Philip the evangelist had gone down to the city of Samaria and won many souls for Christ. Now, God had another assignment for him. Having been instructed by the Holy Spirit, he left Samaria to go to a desert road to preach to an Ethiopian Eunuch, who would come to believe in the Lord Jesus and would be baptized. After that, the Spirit took him away, and he preached along the coastal towns from Azotus to Caesarea. Philip’s preaching was chosen by Luke to exemplify the evangelistic work undertaken by the Christians in Judea and Samaria.
Did You Know...?
1. Gaza (8:26) was the southernmost city of Palestine, in the territory of the ancient Philistines.
2. Ethiopia/Candace (8:27): “The ancient kingdom of Ethiopia lay between Aswan and Khartoum and corresponds to modern Nubia (not Abysinia). It was ruled by a queen mother who had the dynastic title Candace and ruled on behalf of her son the king, since the king was regarded as the child of the sun and therefore too holy to become involved in the secular functions of the state” [ref]
3. Azotus (8:40) was the old Philistine city of Ashdod, near the seacoast, between Gaza and Joppa. [ref]
4. Caesarea (8:40) was a seaport constructed by king Herod which later became the capital of Palestine. This was also where Philip finally settled (Acts 21:8) and where Peter preached to Cornelius the gentile centurion (Acts 10).
How did the preaching of Philip to the Ethiopian eunuch mark another breakthrough in the advance of the gospel?Hide Answer
The Ethiopian eunuch was probably the first African convert to the Christian faith. Not only had the gospel reached Judea and Samaria, it had now also reached a foreigner.
In what ways was this special mission from God to Philip very different from the ministry in Samaria?Hide Answer
1. City versus desert road.
2. Multitude versus one man.
3. Samaritans versus an Ethiopian.
4. Conversion through abundant miracles versus conversion through preaching alone.
Go through the following verses and record what we can learn from the Ethiopian eunuch. a. Verse 27 b. Verse 28 c. Verses 31 and 34 d. Verses 36-37 e. Verse 39Hide Answer
a. He was devout and zealous in worshipping God. He had traveled a long distance to Jerusalem to worship, and was returning home. Even though he was a man of great authority in his own country, he was not content with his status, power, and wealth. He had a heart that thirsted for the true God, and was willing to make the effort to come to Jerusalem to worship.
Today, in times of prosperity, we may feel that we do not really need God. As a result, we may be reluctant to put in effort to worship or serve God in our daily lives. If the Eunuch, who lived so far from Jerusalem and had all the power and wealth that others could only wish to have, traveled so far in order to worship God, how much more should we grasp every opportunity to draw near to God? We ought not let our comfortable lives or busy schedules become a reason for neglecting personal or family devotions and for missing church services.
b. The eunuch thirsted for the words of God. Having in his hands the OT Scripture, which was not easy to obtain in those days, he did not waste any time but read the Scriptures even as he was riding in a chariot.
Most of us probably have several copies of the Bible at home. How often do we pick up the Bible and study it? Do we use our busy schedule as an excuse for not studying the Bible every day? May the eunuch’s thirst for God’s word motivate us to do the same.
c. The eunuch was not just reading the Scripture to fulfill some religious duty. He was studying and thinking about the word of God, and he wanted answers to his questions.
Furthermore, although he was a man of great authority, the eunuch was humble enough to admit his ignorance. He invited Philip to sit with him on the chariot and asked Philip to guide him to understand the words of God (8:30-31).
When you study the Bible, do you ponder on the meaning of the passage and have a heart to search for answers? Are you humble enough to ask questions and seek guidance?
d. After Philip had answered his question and preached to him, the eunuch readily accepted the Lord Jesus Christ and immediately requested for baptism.
When we have understood the words of God, we should not hesitate to carry them out (Ps 119:60). We need to immediately put what we have read and heard into practice. That is what true faith means.
e. The eunuch rejoiced after baptism because he had come to know Jesus Christ and had received salvation. Are you rejoicing as you walk on your heavenly journey? Or have you lost sight of the glorious hope in Christ and always feel downcast?
