The story in Acts 8 of Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch gives us a glimpse into the universal extent of the gospel message. As Ben Witherington puts it, “it is for all people from the last, least, and lost to the first, most, and found.” The inclusion into the church of those who are both physically and spiritually deformed is a precious doctrine. Scripture teaches that each one of us is an alien, a stranger, without hope and without God in this world, but we can be brought into fellowship with God by the blood of Jesus Christ (Eph. 2:12-19).
God’s method for reaching that particular Ethiopian is noteworthy. He sent an angelic messenger to Philip, instructing him to go into the wilderness and leading him to approach the eunuch’s wagon. We recognize that God deserves the credit for orchestrating this evangelistic opportunity, but I think it is also crucial for us to notice that God sent a man to do the work. Could God have sent the angel directly to the eunuch, or even spoken directly from heaven as he did in Acts 9 to Saul? Of course. But we find that even in Bible times, those types of events were rare and special. This eunuch’s conversion was of the much more mundane, person-to-person variety.
His confession of ignorance to Philip in v.31 is also telling, “How can I [understand], unless someone guides me?” Men and women who are without Christ are in need, not simply of possessing truth, but of believers to guide them into a proper understanding of that truth. This is not to say that a man cannot read Scripture and, with the Spirit’s guidance alone understand the gospel message and trust Christ for salvation. However, Jesus promised that his followers would be his witnesses, and it is still our responsibility and privilege today to lead unbelievers to personally encounter Jesus Christ through God’s Word. With the Old Testament Scriptures as his source, Philip proclaimed the truth about Jesus to this religious outcast. What exactly he said, we do not know, but it is not difficult to imagine Philip explaining from Isaiah 53 that Jesus is the righteous Servant who bore our iniquities and was identified with transgressors as he poured out his soul unto death, satisfying God’s righteous demands. And imagine the eunuch’s surprise when Philip told him that Jesus spoiled the powers of darkness by rising again. What excitement must have been his when Philip baptized him so that he could testify to all that even a perpetual outcast from the Jewish faith could become a member of the household of God. What joy might await your neighbor, coworker, family member or acquaintance if you would, like Philip, guide him to your Savior, Jesus Christ?