1 Saul was standing there while the Jewish leaders killed Stephen. He agreed with what they did.
Saul puts many believers in prison
On the same day that Stephen died, the group of believers who lived in Jerusalem began to have great trouble. People did bad things to them. All the believers left Jerusalem and went to other places in Judea and Samaria. Only Jesus' 12 apostles stayed in Jerusalem.
2 Some good men who loved God buried Stephen's dead body. They were very sad and they cried with loud voices. 3 But Saul brought great trouble to the believers. He wanted to destroy their whole group. So he went to all their houses. He took hold of the believers and he put them into prison. He did that to both men and women.
People in Samaria hear God's good news
4 The believers who had left Jerusalem went to many different towns. In each place, they told the people the message about Jesus. 5 One of them who was called Philip went to a city in Samaria. There he told the people the message about Jesus Christ, God's Messiah.
6 Crowds of people came together to hear Philip speak. They saw him do many miracles which showed that God was with him. So they listened carefully to his message. 7 Many people there had bad spirits, which were living in them. Philip sent the bad spirits out of those people. As the spirits came out, they shouted loudly. Some other people had weak arms or legs, and some people could not walk well. Philip caused many of them to become well again. 8 As a result, the people in that city were very happy.
8:6The Holy Spirit lived in Philip. He helped Philip to speak in a powerful way. Because of this Philip could do these special things for the people.
9 A man called Simon lived in that city. For a long time, he had used magic to do great things. All the people who lived in Samaria were very surprised at what he did. Simon told everyone that he was a very important person. 10 All the people in the city watched Simon carefully. This included the people who were important and all the other people too. Everyone said, ‘This man has great power that comes from God.’ 11 Simon had used his magic for a long time and he had surprised them all very much. Because of that, they listened to him carefully. 12 But then Philip told them the good news about the kingdom of God. He told them the message about God's Messiah, Jesus. Many men and women believed Philip's message, so he baptized them. 13 Simon also believed and Philip baptized him too. After this, Simon stayed near to Philip. He was very surprised at the powerful miracles which Philip did.
14 The apostles who were in Jerusalem heard about all this. They heard that many people in Samaria had believed God's word. So they sent Peter and John to Samaria. 15 When these two apostles arrived in Samaria, they prayed for the people who now believed in Jesus. They asked God to give the new believers the Holy Spirit. 16 The Holy Spirit had not yet come to any of these people. When Philip had baptized them, he had just used the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 So Peter and John put their hands on the head of each believer, and they each received the Holy Spirit.
18 Simon saw that God gave the Holy Spirit to people when the apostles put their hands on them. So he said to Peter and John, ‘Here is some money for you. 19 Please give me this same power. I want to put my hands on other people, so that they will receive the Holy Spirit.’
20 Peter answered Simon, ‘I pray that God will destroy you and your money! You think that you can buy this gift with your money! It is very wrong for you to think that. It is God who gives that gift. 21 You cannot do the work which we are doing. God knows that you are not thinking the right things. 22 You must turn away from those very bad thoughts. Turn to the Lord and pray that he will forgive you. Then perhaps he will forgive you for these bad thoughts. 23 You are very upset because you are jealous. I can see that sin rules your life.’
24 Then Simon said to Peter and John, ‘Please, pray to the Lord God for me. Then none of these bad things that you have spoken about will happen to me.’
25 Peter and John told the people about the Lord Jesus and they spoke God's message to them. Then they returned to Jerusalem. On their way, they went through many villages in Samaria and they told the people the good news about Jesus.
Philip meets a man from Ethiopia
26 Then an angel of the Lord God came to Philip. He said, ‘Philip, go south to the road between Jerusalem and Gaza which goes through the wilderness.’
8:26It was about 70 kilometres from Jerusalem to the town of Gaza.
27 So Philip started on his journey. While he was going along this road, he met an important officer from Ethiopia. This man had authority over the queen of Ethiopia's money. The queen was called Candace. The officer was travelling home from Jerusalem. He had been there to worship God.
8:27Ethiopia is a country in Africa. Candace was a special name for their queen. We think that the man from Ethiopia was a Gentile. But now he worshipped the God of the Jews. The Ethiopian man was riding in a chariot that horses pulled. It was not the kind of chariot that soldiers used when they went to fight.
28 Now the man was travelling home again in his chariot. He was reading something from the book that God's prophet Isaiah wrote. 29 The Holy Spirit said to Philip, ‘Go to that chariot and walk beside it.’
30 So Philip ran to the cart as it went along. The officer was reading aloud from the prophet Isaiah's book and Philip heard him. So Philip asked the man, ‘Do you understand the things that you are reading about?’
31 The man answered, ‘I cannot understand it. I need someone to explain it to me.’ Then he said to Philip, ‘Come up here and sit with me in the cart.’
32 The officer was reading these words from the book of Isaiah:
‘He was like a sheep that people were leading away to kill.
He was like a lamb when they are cutting off its wool,
but it makes no noise.
In the same way, he did not say anything.
33 People did not respect him at all.
They refused to judge him in a fair way.
Nobody can say anything about his descendants,
because his life on earth came to an end.’
8:33We can read this in Isaiah 53:7-8. Isaiah wrote this about Jesus hundreds of years earlier.
34 The officer said to Philip, ‘Please tell me who the prophet Isaiah wrote about. Was he writing about himself or about another person?’ 35 Then Philip explained to the man the words that Isaiah had written. Then he went on to tell him the good news about Jesus. 36 As they were travelling along the road, they came to a place with some water. The man said to Philip, ‘Look! There is some water here. Please will you baptize me? Is there anything to stop you?’
[ 37 Philip said to him, ‘I can baptize you if you really believe in Jesus.’ The man said to Philip, ‘I do believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.’]
8:37Most Bibles do not have verse 37.
38 The officer said to the man who was driving the chariot, ‘Stop the chariot!’ Then he went down with Philip into the water, and Philip baptized him. 39 They both came up out of the water again. Immediately the Lord's Holy Spirit took Philip away from that place. The officer did not see Philip again. He continued his journey and he was very happy.
40 Philip saw that he was now in Azotus. From there, he visited many towns and he told people the good news about Jesus. He did this as he went all the way to Caesarea.
8:40Azotus was a town 30 kilometres north of Gaza.
8:40Caesarea was an important city in Israel. The Roman ruler sometimes lived there. Caesarea was at the coast and it was an important port. It was 70 kilometres from Jerusalem. We think that Philip lived in Caesarea for many years. Philip was still living in Caesarea when Luke wrote about him again in Acts 21:8.