Sunday 2nd May
Introduction to readings: Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch; Vine and branches Jn 15 Jesus told disciples to remain in Him and He in them, like branches in vine. Staying close to Jesus and His words is the way to fruitfulness. Acts 8 tells us what happened when Philip stayed close to Jesus and was fruitful.
Last week in Acts 4 Peter and John were called to account for miracle and preaching.
Start of opposition Busy apostles Acts 6 dispute over distribution of food to widows
(Greek/Hebrew background)- led to12 appointed 7 to administer food- full of Spirit & wisdom including Stephen and Philip. Stephen performed signs and wonders- martyred
Great persecution starts so Church is scattered (8v1)
Leaving Jerusalem as refugee probable felt like pruning (John15v2) to Philip. But in fact we’ll see how fruitful it made him...
Philip ends up in Samaria where he proclaimed Jesus and performed signs by Spirit’s power→ joy (8v8). News got back to Jerusalem so Peter and John went to Samaria
Prayed for the new believers and laid hands on them to be filled with the Spirit.
Philip’s work done so, staying close to Jesus, moved on under God’s instruction. He went south on the desert road where he encountered the Ethiopian eunuch.
Fulfils Acts 1v8 Witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, ends of the earth.
The Ethiopian, an African, was on way back from pilgrimage to worship in Jerusalem. Again Philip responded to prompting of Holy Spirit (v29)- Go, stay near chariot. He heard the Ethiopian reading aloud from Isaiah; starts with a question, gets invitation.
God put him in right place, right time- with opportunity to engage in discussion. Invited into chariot and explains how Jesus fulfilled Isaiah 53
Philip has listened to God; now listens to the Ethiopian before speaking when invited. Starting with the passage he was reading to tell him the good news about Jesus.
Jesus applied Isaiah 53:12 to himself: Luke 22:37 “he was numbered with the transgressors”
Read about the servant of God who was despised and rejected. Who took up our pain and bore our suffering, pierced and crushed for our sins. Punishment that brought us peace was on Him, He didn’t deserve it; we did. All gone astray like lost sheep, own way; Lord laid on him all our wrong doing. It was the Lord’s will that he should suffer as offering for sin but will see his offspring. He bore the sin of many and interceded for those of us who broke God’s law. In verse 36 – the Ethiopian got it- was ready to follow Jesus- baptised at first opportunity
Philip’s work was done so he moved on (naturally or supernaturally) up the coast to Azotus
Acts 8:26-40 compare Luke 24:13-35 Emmaus road Encounter, journey, scripture, faith, gone.
According to early bishop Irinaeus the Ethiopian went home, preached what he believed.
More fruitfulness in Ethiopia while Philip moved on to share good news elsewhere.
Philip stayed close to Jesus- despite persecution which he probably saw as pruning. On arriving as a refugee in Samaria- he talked about and demonstrated the gospel. Preached to a crowd (mass evangelism) and followed God’s leading to an individual. In both cases God used him and he was fruitful in that there was joy and new faith.
Philip was led partly by circumstances (persecution) and also obedient to specific guidance from God’s Spirit- go to desert road, stand by the chariot. He listened before he spoke- starts with question, do you understand?→ invited. Then listened to question (Isaiah 53 about a prophet or someone else?). Then answered the question before going on to explain gospel. Phillip was fully engaged with God and respectfully engaged with man he was led to.
How well do we listen? To God and to the people He leads us to (2 ears 1 mouth).
Start where they are and lead them towards Jesus.