What lessons can we learn from Philip the evangelist?Hide Answer
1. Obedience: The angel of the Lord told Philip to arise and go to the desert. Verse 27 writes, “So he arose and went.” Philip did not hesitate or question the Lord’s instruction, even though he was not told why he should leave the cities and go to the desert. When Philip saw the eunuch, the Spirit told Philip to go near and overtake the chariot. So Philip ran to the chariot. He followed the Spirit’s guidance every step of the way. To be effective evangelists, we need to be close to the Lord and submit to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. We also need to have a heart that readily obeys God’s commands. Then we can be the Lord’s useful instruments.
2. Well-Versed in the Scripture: Philip was able to preach about Jesus directly from the passage that the eunuch had a question about. When we preach the gospel, we need to equip ourselves with the knowledge of God’s word. Only then can we readily meet any situation that comes our way and address the needs of the people we are preaching to.
3. Moving On: Just as the Lord told Philip to leave Samaria to go to the desert, the Spirit caught Philip away after the eunuch’s baptism. God had work lined up for Philip to do, and Philip submissively carried out one new assignment after another according to the Spirit’s guidance. He was always on the move and did not slack in his effort to preach the gospel. He did not tarry to enjoy the fruits of his labor. As Christians and servants of God, we need to learn to “forget those things which are behind and reach forward to those things which are ahead” (Php 3:13). If we only linger in our past accomplishments, we will not be able to make progress in our spiritual growth or service.
Looking at this passage, what are some of the works of the Holy Spirit in a person’s conversion?Hide Answer
The Holy Spirit guided Philip throughout the entire process of the eunuch’s conversion. He called Philip, instructed him to go to the chariot, and caught Philip away after the eunuch’s baptism. He also made arrangements so that the work could go smoothly. The eunuch just happened to be reading the passage on the suffering servant in the Book of Isaiah (the perfect passage to use to preach about Jesus). The Holy Spirit also moved the heart of the eunuch to readily accept Philip’s message. When the eunuch accepted Philip’s preaching, they happened to come to some water (36), which led to an immediate baptism.
From the story of the eunuch’s conversion, we can see that the Holy Spirit is actively involved in a person’s conversion. He chooses the person, sends and leads the preacher, arranges the opportunity, and moves the heart of the seeker.
Recall your own experience of the guidance of the Holy Spirit in your preaching.
What position did the Ethiopian eunuch hold in his country?Hide Answer
He was a man of great authority and was the treasurer for the queen of Ethiopia (27).
1. Every soul is precious in the sight of God (1Tim 2:3-4; Lk 15:7-10).
2. God looks at our hearts and He is not far from us. Everyone who sincerely seeks Him will find Him. (Jer 29:13, Mt 7:7; Acts 17:27).
God sent Philip to go to the desert to preach to just one man. What does this teach us about God?
How would you preach Jesus from the prophecy in Isaiah 53:7-8?
We can infer from this story some elements of a correct and Biblical baptism. What are they?Hide Answer
1. Belief in Jesus Christ (37).
2. Baptism in natural water (36).
3. Full immersion in water. “They went down into the water” (38) and “came up out of the water” (39).
4. The baptist needs to have the Holy Spirit of God (29; cf. 6:3,5).
Consider the eunuch’s response after his conversion and baptism (39). Why did he have such a response?
How can we maintain such an attitude in our walk of faith?Hide Answer
We need to constantly remember the saving grace of God and fix our eyes on the eternal glory that awaits us. Then our current troubles in life would not take away the joy that we have in Christ (Rom 8:18). Furthermore, we have the Holy Spirit to comfort us and strengthen us. He is able to provide us joy (Rom 14:17; Gal 5:22). So we can experience and maintain the joy in Christ if we constantly pray and walk in the Spirit.
Think about the steps in Philip’s preaching to the Ethiopian eunuch: respond to the call (26), approach (29), recognize the situation (30), start a conversation (30), take hold of the opportunity (31-34), preach (35), follow through (37), reap (38), continue on (39-40). Think of a modern scenario based on the above steps. What areas do you still need to work on in your preaching?