Text: Acts 8:26-40
Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch
Good morning church!
What a joy to be here with you all this morning. It is indeed a privilege to come together as a body of Christ to worship Him through songs, prayers/praises and now through the preaching and listening of God’s word.
Let us begin our time with the word of prayer, shall we?
Testimony of my father:
In the year 1992, my father went to a person’s house in a nearby town for a work related appointment. When he reached the house, the person he was supposed to meet was not at home. His family welcomed my father inside with a cup of tea and asked him to wait for sometime. During those days, there were no cell phones so my father had no choice but to wait for the person. As he was waiting, he noticed something unusual in that house. There were no statues and images of any gods and goddess. In Hinduism, there are 330 million gods and people worship as many gods as they possibly can in order to please them. The belief is, if you please the god of education, you will be blessed with wisdom and you will achieve great education. If you please the god of wealth, you will be blessed with a lot of wealth and so on. Coming from a Hindu Brahmin (priestly) family background, my father was in a complete shock. Thousands of questions ran through his mind immediately and he started asking, “ Why don’t you have any idol or image of any god in your house?”
It was the very question that family was waiting to hear from my father so that they could start sharing the Gospel. So they did. They explained that they only worship one living God who dwells in their heart, not in the images or idols. My father thought he can just add that one more god in his list of 330 millions gods and try how it works. But that family explained to him that when he has that only God who is Jesus, he doesn’t need 330 million gods anymore. He will give peace and eternal life all by Himself. After listening to the testimony of that family for about an hour and reading few pages of the Bible, my father decided to accept Jesus in his heart. The family couldn’t believe if it was real and they asked him, “Are you serious?” Do you really want to believe in Jesus? My father said yes and he prayed to receive Christ right then and there. After spending that life transforming one hour in that house, my father came home rejoicing in his newfound faith in Jesus.
Whenever I think of my father’s testimony, I think of this similar account in the Bible. I believe that this is a divine appointment for me to speak on this account, which is very close to my heart.
Our passage today falls in the middle of the overall theme of the book of Acts. It starts with the great commission given by Jesus in Acts 1:8. The Good News has been proclaimed in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2) with tremendous results. And recently, the Gospel has begun to expand into Judea (Acts 8:1-4) and into Samaria (Acts 8:5-25). Last week, we found Philip (also known as "Philip the evangelist") in Samaria, preaching the gospel. As Philip and his friends were preaching the gospel to many villages of the Samaritans on their way back to Jerusalem, something unusual happens in verse 26.
Today, we will pick up from there and look at Acts 8: 26-40 and our topic is IWitness. “Witness is someone who tells what he has heard or seen”. In Acts 1:8 Jesus says, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
We all know who Christ is and what He has done for us. We have read in His word and seen Him work in our lives. We are His witnesses and He wants us to be His witness to the ends of the earth. Now you may ask how do I become a witness?
Well, today, I would like to share 3 ways by which we can be faithful witnesses for Christ:
1. Be Obedient to God’s Command (vv. 26-27a, 29-30a)
The angel of the Lord told Philip to go south to a desert road that goes from Jerusalem to Gaza. It was an unusual command in an unusual place. It was a desert road that runs sixty miles (2 days walk) from Jerusalem to Gaza. It was the main road from Jerusalem to Egypt and Africa. Notice that Philip is not told why he is to go this way, although he will shortly find out. He is not told anything regarding what ministry he will perform, or to whom. He is simply instructed to go in a certain direction and he obeyed.
Again in verse 29, the Spirit said to Philip, ‘Go up and join this chariot’ ”. It literally means, “be glued.” “Philip ran over.” You see what is going on here? Listening to God is a habit. Philip was so used to following God’s lead that he didn’t even second-guess where he was going. He just went! Philip faithfully obeys, and thus he encounters the eunuch. This eunuch was a very influential man. He was a court official of the queen of Ethiopia and was in charge of her treasury (Acts 8:27). The term “official” is literally the term “eunuch.” However, it is uncertain whether he was a physical eunuch or simply an official at the court.
Philip was a man willing to serve God and his church in any capacity. Philip was willing to serve as a deacon, was willing to go to Samaria and preach there. And he was also wiling to walk for miles to preach the gospel to one Ethiopian. When God commanded, he immediately obeyed. In fact, Philip was not the first person commanded to take the Gospel to all the nations, (Mat. 28:18-20), but one thing we know for sure is that he was the first one to obey. That is what makes him a faithful witness. Philip definitely was the Billy Graham of his day, an obedient evangelist.
In the OT, when God called Abram, he rose and went.
In the NT, Jesus called his disciples, and they followed Him.
Here, God commanded Philip to go, and he went.
It is like Nike’s Ad, “Just Do It”. Philip just did it without any question or complain.
God has not given the commission to angels, but He has given to His people, us. Obedience is a habit we must develop in our daily life.
Bible tells us that our obedience is better than sacrifice. Being obedient to God’s command is the very first step to be faithful witnesses for Christ. The question is, are we obedient to God’s command? Do we have that faith to obey His command? What is God calling to do? Where is He asking you to go? Our obedience is a proof of our faith. Let us be obedient to be His witnesses. Let’s just do it!
