Bible Men: The Ethiopian Eunuch, Acts 8:26-40

Isaiah 56:3-5 “…..neither let the eunuch say, Behold, I am a dry tree. For thus saith the LORD unto the eunuchs that keep my sabbaths, and choose the things that please me, and take hold of my covenant; Even unto them will I give in mine house and within my walls a place and a name better than of sons and of daughters: I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off.”

The Lord provided the means for salvation of this man by Philip, a disciple chosen by the apostles. He was one of seven men of “honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom” (Acts 6:5) who were to help in the work of furthering of the gospel. One day “the angel of the LORD spoke unto Philip, saying Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert.“(Acts 8:26) A pause to meditate upon the angel of the LORD speaking to Philip, guiding him for the work of the Lord. Oh to be so following Jesus that we would be guided into wonderful work.

Obediently, Philip went and there he found “a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship” (V27) But this man, even though he had such responsibilities, was not as interested in “treasures of earth” as he was in storing up “treasures in heaven”, and as such, he had come to worship. As yet he did not know the Lord Jesus as his Saviour, but our Lord had provided Philip for just such a moment.. “for whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent…? So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.(Romans 10:13-15,17)

The eunuch was returning to Ethiopia, and sitting in his chariot reading Isaiah the prophet when the “Spirit said unto Philip, go near, and join thyself to this chariot.” (V29) and immediately Philip “ran thither to him and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said Understandest thou what thou readest?” (V30) I love this, that Philip did not stroll over, but ran to the chariot. And that Philip asked if the eunuch understood what he was reading.. how many times have we heard people say they do not understand the bible..perhaps it is because they do not know the Saviour, and so they are not led by the Spirit, and their understanding is darkened.

The eunuch replies “how can I except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him.”(V31)

It is a wonderful thing that the eunuch desired to understand what he was reading, he wanted to know the teaching of the Word of God. And he was at a most precious portion of Isaiah, exactly that portion of scripture which pointed to the Lord Jesus Christ .Isaiah 53:7-8.”…he was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth: In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth.“(V32-33) The eunuch desired to know of whom the prophet was speaking, V34 “I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man?” Surely no one in scripture, indeed no one who has ever been born, can fulfill these scriptures except the Lamb of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, our Good Shepherd, who giveth his life for his sheep.

Here is Philip’s reason for being here, the most wonderful opportunity. God has prepared the heart of the eunuch by his reading of Isaiah, and He has provided a preacher to preach the good news, the gospel, to him. “Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus..”(V35) Surely as great a blessing to preach, as to receive. Best of all, the eunuch not only heard but believed the gospel.. and, when they came to a body of water, desired to be baptized, asking “See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?” (V36) and this is not a little water, this is a lot of water, here in a desert place (V26) Again, an example of God’s perfect timing, the eunuch’s conversion takes place where there is water in the desert, thus enabling him to be baptized.

Philip said to him “If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest.”(V37) Salvation depends on our believing with our heart, not just knowing the facts in our head.. knowledge is a wonderful thing, but we need to believe in Jesus, not know about Jesus. “And he answered and said “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”(V37) And so the scripture says, “…Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved…”(Acts 16:31)

And so, “he commanded the chariot to stand still: an thy went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him…”(V38) As has been mentioned previously, here is enough water to allow them to go down into the water, and “..they were come up out of the water..“(V39)

Baptism is not to be taken lightly, it is an outward confession of an inward reality, an identification with the Lord Jesus, his death, burial and resurrection. “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” (Romans 6:4)

And now, the eunuch is saved and baptized, not the reverse. Baptism comes after salvation. And then, his mission accomplished, “the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip”(V39) and “the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.” What a wonderful thing has happened, the eunuch will go back to Ethiopia to the house of the queen, no doubt to spread the gospel there too. We don’t know if any were saved, but surely some were, in the will of the Lord. For they would have seen a changed man, filled with the joy of knowing he is saved, and that he has eternal life. Praise the Lord!

vcg

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