Opening prayer: Please give us a biddable spirit, like Philip. Please give us a confidence and an exuberance in your Scriptures. Jesus saves a man through Scripture reading and Christian witness Whilst Luke mentions thousands in the early chapters, he's also very intent to focus on certain key individuals. God deals with us as individuals. [your story matters; it is validated by these kind of accounts] This is the start of 3 individual conversion stories, rather than mass conversions. Eunuch, Saul, Cornelius. Jesus saves. The great missionary in Acts is Jesus, working by His Spirit to gather in His people. He directed Philip, He prepared the eunuch, He directed him to be reading Isaiah. Remember, such diversity in methods through the book of Acts. [not like a conductor, who is always limited by the skill and willingness of players, but like a surgeon, who simply selects the instrument he wants to use] 1. 8.26-30 Jesus directs Philip and he obeys Him Gaza the last watering stop in southwest Israel before you hit the desert en route to Egypt. [the edge of the known world - big deal for Philip?] Eunuchs were castrated men kept either to look after harems, or as treasurers. His condition would not have allowed him full participation in Jewish worship, cf Deuteronomy 23.1 . But in the age to come, cf. Isaiah 56.3-5 . As a minister of Candace he is nevertheless a powerful man. Probably a diaspora God-fearer. Would have been limited to the Court of the Gentiles. Wealthy enough to have his own scroll. Anywhere from 16.5 to 145 feet long. [treasurer, chancellor of exchequer] What is the eunuch's status? Gentile? Clearly not completely, as it's only after Cornelius that there is a big celebration about the Gentiles. And he's reading Isaiah and gone to the temple. [imagine only getting into the lobby area] Is this a reaching of 'Hamitic' people? Ethiopia in ancient times; Cush, south of Egypt. 1000 miles from the Mediterranean. What is today called the Sudan. v29 the Spirit directs Philip to go and join him. Running, often associated with prophets. As is the later being carried away by the Spirit etc. 2. 8.31-40 Jesus uses Philip to preach the gospel from the Scriptures, and the eunuch believes and is baptised V30 emphatic, full of anxious emotion (greek has ara), like, 'do you understand what you're reading?!' V35 beginning with this Scripture, he told him the good news about Jesus. Here is our model! Christ in all the Scriptures. [what is our personal evangelism strategy? 'Would you like to read the Bible with me' - it's an open Bible] Focus of the Isaiah 53 quotation is simply (here), who is this describing? [not a detailed study from what we can see - but the plain question, what's going on here? Who is this about?] Has he heard about baptism in Jerusalem? Or has Philip mentioned it? v36 let's not forget that this man was pre-discipled as a God-fearing Gentile. This isn't necessarily a grounds for instantaneous baptisms. [but cf last week Simon was baptised; we're to baptise people who show credible profession of faith - knowing that only God knows the heart] This refutes both errors with evangelism: the hyper-calvinism encountered by Carey (God will save the heathen without your help or mine), and the restless formula-driven kind. Instead, the thoughtful, person-sensitive view seeing God orchestrating every conversation. Gently nudging things towards Jesus conversations. Such a simple question, 'do you understand what you are reading?' has amazing consequences. v40 until he reached Caesarea. Philip was still here 20 years later in Acts 21.8 , with his daughters etc. Clearly, we should be challenged by this passage about our readiness to read the Bible one to one, and our confidence in that method. Whom could you ask? Are you ready to ask early on in conversation? But there is something even bigger than that in this passage. Glory of God...Jesus saves, but He uses us as His instruments. FCF - but we resist the 'use me' posture. Find excuses either to run away from God like Jonah. Or to create elaborate reasons for why He doesn't want to use me. Or that God wants me to do exactly what I already want to do; i.e., either, 'I don't want to know what God wants me to do', or 'I already know what God wants and I'm doing it.' Philip is different to both of these. He waits upon God and follows His leading. But he - although already in Jerusalem doing ministry appointed by the apostles - does not shut himself into a nice little ministry box. Nature - the sin nature is selfish; I want what I want, not what God wants. Choice - we choose situations where we can feel 'safely out of reach' of God's challenge to faithful obedience. Realise that this can happen in very Christian ways. 'I'm a pastor, I teach the Bible, no need for me to reflect any more on what God wants since I'm already doing it.' Was that perhaps what the priest and Levite thought in the parable of the good samaritan? You can go to the end of the earth as a missionary and still basically be doing what you want - live in a place where no one can tell you what to do, where no one can question you since you are doing 'the Lord's work'. Philip shows us that, in Christian obedience, there is a certain openness to the leading of God. Not false leading, and God never leads in a way to contradict what He has clearly said is right and wrong. But it is a willingness to be lead out of our comfort zone, and often into relations with people that we would never have chosen or planned to meet. Person of Jesus - He is our example of resolutely following His Father's directing, even to death. He calls us to this; deny yourself. Work of Jesus - He shows us that God can be trusted and delighted in, since He has bought life and freedom and forgiveness for us. He is on the throne and so we are being directed by the risen, ruling King. It's not a cruel power telling you what to do - it's your heavenly Father. It's your Lord Jesus. What is specific repentance - change your mind about your decision making. Turn away from nice tidy Christian systems of who you spend time with. What is specific faith - trust that God has great purposes in what He calls you to, that He will be with you, that He has already walked the same path. Do you believe Jesus when He says, 'my yoke is easy and my burden is light'? Conclusion The great missionary in Acts is Jesus, working by His Spirit to gather in His people. He directed Philip, He prepared the eunuch, He directed him to be reading Isaiah. Philip is faithfully obedient; is ready to cross cultural lines; ready to share the word; ready to point to Jesus from the Scriptures. Read to lead off from where the other person's questions are at. How beautiful are his feet! Closing prayer: please give us feet made ready by the gospel of peace. Ready to follow your lead, ready to cross cultural barriers, ready to speak with new people, ready to walk out of our comfort zone. We trust that your yoke is easy and light, Lord Jesus.