If we obey God, He will lead us to the road of opportunities. And when we see those opportunities, we should…
2. Seize the Opportunity to Share the Gospel (vv. 27b-28, 30b-35)
According to verse 27b, we know that the Ethiopian Eunuch had come to Jerusalem to worship God. But, we don't know how he had heard about God and Judaism. There is a possibility, biblically and historically that King Solomon's interaction with the Queen of Sheba might have had something to do with it. Since there was a Jewish community in Ethiopia from the time of King Solomon, maybe he had heard from them. Anyway, on his way home, he was sitting on his chariot and reading a scroll of Isaiah. He had probably purchased this scroll of Isaiah in Jerusalem. This tells us that he was a rich man because scrolls cost a lot of money back then. It's possible that he only had a portion of the scroll of Isaiah, but even a portion was expensive. He knew that no matter how much it cost, he must have the Word of God and read it, for it contains the words of life.
In verse 30, as Philip went near to the chariot, he heard the man reading from the Prophet Isaiah. He must have been reading aloud because Philip “heard him reading”, which was a common practice in the ancient times. Few people could read, so those who could read would read out loud for the benefit of those who could not. Though he didn't know much, this Ethiopian Eunuch was trying to pass on what he did know to those who worked with him and for him. After hearing him read, Philip seized the opportunity and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” Eunuch was very honest in saying, “How could I unless someone could explain it to me”? Not only was he reading it, but also he was asking questions of the text. This opened the door for Philip to share the Gospel with the Ethiopian Eunuch through the very passage he was reading. It was Isaiah 53:7–8, which points to Jesus’ atoning death perhaps more clearly than any other Old Testament passage—the perfect preparation for Philip’s witness.
Philip began where the Eunuch was and took him through the Scriptures, explaining who Jesus was and what He had done. There can be no real conversion apart from the Word of God. As Philip explained the verses to him, the Ethiopian began to understand the Gospel. The Spirit of God was opening his mind to God’s truth. God had already prepared the heart of the Ethiopian Eunuch to receive Philip’s witness. He just had to seize that opportunity which he did.
‘Sunday School Times’ once wrote, It was on the Jericho road that Zaccheaus climbed up to the tree to see Jesus as He was passing by. Jesus seized the opportunity to have dinner with him and dwell in his heart. It was on the Jericho road that two blind men called to Jesus as He was passing by. Jesus seized the opportunity to restore their sight. It was on the Jericho road that an injured man was crying for help as a Samaritan was passing by. The Good Samaritan seized the opportunity to take care of him.
The Jericho road is the road of opportunity, and it runs by your home, by your shop, by your office and there is always "a certain man" there. Now the question is, Are we letting those opportunities pass by around us or are we seizing them to share Christ?
We need to realize that there are no such things as accidents in this world. The Lord is leading us in all that we do and He will use us in a great way if we will allow ourselves to be available and usable by Him. How awesome it is to follow the Lord’s leading and to be seizing those opportunities to witness. I believe that there is nothing more exciting in life that a person can experience than that of leading another person to Christ. Let us seize the opportunities around us to be witnesses for Christ.
3. Trust God for the Outcome (36-40)
We must leave the outcome to God. It is not our job to bring the person to Christ; our job is share the Gospel. We do our part and God does His part, which is saving the souls.
a. Conversion (36-37)
Eunuch confessed Jesus is the Son of God. This Ethiopian represents many people today who are religious, read the Scriptures, and seek the truth, yet do not have saving faith in Jesus Christ. They are sincere, but they are sincerely lost! They need someone to show them the way. Let us do our job, which is sharing the Gospel. And God will do His job, which is saving the souls.
“Success in witnessing is simply taking the initiative to share Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit and leaving the results to God.”
– Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ
Key point to notice:
Depending on your Bible, you may not have verse 37 included. That is because verse 37 is found only in later manuscripts.
Verse 37, "Philip said, "If you believe with all your heart, you may". The eunuch answered, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God."
b. Celebration (38-40)
Celebration on earth:
When Philip preached Christ in the city, there was great joy (v. 8). And when he shared the Gospel in the desert, he sent the new believer on his way rejoicing. Joy is one of the evidences of true conversion. Ethiopian Eunuch went home rejoicing.
Celebration in heaven:
There will be celebration in heaven when a soul is saved here on
earth. Luke 15:10 says, In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents."
The question for us today is, are we doing our part and trusting God for His part?
In October 1857, J. Hudson Taylor began to minister in Ningpo, China, and he led Mr. Nyi to Christ. The man was overjoyed and wanted to share his faith with others. “How long have you had the Gospel known in England?” Mr. Nyi asked Hudson Taylor one day. Taylor acknowledged that England had known the Gospel for many centuries. “My father died seeking the truth,” said Mr. Nyi. “Why didn’t you come sooner?” Hudson Taylor had no answer to that question.
Do we have the answer if our relatives and friends would ask us that same question one day….Why didn’t you tell me about Jesus sooner?
Many people would say, “Witnessing is not my thing”, “I’m not an evangelist”, “I don’t know how to share the Gospel”, I’m scared if they would reject me” etc. But remember, as a believer we are a witness for Christ and He will direct us to be His witness. Being a witness for Christ is not an option; it is a command.
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8
Will you be His witnesses?
3 ways by which we can be faithful witnesses for Christ:
1. Be obedient to God’s command.
2. Seize the opportunity to share the Gospel.
3. Trust God for the outcome.
Let us pray.