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“The Road to Joy”, Acts 8.26-40

Malcolm Cox, Watford Church of Christ

A multi-cultural evangelistic encounter

“Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Go south to the road—the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of the Kandake (which means “queen of the Ethiopians”). This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the Book of Isaiah the prophet. The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.” Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked. “How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.  This is the passage of Scripture the eunuch was reading: 

“He was led like a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before its shearer is silent, so he did not open his mouth. In his humiliation he was deprived of justice. Who can speak of his descendants? For his life was taken from the earth.” 

The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?” Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus. As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water. What can stand in the way of my being baptised?” And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptised him. When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing. Philip, however, appeared at Azotus and traveled about, preaching the gospel in all the towns until he reached Caesarea.” (Acts 8:26–40 NIV11)

  • Philip
  • Question: “Why might the voice in Phillip’s head be telling him this was a stupid idea?”
  • Question: “What’s impressive about the heart and actions of Philip?”
  • Ethiopian
  • Question: “Why might the voice in the Ethiopian’s head be telling him this was a stupid idea?”
  • Question: “What’s impressive about the heart and actions of the Ethiopian?”
  • Spirit
  • Question: “What do we learn about the Spirit’s priorities?”

Suggestions

  1. Pray over how you can be more in tune with the Spirit’s priorities. We desire as a church to be “a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:22). What could that look like for you this coming week?
  2. If you are an ‘Ethiopian’ seeking the joy of the good news about Jesus, what can you do this week to find out more about this message?
  3. If you are a ‘Philip’, which of his attitudes and/or actions inspire you the most? Pray over how to express those this week.

Additional notes and scriptures for further study

  • Look up parallels between this passage and the conversation between Jesus and the woman at the well in John 4.
  • Philip had a powerful prophetic family, Acts 21:9.
  • We are seeing here Luke describing the expansion of the spread of the gospel from Jerusalem to Judea, Samaria and, soon, the rest of the world (i.e. Gentiles). Act 1:8; Acts 8:4, 5; 10/11.
  • Eunuch: Deut. 23:1, Isaiah 56:3–8.
  • See parallels between this passage and Jesus explaining the Scriptures on the road to Emmaus, Luke 24:13-35. See also the parallel sudden disappearance (and also, 1 Kings 18:12; 2 Kings 2:16; Ezek. 3:14)!

Please add your comments on this week’s topic. We learn best when we learn in community. 

Do you have a question about teaching the Bible? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: malcolm@malcolmcox.org.

If you’d like a copy of my free eBook on spiritual disciplines, “How God grows His people”, sign up at my website: http://www.malcolmcox.org.

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God bless, Malcolm

PS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool”, a devotional look at the Gospel of John