CONVERSION OF An Ethiopian

(Acts 8 : 26-40) 

ACTS of Apostles records the more significant acts 
of some of the apostles: those that are intended 
to serve as examples for all ages to come. The fore 
part of the book deals with the preaching of Peter ; the 
latter part, with the preaching of Paul. 

Of the various cases of conversion recorded, that of 
the eunuch is the plainest. The process is so clearly 
outlined that misconception is impossible. 

By way of introduction we might note that the 
eunuch was an Ethiopian; a man of high rank in his 
kingdom; that he had come all the way to Jerusalem 
to worship, and was now returning home. We are 
going to study this conversion under the following 
captions : 

1. What the angel did. The angel was a special mes- 
senger of God. Angels have always played an import- 
ant part in God's plans for the human race (Gen. 19: 
1; 22:11; Dan. 8:16; Matt. 4:11; Luke 1:11; Acts 
7 : 53 ; Gal. 3 : 19 ; 2 Thess. 1:7). The angel told Philip 
to go south to "the way that leads from Jerusalem to 
Gaza" (v. 26). Philip obeyed, although he left behind 
large crowds who had listened to his preaching in 
Samaria. He left popularity behind, to start to an- 
other destination, without knowing what was in store 
for him. He walked by faith and not by sight. We 
wonder how many modern evangelists would display 
such a degree of faith. When he came to this road, he 
saw a chariot coming towards him. 

2. What the Spirit did. The Spirit told him to 
"join himself to the chariot." Notice that the Spirit 
said unto Philip (v. 29). He did not move him, but 
said to him in audible tones: "Go near, and join thy- 
self to the chariot " (vs. 26-30). The Spirit never told 
any one directly how to be saved. The Spirit never 
pardoned any one directly. The Spirit operates 
through the preaching of the Word (John 6: 63). The 
Spirit brought the preacher to the sinner because faith 
comes by hearing the word of God (Eom. 10:17). 
God's foreign missionary policy was to convert the 
eunuch and send him back to his own people to preach 
the gospel to them in his native language; as in the 
case of Lydia and her household. 

3. What the preacher did. The eunuch was reading 
the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah regarding the suffering 
of Jesus Christ. How different from modern officers 
of high rank! Imagine a modern politician riding on 
a train reading the Bible ! The eunuch did not under- 
stand what he was reading. So Philip began at "the 
same scripture and preached unto him Jesus." No 
doubt this preaching was done in ordinary conversa- 
tion. To-day we might call it "personal work." What 
did Philip preach? "Jesus," or how that Jesus of 
Nazareth fulfilled the Scriptures (vs. 30-35). Evidently 
Philip included baptism in this message, for, as they 
were riding along, they came to "a certain water" and 
the eunuch asked what hindered him being baptized 
(v. 36). 

4. What the sinner did. Evidently the eunuch was 
a good man. He needed no particular change of life. 
But he did need to obey the gospel, in order to be 
cleansed by the blood of Christ. 

He asked what hindered him being baptized. Philip 
told him that he could be baptized if he believed (v. 
37). Faith must precede baptism in all instances 
(Mark 16: 16; Acts 2: 38). Hence there is no need of 
any external rites over the unknowing infant who can 
not believe. 

What did the eunuch believe — and "with all his 
heart" (v. 37). That Jesus Christ is the Son of God. 
This is the creed of Christianity (Matt. 16:16). This 
embraces the Christian system of faith in one state- 
ment. This is all that a sinner needs to believe to be 
saved (Rom. 10:8-10). 

The eunuch made a confession of his faith before 
being baptized. This is the great confession "unto 
salvation" which must precede baptism (Rom. 10: 10). 

After making this confession at the edge of the 
water, they "both went down into the water, both 
Philip and the eunuch" (v. 38). Why all this detail? 
It seems that God could look forward and see all the 
controversy that would ensue over the action of bap- 
tism, and made this example too clear for dispute or 
misconception. After both Philip and the eunuch went 
down into the water, "he baptized him" — that is, the 
one who was preaching and baptizing baptized the one 
who needed to be baptized. Then they came up out of 
the water (vs. 38, 39). From this, we find that bap- 
tism requires: 

a. Water (v. 36) ; 

b. Coming to the water (v. 36) ; 

c. Going down into the water (v. 38) ; 

d. Coming up out of the water (v. 39). 

We find also, in John 3:23, that baptism requires 
"much water." But what was the action, while they 
were both in the water, by which the eunuch was bap- 
tized? Upon investigation, we find that baptism repre- 
sents: 

a. A birth (John 3:5). 

b. A death, burial and resurrection (Rom. 6:3- 
5; Col. 2:12). 

c. A planting (Rom. 6:5). 

d. A washing (Acts 22:16; Heb. 10:22). 

Why is nothing said of repentance? Repentance is 
a complete change of attitude. The attitude of the 
eunuch was right. He was a good man and a wor- 
shiper of the true God. He was one of those who did 
not particularly need any repentance (Lube 15:7). 
But he did need to obey; and he demonstrated his 
faith by his willingness to obey the commands of the 
gospel. 

5. What God did for the sinner. The eunuch had 
obeyed; consequently God pardoned him. All who 
who obey the gospel will enjoy remission of sins (Acts 
2:38). Man must obey on earth; the pardoning is 
done in heaven. The Lord adds to the' church those 
who are being saved (Acts 2:47). 

What was God's plan? Through the Spirit, the 
preacher and sinner were brought together; the 
preacher preached Jesus Christ ; the sinner heard, be- 
lieved, confessed his belief, and obeyed the gospel. 

The Lord added him to the church, and the sinner 
went on his way rejoicing. He had been redeemed, 
sanctified, cleansed by the blood of Christ. This plan 
has never been changed.