Philip: According to Ac 8:1, “all except the apostles were scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria.” Therefore, the Philip mentioned here is not the apostle Philip. (Mt 10:3; Ac 1:13) Rather, it is apparently the Philip who was among the “seven reputable men” appointed to organize the daily distribution of food among the Greek-speaking and Hebrew-speaking Christian widows in Jerusalem. (Ac 6:1-6) After the events recorded in Acts chapter 8, Philip is mentioned just once more, at Ac 21:8, as “Philip the evangelizer.”—See study note on Ac 21:8.
the city: Or, according to some manuscripts, “a city.” This is apparently referring to the main city of the Roman district of Samaria. The name Samaria originally referred to the capital city of the ten-tribe kingdom of Israel as well as to the entire territory of that kingdom. Samaria was the capital until that kingdom was overthrown by the Assyrians in 740 B.C.E. The city, however, remained throughout Roman times, and in Jesus’ day, Samaria was also the name of the Roman district that lay between Galilee in the N and Judea in the S. (See Glossary, “Samaria.”) Herod the Great rebuilt the city of Samaria and renamed it Sebaste in honor of Roman Emperor Augustus. (The name Sebaste is a feminine Greek form of the Latin name Augustus.) The present-day Arabic name, Sabastiya, preserves the name Herod gave it.—See App. B10.
Samaria . . . accepted the word of God: After Jesus preached to a Samaritan woman, “many of the Samaritans” put faith in him. (Joh 4:27-42) This may have laid the foundation for many of these Samaritans to respond to Philip’s preaching.—Ac 8:1, 5-8, 14-17.
Simon . . . offered them money: From this Bible account comes the term “simony,” referring to the buying or selling of positions, specifically in a religious context. Peter’s reply to Simon, recorded at Ac 8:20-24, shows that Christians must be on guard against the wicked practice of trying to gain “authority” by using money or other means.—Ac 8:19; 1Pe 5:1-3.
supplicate Jehovah: The Greek verb for “supplicate” is used in the Septuagint in connection with prayers, requests, and pleadings addressed to Jehovah. In these scriptures, the divine name is often used in the Hebrew text. (Ge 25:21; Ex 32:11; Nu 21:7; De 3:23; 1Ki 8:59; 13:6) The reasons why the New World Translation uses the name Jehovah in this verse, although available Greek manuscripts read “the Lord” (Greek, tou Ky·riʹou), are explained in App. C1 and C3 introduction; Ac 8:22.—For a discussion of the Greek word for “supplicate,” which can also be rendered “make supplication,” see study note on Ac 4:31.
a bitter poison: Lit., “gall of bitterness.” The Greek word kho·leʹ literally refers to the fluid produced by the liver and stored in the gallbladder. Gall, or bile, is an extremely bitter yellowish or greenish fluid used by the body in digestion. Gall came to be associated with something that is bitter or poisonous, and that is how the word is used here.—Compare study note on Mt 27:34.
the word of Jehovah: This expression has its background in the Hebrew Scriptures, where it appears as a combination of a Hebrew term for “word” and the divine name. Together with the expression “Jehovah’s word,” it occurs in some 200 verses. (Some examples are found at 2Sa 12:9; 24:11; 2Ki 7:1; 20:16; 24:2; Isa 1:10; 2:3; 28:14; 38:4; Jer 1:4; 2:4; Eze 1:3; 6:1; Hos 1:1; Mic 1:1; Zec 9:1.) When this expression occurs at Zec 9:1 in an early copy of the Septuagint found at Nahal Hever, Israel, in the Judean Desert near the Dead Sea, the Greek word loʹgos is followed by the divine name written in ancient Hebrew characters (). This parchment scroll is dated between 50 B.C.E. and 50 C.E. The reasons why the New World Translation uses the expression “the word of Jehovah” in the main text, although many Greek manuscripts of Ac 8:25 read “the word of the Lord,” are explained in App. C3 introduction; Ac 8:25.
