Acts 8:40

More WWII war heroes. Texas sure had a lot of brave men.

Friday, 15 July 2022

But Philip was found at Azotus. And passing through, he preached in all the cities till he came to Caesarea. Acts 8:40

Note: You can listen to today’s commentary courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen).

You can also read this commentary, with music, courtesy of our friends at “Discern the Bible” on YouTube. (Click Here to listen), or at Rumble (Click Here to listen).

In the previous verse, Philip was caught away from the eunuch and the eunuch went on his way rejoicing. With that noted, Luke continues with, “But Philip was found at Azotus.” This was a distance of about thirty miles, and nothing is said of him anywhere else. He was on the desert road to Gaza, and then he was found at Azotus.

Without any doubt, Luke is trying to convey a sequence of events in a manner that demonstrates something out of the ordinary. If he meant that Philip traveled to Azotus, he would have plainly said that, just as he did four times in this chapter alone while –


Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them. (8:5)

Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them, 15 who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. (8:14, 15)

So when they had testified and preached the word of the Lord, they returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel in many villages of the Samaritans. (8:25)

Now an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, “Arise and go toward the south along the road which goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is desert. 27 So he arose and went. (8:26, 27)


As for Azotus, it is known in the Old Testament as Ashdod. That comes from the verb shadad which signifies dealing violently with, despoiling, devastating, and so on. As such, it means something like “Ravager.” It was a city of the Philistines in Old Testament times. It is a coastal town, and a part of modern Israel today. It is Israel’s sixth-largest city, and it is about 20 miles south of Tel Aviv.

After being found in Azotus, Luke continues the narrative, saying, “And passing through.”

Again, Luke’s narrative gives details about Philip’s travels that he did not give in the previous words. Luke has written clearly and precisely concerning the movements of Philip with the exception of the words about his miraculous transportation from Gaza to Azotus

To attempt to dismiss the miraculous intent of the account then diminishes the precision of Luke’s other words that carefully document the movement of Philip and others elsewhere. In other words, it makes Luke look like a less careful chronicler of events than he truly is. The lack of wording here is not a failing of his recording of what happened. Rather, it is a remarkable choice of wording to show exactly what did happen. With that in mind, Luke returns to the carefully worded accounting of Philip’s continued evangelization, saying, “he preached in all the cities.”

The verb here is imperfect. It reads, “he was preaching in all the cities.” Philip didn’t just pass by small cities. Nor did he withhold preaching in some. Rather, as he went, he was actively preaching. It is the same careful attention given to describe the movement of Peter and John in verse 8:25 (noted above). Also, it is the same word already used four times in Acts 8, euaggelizó. Philip, Peter, and John had all been evangelizing as they traveled from one major city to another. As for Philip, this continued “till he came to Caesarea.”

Luke’s care concerning the details is minute, and yet, they were specifically left out in Philip’s travel from the area of Gaza to Azotus. In other words, the main city of Ashkelon lies between Gaza and Azotus (Ashdod). Along that way are small, populated areas that could be described as “cities.” But Luke never mentions them. The language is purposefully blank to indicate a miraculous transport from one location to another.

Philip was taken from the area of Gaza, purposefully taken over the entire area of a major city with smaller surrounding cities, and was deposited in Azotus.

Life application: Of the movement of Philip from Gaza to Azotus, Albert Barnes says, “It does not mean here that there was any miracle in the case, but that Philip, after leaving the eunuch, came to or was in Azotus.” Charles Ellicott and others likewise try to justify Philip’s travel as having been in a state of ecstasy and not knowing what he was doing as he traveled all the way from Gaza to Azotus. Or they give some other similar explanation.

However, doesn’t that insert much more into the narrative than would have been overlooked by Luke? Stated differently, and as was noted above, it actually diminishes the careful attention that Luke always provides. If Philip was in a state of ecstasy, Luke would have said so. If he omitted that, it would then demonstrate a failing on his part to not say so.

The reason for dealing so minutely with what occurred is because if you give careful study to the doctrine of the rapture, you will eventually be told that “the church never taught the doctrine of the rapture until the 1800s.” There are several problems with this. First, it doesn’t matter when a point of biblical doctrine is introduced. If it is true, it is true.

John Calvin’s teachings, which are held to by the same people that say the rapture is a new doctrine, didn’t come about until John Calvin started teaching them, a couple hundred years before the time of Darby. And so, to claim that Calvin is right, and Darby is wrong based on the time of the introduction of the particular doctrine is a fallacy known as “Chronological Snobbery,” or simply a chronological fallacy. But more, John Calvin’s doctrine, in many ways, is entirely incorrect.

Secondly, it is not true that the rapture was first taught in the 1800s. In fact, it is explicitly taught in 1 Corinthians 15 and 1 Thessalonians 4 by the apostle Paul. It is referred to elsewhere in the New Testament, and it is typologically hinted at in the Old Testament.

Luke’s carefully detailed account of Philip’s harpazó (his being caught away) is not a blundering account of omission. Rather, it is a purposeful account of omission. It is given to show us that God can remove a person in a moment from one place to another for His own purposes. There is a time when He will do this with all of His true believers in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye.

Take time to blink your eyes as fast as you can for a second. If you just did that, you blinked three to five times in one second. The blink of an eye occurs in about 1 tenth of a second which is 100 milliseconds.

Get ready. When Jesus calls His people home, it will happen so fast that we won’t know it has happened until it is over. Jesus is coming. Be ready.

Heavenly Father, it is true that some believers deny that there will be a rapture. But Your word tells us that their denial is wrong. Won’t they be surprised on that day! And won’t we all be elated when we realize what happened! May that day be soon. Amen.