Philip and the Ethiopian
26: And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert. 27: And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship, 28: Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet. 29: Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot. 30: And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest? 31: And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him. 32: The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth: 33: In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth. 34: And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man? 35: Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus. 36: And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? 37: And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. 38: 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. 39: And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing. 40: But Philip was found at Azotus: and passing through he preached in all the cities, till he came to Caesarea.
Luke records this remarkable incident from the ministry of Philip. This great man of God was originally a deacon of the Church in Jerusalem, but God enlarged his ministry to the work of an evangelist. First we notice that he receives a direct visitation of the angel of the Lord. Who tells him to get up and to go down to road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza. This long rocky road was the main route back to Egypt. He went and on the road he met a eunuch of Queen Candace who ruled the Ethiopians. He was probably an Israelite who belong to a very large community of Israelites who worship Jehovah. It is likely that they descended from some of the ten tribes scattered by the Assyrian invasion. They still exist there today. He was a man of very high status and had the responsibility to look after all her treasures. He had been to Jerusalem to worship the Lord and he had obtained a copy of the scroll of Isaiah. It was probably a Hebrew scroll but it may have been in Greek. The Spirit of God told Philip to go near and join himself to the Chariot. The eunuch was reading it aloud as Philip drew near. In fact he was reading from what we know as chapter 53. Philip asked him do you understand the passage you are reading? And he said. How can l understand it unless someone can guide me? Then he invited Philip to come up into the chariot to sit with him. The eunuch said, Is he talking about himself or somebody else. The passage could have been in the first person or the third person. Philip began at this passage and preached unto him Jesus. The Chariot moved gently on as Philip continued to preach Jesus until it came to a place were there was an abundance of water probably an oasis. The Eunuch asked Philip if there was any hindrance to him being baptised. And Philips response is a classic example of evangelical thinking. He said, if you believe with your whole heart, then you may. The decision as to being baptised was solely the Eunuchs decision. Philip had no responsibility to approve or disprove or to make any judgment on the worthiness of the Eunuchs faith. He said, if you believe with all your heart (That is with your whole mind) then you may. The baptism was solely on the basis of his Faith in Christ and no other criteria. The eunuch replied, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. This simple confession of faith was the basis of the eunuch’s salvation experience. It was not just a head knowledge. It was not just a mental assent, although it included that. It was a total faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God to be his Saviour. He was relying, depending and trusting in Jesus Christ. The chariot was brought to a halt and both of them went down into the water and Philip Baptised him. And then what? When they emerged from the water Philip disappeared. The Spirit of God miraculously transported Philip to Azotus (Possibly 25 miles). The Eunuch went on his way and he didn’t see Philip any more. Philip travelled on to Caesarea preaching in all the cities as he went. We learn from this passage that Baptism is linked to salvation and is the ministry of an evangelist not a pastor.