Philip & the Ethiopian

Friday: The Gospel in Isaiah 53

Acts 8:26-40 This study shows God’s power to bless the furthering of the Gospel.
The Gospel in Isaiah 53

The Ethiopian eunuch was reading the chapter that portrays Jesus as the Suffering Servant who came to be our Savior. These verses contain the principle of vicarious atonement. In fact, they are the strongest statement of this principle in the Old Testament. They show how Jesus “took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows” (v. 4). They show how he was “pierced for our transgressions” and “crushed for our iniquities” (v. 6). They showed how “we all, like sheep, have gone astray” but that “the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (v. 6). As he explained the meaning of these words to the Ethiopian, Philip told him about Jesus, who had fulfilled this prophecy precisely just a short while before. 

Just before this there is a tremendous verse which says, “Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.” I wonder if you are able to do that: to start with a given passage and preach Jesus. Isaiah 53 is an easy one, of course. But how about the genealogies? How about Revelation? Or Genesis? Can you begin with those passages and preach the good news about Jesus? 

It can be done, you know. It is because the Bible from beginning to end is about Jesus. You cannot explain Genesis 1:1 (“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”) without explaining something about Jesus, because Jesus is God. He was active in this work of creation, and it is through Him that the God of creation is made known to us. You cannot explain the end of Revelation either, apart from Jesus. Revelation 22:20 says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Who is coming soon? The answer is Jesus. Philip knew his Bible. So he was ready when the Ethiopian asked for an explanation. 

So there in the desert, in the presence of the treasurer’s entourage, this high-ranking official of the Court of Candace, the queen of the Ethiopians, was baptized, coming to God not as the treasurer of the Ethiopians, not as an important man, but as a sinner availing himself of the blood of Jesus Christ, who had died in his place. 

The text says, “He went on his way rejoicing.” Philip went on his way rejoicing, too, and he had a great career after this. He went up the coast to the north. He preached in many cities, Azotus for one. Eventually he arrived in Caesarea, where he settled down and had a family. Acts 21:8 says that Luke and Paul stayed with Philip when they arrived in Caesarea from Macedonia, on the way to Jerusalem, and by this time Philip had four unmarried daughters who were prophetesses (v. 9). Luke must have gotten this story from Philip when they were staying there. 

What happened to the Ethiopian? Can we fail to believe that God blessed him and that he blessed his witness in his homeland? He understood that Jesus had died in his place, and he was one of Christ’s disciples. I am sure he spoke about Jesus to others and that a sound church grew up in his land.

Study Questions
  1. What specific idea was the Ethiopian reading about when Philip went to him?
  2. What happened after the eunuch heard Philip’s explanation?
  3. What do we know about Philip after his encounter with the Ethiopian eunuch?

Reflection: Is your familiarity with Scripture such that you can start with a given passage and talk about Jesus?

Application: Resolve to continue with your Bible studies to ready yourself to witness to others.

For Further Study: Download for free and listen to Richard Phillips’ message, “Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God.” (Discount will be applied at checkout.)

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