This past Sunday, August 25, I had the privilege to preach Acts 8:26-40. As a pastoral staff at East Leesville Baptist Church, we have been preaching through Acts since April, and we hope to finish by next summer.
The story of Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch was one that was familiar to me, but I was unaware of all of the intricacies that Luke wove into the story for his reader.
- The commands for Philip (Ἀνάστηθι καὶ πορεύου) bear much resemblance to that of Jonah (Ἀνάστηθι καὶ πορεύθητι). Whereas Jonah is told explicitly by the Lord on what to do, Philip is left with just an unclear command.
- The eunuch was prohibited from worshiping in the temple (Deut 23:1), but Isaiah’s prophecy predicts a future when both the foreigner and eunuch will be God’s people (Isa 56:3-7). Both are pictured in the eunuch.
- The text of Isa 53:7-8 that the eunuch is reading is verbatim from the LXX and, I believe, this account is the only other account in the NT when someone is reading directly from Israel’s Scriptures (cf. Lk 4:16-21). Both Jesus and the eunuch are reading from Isaiah.
- Once the baptism is complete, Philip is “snatched” (ἥρπασεν) and removed from the desert place. This is not an anomaly, for OT prophets, and even Paul in 2 Cor 12, are snatched away.
If you are interested, you can find my sermon here. I would like to mention, however, that I understand this Philip to be the Philip from the Twelve Disciples and not the Philip from Acts 6:5. Contextually an argument can be made that Philip from Acts 6:5 is the same Philip here since Stephen is mentioned also in the verse, and then his narrative begins in 6:8-7:60. It might make sense to suggest that the narrative flow moves from Stephen to Philip, since Philip is discussed after Saul is introduced in 8:1-3. Yet, Philip is described in 8:6-7 as preaching the gospel and, apparently, doing signs that included the casting out of unclean spirits and healing. Only the disciples are depicted as doing something like that, outside of Jesus; so it seems, I believe, that the Philip here is the Philip of the Twelve.