Thursday, May 15, 2014


Acts 8:12, “But when they believed Philip as he preached good news.”

Acts 8:35, “He told him the good news about Jesus.”
Philip was an amazing man and much used by God in the furtherance of the gospel message.  He is first mentioned in Scripture in Acts chapter 6.  He was one of the seven chosen by the congregation to assist in the serving of the widows.  He was “full of the Spirit and of wisdom,” and therefore met the qualifications put forth by the Apostles (Acts 6:3).
When Stephen was stoned a great persecution arose against the church in Jerusalem (Acts 8:1).  Philip was one of those “scattered through the regions of Judea and Samaria” (Acts 8:1).  Remember the mandate given by Jesus to the Apostles: “You shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8)?  As of Acts chapter 8 the gospel witness was still confined to the city of Jerusalem.  The “great persecution” changed all that…But it was going to take someone special to reach out to the Samaritans.  The Samaritans were despised by the Jews (Cf. John 4:9).  They were even denied the privilege of being Jewish proselytes.  It was Philip who took the first step in overcoming Jewish prejudice and reaching out to the Samaritans in obedience to the Lord’s command.
He went to the city of Samaria and “proclaimed to them the Christ” (Acts 8:5).  “The crowds with one accord paid attention to what was being said by Philip” (Acts 8:6).  Many were saved as a result of Philip’s evangelistic efforts: “But when they believed Philip as he preached good news…they were baptized, both men and women” (Acts 8:12).
But God had another task for Philip.  He took him from that successful evangelistic campaign, and led him to a desert road to meet with a single soul.  An Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of the Queen, was traveling to Jerusalem to worship (Acts 8:27).  He was reading from the prophet Isaiah (8:28).  He didn’t understand what he was reading (8:31).  He wondered of whom was the prophet speaking (8:34).  Philip used the opportunity to preach Jesus to him (8:35).  The Ethiopian eunuch believed unto salvation and was baptized (8:38).  According to church tradition, the Ethiopian eunuch returned as a missionary to the Ethiopians.  How wonderful the mysterious working of the Sovereign God in the salvation of a soul!  The same God who led Philip to Samaria to evangelize crowds of people was well-pleased and able to direct him to that desert road to preach the gospel to a lone soul.  He was in the right place at the right time with the right words to say—but not by accident.  The Ethiopian eunuch had a desire to know—God took care of the rest.
It is amazing to consider the rapid tearing down of religious and racial barriers that took place through the preaching of the gospel message.  Philip preached the gospel in Samaria, Samaritans were Spirit-united to the body of Christ.  Philip preached Jesus to a black, Gentile, Ethiopian and that Ethiopian was then Spirit-united to the body of Christ.  Red, brown, yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight!  One day we, as believers, will join a great choir of voices, people from “every tribe and language and people and nation,” (Revelation 5:9) in singing a new song to the Lamb who is worthy—who has worked through His cross to “reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility” (Ephesians 2:16).  The gospel message bridges all human boundaries (Cf. Galatians 3:28; Romans 1:16).
Philip was “snatched away” by the Spirit (Acts 8:39).  That must have been quite an experience!  He then found himself at Azotus, from there “as he passed through he preached the gospel to all the towns until he came to Caesarea” (Acts 8:40).  He was, in that region, a forerunner of the Apostle Paul.  Apparently he settled in Caesarea, for it was there where he served as host to Paul (Acts 21:8-9).  According to church tradition, Philip died on natural causes at Tralles, in Lydia.  One church Father, Basil, reports that he was the bishop there.  Philip was Spirit-led, gospel driven, and held to a “no boundaries” approach to evangelism.  Many came to faith in Christ as a result of his preaching.  He began in ministry by waiting on tables, but was later used by God to evangelize entire regions and at least one future missionary.  Being “full of the Spirit and of wisdom” (Acts 6:3) he was a vessel “useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work” (2 Timothy 2:21).

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