ACTS 8:37 AND BAPTISMAL CONFESSION
By Sam Shamoun | Go to Source
The Authorized King James Version (AV) of the Holy Bible contains a verse which modern versions either omit entirely or question its genuineness:
“And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” Acts 8:37
In this short post I will present the earliest surviving proofs for the authenticity of this verse. I will also cite later versions and expositors that accept the veracity of this passage.
IRENAEUS (180 AD)
8. But again: Whom did Philip preach to the eunuch of the queen of the Ethiopians, returning from Jerusalem, and reading Esaias the prophet, when he and this man were alone together? Was it not He of whom the prophet spoke:
He was led as a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb dumb before the shearer, so He opened not the mouth?
But who shall declare His nativity? For His life shall be taken away from the earth. Acts 8:32; Isaiah 53:7-8 [Philip declared] that this was Jesus, and that the Scripture was fulfilled in Him; as did also the believing eunuch himself: and, immediately requesting to be baptized, he said, “I believe Jesus Christ to be the Son of God.” Acts 8:37 This man was also sent into the regions of Ethiopia, to preach what he had himself believed, that there was one God preached by the prophets, but that the Son of this [God] had already made [His] appearance in human nature (secundum hominem), and had been led as a sheep to the slaughter; and all the other statements which the prophets made regarding Him. (Against Heresies, 3.12.8)
CYPRIAN (250 AD)
43. That he who believes can immediately obtain (i.e., pardon and peace)
In the Acts of the Apostles: “Lo, here is water; what is there which hinders me from being baptized? Then said Philip, If you believe with all your heart, you may.” (The Treatises of Cyprian, Treatise 12, Book 3.43)
“… However, Ehrman points out that 1) one of those manuscripts is 1739, from Mount Athos, an important minuscule that is an excellent copy of a 4th century exemplar that itself is a copy of a (probably) 2nd century manuscript (1739 and 1881 are important later minuscules). 1739 is pictured to the right…” (White, “Many Thanks”, January 7, 2009; bold emphasis mine)
This minuscule contains the verse in question.
Codex Glazier, designated by siglum copG67, is a Coptic uncial manuscript of the New Testament on parchment. It is dated palaeographically to the 4th or 5th century. Textually it is very close to Greek Codex Bezae…
Different readings supported by Old Latin
Acts 6:1 men] angel
Acts 7:46 Bezae reads οικω, G67 supports reading θεω;
Acts 8:37 and 9:5b-6a are included.
Acts 12:25 Bezae reads Σαυλος] G67 supports reading ος επεκληθη Παυλος (who was called Paul))
Acts 14:20 Only h and G67, in the report that the disciples gathered around Paul after he was stoned and cast out of the city…
The manuscript is dated to the late 4th or early 5th century.…
 And Philip said: If thou believest with all thy heart, thou mayest. And he answering, said: I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
Dixit autem Philippus: Si credis ex toto corde, licet. Et respondens ait: Credo Filium Dei esse Jesum Christum.
CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
452 The name Jesus means “God saves”. the child born of the Virgin Mary is called Jesus, “for he will save his people from their sins” (⇒ Mt 1:21): “there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (⇒ Acts 4:12).
453 The title “Christ” means “Anointed One” (Messiah). Jesus is the Christ, for “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power” (⇒ Acts 10:38). He was the one “who is to come” (⇒ Lk 7:19), the object of “the hope of Israel” (⇒ Acts 28:20).
454 The title “Son of God” signifies the unique and eternal relationship of Jesus Christ to God his Father: he is the only Son of the Father (cf ⇒ Jn 1:14, ⇒ 18; ⇒ 3:16, ⇒ 18); he is God himself (cf ⇒ Jn 1:1). To be a Christian, one must believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God (cf ⇒ Acts 8:37; ⇒ 1 Jn 2:23).
455 The title “Lord” indicates divine sovereignty. To confess or invoke Jesus as Lord is to believe in his divinity. “No one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit’” (⇒ I Cor 12:3). (The Catechism, Paragraph 454; emphasis mine)
THE 1904 PATRIARCHAL TEXT OF THE GREEK ORTHODOX CHURCH
εἶπε δὲ ὁ Φίλιππος· εἰ πιστεύεις ἐξ ὅλης τῆς καρδίας, ἔξεστιν. ἀποκριθεὶς δὲ εἶπε· πιστεύω τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ Θεοῦ εἶναι τὸν ᾿Ιησοῦν Χριστόν. (1904 Patriarchal Text, Acts 8)
PRE-KJV ENGLISH VERSIONS
And Philip said, if thou believest with all thine heart,
Intimating, that if he did not believe, he had no right to that ordinance; though he was a proselyte to the Jewish religion, a serious and devout man, and was employed in a religious way, when Philip came up to him, and was very desirous of being instructed in the knowledge of divine things; and yet notwithstanding all this, he had no right to the ordinance of baptism, unless he had faith in Christ, and made a profession of it; nor would Philip administer it to him without it; from whence it appears, that faith in Christ, and a profession of it, are necessary prerequisites to baptism: and this faith should not be a mere historical and temporary faith, nor a feigned one, but a believing in Christ with the heart unto righteousness; or such a faith by which a soul relinquishes its own righteousness, and looks and goes unto Christ for righteousness, life, and salvation, and rests and relies upon him for them; and it should be a believing in him with the whole heart, which does not design a strong faith, or a full assurance of faith, but an hearty, sincere, and unfeigned one, though it may be but weak, and very imperfect. And that this is necessary to baptism is manifest, because without this it is impossible to please God; nor can submission and obedience to it be acceptable to him: nor indeed can the ordinance be grateful and pleasing to unbelievers; for though it is a command that is not grievous, and a yoke that is easy, yet it is only so to them that believe; nor can any other see to the end of this ordinance, or behold the burial, and resurrection of Christ represented by it, or be baptized into his death, and partake of the benefits of it; and besides, whatsoever is not of faith is sin.
And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of
which though a short, is a very comprehensive summary of the articles of faith respecting the person, offices, and grace of Christ; as that he is a divine person, truly and properly God, the only begotten of the Father, of the same nature with him, and equal to him; that he existed from all eternity, as a divine person with him, and distinct from him; and that he is the Christ, the anointed of God, to be prophet, priest, and King; and is Jesus, the only Saviour of lost sinners, in whom he trusted and depended alone for righteousness, life, and salvation. This whole verse is wanting in the Alexandrian copy, and in five of Beza’s copies, and in the Syriac and Ethiopic versions; but stands in the Vulgate Latin and Arabic versions, and in the Complutensian edition; and, as Beza observes, ought by no means to be expunged, since it contains so clear a confession of faith required of persons to be baptized, which was used in the truly apostolic times. (John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible, Acts 8:37; emphasis mine)