they went “into” the water. Its meaning would be as well expressed by “to” or “unto,” or as we should say, “they went “to” the water,” without meaning to determine whether they went “into” it or not. Out of “twenty-six” significations which Schleusner has given the word, this is one, and one which frequently occurs: John 11:38, “Jesus, therefore, groaning in himself, cometh to εἰς eisthe grave” - assuredly not “into” the grave; Luke 11:49, “I send them prophets,” Greek, “I send to εἰς eisthem prophets” - “to” them, not “into” them, compare Romans 2:4, 1 Corinthians 14:36; Matthew 12:41, “They repented at εἰς eisthe preaching of Jonas” - not into his preaching; John 4:5, “Then cometh he “to” εἰς eisa city of Samaria,” that is, “near to it,” for the context shows that he had not yet entered “into” it, compare Acts 7:6, Acts 7:8; John 21:4, “Jesus stood “on” εἰς eisthe shore,” that is, not “in,” but “near” the shore. These passages show:

(1)That the word does not necessarily mean that they entered “into” the water. But,

(2)If it did, it does not necessarily follow that the eunuch was immersed. There might be various ways of baptizing, even after they were “in” the water, besides immersing. Sprinkling or pouring might be performed there as well as elsewhere. The most solemn act of baptism that I ever saw performed was, when I was a boy, in the river on the banks of which I was born, where the minister and the candidate went both of them “into” the Myer, and, when near to the middle of the river, the candidate kneeled down in the water, and the minister with a bowl “poured” water on his head. Yet if the fact had been stated, in reference to this case, that “they went both down “into” the water, and came up out of the water,” and it had been hence inferred that the man was “immersed,” it would have been wholly a false inference. No such immersion occurred, and there is, from the narrative here, no more evidence that it occurred in the case of the eunuch. See βαπτίζω baptizōit is incumbent on those who maintain that “immersion” is the only valid mode of baptism to prove that this passage cannot possibly mean anything else, and that there was no other mode practiced by the apostles.

(4)it would still be incumbent to show that if this were the common and even the only mode then, in a warm climate, that it is indispensable that this mode should be practiced everywhere else. No such positive command can be adduced. And it follows, therefore, that it cannot be proved that immersion is the only lawful mode of baptism. See the Editors‘ Notes at Matthew 3:6, Matthew 3:16.

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

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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

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Ellen G. White
The Acts of the Apostles, 152

The same angel who had come from the royal courts to rescue Peter, had been the messenger of wrath and judgment to Herod. The angel smote Peter to arouse him from slumber; it was with a different stroke that he smote the wicked king, laying low his pride and bringing upon him the punishment of the Almighty. Herod died in great agony of mind and body, under the retributive judgment of God. AA 152.1

This demonstration of divine justice had a powerful influence upon the people. The tidings that the apostle of Christ had been miraculously delivered from prison and death, while his persecutor had been stricken down by the curse of God, were borne to all lands and became the means of leading many to a belief in Christ. AA 152.2

The experience of Philip, directed by an angel from heaven to go to the place where he met one seeking for truth; of Cornelius, visited by an angel with a message from God; of Peter, in prison and condemned to death, led by an angel forth to safety—all show the closeness of the connection between heaven and earth. AA 152.3

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Ellen G. White
Christ's Object Lessons, 116

Christ “came unto His own, and His own received Him not.” John 1:11. The light of God shone into the darkness of the world, and “the darkness comprehended it not.” John 1:5. But not all were found indifferent to the gift of heaven. The merchantman in the parable represents a class who were sincerely desiring truth. In different nations there were earnest and thoughtful men who had sought in literature and science and the religions of the heathen world for that which they could receive as the soul's treasure. Among the Jews there were those who were seeking for that which they had not. Dissatisfied with a formal religion, they longed for that which was spiritual and uplifting. Christ's chosen disciples belonged to the latter class, Cornelius and the Ethiopian eunuch to the former. They had been longing and praying for light from heaven; and when Christ was revealed to them, they received Him with gladness. COL 116.1

In the parable the pearl is not represented as a gift. The merchantman bought it at the price of all that he had. Many question the meaning of this, since Christ is represented in the Scriptures as a gift. He is a gift, but only to those who give themselves, soul, body, and spirit, to Him without reserve. We are to give ourselves to Christ, to live a life of willing obedience to all His requirements. All that we are, all the talents and capabilities we possess, are the Lord's, to be consecrated to His service. When we thus give ourselves wholly to Him, Christ, with all the treasures of heaven, gives Himself to us. We obtain the pearl of great price. COL 116.2

Salvation is a free gift, and yet it is to be bought and sold. In the market of which divine mercy has the management, the precious pearl is represented as being bought without money and without price. In this market all may obtain the goods of heaven. The treasury of the jewels of truth is open to all. “Behold, I have set before thee an open door,” the Lord declares, “and no man can shut it.” No sword guards the way through this door. Voices from within and at the door say, Come. The Saviour's voice earnestly and lovingly invites us: “I counsel thee to buy of Me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich.” Revelation 3:8, 18. COL 116.3

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Expansion of the Early Church in Palestine