Philip and the Ethiopian
26 Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Go south to the road–the desert road–that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” 27 So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians. This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, 28 and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the book of Isaiah the prophet. 29 The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.” 30 Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked. 31 “How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. 32 The eunuch was reading this passage of Scripture: “He was led like a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before the shearer is silent, so he did not open his mouth. 33 In his humiliation he was deprived of justice. Who can speak of his descendants? For his life was taken from the earth.” 34 The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?” 35 Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus. 36 As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water. Why shouldn’t I be baptized?” 38 And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him. 39 When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing. 40 Philip, however, appeared at Azotus and traveled about, preaching the gospel in all the towns until he reached Caesarea.
Verse 37? Where are you?
Some late manuscripts: Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” The eunuch answered, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”
A lot of commentators believe this was an addition (interpolation) – the scribe copying it felt it should be in there. It was not explicit, rather implicit, so the scribe may have added it explicitly. (Thus, it’s a footnote.)
So, in Acts 8, after the persecution in Jerusalem, the believers were scattered through Judea, some to Samaria. We saw some of the history of the conflict between Jerusalem and Samaria – and that this spread of the gospel is the first of the world-wide spread of the gospel.
Samaria was a hybrid branch of Judaism – not totally pagan, not totally Jewish. So the Jews didn’t want to deal with them and the Samaritans liked it that way. But it was their time to receive the good news. So, thanks to the persecution of the believers in Jerusalem, the gospel came to Samaria.
Philip came to Samaria and the people saw the signs and wonders, and heard the gospel. It was like Jesus walking around again doing the same works – it was Philip empowered by the Spirit walking around continuing Jesus’ work.
There was Stephen and Philip also – wherever there is true belief in Christ, unclean spirits will be cast out, healings will happen, etc. What was, will be. What happened, will happen. There surely will be some signs of the gospel – Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
Some (Cessationists) believe that these kinds of miracles have since ceased to exist.
There was in Jerusalem at that time a magician – Simon the sorcerer – who had tapped into the occult (like the magicians in Exodus with Moses). But GOD is all powerful and all knowing – and where his power is/was, people were healed, spirits cast out, there was great joy in the city. Why? Well, why wouldn’t there be?
If someone is troubled by unclean spirits and suddenly set free… If Grandma hears the gospel and believes and is spiritually restored…
Even Simon was impressed and believed.
This was even without the baptism and the fullness of the Holy Spirit. We know that the Jerusalem church had heard of the receipt of the gospel – so they sent people down (like Philip) to lay hands on the people and pray for receipt of the Holy Spirit.
At Pentecost, there were great signs and wonders and speaking in tongues. And when Peter preached to the Gentiles at Cornelius’ house, it was the same. And here in Samaria, we can safely assume it would have been the same.
Simon wanted to buy this power from the disciples, but Philip said, “God save you from your bitterness.” Hopefully he repented of his sin but we aren’t sure.
Here Samaria is in a bit of a revival! Philip may have been tempted to stay, but it wasn’t to be. There were many believers and even house churches begun there, so a Spirit of the Lord came and told Philip to go down another road. The road led to the final settlement before the barren desert of Egypt.
Now, Philip is brought out of this publicity and heads out alone toward Gaza.
There was an Ethiopian eunuch driving down in a “chariot” – but it was probably more like a cart and ox. Philip ran to catch up to him.
Eunuch – he’s no longer a “man” – physical deformity prevents him from having kids. But, some commentators thought it was just a term for an “official.” However, he’s called a eunuch official – so it would be redundant to repeat that. These eunuchs would be prevented from going into the temple.
He was a servant of Candace (Kan-dake – a title like Pharaoh) – The queen served in place of the Son. The Son was so “holy” that he didn’t dirty his hands with issues of state. So the queen was the actual ruler.
So, this eunuch – was a Gentile (strike 1), a eunuch (strike 2) – he would have been prevented from even entering the court of the Gentiles. Yet, here he is reading from Isaiah – he probably bought a scroll (very expensive – a scroll of Isaiah would take about a YEAR to reproduce). If he’d bought one it would have not been cheap.
Isaiah 53 – he’s reading. Philip hears from the Spirit “go to him.” Philip says, “Do you understand?” Eunuch, “How can I? No one taught me.” He’s reading the portion of Isaiah about the Suffering Servant (Jesus). He’s asks Philip, “Who is this? Himself? Someone else?” Wow, great opportunity to share the gospel right there. And Philip doesn’t waste the opportunity. In fact, Jesus had quoted this same Scripture before his death and said, “This must be fulfilled.”
He was like a Lamb, a sheep before the slaughter. He didn’t open his mouth. Jesus was (is) a King – the King of Kings.
Philip takes this great opportunity to detail the historical reality of Jesus’ suffering, trial before Pilate (who tried three times to clear his name), the egging on of the religious leaders (”If you don’t you’re no friend of Caesar!” – Pilate was worried about his politics – so he did it), his death and resurrection.
