The Ethiopian Eunuch
Philip was instructed to head towards the desert road leading to Gaza, some forty to fifty miles from Jerusalem. Being a desert there would be little or no water, no people, no sustenance. Then having encountered the man by God’s providence and the sovereign seeking of his lost sheep, he was then instructed to join the courtier in his chariot.
The Ethiopians were descendants of Cush, the son of Ham and were very dark-skinned people among whom there were Jews who traded. It had been part of the Persian empire and at one time fought Israel. It was a heathen people to whom God promised salvation and represented the Gentiles in a number of Scriptures. Gen.10:6-8, II Chron.14:9, Esther 1:1, I Kings 1:10-13, Ps.68:31, Isaiah 11:11,43:3, 45:14, Jer.13:23, 38:10,39:16-18, Amos 9:7. Ethiopia had many Falasha Jews who were transported to Israel when communists deposed their Emperor Haile Selassie. There have been Christians in the nation for centuries but for most of that time their religion has been a dead and corrupt orthodox one.
This man was the queen of Ethiopia’s treasurer, a eunuch and a proselyte Jew travelling to one of the feasts in Jerusalem. He was a stranger who had been circumcised and joined God’s people in worship. Much can be learned about “strangers” in both testaments-the name means non-Jew, foreigner, alien or guest. They were to obey Israel’s laws, be circumcised and treated well. Gen.17:12-14,Ex.12:19,48,49, 20:10, Lev.16:29, Num.15:14,15, 19:14, Deut.10:19, 11:14,29:22, II sam.22:45, I Kings 8:41, Ps.18:44, Is.14:1,56:6, Ezek.44:9, Matt.25:43, Eph.2:19.
We cannot assume he was alone. We know he was in a powerful chariot and likely armed.
The Spirit may have spoken to Philip either audibly or internally (c.f. Elijah)
Philip as the eunuch if he understood what he was reading because everything concerning faith depends on understanding c.f. the good soil in the parable are those who understood.
He was reading Isaiah 53-unsure whether in Greek or Hebrew.
He was reading aloud for his own benefit, or perhaps for anyone with him, because Philip heard him.
The eunuch suspected Philip could help him because the question implied that.
The eunuch’s problem was interpreting the prophecy.
Philip preached Christ, the fulfilment of all O.T. prophecy, who died and rose, poured out his spirit and commands repentance, faith and baptism with water.
The eunuch asked for baptism at the oasis.
The requirement for adult baptism is repentance and faith in Christ as the son of God.
Verse 38 by no means supports baptism by immersion because the prepositions can mean they went down TO the water and came up FROM the water. Implying they both went into the water would mean they were both submersed! Scripture teaches baptism by sprinkling or pouring signifying the sprinkling of Christ’s atoning blood and the pouring out of the Holy Spirit upon us from above.
The Spirit caused Philip to vanish because his work was done and he had other work to do namely preaching in all the coastal towns as far as Caesarea where he eventually settled (Acts 21:8). He was an evangelist which was an apostolic helper who preached and had miraculous power.
The eunuch went on his way rejoicing in the joy of God and no doubt to be a witness to his countrymen and found an Ethiopian church. Sadly it declined and became apostate within a few centuries.
Next study (DV) April 6th on Acts 9:1-22