8:25-40) Philip Goes After One Man - The Eunuch
The door of salvation has been opened for the Samaritans. When
Peter and John arrive on the scene, the Spirit of the covenant is
provided for the Samaritan believers. Now it is time for Philip to
move on. He heads out into the desert to locate one man. You can
be sure this leading is of the Lord. In this study we want to see what
this 'one man' business is all about.
This is Acts Study #19 (Acts
8:25-40) Philip Goes After One Man - The
First a parting word on the apostles. It says....
"So, when they [the apostles] had solemnly testified and
spoken the word of the Lord, they started back to Jerusalem, and
were preaching the gospel to many villages of the Samaritans."
Peter and John confirm the testimony of the gospel to the
Samaritan believers. Where it says they 'solemnly testified,' the
Greek is 'diamarturomai.' This word carries the idea of severity,
a charge to the people. They are to continue on with their
confession of faith.
So as the apostles journey back for Jerusalem, they preach the
gospel to a number of the Samaritan villages. The moment has
been seized. The Word of the Lord is spreading throughout the
Now let's pick up with Philip. It says ....
"But an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip saying, 'Get up and
go south to the road that descends from Jerusalem to Gaza.' (This
is a desert road.)"
... "An angel of the Lord." This angel is not to be confused
angel of the Lord' of the Old Testament. The Old Testament term 'Angel of the
Lord' was a theophanic expression concerning divine appearances
of God. It was used before the coming of Jesus. Once Jesus enters
the world, this expression is no longer used as a 'theophany.'
This angel is sent by the Lord to guide Philip to the next stage of his
Note: A theophany refers to an appearance of God in human or
angelic form. ['Theo' is God. 'Phan' is to show, or to see.]
appearances in the former testament are sometimes spoken of as a
.... "Spoke to Philip." Angels are messengers of the throne.
bring messages, and also carry out missions that are according to
God's purposes. Do they speak to believers? Probably much more
than we realize. But an angel of God will never offer himself as a
distraction from Jesus.
This is why the idea of 'spirit guides' found in new age teachings, or
the idea that we 'command' angels, as is found in some charismatic
teachings, sets dangerous tones for those unaware of how
deceptions work. Angels of God do not carry out our orders. They
are servants of the throne. While they render service to God's
people, they only receive their directives from God Himself.
The Ethiopian Eunuch
"So he got up and went; and there was an Ethiopian
eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who
was in charge of all her treasure; and he had come to Jerusalem to
worship, and he was returning and sitting in his chariot, and was
reading the prophet Isaiah."
.... The eunuch was either a Jew by birth or a proselyte to the
Jewish faith. In any event the new covenant belonged to him by
virtue of his being Jewish. This presents an interesting picture with
regard to the ancient Jews. Since the new covenant was theirs by
right of birth, they only needed to receive Jesus as Messiah. They
already believed in the One true God of Israel.
But for Gentiles, the story differs. Gentiles were often idolaters,
is, they believed in many Gods. So in order to be partakers of the
new covenant, the Gentiles had to turn from their idolatry to the
living God, and in doing this, they were to receive Jesus Christ as
Savior and Lord.
... There are plenty of myths, legends, and facts about Ethiopians.
If you recall, Miriam was struck with leprosy for her challenge to
Moses' marriage of a Cushite woman. (Cf. Num12:1-15)
You may also find it interesting that some years ago Israel
ransomed thousands of Ethiopian Jews (Falasha Jews), and
brought them to Israel. They soon discovered that many of the
Falasha Jews were Christian Jews. (It is the same with many of the
Jews brought to Israel from Russia.) Was God in this? The
underpinnings of religious practices of the Ethiopian Church is still
very much Jewish.
The Testimony of Isaiah 53
"..and he was returning and sitting in his chariot, and was
reading the prophet Isaiah. Then the Spirit said to Philip, 'Go up
and join this chariot.'"
.... Philip heard him reading. The eunuch was reading from the
Greek text. (LXX.), which was likely the Torah of the Ethiopian
Jews, just as it was for the Jews in Egypt.
.... It seems unlikely that the eunuch would not have heard about
Jesus, while in Jerusalem. But the times of salvation are in the
Lord's hands. This eunuch's appointment was near at hand. It had
to be the Lord's doing that the eunuch was reading from Isaiah.
More Jews have come to Jesus through the testimony of Isaiah
than from any other Scripture portion in the Bible.
"Philip ran up and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet,
and said, 'Do you understand what you are reading?' And he said,
'Well, how could I, unless someone guides me?' And he invited
Philip to come up and sit with him."
