Life-Study of Actsby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Acts 8:26-40 records the case of Philip preaching the gospel to an Ethiopian eunuch. In this case there are a number of patterns that we should follow in our gospel preaching today.
Verses 27 and 28 say, “And he rose up and went. And behold, an Ethiopian man, a eunuch, a man in power under Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was over all her treasure, had come to worship in Jerusalem, and was returning and sitting in his chariot and reading the prophet Isaiah.” Ethiopia is Cush (Isa. 18:1), the land of the descendants of Cush, the son of Ham (Gen. 10:6). The gospel had spread from the racially pure Jews to the mixed Samaritans through Philip and Peter and John (vv. 5-25). Now the angel of the Lord directed Philip to contact a total Gentile from Ethiopia. Through this the gospel also spread southward to Africa.
The Ethiopian man in verse 27 had come to worship in Jerusalem. This proves that the Ethiopian eunuch was seeking after God (see 17:26-27). According to the Lord’s sovereign arrangement, Philip came into contact with this God-seeking man, with one who was hungry and thirsty for God.
The Spirit told Philip to approach the chariot, and when he did so he heard the eunuch reading Isaiah the prophet (vv. 29-30). It was sovereign that the Ethiopian was reading from Isaiah 53: “Now the passage of Scripture which he was reading was this: He was led as a sheep to slaughter; and as a lamb before its shearer is dumb, so He does not open His mouth” (v. 32). This verse, a quotation from Isaiah 53:7, refers to Christ the Redeemer. It must have been sovereignly of the Spirit’s leading that this passage concerning Christ as the sinner’s redeeming Lamb, a good passage for gospel preaching, was opened to the eunuch. Therefore, “Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this scripture he brought the good news of Jesus to him” (v. 35).
Here we see the principle that in preaching the gospel we need to use the best portions of the Bible. This means that in our gospel preaching we should not speak concerning peculiar things. For example, after learning that stone is a basic item in the Scriptures, you may want to take this as a subject for your gospel preaching. However, such a subject may not be appropriate for the preaching of the gospel. We should always use a proper portion of the Word in our gospel preaching. We should select a portion like Isaiah 53.
Under the Lord’s sovereignty, Philip used Isaiah 53 to preach the gospel to a Gentile. This Gentile, a descendant of Cush, the son of Ham, a cursed man (Gen. 9:22-27), heard the complete gospel and was saved. This was the first step taken by the Lord in spreading His gospel to typical Gentiles.
Another important point in Philip’s preaching of the gospel was that all his activity was under the direction, leading, and guidance of the Holy Spirit. In 8:29 “the Spirit said to Philip, Approach and join this chariot.” The Spirit here, as in verse 39; 10:19; 13:2; and 16:6-7, indicates that the Lord’s move in spreading His kingdom through the preaching of the gospel in Acts was by the Spirit’s leading and direction, not by man’s device and schedule. Hence, it was not the act of man but of the Spirit.
We all should learn from this pattern to pray and to keep ourselves in fellowship with the Lord. If we maintain our fellowship with the Lord, we shall be able to sense His leading at any time. Then our move and our preaching of the gospel will be according to the Spirit’s direction. We need to follow the Spirit’s guidance, not our opinion, plan, and schedule. May we learn to have all our activity in preaching the gospel always under the direction and guidance of the Spirit.
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