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Philip and the Ethiopian

(Acts 8:26-38)

Lesson 7 -- fourth quarter 2005
October 16, 2005

by Mark Roth
© Copyright 2005, Christian Light Publications

Probing Your Own Heart

Are you tuned and receptive to hear the voice of God?

How well do you understand the Scriptures?

Building on Some Foundational Concepts

God knows where the open hearts are.

God knew the hearts of many in Samaria were ready for Him. He used persecution to get Philip to Samaria. Having the Lord and His Word in his heart, Philip naturally presented both to those he found in Samaria. God also knew about an open heart that had left Jerusalem without Jesus. He used His angel to tell Philip to get to Gaza. And Philip again presented the Lord to the one he found there. God knew Philip's heart was open to Him and His directives. God knew the hearts of the Samaritans and the Ethiopian were also open. What does He know about your heart?

God's messenger must know His Word.

Philip, a man sticking his neck out, as it were. Have you ever tried answering questions and explaining the Scriptures...impromptu? Philip introduced himself (after running up) by boldly asking, "Understandest thou what thou readest?" (Acts 8:30). Didn't Philip pause to consider that he might not have an adequate answer?! The Holy Spirit -- don't forget the Holy Spirit! With the Spirit indwelling him, Philip knew he could explain the Scriptures to the eunuch.

The message is Jesus.

In all our Bible reading and study, we must never lose sight of the reality of the message. In all our listening to others teach and preach, we must never forget the underlying, all-encompassing message. And in all our own teaching of the Scriptures, we must never leave out the message. That message is Jesus!

Questions and Responses

Why in the desert (or Samaria, for that matter)?!

If I were looking for a seeker, I would not head off for some remote desert road nor would I go to some place where the people are deep into their own religion. To expect to find spiritual seekers there has a way of defying logic. It is too easy to surrender to the mentality that says, "The real seekers will look until they find me. Then I can help them. The real seekers will know they need to get out of certain environments before my type will be able to help them." That is wrong! Jesus came to seek and save the lost...right where they were lost. So go where the needy ones are, not where they should be.

Did Philip immerse the eunuch when he baptized him?

First of all, does it matter? If you believe so, be sure your view reflects the revealed will of God as found in the clear doctrine of the Word.

Second, Acts 8:38 doesn't say the eunuch was immersed. However, many folks read it that way, insisting that he went down into the water. And he certainly did. So did Philip. "And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him." To be consistent, those who use this verse to prove immersion of the baptismal candidate must also teach the simultaneous immersion of both the candidate and the baptizer.

Was the Ethiopian more important than the Samaritans?

We easily could read the record that way. Philip was working among the Samaritans then God yanked away him from them to send him into the desert for this Ethiopian. So the Ethiopian was more important than the Samaritans. That seems logical enough. On the other hand, God sent Philip to the Samaritans first. In which case the Samaritans were more important. So much for logic!

We must beware of arranging people in order of importance. When we try to do that we reveal we have no idea what we're doing. If I were to ask anyone to arrange people in order of importance, I would ask God. But Acts 10:34 leaves me with the certainty that He doesn't do such things: "God is no respecter of persons."

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