.... "Unless someone guides me." This reveals the Jewishness
the eunuch. The Jews were taught that to understand the Scriptures
properly they needed to listen to a master teacher. This was
probably why the eunuch had no hesitation in inviting Philip to the
chariot. The way Philip approached him, he likely thought the
evangelist was a teacher of sorts.
The Centerpiece of the Bible
"Now the passage of Scripture which he was reading was
this: ' He was led as a sheep to slaughter; and as a lamb before its
shearer is silent, so he does not open His mouth. In humiliation his
judgment was taken away; who will relate his generation? For his
life is removed from the earth.' The eunuch answered Philip and
said, 'Please tell me, of whom does the prophet say this? Of
himself or of someone else?'"
.... The eunuch's attention has been arrested at what can be called
'the centerpiece of the Bible.' Isaiah
53, is the clearest and most
concise picture of the work of the cross and of Jesus to be found in
the prophetic Scriptures.
The ancient Jews accorded this to Messiah. It was only after the
New Testament Church came into existence, that Jewish writers
later tried to make Isaiah
53, into a picture of the suffering Jews,
and not to Messiah. But no matter how hard they attempted to
do this, the text does not allow for such an interpretation. It is
speaking of an individual. And it is so clear in its description of
Jesus, that some Jewish Bibles even leave it out. (Along with other
prophetic writings that too clearly refer to Jesus.)
Note: A great many Jewish rabbis have been brought to Jesus by
this portion of Scriptures. But this was also true in the early Church.
During the time of the apostles, the teachings about the coming
Messiah dominated Jewish thinking. This is why Paul was able to
convince both synagogue leaders, and a great many of the Jewish
peoples that Jesus was Messiah. The Scriptures bore witness in
Here is an interesting passage from the Talmud (B. Sanh. 97b): "In
the school of Elijah it was taught: 'For six thousand years the world
will exist [there will be] two thousand years of Tohu [void], two
thousand years of Tora, and two thousand years of the Messiah.
But because of our sins, which are many, several of these
[Messianic years] have already passed.'"
"He Preached Jesus to Him"
"Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this
Scripture he preached Jesus to him."
.... What makes this so wonderful is the double witness. We have
the prophet setting forth the Messiah in unmistakable language, and
we have the gospel evangelist declaring Jesus as Messiah. Keep in
mind that the Bible of the early Jewish Church was the exact same
Bible used by all the Jews. Here we have a new covenant Jew
presenting the Messiah to another Jew. What better witness to a
Jew is there?
"As they went along the road they came to some water;
and the eunuch said, 'Look! Water! What prevents me from being
baptized?' And Philip said, 'If you believe with all your heart, you
may.' And he answered and said, 'I believe that Jesus Christ is the
Son of God.'"
.... Here is a clear example of how salvation works in the new
covenant. You have the anxious heart, seeking to know. You have
the gospel presented. You have the believing heart taking to itself
Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Out of this comes the overflowing
confession of, "I believe!" And then you have this new believer
instantly wanting to fulfill the command of baptism.
"And he ordered the chariot to stop; and they both went
down into the water, Philip as well as the eunuch, and he baptized
him. When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord
snatched Philip away; and the eunuch no longer saw him, but went
on his way rejoicing."
.... This is the first example we have of a believer entering into the
waters with a new believer, and baptizing the believer personally.
They were probably at an oasis.
... Two wonderfully amazing things happen at this point:
(1) The Spirit of the Lord 'snatched' Philip away. The term here is
'harpazo'. This word speaks of a sudden removal, or, to be
snatched away, seized up, caught up (into heaven), and such like. It
is the word Paul uses for the removal of believers in the second
coming of Jesus.
(2) The second thing is that the eunuch goes "on his way
What makes this wonderful is that it demonstrates a person's
completed faith. You can be sure when the eunuch arrives back
home, he will have a message to share with the Jewish community
in Ethiopia. People who are truly born again are unable to keep the
message to themselves.
"But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he passed
through he kept preaching the gospel to all the cities until he came
.... Once again we are looking at the apostolic era where amazing
things are taking place.
Philip the evangelist makes Caesarea his home. It is interesting to
later hear how Philip had four virgin daughters who were
themselves prophetesses. And the great tormenter of the Church,
that is, Saul who becomes our beloved Paul, stays with Philip for
awhile. (Cf. Acts
Let's complete our study for now. Feel free to comment, ask
questions, make observations, etc.
Previous: #18 (Acts 8:1-24) Persecution, Scattering, and Philip
Next: #20 (Acts 9:1-9) Saul the Tormentor Meets the Glory
This study on
Acts was originally part of a
series on the book of Acts given to members of
Hebraic Foundations from July 10, 2002 through January 19, 2003.
They were written by Pastor Buddy Martin, Founder and Senior Pastor of
Christian Challenge International.