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Acts 8:26-40 (web)

Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch

8:26 But an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, "Arise, and go toward the south
to the way that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza. This is a desert." 
8:27 He arose and went; and behold, there was a man of Ethiopia,
a eunuch of great authority under Candace, queen of the Ethiopians,
who was over all her treasure, who had come to Jerusalem to worship. 
8:28 He was returning and sitting in his chariot, and was reading the prophet Isaiah. 
8:29 The Spirit said to Philip, "Go near, and join yourself to this chariot." 
8:30 Philip ran to him, and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet, and said,
"Do you understand what you are reading?" 
8:31 He said, "How can I, unless someone explains it to me?" 
He begged Philip to come up and sit with him. 
8:32 Now the passage of the Scripture which he was reading was this, 
"He was led as a sheep to the slaughter. As a lamb before his shearer is silent, 
So he doesn't open his mouth. 
8:33 In his humiliation, his judgment was taken away.
Who will declare His generation? For his life is taken from the earth." Isaiah 53:7,8
8:34 The eunuch answered Philip, 
"Who is the prophet talking about? About himself, or about someone else?" 
8:35 Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture, preached to him Jesus. 


8:36 As they went on the way, they came to some water, and the eunuch said, 
"Behold, here is water. What is keeping me from being baptized?" 
8:37 {TR adds "Philip said, 'If you believe with all your heart, you may.' 
He answered, 'I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.'"} 
8:38 He commanded the chariot to stand still, and they both went down into the water, 
both Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him. 
8:39 When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, 
and the eunuch didn't see him any more, for he went on his way rejoicing. 
8:40 But Philip was found at Azotus. Passing through, 
he preached the gospel to all the cities, until he came to Caesarea. 


Knowing God's Specific Will

In his fulfilling the Great Commission Philip first traveled north to Samaria. Now he was called to go south of Jerusalem. As we follow God's general commands, He will give us more specific guidance along the way. Philip didn't have to be told of the Ethiopian he would encounter later on. He just had to be told to head south to Gaza. So also we may not need to know the application of the Bible to our specific situation until we have decided to follow its general commands. As we commit ourselves to following the Spirit in accordance with the Word of God, He will give us more specific guidance as we encounter situations along the way. Go and make disciples of all nations and as you do the Spirit will lead you concerning the specifics.

Application Oriented Faith

In view of the fact that this man was a foreigner and no doubt a busy man, being the treasurer of an entire country, yet he took time not only to go to Jerusalem to worship, but even studied the Bible on the way, it is apparent that he was not like the hypocrites among the Jews, but rather a sincere believer in the God of Israel. In fact his behavior is more commendable than many Christians who complain that they are too busy and never find time to study the Bible. Notice also the manner in which he studied. He didn't simply read as if fulfilling a religious duty, but asked questions as to the application of the text. It is application oriented faith which God requires of us. And indeed we see from his reaction to Philip's explanation of text that he immediately wanted to apply it right on the spot. Whereas many Christians will often have an application right in front of them and yet procrastinate in acting on it.

Getting Baptized

Have you come to faith in Christ? What prevents you from being baptized? Get over it! Now most churches require you to go through a whole program of courses before they will baptize you. But those are good to go through. For few do as much Bible study as the Ethiopian did before he got baptized. And the churches want to make sure new converts are genuine and have a clear understanding of the faith. But whatever your situation, if you want to follow Christ you must be baptized. Yes I know, those with a muslim background will be threatened with death, and those with a Jewish background will be treated as if dead, and there are many other such scenarios where the baptized will face persecution. That's just part of the Christian life. 

Getting ReBaptized

Those who, like myself, were baptized as infants must be rebaptized. For infant baptism is unBiblical. It is not a result of the person putting their faith in Christ. It is not a profession of faith of the one being baptized. And Peter speaking of the baptism associated with salvation says that it involves "pledge of a good conscience toward God." (1Pet 3:21) But no such pledge is made by infants. 

The Euch's Profession of Faith

vs 37 "If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest."
And he answered and said, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God."

This verse is missing in many modern translations which are based upon a slightly different greek text than the KJV. But the verse is helpful in understanding that baptism should not be given those who doubt or who have merely an experimental sort of faith. It is meant to be likened to Israel's Jordan River crossing into the promise land, but often many take it as the Red Sea crossing only to die in the desert of nominalism.

Isaiah 53

This is perhaps the most explicit prophecy describing Jesus' earthly ministry. Jesus fits this so clearly that the passage will not be read in Jewish synogogues today. You can view the chapter in a poetic form at By God's providence Philip was in the right place at the right time for this man to hear the gospel.

Philip Taken Away

It could not be said that the job of discipling this man unto maturity in Christ was complete upon his baptism. But each has a role in the body of Christ. Some plant and some water. Inevitably God causes the growth. Having completed his particular role in this matter God sent Philip on to the next job. The Ethiopian was left alone, as if abandoned. Yet it was no doubt apparent to him that he was not alone but that God had proven to be watching him all along leading him to faith in Christ. So he went on his way rejoicing. He had intended to worship God in Jerusalem, but ended up worshipping Him on the way. As we travel on the road of life in the fear of God, He will bring others to us at the appropriate time for our edification. Let us not despair when saints come and go from our lives, for like Philip there will be both those you edify and are edified by, whom you will see no more in this life, but let us let God arrange things as He will. 

The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources Jun 09,2023