2017-08-11 / Other News

Sunday School Lesson

Called to Break Down Barriers

Acts 8:26 And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert.

27 And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship,

28 Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet.

29 Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot.

30 And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest?

31 And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him.

32 The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth:

33 In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth.

34 And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man?

35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.

36 And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?

37 And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.

38 And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.

39 And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.

Heart of the Lesson

Today's Heart of the Lesson introduces a man who was so obsessed by reading Scripture that he read while riding in a bumpy, swaying chariot.

1. Following God's call (Acts 8:26-29).

The Lord called Philip away from his successful evangelism crusade in Samaria. He was to travel to Jerusalem and then go southwest toward Gaza on the coast.

Philip eventually encountered a retinue traveling with an Ethiopian eunuch, a government official in charge of the queen's treasury. (A high government official would never travel alone.) Having just worshipped in Jerusalem, the eunuch was returning to Ethiopia, south of Egypt. Although he was a Gentile, he had apparently converted to Judaism. To travel such a distance to worship shows his deep spiritual interest.

As he rode, he read aloud from a scroll of the Prophet Isaiah. Perhaps he had acquired the scroll while he was in Jerusalem. He had learned Greek at some point because he was reading from the Septuagint, a Greek translation of the Old Testament (Eiselen, The Abingdon Bible Commentary, Doubleday).

Philip heard the Holy Spirit tell him to approach the chariot and make contact with this man.

2. Opening a conversation (Acts 8:30-34).

Philip ran to catch up with the chariot. But he needed an opener — something to start a conversation.

Philip asked the eunuch a simple question about what he was doing; he asked whether the eunuch understood what he was reading.

A natural human tendency is to dislike admitting ignorance. But the eunuch did not let pride stand in his way. He said that he did not understand; he needed a teacher. Sensing that Philip could help him understand the passage, he invited him to join him in the chariot.

The eunuch was reading Isaiah 53:7-8 about the Suffering Servant. He asked Philip whether the Prophet Isaiah was speaking about himself or about some other man.

3. Sharing Jesus (Acts 8:35).

The question provided Philip the opportunity to tell the eunuch about Jesus. Philip knew his Bible, which enabled him to explain how the entire Old Testament points to Jesus and the salvation He offers.

Baptizing a new believer (Acts 8:36-39). When the chariot neared a body of water, the eunuch asked whether anything prevented him from being baptized. Philip questioned the eunuch to be sure that he truly believed. He did.

The eunuch commanded the driver to stop the chariot. Philip baptized the eunuch there. He was buried in the likeness of Jesus' death and raised to walk in newness of life. When they reached the shore, the Spirit of God carried Philip away to his next place of ministry. The eunuch never saw Philip again, but the man continued on his trip, rejoicing.

Philip followed Jesus' command to take the good news to the uttermost parts of the earth, but he never left home. Today we have a similar opportunity by sharing the gospel with foreigners inside our borders, particularly with students. Why not send them home rejoicing?

Questions

1. To what geographical area did the angel of the Lord direct Philip?

2. Why was the eunuch in Palestine at this time?

3. What was the eunuch reading? What question perplexed him?

4. How did Jesus fulfill the passage the eunuch was reading?

(Reprinted with permission from The Incorporated Trustees of the Gospel Worker Society and Union Gospel Press, P.O. Box 6059, Cleveland, OH 44101.)

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