The Conversion of the Ethiopian Eunuch

In the early part of the book of Acts, conversions involved large numbers of people (Acts 2:41, 4:4, 8:6). But in Acts 8, we read of the conversion of one person — the Ethiopian eunuch.


The Ethiopian eunuch is a man of immense power and authority (Acts 8:27). He’s trustworthy and a man of integrity. He’s also a religious man. Those are all good qualities to have, but those qualities don’t get the job done for him because he had not been washed in the blood of Jesus.


When Philip, who is told to go to the eunuch, approaches him, he asks the question: “Do you understand what you are reading?” (v. 30). The eunuch was reading from the prophet Isaiah, and more specifically, Isaiah’s prophecy of the Messiah. The eunuch, though, is unsure who Isaiah is speaking about, so Philip preaches Jesus to him.


As Philip is preaching Jesus, the eunuch asks in v. 36: “What hinders me from being baptized?” Conclusion: To preach about Jesus is to also preach about the need for baptism. You can’t preach Jesus without preaching baptism. Additionally, notice the immediacy of baptism. The eunuch did not want to wait. When good and honest hearts learn what they need to do to be saved, they do it.


The chariot is ordered to stop and Philip and the eunuch both go down into the water. Philip then baptizes (i.e., immerses) the eunuch (v. 38). Baptism is described as a burial, not a sprinkling or a pouring. It is patterned after the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. And, it is not until after the eunuch comes up out of the water when we read of him rejoicing (v. 39) because at that point, his sins are forgiven.


Notice the simplicity of the gospel. One lesson, one baptism. That is the power of the gospel (Romans 1:16) on display. If you’re not a Christian, what is hindering you from becoming one?


-- Steven Matthews

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