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The Ethiopian Eunuch (Acts 8)

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Acts 8

Saul persecutes the church
And Saul approved of his execution. And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church which was in Jerusalem, and except the apostles, they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria. 2 And devout men buried Stephen and made great lamentation over him. 3 But Saul treated the church shamefully, entering into every house, dragging out men and women and putting them into prison.
   4 Therefore those who were scattered went about preaching the word. 5 And Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed to them the Christ. 6 And the crowds, when they heard and saw the signs which he did, gave heed with one accord to the things that were spoken by Philip. 7 For from many of those that had unclean spirits, the unclean spirits came out, crying with a loud voice; and many that were paralyzed or lame were healed. 8 And there was much joy in that city.

Simon the sorcerer
   9 But there was a certain man, Simon by name, who previously used sorcery in that city and amazed the people of Samaria, boasting that he himself was somebody great. 10 To him they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying: This man has that power of God which is called Great. 11 And they gave heed to him, because for a long time he had amazed them with his sorceries. 12 But when they believed Philip as he was preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized. 13 And Simon also himself believed, and being baptized, he continued with Philip; and seeing signs and great miracles done, he was amazed.
   14 Now when the apostles that were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them, 15 who came down and prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Spirit. 16 For as yet it had not fallen upon them. These had only been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then they laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.
   18 Now when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money, saying: 19 Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay my hands, he may receive the Holy Spirit. 20 But Peter said to him: May your silver perish with you, because you have thought to obtain the gift of God with money. 21 You have neither part nor share in this matter because your heart is not right before God. 22 Therefore, repent of your wickedness and pray to the Lord, that perhaps the thought of your heart shall be forgiven you. 23 For I see you are poisoned by bitterness and held captive by iniquity. 24 And Simon answered and said: Pray for me to the Lord, that none of the things which you have spoken come upon me.
   25 Therefore, when they had testified and spoken the word of the Lord, they returned to Jerusalem, and preached the gospel to many villages of the Samaritans.

Philip and the Ethiopian official
   26 But an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying: Arise and go toward the south, to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza. The same is desert. 27 And he arose and went, and a man from Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was over all her treasure, had came to Jerusalem to worship. 28 And he was returning, and sitting in his chariot, was reading the prophet Isaiah. 29 And the Spirit said to Philip: Go near and join this chariot. 30 And Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet, and said: Do you understand what you read? 31 And he said: How can I, unless someone guides me? And he begged Philip to come up and sit with him.
   32 Now the passage of the Scripture which he was reading was this: He was led as a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before his shearer is dumb, so he did not open his mouth. 33 In his humiliation, justice was denied him. Who can declare his generation? For his life is taken away from the earth.
   34 And the eunuch said to Philip: I beg you, of whom does the prophet speak? Of himself, or of somebody else? 35 And Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture, preached Jesus to him. 36 And as they went along the road, they came upon some water; and the eunuch said: Look, water! What is stopping me from being baptized? 37 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. 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, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, and the eunuch saw him no more; and he went on his way rejoicing. 40 But Philip was found at Azotus; and passing through that area, he preached the gospel to all the towns, until he came to Caesarea.


8:2 They were “devout” because they were willing to risk shame and abuse for the sake of identifying with a Christian brother. We sometimes have to be brave in this way too.

8:3 Paul’s conversion is a pattern for us all (1 Tim. 1:16); our position before baptism was as bad, in essence, as Paul’s. For this is how serious sin is.

8:12 Baptism follows naturally and immediately after believing the Gospel. Infants can’t be baptized because they’re not capable of believing the Gospel.

8:13 Simon’s motivation probably appeared suspect from the start (v. 18). But we can’t judge the motives of others, we must baptize all those who profess belief in the Gospel.

8:24 Pray for me- But Peter had told him to pray himself to God (v. 22). We often balk at the direct relationship with God which He asks of us. We’d rather someone else did it for us, just as Israel didn’t want God speaking direct to them, but asked Moses to listed to His voice and tell them what He said.

8:31 People cannot hear the Gospel without a preacher (Rom. 10:14). There are people out there waiting for us to explain the Bible to them. Let’s go to them.

8:33 Generation- His children. The Eunuch couldn’t have children, and so he was interested to read this prophecy about Jesus in Isaiah 53, which predicted He would die without having children. We each see in Jesus some direct similarity or point of contact with our life experience, and this attracts us to Him.

8:36 The initiative for baptism came from the person wishing to be baptized. The idea of infant sprinkling is wrong.

8:37 There was a simple statement of faith before the person was baptized; he was mature enough to understand, and was baptized as an adult not a child.

8:38,39 Went down into... came up out of the water – Nobody crosses a desert without water. They surely had a few drops of water to sprinkle with, if that’s what baptism is. But it isn’t. Baptism means a complete dipping in water, which is what we see done here.