Philip & the Ethiopian Official

Open Your Bible

Acts 8:5-8, Acts 8:26-40, Isaiah 56:1-8, 1 Peter 2:9-10

As one of the seven deacons chosen to care for the poor, Philip had a good reputation in the community and was full of wisdom and the Holy Spirit (Acts 6:3, 5). Philip followed the movement of the Holy Spirit with obedience and devotion to what God was doing through him. When the Spirit redirected his plans by leading him to a specific ministry opportunity, he followed with enthusiasm and was God’s vessel for showing the “immeasurable riches of his grace through his kindness to us in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:7).

These two stories from today’s reading contrast God’s pursuit of many and of one, both in surprisingly bold yet gentle ways. Through Philip, God reaches down into the territory of Samaria, and purposefully chooses to make the lame, paralyzed, and demon-possessed a people for His own possession (Acts 8:5–8; 1Peter 2:9). But remember that at that time, “Jews [would] not associate with Samaritans” (John 4:9). This is the shocking grace and kindness of God’s upside-down kingdom on display.

Later, Philip came across an Ethiopian official, who was also a eunuch, heading home in his chariot after worshiping in Jerusalem. He sat with a copy of the book of Isaiah open, reading the prophet’s words aloud. God orchestrated a divine meeting and chose to use Philip as His hands and feet, delivering the gospel message to the Ethiopian man. His position in life meant he was not welcome to worship with Jews (Deuteronomy 23:1), yet he was still determined to know God (Acts 8:31). Philip, led by the Holy Spirit, “proceeded to tell him the good news about Jesus, beginning with [the] Scripture” he’d been reading (v.35), which said:

He was led like a sheep to the slaughter,
and as a lamb is silent before its shearer,
so he does not open his mouth.
In his humiliation justice was denied him.
Who will describe his generation?
For his life is taken from the earth (Acts 8:32–33).

After hearing Philip’s explanation of the passage and understanding that the good news of Jesus was for him, too, everything changed for this man, leading him to excitedly ask to be baptized at the first sight of water (Acts 8:36). Reconciliation through Jesus Christ meant that he would never again have to be separated from God (Isaiah 56:4–5). He was welcomed into the family of God. Like the Ethiopian official, these shocking promises of grace and kindness in God’s upside-down kingdom should bring us great joy and peace.

In both of these accounts, Philip was led by the Holy Spirit to faithfully testify to the power of God through Jesus Christ, which has come to claim all people for His glory. And while Philip is an example of a faithful servant of God fulfilling the Great Commission, ultimately, the story of Philip is not really about Philip at all; his story points to an otherworldly mercy that claims us as God’s own, calling us out of darkness and into His eternal light (1 Peter 2:9–10).

Brooke Kocher is a wife and mother of three. She is a Southern girl at heart and a recent transplant to the Pacific Northwest.

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27 thoughts on "Philip & the Ethiopian Official"

  1. Angie says:

    Ashley P. and Liz, as fellow teachers you are in my prayers. This year will be different in our classrooms. But, the “things” we are going to have to do without are just things…you are what makes that classroom the place where children feel loved, wanted, and secure. Instead of the normal 8-10 weeks of getting through the summer the children have had months of being at home. Even in the best of homes the stress level has increased for families simply due to the unknown and ever changing circumstances. You have the light of Jesus, it will shine out of you. Looking in their eyes, listening to their hearts, giving them elbow hugs (maybe)…it is Jesus in you that makes the difference. Will it be harder – no doubt. Does God have this? NO DOUBT! He put you in those children’s lives for a purpose. We will lift each other up. We will figure out ways to show the love and kindness of Jesus, one little step at a time.

    Dorothy, your son and daughter-in-law are in my prayers as well. I understand praying through the anxiety. I have noticed when I am in the car with my husband since my accident and he is accelerating my spirit tenses until I close my eyes and remember, Who is in control. I’ve wondered if you’ve been able to get a car yet?

    Doris – I too ache for the message to be fully about Jesus again. That is where Life begins, is, and always will be.

    Be blessed SRT ladies!

    1. Ashley P. says:

      Thank you for your encouragement, Angie! You’re right, God does have this.

  2. Angie says:

    Philip was in Samaria, teaching them about Jesus, with great success. It was a great revival! People were healed of everything from unclean spirits to the ability to walk, and most importantly they were being taught about the Messiah. Then Philip was called out of the “joyful city” to a deserted area. He explained the scripture and talked with one man about Jesus. The Ethiopian’s soul was saved and baptized into the kingdom of God. Then the Spirit of God took Philip away to the city of Azotus where he continued the gospel message all the way to Caesarea.

    “When a person of mighty faith encounters someone whose heart is open to the possibility of God’s presence, amazing things happen. All it takes is patience, trust, love—and listening to the call of the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:29).” I took this from HRT’s Alex Florez’s essay today.

    It wasn’t about “who” or “where” for Philip. WHERE ever he was with WHOMever he was with, he shared the gospel of Jesus Christ. He shared Truth. Revival crowds, individuals, or while traveling through a place, his heart was full of Jesus and his mouth poured it out.

    May our hearts be so full of Jesus that our mouth pours out His message. May it not, not, not be about us, but Jesus! May our lives be the microphone of faith to amplify the message of Jesus Christ today, tomorrow, always. Let it be so Lord Jesus. Amen.

    1. Jen Brewer says:

      ❤️

  3. Amanda Howard says:

    I can relate to the Ethiopian not grasping the passage he was reading! It does encourage me to keep doing what I need to do!

  4. Indiana Christina says:

    Oh, how relevant these passsages are right now to the times we live in. I love how God loves and pursues all of His people, including the despised, mixed-race Samaritans; the poor; the broken; and the eunuch who couldn’t bear children in an age when child-bearing was a huge part of defining people’s worth.

    I love how God’s vision in Isaiah 56:6-8 is reflected in Philip’s reaching out to an Ethiopian eunuch, who likely became Africa’s first missionary. I love that God’s dream of reconciliation and salvation through Christ wasn’t just for one nation, but for all nations and peoples. May we enter into and continue the missionary work started by Philip, get out of our comfort zones, and spread the good news to our neighbors of different ethnicities and backgrounds. For God intended our churches to be houses of prayer for all people groups now in the present and heaven will be filled with all people when we worship Him in eternity. And He will be magnified and glorified for it and it will be glorious and beautiful.

  5. Doris says:

    Romans 1:16
    For I am not ashamed of the the Gospel of Christ; for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first and to the Greek.

    May the world we live in today hear this Gospel. The basic truth that it contains. Philip preached only Jesus. If only the church would do that in the times we are in.

    Do you think we as the church today have the same impact as the early church had?
    We would if “the Gospel” was preached.

    That’s what stood out to me in the reading today, they preached Jesus. How I long for the focus to be Jesus again. Jesus said to search the scriptures for they testify of Me.

  6. MARTHA HIX says:

    ❤️

  7. Blessed Beth says:

    Today I will bask in the privilege of our salvation that I so often just take for granted, wow how blessed and honored we are.

  8. Churchmouse says:

    Samaria. The desert road. Azotus. Philip shared the Gospel wherever he found himself. 2 Timothy 4:2. May I do the same.