Acts 8:1–8 (NA28)
1Σαῦλος δὲ ἦν συνευδοκῶν τῇ ἀναιρέσει αὐτοῦ. Ἐγένετο δὲ ἐν ἐκείνῃ τῇ ἡμέρᾳ διωγμὸς μέγας ἐπὶ τὴν ἐκκλησίαν τὴν ἐν Ἱεροσολύμοις, πάντες δὲ διεσπάρησαν κατὰ τὰς χώρας τῆς Ἰουδαίας καὶ Σαμαρείας πλὴν τῶν ἀποστόλων.
And Saul was agreeing with the his murder. Now there happened on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem. They were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria except the apostles
- Was consenting (ἠν συνευδοκων [ēn suneudokōn]). Periphrastic imperfect of συνευδοκεω [suneudokeō], a late double compound (συν, εὐ, δοκεω [sun, eu, dokeō]) that well describes Saul’s pleasure in the death (ἀναιρεσις [anairesis], taking off, only here in the N. T., though old word) of Stephen. For the verb see on Luke 23:32. Paul himself will later confess that he felt so (Acts 22:20), coolly applauding the murder of Stephen, a heinous sin (Rom. 1:32).
- Were all scattered abroad (παντες διεσπαρησαν [pantes diesparēsan]). Second aorist passive indicative of διασπειρω [diaspeirō], to scatter like grain, to disperse, old word, in the N. T. only in Acts 8:1, 4; 11:19
- The apostles were presumably left alone; the fact that they could stay on in Jerusalem (no doubt along with other Christians) confirms the suspicion that it was mainly Stephen’s group which was being attacked.
- Paul likely had a deeper involvement with the whole incident than appears in these brief references. He was himself a Greek-speaking Jew, a Cilician, who perhaps had argued with Stephen in the Hellenist synagogue in Jerusalem (6:9f.) We would like to know if he heard the speech. If he did, it would be eloquent testimony that Stephen’s words did not fall only on deaf ears; for ultimately no one carried out more fully the implications of Stephen’s words than did Paul. The incident of Stephen’s martyrdom in any event surely had a profound effect as Paul himself later attested (Acts 22:20).
2συνεκόμισαν δὲ τὸν Στέφανον ἄνδρες εὐλαβεῖς καὶ ἐποίησαν κοπετὸν μέγαν ἐπʼ αὐτῷ.
And devout men buried Stephen and made loud lamentation over him
- Devout (εὐλαβεις [eulabeis]). Only four times in the N. T. (Luke 2:25; Acts 2:5; 8:2; 22:12). Possibly some non-Christian Jews helped. The burial took place before the Christians were chiefly scattered.
- Despite the fact that it was dangerous to do so (this is the point in placing verse 2 after verse 1), there were pious men in the church who were prepared to give Stephen a proper burial. It was normal to bury executed criminals, but later Jewish codification of the law forbade open mourning for them; if this prohibition was in force in the first century, the mourners were in effect mounting a public protest against the execution of Stephen, and would have been exposing themselves to considerable risk. The word devout is elsewhere used of pious Jews (2:5; Luke 2:25), but it is later used to describe Ananias, admittedly as ‘a devout man according to the law’ (22:12), although he was a Christian. It can be assumed that Christians are meant here.
3Σαῦλος δὲ ἐλυμαίνετο τὴν ἐκκλησίαν κατὰ τοὺς οἴκους εἰσπορευόμενος, σύρων τε ἄνδρας καὶ γυνnαῖκας παρεδίδου εἰς φυλακήν.
And/but Saul was attempting to destroy the church from house to house entering he dragged off both men and women and delivered them to prison
- A different kind of religious zeal was demonstrated by Saul who took a leading role in the persecution of the church. He went round the houses of Christians and hauled them off to prison, not even sparing the women. Saul’s activity is fully confirmed in broad terms by his own unimpeachable testimony (1 Cor. 15:9; Gal. 1:13, 22f.; Phil. 3:6; 1 Tim. 1:13). No doubt the Roman authorities connived at what was going on; in any case the attack need only have been of short duration (long periods of rigorous persecution tend to be rare), and many Christians may have slipped back to Jerusalem once things cooled down.
- Laid waste (ἐλυμαινετο [elumaineto]). Imperfect middle of λυμαινομαι [lumainomai], old verb (from λυμη [lumē], injury), to dishonour, defile, devastate, ruin. Only here in the N. T. Like the laying waste of a vineyard by a wild boar (Psa. 79:14). Picturesque description of the havoc carried on by Saul now the leader in the persecution. He is victor over Stephen now who had probably worsted him in debate in the Cilician synagogue in Jerusalem. 
- Luke now turned his attention to Saul (v. 3), the third reference to him in six verses. The “escalation” of his opposition to the Christians is interesting. First, he was presented as a bystander at Stephen’s martyrdom (7:58). Then we are informed that he gave full mental assent to the stoning of Stephen (8:1a). Then his consent led to full involvement. He became the church’s worst enemy (v. 3). Indeed, he is portrayed as the persecution personified. He is described as attempting to “ravage” the church (“destroy”). The Greek word is lymainō, a strong expression that is used in the Septuagint for wild beasts, such as lions, bears, and leopards tearing at raw flesh. 