Ethiopian: From the region of an ancient nation S of Egypt, then referred to as Ethiopia. The Greek word for “Ethiopia” (Ai·thi·o·piʹa, meaning “Region of Burnt Faces”) was the name applied by the ancient Greeks to the region of Africa S of Egypt. It generally corresponded with the Hebrew name Cush, which primarily embraced the southernmost part of modern-day Egypt and the present Sudan. When the Septuagint translation was made, the translators used the Greek term “Ethiopia” to render the Hebrew “Cush” in almost all passages. One example is Isa 11:11, where “Cush” (“Ethiopia” in LXX) is mentioned as one of the lands to which the Jewish exiles were scattered after the Babylonian conquest of Judah. Hence, this Ethiopian official may have had association with Jews in his area or perhaps in Egypt, where many Jews resided.
eunuch: In a literal sense, the Greek word eu·nouʹkhos refers to a man deprived of his ability to procreate. Castrated men were often appointed to serve in various capacities in ancient royal courts of the Middle East and northern Africa, especially as attendants or caretakers of the queen and the concubines. However, the term “eunuch” was not always used of men who had been castrated. It came to refer more generally to men assigned to various official duties in royal courts. Similar to the Greek term, the Hebrew word for “eunuch” (sa·risʹ) can refer to a royal officer. For example, Potiphar, a married man, is called “a court official [lit., “a eunuch”] of Pharaoh.” (Ge 39:1) In this account, the Ethiopian man who oversaw the royal treasury is referred to by the term “eunuch,” apparently used in the sense of a court official. He was obviously a circumcised proselyte—that is, a non-Jew who had embraced the worship of Jehovah—for he had just gone to Jerusalem to worship. (See Glossary, “Proselyte.”) The Mosaic Law forbade castrated men from coming into the congregation of Israel (De 23:1), so he could not have been a literal eunuch. Therefore, this Ethiopian proselyte was apparently not viewed as a Gentile and did not precede Cornelius as the first uncircumcised Gentile to convert to Christianity.—Ac 10:1, 44-48; for an explanation of the figurative use of the term “eunuch,” see study note on Mt 19:12.
Candace: Instead of being a specific personal name, Candace, like Pharaoh and Caesar, is considered to be a title. Ancient writers, including Strabo, Pliny the Elder, and Eusebius used this designation in referring to queens of Ethiopia. Pliny the Elder (c. 23-79 C.E.) wrote that “the town [Meroë, capital of ancient Ethiopia] possesses few buildings. They said that it is ruled by a woman, Candace, a name that has passed on through a succession of queens for many years.”—Natural History, VI, XXXV, 186.
know: Or “understand.” The Greek word gi·noʹsko basically means “to know” but is broad in meaning and can also be rendered “understand; perceive.”
his generation: In this quote from Isa 53:8, the term “generation” apparently refers to one’s “descent,” or “family history.” When Jesus was on trial before the Sanhedrin, its members did not take into account his background—that he fulfilled the requirements for the promised Messiah.
getting baptized: Or “being immersed.” The Greek word ba·ptiʹzo means “to dip; to plunge.” The context indicates that baptism involves complete immersion. If pouring or sprinkling water were all that was needed, it would not have been necessary for the eunuch to halt his chariot at a body of water. Although it cannot be determined whether this was a river, a stream, or a pond, the account says that “both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water.” (Ac 8:38) Other Biblical references agree with the idea that being baptized means being totally immersed in a body of water. For example, Jesus was baptized in a river, the Jordan. Also, on one occasion John the Baptist chose a location in the Jordan Valley near Salim to baptize people “because there was a great quantity of water there.” (Joh 3:23) It is worth noting that the Greek word ba·ptiʹzo is used in the Septuagint at 2Ki 5:14 when recounting how Naaman “plunged into the Jordan seven times.” Further, the Scriptures equate baptism with burial, indicating that a person who is baptized is completely submerged.—Ro 6:4-6; Col 2:12.
Some later Greek manuscripts and some ancient translations into other languages, with slight variations in wording, add: “Philip said to him: ‘If you believe with all your heart, it is permissible.’ In reply he said: ‘I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.’” However, these words do not appear in the earliest and most reliable manuscripts and are most likely not part of the original text of Acts.—See App. A3.