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“And the eunuch said to Philip, ‘About whom, I ask you, the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?’ Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus. And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, ‘See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?’ ” (Acts 8:34–36).

IN ACTS 8, WE HAVE THE ACCOUNT OF A CHRISTIAN NAMED PHILIP TEACHING THE GOSPEL TO AN ETHIOPIAN OFFICIAL WHO WAS RETURNING FROM A TRIP TO JERUSALEM TO WORSHIP. When Philip approached, he was reading from Isaiah. Inviting Philip into the chariot, the man asked him about the passage he had been reading: “Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter . . .” (Isaiah 53:7,8). So “beginning with this Scripture,” Philip “told him the good news.” Jesus was the person the prophecy referred to, the Messiah through whom we must receive the forgiveness of our sins. Philip also explained how the gospel must be responded to, because when “they came to some water . . . the eunuch said, ‘See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?’”

What happened here was typical of most of the evangelism in Acts: Jesus was shown to be the Messiah by the messianic prophecies in the Scriptures. In Acts 18:28, for example, Apollos showed “by the Scriptures that the Christ was Jesus.” When taken as a whole, the Old Testament is seen to be a thoroughly messianic work. It is filled with passages that prefigured the coming of a Savior, not only for the Jews but for the whole world — and the detailed fulfillment of all of these prophetic texts in the life and work of Jesus of Nazareth cannot possibly be accounted for by chance or accident.

In Acts 8, there is a straight line that runs from this man’s reading of Isaiah 53 to his baptism into Christ. Each step led quite reasonably to the next. First, he saw the fulfillment of Isaiah’s words in Jesus. Then he concluded that Jesus, as the Messiah, was his Savior. Next, he listened to Philip’s explanation about how the gospel must be responded to. And finally, he asked to be baptized. Thankfully, the Ethiopian was an honest man: (1) willing to see the truth, and (2) wanting to do whatever the truth required of him.

“The correspondence between the description of the Servant and the events surrounding Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection was so convincing that the Ethiopian believed immediately and was baptized” (Michael A. Rydelnik).

Gary Henry — +

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