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Acts 8:27-39

Context
8:27 So 1  he got up 2  and went. There 3  he met 4  an Ethiopian eunuch, 5  a court official of Candace, 6  queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasury. He 7  had come to Jerusalem to worship, 8  8:28 and was returning home, sitting 9  in his chariot, reading 10  the prophet Isaiah. 8:29 Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and join this chariot.” 8:30 So Philip ran up 11  to it 12  and heard the man 13  reading Isaiah the prophet. He 14  asked him, 15  “Do you understand what you’re reading?” 8:31 The man 16  replied, “How in the world can I, 17  unless someone guides me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. 8:32 Now the passage of scripture the man 18  was reading was this:

He was led like a sheep to slaughter,

and like a lamb before its shearer is silent,

so he did 19  not open his mouth.

8:33 In humiliation 20  justice was taken from him. 21 

Who can describe his posterity? 22 

For his life was taken away 23  from the earth. 24 

8:34 Then the eunuch said 25  to Philip, “Please tell me, 26  who is the prophet saying this about – himself or someone else?” 27  8:35 So Philip started speaking, 28  and beginning with this scripture 29  proclaimed the good news about Jesus to him. 8:36 Now as they were going along the road, they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “Look, there is water! What is to stop me 30  from being baptized?” 8:37 [[EMPTY]] 31  8:38 So he ordered the chariot to stop, and both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, 32  and Philip baptized 33  him. 8:39 Now when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him any more, but 34  went on his way rejoicing. 35 

1 tn Grk “And,” but καί (kai) carries something of a resultative force in this context because what follows describes Philip’s response to the angel’s command.

2 tn Grk “So getting up he went.” The aorist participle ἀναστάς (anastas) has been translated as a finite verb due to requirements of contemporary English style.

3 tn Grk “And there.” Because of the difference between Greek style, which often begins sentences or clauses with “and,” and English style, which generally does not, καί (kai) has not been translated here.

4 tn Grk “and behold.” This expression is used to portray Philip’s encounter with the Ethiopian in a vivid way. In the English translation this vividness is difficult to convey; it is necessary to supply the words “he met.”

5 sn The term eunuch normally referred to a man who had been castrated, but this was not always the case (see Gen 39:1 LXX, where Potiphar is called a eunuch). Such castrated individuals were preferred as court officials in the East, although Judaism opposed the practice. The Mosaic law excluded eunuchs from Israel (Deut 23:1), although God certainly accepted them (Isa 56:3-5; Wis 3:14). This individual was a high official, since he was said to be in charge of all her treasury. He may or may not have been a eunuch physically. He appears to be the first fully Gentile convert to Christianity, since the Samaritans mentioned previously (Acts 8:4-25) were regarded as half-breeds.

6 tn Or “the Candace” (the title of the queen of the Ethiopians). The term Κανδάκης (Kandakh") is much more likely a title rather than a proper name (like Pharaoh, which is a title); see L&N 37.77. A few, however, still take the word to be the name of the queen (L&N 93.209). BDAG 507 s.v. Κανδάκη, treats the term as a title and lists classical usage by Strabo (Geography 17.1.54) and others.

sn Candace was the title of the queen of the Ethiopians. Ethiopia refers to the kingdom of Nubia in the northern Sudan, whose capital was Meroe (not to be confused with Abyssinia, which was later called Ethiopia and converted to Christianity in the 4th century a.d.). Classical writers refer to several queens of Meroe in the 1st century b.c. and 1st century a.d. who had the title Candace (Kandake). The Candace referred to here was probably Amantitere, who ruled a.d. 25-41.

7 tn Grk “who was over all her treasury, who.” The two consecutive relative clauses make for awkward English style, so the second was begun as a new sentence with the pronoun “he” supplied in place of the Greek relative pronoun to make a complete sentence in English.

8 sn Since this man had come to Jerusalem to worship, he may have been a proselyte to Judaism. This event is a precursor to Acts 10.

9 tn Grk “and was sitting.” Because of the difference between Greek style, which often begins sentences or clauses with “and,” and English style, which generally does not, καί (kai) has not been translated here.