We know that Jesus’ death would be our own salvation – it was ordained (predestined, appointed) for him to die. Just because this was ordained, doesn’t mean he didn’t have a choice – he DID have a choice (remember his stress in Gethsemane). The Spirit of God can be resisted. But he chose to go and die.
Jesus also had preached to two disciples on the road to Emmaus and opened their eyes about him – using all the Scriptures to show them him.
Jesus says, “You search the Scriptures, thinking that in them you have life. But you don’t realize that they are all about me and you refuse to come to me so that you may have life.” (Seriously, Jesus is in EVERY book of the Bible.)
Now, Philip had probably spoken about baptism to the eunuch. He’d talked about Pentecost and Peter’s preaching of the meaning of the signs and wonders (prophecy from Joel). Peter had shown that Jesus was their Messiah.
Now, all these people were not liars, murderers, cheaters, they were “religious people.” But Peter showed them that they’d actually murdered God. They’d murdered their Messiah. This burdened them heavily and they said, “What should we do?” Peter said, “Repent – primarily of that murder and also your sins – and be baptized and receive the Holy Spirit.”
Clearly, Philip had been preaching this to the eunuch.
Also, remember that Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist. And when he came up from the water, the Spirit of God had come upon him.
And so, along the way, they came upon some water and the eunuch said, “Hey hey, here’s some water! Let’s do it!” And Philip said, “OK.”
There’s no need for a gap to exist between belief in Christ and baptism. Here, it happens immediately. Also, in jail with Peter, the jailer was baptized immediately.
These are the steps of obedience:
- Receipt of the Holy Spirit
All of these things go together.
Clearly this was a baptism by immersion for the eunuch – the eunuch went down under water (died to his old self – buried under water), and came back up (rose to new life in Christ). Then Philip was taken away – the eunuch was probably shocked initially, but then went on rejoicing and probably became a good missionary where he went.
Philip later got married and had 4 daughters who prophesied. He settled in Caesarea.
This is the account of the further progression of the gospel – not a full-on “mission” to the Gentiles – but clearly an indication of God’s full desire to preach the gospel to all the world. The eunuch went on with the joy of the Lord and was able to proclaim the good news to the people back home.
It’s interesting that Philip could be brought away from this HUGE revival and on to ONE guy. God may also want you to speak to ONE person – who they themselves might go on to preach to millions.
Nicky Gumble “Everybody knows Billy Graham. But nobody knows the name of the one who preached to Billy Graham. Just think about how important THAT guy is.”
Richard Wurmbrand: a Jewish convert who spent many years in Romanian prisons and was a great witness. Previously another man had prayed sincerely to reach one man who would reach others for God. This was Richard – who had previously been a playboy.
There was a young boy walking along the shore throwing starfish back one by one. (A freak of nature had washed millions onto the beach).
A man said, “This is impossible – what difference does this make?” The boy threw another back “It made a difference to THAT one.”
What difference can me make?
Who is ONE that you can reach?
Pastor – “I was a slave to drugs, lust, sin. I had been brought up a Christian. ‘Do this, do that. Sin, confess, repent, sin, confess, repent.’ But someone had reached me.”
Michael Brown: Some friends had invited “anti-Christ” to church once – he was open to Christ, received him, and as a Jew started conversing with rabbis. He tried to persuade them and convince them. Even today, in some Jewish areas Isaiah is not even read because it is so obviously about Jesus. Even Christianity has not been good to the Jews. Even Martin Luther said terrible things about them – he had hoped that they would be converted in his lifetime but they weren’t. We know that in these days, finally, many Jews are recognizing Jesus as the Messiah. These days, Michael Brown has become one of the foremost experts on Messianic Christianity – one of the leading preachers and teachers to the Jews about Christ.
“When we don’t consider the END of something (like a hole in my coat – whenever I pass people, they think I’m crazy) – there is a consequence for DOING or NOT doing things.”
Hyper grace = Grace that is too far, it’s not grace but license (People don’t want to repent of sin – gay Christianity is a prime example. This is not to put them down but to show that if people continually live IN sin and don’t repent, there is no change, there is no grace. Jesus came to save us FROM our sins – not IN our sins as we continue IN them.) There will ALWAYS be a struggle of spirit vs. flesh because we aren’t perfect yet.
We can’t say, “Eh, God loves me. I can do what I want.” No. It doesn’t work like that. We struggle against sin, even if we lose – we don’t embrace it.
There is a story of a pastor – depressed, got drunk, had a homosexual one-night stand, went home, his wife got AIDS, his baby got AIDS, they all died.
Where there is life, there is hope, where there is hope there is life. This is not a message of condemnation – Timothy “Take heed to your faith, and your doctrine, because by it you will save yourselves and save others.”
Thank you God for grace. Forgive us when we fall.