Chapter 8 begins with the Gospel in action. Chapters
8–12 describe the period of transition during which
several things take place: The center of activity moves
from Jerusalem to Antioch; the message goes from the
Jews to the Samaritans and then to the Gentiles; Peter’s
kingdom ministry comes to a close and Paul takes his
place; and, the Gospel of the kingdom is replaced by the
Gospel of the grace of God.
If the Ethiopian eunuch was of the black race
(and many believe he was), then in chapters 8–10 we
have presented to us three remarkable conversions
paralleling the three sons of Noah in Genesis 10:1. The
Ethiopian would come from Ham; Paul, a Jew, from Shem;
and Cornelius, a Gentile, from Japheth. Thus, we have
pictured the Gospel going to all mankind.
There are several lessons that can be learned
from chapter 8. One is that persecution is often an
opportunity for service. The blood of the martyrs is
still the seed of the church. Secondly, we find that
Satan opposes the Word of God through persecution from
without and false professions from within. Today, as
always, the only way to defeat Satan is through
obedience to the Word of God.
A very interesting point concerning soul-winning
is also contained in chapter 8. Philip was concerned
about one soul. We know that in the first part of this
chapter there were many; but Philip was faithful in
leading the one to Christ when he explained the Gospel
to the Ethiopian eunuch. What a lesson for us today!
True, we as preachers and teachers can preach to
hundreds and thousands, but that one lonely soul is
important to Christ. Philip set forth an example that we
all should follow.
Saul was the chief persecutor of the Christians.
Because of these persecutions, the first missionaries
were born. Because of the fear of persecution, the
apostles were scattered abroad and went everywhere
preaching the Word. The message was the same as it had
been, but now it was being preached to a different group
of people. That message was, “Repent and believe on the
Lord Jesus Christ.”
In chapter 9 we see the conversion of Saul of
Tarsus. This man, who had been a hater of all
Christians, was confronted on the road to Damascus by a
light from heaven and the voice of Jesus; and there he
repented of his sin and received Christ as his personal
Paul’s conversion was very miraculous and
dramatic. The conversion of the thief on the cross was a
simple request by the thief and not so dramatic. It is
good to observe this contrast, because I have seen
people come weeping, running, and very emotional to
receive Christ as Saviour; others come very calmly, and
the same miraculous new birth transpires in both lives.
The point I am making is simply that there is no
certain physical condition a person must be in to come
to Christ; the important thing is that they come,
believe, and receive Him.
After his conversion, Paul becomes what I
consider to be the greatest of all Christians, and was
later to be the human instrument through whom the Gospel
would be preached to the Gentiles. From a murderer and
hater of Christians, to one of God’s choice preachers,
this change will be continually noticed throughout our