on Acts 8 :5
Then Philip - One of the seven deacons, Acts 6:5, called afterwards, Philip the Evangelist, Acts 21:8.
The city of Samaria - At this time there was no city of Samaria existing: according to Josephus, Ant. lib. xiii. cap. 10, sect. 3, Hyrcanus had so utterly demolished it as to leave no vestige of it remaining. Herod the Great did afterwards build a city on the same spot of ground; but he called it ΣεβαϚη i.e. Augusta, in compliment to the Emperor Augustus, as Josephus tells us, Ant. lib. xv. cap. 8, sect. 5; War, lib. i. cap. 2. sect. 7; and by this name of Sebast, or Augusta, that city, if meant here, would in all probability have been called, in the same manner as the town called Strato's Tower, (which Herod built on the sea coasts, and to which he gave the name of Caesarea, in compliment to Augustus Caesar), is always called Caesarea, wherever it is mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles. Bp. Pearce.
As Sychem was the very heart and seat of the Samaritan religion, and Mount Gerizim the cathedral church of that sect, it is more likely that it should be intended than any other. See Lightfoot. As the Samaritans received the same law with the Jews, as they also expected the Messiah, as Christ had preached to and converted many of that people, John 4:39-42, it was very reasonable that the earliest offers of salvation should be made to them, before any attempt was made to evangelize the Gentiles. The Samaritans, indeed, formed the connecting link between the Jews and the Gentiles; for they were a mongrel people, made up of both sorts, and holding both Jewish and Pagan rites. See the account of them on Matthew 10:5 (note).
on Acts 8 :5
Then Philip - One of the seven deacons, Acts 6:5. He is afterward called the "evangelist," Acts 21:8.
The city of Samaria - This does not mean a city whose "name" was Samaria, for no such city at that time existed. Samaria was a "region," Matthew 2:22. The ancient city Samaria, the capital of that region, had been destroyed by Hyrcanus, so completely as to leave no vestige of it remaining; and he "took away," says Josephus, "the very marks that there had ever been such a city there" (Antiq., book 13, chapter 10, section 3). Herod the Great afterward built a city on this site, and called it "Sebaste"; that is, "Augusta," in honor of the Emperor Augustus (Josephus, Antiq., book 15, chapter 8, section 5). Perhaps this city is intended, as being the principal city of Samaria; or possibly "Sychar," another city where the gospel had been before preached by the Saviour himself, John 4.
And preached Christ - Preached that the Messiah had come, and made known his doctrines. The same truths had been before stated in Samaria by the Saviour himself John 4; and this was doubtless one of the reasons why they so gladly now received the Word of God. The field had been prepared by the Lord Jesus. He had said that it was white for the harvest John 4:35, and into that field Philip now entered, and was signally blessed. His coming was attended with a remarkable "revival of religion." The word translated "preach" here is not what is used in the previous verse. This denotes to "proclaim as a crier," and is commonly employed to denote the preaching of the gospel, so called, Mark 5:20; Mark 7:36; Luke 8:39; Matthew 24:14; Acts 10:42; Romans 10:15; 1 Corinthians 9:27; 1 Corinthians 15:12; 2 Timothy 4:2. It has been argued that because "Philip" is said thus to have preached to the Samaritans, that "therefore" all "deacons" have a right to preach, or that they are, under the New Testament economy, an "order" of ministers. But this is by no means clear. For:
(1) It is not evident, nor can it be shown, that the "other" deacons Acts 6:1-15 ever preached. There is no record of their doing so; and the narrative would lead us to suppose that they did not.
(2) they were "appointed" for a very different purpose Acts 6:1-5; and it is fair to suppose that, as "deacons," they confined themselves to the design of their appointment.
(3) it is not said that "Philip" preached in virtue of his being a "deacon." From anything in "this" place, it would seem that he preached as the other Christians did - wherever he was.
(4) but "elsewhere" an express distinction is made between Philip and the others. A new appellation is given him, and he is expressly called the "evangelist," Acts 21:8. From this, it seems that he preached, not "because" he was a "deacon," but because he had received a special "appointment" to this business as an evangelist.
(5) this same office, or rank of Christian teachers, is expressly recognized elsewhere, Ephesians 4:11. All these considerations show that there is "not" in the sacred Scriptures an order of ministers appointed to preach "as deacons."
on Acts 8 :5
8:5 Stephen - Being taken away, Philip, his next colleague, (not the apostle,) rises in his place.