First Baptist Church Laredo
6-10-2020 - Wednesday Bible Study
- In our previous study, we look at Philip’s ministry in the region of Samaria. Philip was one of the deacons chosen to serve the church at Jerusalem. When persecution broke out in Jerusalem, the believers began to scatter. Philip went to Samaria and spread the gospel to the Samaritan. This was a major turn for the early church as these non-Jews received the gospel and the Holy Spirit came upon them. This meant that the gospel was not just for the Jewish people, the gospel was for Jews and Samaritans.In this lesson, we are going to look at Philip’s second evangelical mission. This episode, especially for the Jewish reader, would have been even more shocking.1. Philip’s unusual encounter. (Acts 8:26-29)A. The angel of the Lord gave instructions to Philip. (Acts 8:26)26 An angel of the Lord spoke to Philip: “Get up and go south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” (This is the desert road.)We don’t know where Philip was when he received this instruction. He might have still been in Samaria or perhaps he had gone back to Jerusalem. The point is not the distance, rather the point is that Philip was directed to do some by God and he was obedient.B. Philip encounters a Ethiopian eunuch. (Acts 8:27)27 So he got up and went. There was an Ethiopian man, a eunuch and high official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of her entire treasury. He had come to worship in JerusalemWhy point out that this man was a eunuch? Eunuch were prohibited from entering into the temple.1 “No man whose testicles have been crushed or whose penis has been cut off may enter the Lord’s assembly.Not only was he a foreigner, not a Jew, but also, he would have been unable to worship God freely according to Jewish law. He was a high official in the kingdom of the Ethiopians, like a finance minister. Ethiopia is known as Cush in the Old Testament and would have spanned from modern day southern Egypt to northern Sudan.<show map>In ancient writings, Ethiopians lived at the end of the world. They were the end of the known, inhabited world. The gospel had come to the Samaritans and now it was being taken to the ends of the world. This Ethiopian eunuch had come to Jerusalem to worship God.C. The Ethiopian had a copy of the writings of Isaiah. (Acts 8:28)28 and was sitting in his chariot on his way home, reading the prophet Isaiah aloud.We don’t know how, but somehow, this man had come into possession of the writings of Isaiah. This would not have been something easily obtained. He was reading it, which indicates that he was highly educated. Isaiah would not have been written in the Ethiopian language. He was wealthy because he had his own personal chariot.D. Philip is instructed to approach the chariot. (Acts 8:29)29 The Spirit told Philip, “Go and join that chariot.”It would have required boldness to approach a chariot. Common people would not be allowed to address high officials without a summons. Philip obeyed the command of the Holy Spirit and he approaches the chariot.E. Philip inquired as to the understanding of the Ethiopian of what he was reading. (Acts 8:30-31)30 When Philip ran up to it, he heard him reading the prophet Isaiah, and said, “Do you understand what you’re reading?” 31 “How can I,” he said, “unless someone guides me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.One of the most honest and profound statements you could ever hear. How can you understand unless you have someone guide you? How can you hear without a preacher? How can you understand the Word of God accurately unless someone who has been taught and discipled teaches you?F. The Ethiopian official was reading Isaiah 53:7-8. (Acts 8:32-33)32 Now the Scripture passage he was reading was this: He was led like a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb is silent before its shearer, so he does not open his mouth. 33 In his humiliation justice was denied him. Who will describe his generation? For his life is taken from the earth.This was a key and favorite passage for the early church. It speaks of the unjust humiliation of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. It speaks of his sufferings. The Ethiopian was having trouble understanding what Isaiah was talking about.G. The eunuch had a question about the passage from Isaiah and Philip uses the passage as a launch to share the gospel. (Acts 8:34-35)34 The eunuch said to Philip, “I ask you, who is the prophet saying this about—himself or someone else?” 35 Philip proceeded to tell him the good news about Jesus, beginning with that Scripture.Who was Isaiah talking about? Was he talking about himself or someone else? Inquiring minds want to know. Philip was able to use this passage from Isaiah to give the eunuch a gospel presentation.H. The eunuch received the gospel and was baptized. (Acts 8:36)36 As they were traveling down the road, they came to some water. The eunuch said, “Look, there’s water. What would keep me from being baptized?”The Ethiopian is the one who suggests baptism when they had come to water. How did he know he needed to be baptized? It is unknown, but perhaps Philip discussed it with him. Perhaps he knew that it was a Jewish custom for conversion.Question, does anyone’s copy of the Scriptures include verse 37? The CSB version I use doesn’t have verse 37 because it is not in all the manuscripts. Some manuscripts include this statement:Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” The eunuch answered, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”I. Philip baptized the Ethiopian eunuch. (Acts 8:38)38 So he ordered the chariot to stop, and both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him.This was a bold step. Philip must have been convinced that this man really did believe in the name of Jesus. Two quick thoughts here: Philip baptized Simon Magnus in the previous lesson and here he baptized the eunuch. Simon was not a genuine profession; however, the eunuch, from all indications seems to be genuine. The point is the individual is responsible for believing and confessing Jesus. This is a decision each individual must make. Second, false professions of faith should not cause us to stop sharing the gospel. We are not responsible for the response to the gospel. We are responsible to share the gospel.J. Philip is transported elsewhere to continue his ministry. (Acts 8:39-40)39 When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord carried Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him any longer but went on his way rejoicing. 40 Philip appeared in Azotus, and he was traveling and preaching the gospel in all the towns until he came to Caesarea.The eunuch was rejoicing in the Lord and in the experience he had with Philip. The Bible doesn’t tell us what happened to this man. Some second century writings indicate he might have become a missionary to the Ethiopians. We do know of the gospel’s spread in that region of the world. It could be, just as Simon Magus rejected the gospel and developed an false religion, this man accepted the gospel and was responsible for many people coming to Christ.As for Philip, he next appears in Azotus which is about 20 miles north of Gaza. He continues his work of preaching the gospel as he travels north until he reaches Caesarea. We won’t hear about him again for another 20 years, where he appeared in Acts 21:8 as the father of four unmarried prophetesses. By this time, Philip had received a title. He had become know as Philip the Evangelist. This passage emphasizes the need for personal evangelism.Here is the reality. You probably come in contact with more non-Christians than I do. It cannot be just the job of the pastors and church staff to be gospel witnesses. If we are going to reach the world for Christ, it is going to be all of us being responsible to share the gospel. We can’t let opportunities to share the gospel slip by us.
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