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. Chapter 8.

Saul Persecutes the Church

1 And Saul was among those who approved of his murder.

THIS WAS THE BEGINNING of a time of violent persecution for the church in Jerusalem; and all except the apostles were scattered over the country districts of Judaea and Samaria. 2 Stephen was given burial by certain devout men, who made a great lamentation for him. 3 Saul, meanwhile, was harrying the church; he entered house after house, seizing men and women, and sending them to prison.

The Gospel Preached in Samaria (Samaria)

4 As for those who had been scattered, they went through the country preaching the Word. 5 Philip came down to a city in Samaria and began proclaiming the Messiah to them. 6 The crowds, to a man, listened eagerly to what Philip said, when they heard him and saw the miracles that he performed. 7 For in many cases of possession the unclean spirits came out with a loud outcry; and many paralysed and crippled folk were cured; 8 and there was great joy in that city.

9 A man named Simon had been in the city for some time, and had swept the Samaritans off their feet with his magical arts, claiming to be someone great. 10 All of them, high and low, listened eagerly to him. 'This man', they said, 'is that power of God which is called "The Great Power".' 11 They listened because they had for so long been carried away by his magic. 12 But when they came to believe Philip with his good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, men and women alike. 13 Even Simon himself believed, and was baptized, and thereupon was constantly in Philip's company. He was carried away when he saw the powerful signs and miracles that were taking place.

14 The apostles in Jerusalem now heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God. They sent off Peter and John, 15 who went down there and prayed for the converts, asking that they might receive the Holy Spirit. 16 For until then the Spirit had not come upon any of them. They had been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus, that and nothing more. 17 So Peter and John laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit.

18 When Simon saw that the Spirit was bestowed through the laying on of the apostles' hands, he offered them money 19 and said, 'Give me the same power too, so that when I lay my hands on anyone, he will receive the Holy Spirit.' 20 Peter replied, 'Your money go with you to damnation, because you thought God's gift was for sale! 21 You have no part nor lot in this, for you are dishonest with God. 22 Repent of this wickedness and pray the Lord to forgive you for imagining such a thing. 23 I can see that you are doomed to taste the bitter fruit and wear the fetters of sin.' [Literally: you are for gall of bitterness and a fetter of unrighteousness.] 24 Simon answered, 'Pray to the Lord for me yourselves and ask that none of the things you have spoken of may fall upon me.'

25 And so, after giving their testimony and speaking the word of the Lord, they took the road back to Jerusalem, bringing the good news to many Samaritan villages on the way.

Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch (Gaza Road, Judaea)

26 Then the angel of the Lord said to Philip, 'Start out and go south to the road that leads down from Jerusalem to Gaza.' (This is the desert road.) 27 So he set out and was on his way when he caught sight of an Ethiopian. This man was a eunuch, a high official of the Kandake, or Queen, of Ethiopia, in charge of all her treasure. He had been to Jerusalem on a pilgrimage 28 and was now on his way home, sitting in his carriage and reading aloud the prophet Isaiah. 29 The Spirit said to Philip, 'Go and join the carriage.' 30 When Philip ran up he heard him reading the prophet Isaiah and said, 'Do you understand what you are reading?' 31 He said, 'How can I understand unless someone will give me the clue?' So he asked Philip to get in and sit beside him.

32 [ Is.53.7-8. ] The passage he was reading was this: 'He was led like a sheep to be slaughtered; and like a lamb that is dumb before the shearer, he does not open his mouth. 33 He has been humiliated and has no redress. Who will be able to speak of his posterity? For he is cut off from the world of living men.'

34 'Now', said the eunuch to Philip, 'tell me, please, who it is that the prophet is speaking about here: himself or someone else?' 35 Then Philip began. Starting from this passage, he told him the good news of Jesus. 36 As they were going along the road, they came to some water. 'Look,' said the eunuch, 'here is water: what is there to prevent my being baptized?'; 37 [Some manuscripts insert: Philip said, 'If you wholeheartedly believe, it is permitted.' He replied, 'I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.'] 38 and he ordered the carriage to stop. Then they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. 39 When they came up out of the water the Spirit snatched Philip away, and the eunuch saw no more of him, but went happily on his way. 40 Philip appeared at Azotus, and toured the country, preaching in all the towns till he reached Caesarea.

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