26 Ἄγγελος δὲ κυρίου ἐλάλησεν πρὸς Φίλιππον λέγων• ἀνάστηθι καὶ πορεύου κατὰ μεσημβρίαν ἐπὶ τὴν ὁδὸν τὴν καταβαίνουσαν ἀπὸ Ἰερουσαλὴμ εἰς Γάζαν, αὕτη ἐστὶν ἔρημος. 27 καὶ ἀναστὰς ἐπορεύθη. καὶ ἰδοὺ ἀνὴρ Αἰθίοψ εὐνοῦχος δυνάστης Κανδάκης βασιλίσσης Αἰθιόπων, ὃς ἦν ἐπὶ πάσης τῆς γάζης αὐτῆς, ὃς ἐληλύθει προσκυνήσων εἰς Ἰερουσαλήμ, 28 ἦν τε ὑποστρέφων καὶ καθήμενος ἐπὶ τοῦ ἅρματος αὐτοῦ καὶ ἀνεγίνωσκεν τὸν προφήτην Ἠσαΐαν. 29 εἶπεν δὲ τὸ πνεῦμα τῷ Φιλίππῳ• πρόσελθε καὶ κολλήθητι τῷ ἅρματι τούτῳ. 30 προσδραμὼν δὲ ὁ Φίλιππος ἤκουσεν αὐτοῦ ἀναγινώσκοντος Ἠσαΐαν τὸν προφήτην καὶ εἶπεν• ἆρά γε γινώσκεις ἃ ἀναγινώσκεις; 31 ὁ δὲ εἶπεν• πῶς γὰρ ἂν δυναίμην ἐὰν μή τις ὁδηγήσει με; παρεκάλεσέν τε τὸν Φίλιππον ἀναβάντα καθίσαι σὺν αὐτῷ. 32 ἡ δὲ περιοχὴ τῆς γραφῆς ἣν ἀνεγίνωσκεν ἦν αὕτη• ὡς πρόβατον ἐπὶ σφαγὴν ἤχθη καὶ ὡς ἀμνὸς ἐναντίον τοῦ κείραντος αὐτὸν ἄφωνος, οὕτως οὐκ ἀνοίγει τὸ στόμα αὐτοῦ. 33 Ἐν τῇ ταπεινώσει [αὐτοῦ] ἡ κρίσις αὐτοῦ ἤρθη• τὴν γενεὰν αὐτοῦ τίς διηγήσεται; ὅτι αἴρεται ἀπὸ τῆς γῆς ἡ ζωὴ αὐτοῦ. 34 ἀποκριθεὶς δὲ ὁ εὐνοῦχος τῷ Φιλίππῳ εἶπεν• δέομαί σου, περὶ τίνος ὁ προφήτης λέγει τοῦτο; περὶ ἑαυτοῦ ἢ περὶ ἑτέρου τινός; 35 ἀνοίξας δὲ ὁ Φίλιππος τὸ στόμα αὐτοῦ καὶ ἀρξάμενος ἀπὸ τῆς γραφῆς ταύτης εὐηγγελίσατο αὐτῷ τὸν Ἰησοῦν. 36 ὡς δὲ ἐπορεύοντο κατὰ τὴν ὁδόν, ἦλθον ἐπί τι ὕδωρ, καί φησιν ὁ εὐνοῦχος• ἰδοὺ ὕδωρ, τί κωλύει με βαπτισθῆναι; 38 καὶ ἐκέλευσεν στῆναι τὸ ἅρμα καὶ κατέβησαν ἀμφότεροι εἰς τὸ ὕδωρ, ὅ τε Φίλιππος καὶ ὁ εὐνοῦχος, καὶ ἐβάπτισεν αὐτόν. 39 ὅτε δὲ ἀνέβησαν ἐκ τοῦ ὕδατος, πνεῦμα κυρίου ἥρπασεν τὸν Φίλιππον καὶ οὐκ εἶδεν αὐτὸν οὐκέτι ὁ εὐνοῦχος, ἐπορεύετο γὰρ τὴν ὁδὸν αὐτοῦ χαίρων. 40 Φίλιππος δὲ εὑρέθη εἰς Ἄζωτον• καὶ διερχόμενος εὐηγγελίζετο τὰς πόλεις πάσας ἕως τοῦ ἐλθεῖν αὐτὸν εἰς Καισάρειαν.
Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch 26 Now m an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Rise and go toward the south 1 to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is a desert place. 27 And he rose and went. And there was an n Ethiopian, a o eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, p who was in charge of all her treasure. q He had come to Jerusalem to worship 28 and was returning, seated in his chariot, and he was reading the prophet Isaiah. 29 And the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and join this chariot.” 30 So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” 31 And he said, r “How can I, unless someone s guides me?” And t he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. 32 Now the passage of the Scripture that he was reading was this: u “Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter and like a lamb before its shearer is silent, so he opens not his mouth. 33 In his v humiliation justice was denied him. Who can describe his generation? For his life is taken away from the earth.” 34 And the eunuch said to Philip, “About whom, I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?” 35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and w beginning with this Scripture x he told him the good news about Jesus. 36 And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! y What prevents me from being baptized?” 1 38 And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him. 39 And when they came up out of the water, z the Spirit of the Lord a carried Philip away, and the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing. 40 But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he passed through he preached the gospel to all the towns until he came to Caesarea.