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.
[Arise and go] During New Testament times the land of Israel was currently subdivided into three regions; Galilee on the north, west of the Sea of Galilee; Samaria, south of Galilee and west of the upper Jordan River; and Judea, south of Samaria and west of the lower Jordan River and upper Dead Sea. Jerusalem was located in Judea.
Philip had been preaching to the inhabitants of Samaria and in verse 26 the angel of the Lord sent Philip south on a mission toward the city of Gaza. Gaza was (and is) one of the last major cities encountered before reaching Egypt when travelling south from Israel.
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.
[A man of Ethiopia] Ethiopia was a distant land situated somewhat south of Egypt. The Septuagent, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Torah (Old Testament), translated the name Cush as Ethiopia. The precise location of Biblical Ethiopia is uncertain but it appears to have encompassed an oval area ranging from Arabia, east of the Red sea, to Africa, south of Egypt.
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.
[The Spirit said unto Philip] This was no chance encounter. The Holy Spirit had prepared the heart of the Ethiopian and had sent Philip to tell him the good news of the Gospel. Read Isaiah 52:7, Romans 10:12-15.
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.
[The place of the scripture which he read] The Ethiopian was reading Isaiah 53, probably from the Septuagent, the Greek language translation of the Old Testament which was in wide use at the time because most of the known world spoke and understood Greek. He had recently been in Jerusalem to worship and either had not heard of Jesus Christ, or possibly had caught a whiff of the controversy. At any rate, by God's appointment, he was puzzling over this particular passage.
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.
[Preached unto him Jesus] The New Testament had not yet been written but the Old Testament had ample references to Messiah and Philip was well versed in the details of Jesus' life, death and resurrection. As Philip connected prophecies with events the Ethiopian gentleman understood and then believed that Jesus Christ is Messiah, the Son of God. If you would like to examine some of the prophecies you may view the page Jesus Christ preincarnate.
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.
[And he baptized him] Baptism in water was a familiar Jewish custom, often an announcement of a major change in the direction of one's life. Traditionally the person to be baptized would wade into running water and, after making proper profession to the one officiating at the rite, would plunge himself under the water. In gentle disagreement with others of our shared Christian faith, the Greek word Baptizo means immerse or submerge. In most translations of the Bible the word is transliterated (sound of the word) rather than translated (meaning of the word.). That way the various forms of the word baptize become generic terms which may be used to represent whatever interpretations a group wishes to place upon them. To me, at least, it is helpful to mentally replace baptize with immerse whenever the word is encountered. As an experiment, perform the following search and then read the results replacing baptize with "sprinkle" or "pour".
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.
[Phillip was found at Azotus] The Holy Spirit did not wish for Philip to continue any further south so he abruptly pointed him northward. Philip worked his way along the coast of the Mediterranean preaching as he went. Eventually he settled at Caesarea, not to be confused with Caesarea Phillippi. This Ceasarea was along the coast in northern Samaria. Caesarea Philippi was inland in northern Galilee.
This page updated 03/30/2008Copyright (C) 2008 Robert C. Denig. All rights reserved