10 tn Grk “and was reading.” Because of the difference between Greek style, which often begins sentences or clauses with “and,” and English style, which generally does not, καί (kai) has not been translated here.

sn The fact that this man was reading from a scroll (an expensive item in the first century) indicates his connection to a wealthy house.

11 tn The participle προσδραμών (prosdramwn) is regarded as attendant circumstance.

12 tn The words “to it” are not in the Greek text but are implied.

13 tn Grk “heard him”; the referent (the man) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

14 tn Grk “and he.” Because of the length of the Greek sentence, the conjunction καί (kai) has not been translated here. Instead a new English sentence is begun.

15 tn Grk “he said”; but since what follows is a question, it is better English style to translate the introduction to the question “he asked him.”

16 tn Grk “He”; the referent (the man) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

17 tn Grk “How am I able, unless…” The translation is based on the force of the conjunction γάρ (gar) in this context. The translation “How in the world can I?” is given in BDAG 189 s.v. γάρ 1.f.

18 tn Grk “he”; the referent (the man) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

19 tn Grk “does.” The present tense here was translated as a past tense to maintain consistency with the first line of the quotation (“he was led like a sheep to slaughter”), which has an aorist passive verb normally translated as a past tense in English.

20 tc ‡ Most later mss (C E Ψ 33vid Ï sy) read “In his humiliation,” adding αὐτοῦ (autou, “his”) after ταπεινώσει (tapeinwsei, “humiliation”), while the earlier and better witnesses lack the pronoun (so Ì74 א A B 1739 pc lat). However, the LXX of Isa 53:8 also lacks the pronoun, supplying motivation for scribes to omit it here. At the same time, scribes would also be motivated to add the pronoun both for clarity’s sake (note the similar impulse that led to the addition of δέ [de] by many of the same mss at the beginning of the next line) and to give balance to the lines (the pronoun is indisputably used five other times in vv. 32-33 in quoting Isa 53). On balance, the shorter reading is preferred.

21 tn Or “justice was denied him”; Grk “his justice was taken away.”

22 tn Or “family; or “origin.” The meaning of γενεά (genea) in the quotation is uncertain; BDAG 192 s.v. γενεά 4 suggests “family history.”

sn The rhetorical question suggests the insensitivity of this generation for its act against God’s servant, who was slain unjustly as he was silent.

23 tn Grk “is taken away.” The present tense here was translated as a past tense to maintain consistency with the rest of the quotation.

24 sn A quotation from Isa 53:7-8.

25 tn Grk “answered and said.” The redundant participle ἀποκριθείς (apokriqei") has not been translated.

26 tn Grk “I beg you,” “I ask you.”

27 sn About himself, or about someone else? It is likely in 1st century Judaism this would have been understood as either Israel or Isaiah.

28 tn Grk “opening his mouth” (a Semitic idiom for beginning to speak in a somewhat formal manner). The participle ἀνοίξας (anoixa") has been translated as a finite verb due to requirements of contemporary English style.

29 sn Beginning with this scripture. The discussion likely included many of the scriptures Acts has already noted for the reader in earlier speeches. At the least, readers of Acts would know what other scriptures might be meant.

30 tn Or “What prevents me.” The rhetorical question means, “I should get baptized, right?”

31 tc A few later mss (E 36 323 453 945 1739 1891 pc) add, with minor variations, 8:37 “He said to him, ‘If you believe with your whole heart, you may.’ He replied, ‘I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.’” Verse 37 is lacking in {Ì45,74 א A B C 33 614 vg syp,h co}. It is clearly not a part of the original text of Acts. The variant is significant in showing how some in the early church viewed a confession of faith. The present translation follows NA27 in omitting the verse number, a procedure also followed by a number of other modern translations.

32 tn Grk “and they both went down into the water, both Philip and the eunuch.” Since this is somewhat redundant in English, it was simplified to “and both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water.”

33 sn Philip baptized. Again, someone beyond the Twelve has ministered an ordinance of faith.

34 tn BDAG 189 s.v. γάρ 2 indicates that under certain circumstances γάρ (gar) has the same meaning as δέ (de).

35 sn Note that the response to the gospel is rejoicing (joy, cf. Acts 11:23; 13:48).



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