- So much did he embody the persecution in his own person that the church is described as experiencing “peace” upon his conversion (9:31).
4Οἱ μὲν οὖν διασπαρέντες διῆλθον εὐαγγελιζόμενοι τὸν λόγον.
Now those who had been scattered went about proclaiming the good news of the word
- The story begins by showing how the persecution of the church in Jerusalem was turned to good effect. Those who were driven from their homes or felt it wise to leave them preached the Word as good news as they went about from place to place. It is interesting that this particular movement is not attributed to any specific guidance from the Spirit, such as occurred at other crucial stages in the expansion of the church. It seems rather to have been regarded as the natural thing for wandering Christians to spread the gospel; perhaps opportunities for doing so arose naturally, as the people into whose midst they came asked them why they had left their homes.
- From a Jewish perspective the Samaritans were a sort of tertium quid, neither Jew nor Gentile. They were descended from the northern tribes of Israel, the old kingdom of “Israel” that had fallen to the Assyrians in 722 c. 
- To the Jews the Samaritans were half-breeds and heretics. Philip’s venture into a Samaritan mission was a radical step toward Stephen’s vision of a gospel free of nationalistic prejudices.
5Φίλιππος δὲ κατελθὼν εἰς [τὴν] πόλιν τῆς Σαμαρείας ἐκήρυσσεν αὐτοῖς τὸν Χριστόν.
And Philip came down to the city of Samaria and began proclaiming to the Christ
- The story is significant in two ways. First, it records the reception of the gospel by the Samaritans, a people whom the Jews cordially hated and regarded as heretical; the feeling of hostility was, however, mutual. Although we might be tempted to see in the mission to Samaria the church’s first attempt to evangelize Gentiles, this would be a wrong interpretation. To the Jews the Samaritans were not Gentiles but schismatics, part of the ‘lost sheep of the house of Israel’ (Jervell, pp. 113–132). For Luke they were people who kept the law and showed a greater piety than many Jews (Luke 10:33–37; 17:11–19), although they could also show hostility to the disciples of Jesus (Luke 9:52–56). Behind the narrative, therefore, we may well see the overcoming of the hostility between the Jews and the Samaritans through their common faith in Jesus, and it is in this sense that the story may be seen as a step towards the greater problem of bringing Jews and Gentiles together.
- One of the people who went to Samaria (8:1) was Philip, who is clearly the member of the Seven named in 6:5. His preaching about the Messiah would certainly have aroused at least the interest of his hearers, since the expectation of the coming of a future deliverer (known as the ta’eb or ‘restorer’) was a firm part of Samaritan theology (John 4:25); this expectation was based on Deuteronomy 18:15ff., and the expected person had more the character of a teacher and giver of the law than a ruler.
6προσεῖχον δὲ οἱ ὄχλοι τοῖς λεγομένοις ὑπὸ τοῦ Φιλίππου ὁμοθυμαδὸν ἐν τῷ ἀκούειν αὐτοὺς καὶ βλέπειν τὰ σημεῖα ἃ ἐποίει.
And the crowds were paying attention to what was being said by Philip and they heard with one mind and saw the signs that he was performing
- There was something of a mass movement among the people as they listened intently to Philip’s message. Their attention was aroused by what they heard and saw. Philip had the same ability as the apostles to perform miraculous signs which acted as a confirmation of his message. Like Peter (5:16) he could exorcise evil spirits, and the people could hear the cries that came from the possessed victims when the demonic powers left them (cf. Luke 4:33; 9:39; Mark 1:26). The people could also see for themselves how people who had been paralysed or lame were now able to walk; again Philip’s activity matches that of Peter (3:1–10) and Jesus. Such curative miracles brought rejoicing to the people. As yet, however, nothing is said of the people actually believing the gospel, and, although it is said that Jesus could not heal where there was no faith (Mark 6:5f.), we know that there could be healing without an appropriate response of faith and gratitude to God (Luke 17:17–19).
7πολλοὶ γὰρ τῶν ἐχόντων πνεύματα ἀκάθαρτα βοῶντα φωνῇ μεγάλῃ ἐξήρχοντο, πολλοὶ δὲ παραλελυμένοι καὶ χωλοὶ ἐθεραπεύθησαν·
For many of those who had unclean spirits (were) crying out with a loud voice they were coming out(of them), and many who were paralyzed and lame were healed
- Miracles can assist faith but never can be a substitute for it. When the miraculous assumes priority, it can actually become a hindrance to faith. 
8ἐγένετο δὲ πολλὴ χαρὰ ἐν τῇ πόλει ἐκείνῃ.
And there was great joy in that city
- The gospel is the great equalizer. In the gospel there are no “half-breeds,” no physical rejects, no place for any human prejudices. There is acceptance for all, joy for all, “great joy for all the people” (Luke 2:10).