Read thru New Testament Devotional – June 28, 2017

June 28

 

Acts 8:26-40

Acts 8:26-39-An angel tells Philip to go the road that leads from Jerusalem to Gaza.  Remember that this is the Philip that had been selected to help serve the widows in the church in Jerusalem.  When persecution became intense there, he and others “went about preaching the word” (:8:4).  He had gone to Samaria and preached there…starting a movement of God among the Samaritans (:4-25).  God is using this servant, this layman, to spread the good news of His Kingdom beyond the borders of the Jews and into all of the world.  And now, God is going to use him to spread the message even further.  Philip is crossing social, religious and racial barriers to extend the message of the Gospel.  Later in Acts (21:8), Philip will be referred to as an “evangelist” and his four daughters as “prophetesses”.  Here is a man that should be a model to all of us.  Philip took seriously and personally the command of Jesus recorded in Acts 1:8, “but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”  Throughout his life he remained faithful to God and passionate about telling people about Jesus.

Along the way to Gaza, he met an Ethiopian eunuch who had come to Jerusalem to worship and was returning home.

 

Philip encounters an Ethiopian eunuch and his retinue. He is at once exotic, powerful and pious. Greeks and Romans were particularly fascinated with dark-skinned Africans (Martin 1989:111; Diodorus Siculus Library of History 3.8.2-3; Strabo Geography 17.2.1-3). Although Ethiopian was used generally for anyone with these physical characteristics, here it refers to an inhabitant of the ancient kingdom of Meroe, which covered what is now northern Sudan south of Aswan to Khartoum (see NIV marginal note; compare Youngblood 1982:193; Crocker 1986). This man is powerful, the chief treasurer of a kingdom wealthy from its iron smelting, gold mining and trading position. It was a conduit for goods from the rest of the continent. Candace, queen of the Ethiopians (better "Queen Mother, ruling monarch of the Ethiopians," since candace is a title, not a proper name), cared for the duties of state. The king was regarded as a god, "child of the sun," too sacred to engage in administration. The candace in this instance was Amanitare (A.D. 25-41; Wead 1982:197; Crocker 1986:67).

Luke does not identify the eunuch as either a proselyte, a Gentile convert to Judaism, or 28a God-fearer, a Gentile adherent to the Jewish monotheism, ethic and piety (compare Acts 2:11; 6:5; 10:2; 13:26, 43; Levinskaya 1990). He presents him only as pious according to the Jewish faith. The eunuch is returning to Meroe after a pilgrimage to Jerusalem for one of the feasts, and he is sitting in his chariot reading Scripture.

(IVP New Testament, http://www.biblegateway.com/resources/ivp-nt/Evangelist-Guided-God)

 

For information and maps of the kingdom of the Ethiopians see:

http://www.ancient.eu.com/Meroe/

http://www.numibia.net/nubia/meroe.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meroë

 

The eunuch was reading from Isaiah 53:7.  Philip asked him if he understood what he was reading and he said that he was unable because he had no one to explain it to him.  The eunuch invited Philip to join him in his carriage.  He asked Philip if the prophet was speaking of himself, or of someone else.  Philip makes it clear that this was a Messianic passage and explained to the eunuch how Jesus fulfilled it.  They came to some water and the eunuch, filled with joy over having found the Messiah, asked if he could be baptized.  They stopped the chariot and both of them went into the water where Philip baptized him.  When they came out of the water, the Holy "snatched" Philip up and he disappeared.  The eunuch continued his journey, rejoicing.  The word "snatched" is the same word that is used in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 when believers are "caught up" at the rapture.  Philip then found himself at Azotus.

 

Map of Azotus (located in the southwest corner of Judea on the Mediterranean)

http://www.bible-history.com/geography/ancient-israel/azotus.html

 

He started preaching and kept continued doing so until he reached Caesarea.

Prayer: Lord, please help me to be as ready and willing to proclaim the gospel as Philip was.  He could have felt that this man would not be interested...but instead, he paid attention to him and realized that he was searching for answers.  Then, he started right where the man was and "preached Jesus to him" (:35).  I ask that You will give me this courage, as well.  Afterwards, when the Holy Spirit took him elsewhere...he kept right on preaching.  I pray that I would do the same.  Wherever I find myself, I will tell them about Jesus.

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