Good News for Outsiders

KEY VERSE: “Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.” —Acts 8:35


PHILIP was one of the deacons selected by the apostles to take care of the material needs of the brethren. But when the selection was made, one of the criteria used was that they were to be of honest report, full of the Holy Spirit, and wisdom. Philip apparently also had the ability and the zeal to preach the Gospel. There was much persecution of the church spearheaded by Saul, who later became the Apostle Paul, and as a result many of the brethren were scattered. Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached the Gospel there. Many people were moved by his teaching and the miracles he performed, giving authenticity to his ministry. While thus busily engaged, “an 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

We think it would have been only natural for Philip to wonder why the Lord would send him away from such a profitable ministry to a sparsely populated area in the desert. Nevertheless the record indicates that he immediately obeyed and went where the Lord had directed him. When he arrived he saw “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.” (vs. 27) We can only speculate that the eunuch was a Jewish proselyte and that he had come to Jerusalem to honor a feast day. Because he did, we are privileged to learn something of the way the Lord calls those with whom he is dealing.

While he was in Jerusalem, the eunuch must have been exposed to the precepts of the Law as taught in the distorted interpretation of that time. As we know, much of what he heard would be contrary to the teaching of the Gospel, but this was overruled by the Lord. It would seem reasonable that if the Lord so desired, he could have had one of the apostles speak to such an important man of the world as the eunuch, but he did not; he used a deacon instead. Apparently the Lord waited until the eunuch’s heart and mind were in a receptive mood resulting from study and meditation. He then used Philip, who was zealous and eager to serve, to be the instrument to accomplish his will. Let us be like Philip in our Christian lives so that when the Lord asks, “Whom shall I send?” we can answer, “Here am I [Lord], send me.”—Isa. 6:8

When Philip came upon him, the eunuch was reading from the Prophet Isaiah: “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.” (Acts 8:32,33) The eunuch was puzzled about the meaning of the scripture, and he was especially interested of whom the prophet was speaking.

The fifty-third chapter of Isaiah is a prophecy concerning Jesus. It tells first of his humiliation and rejection by the nation of Israel, because he was not the warrior-type they were expecting. They hoped the deliverer would, by force if necessary, deliver them from their oppressors. But even though rejected, he died for their sins, becoming the great offering for the sins of the world. We read, “Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he bath put him to grief; when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.” (vs. 10) We may suppose that Philip showed him the circumstantial and exact accomplishment of the prophecy, in the person, doctrine, conduct, sufferings, death, and resurrection of Jesus. And in conjunction with his explanation of the twelfth verse, he must have pointed out to the eunuch the privilege and wonderful opportunity the Heavenly Father was holding out to him to become a part of the body of Christ.

Philip must also have explained the symbolism of baptism, telling him that it pictured the complete surrender of his own will and accepting instead the will of the Heavenly Father (Rom. 6:3-5), for when water was available Philip baptized him, and the text states that the eunuch went away rejoicing.

History tells us that the Gospel was preached and that there were converts in Ethiopia, and it seems reasonable to assume that the eunuch was the person the Lord used to bring the Gospel to that land.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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