Bible Class
Discussion Guide
by Edward Thomason

Philip and the Ethiopian
Acts 8:26-40

warm up
1. For fun match the following from this text:
[  ] Angel of the Lord Vs. 26 a. An evangelist (1 of the 7 in Acts 6)
[  ] The Ethiopian Vs. 27 b. Isaiah the prophet (an Old Testament book)
[  ] Esaias Vs. 28 c. Divine messenger (cf., Heb. 1:14)
[  ] Philip Vs. 26 d. A eunuch in charge of his Queen's treasure
wise up

We know that this Philip, who preached to the Samaritans and then to the Ethiopian in this chapter, was not the apostle Philip because Acts 8:1 states that the apostles remained in Jerusalem when the church was scattered. This Philip, like Stephen, was one of the seven who had been selected to serve tables in Acts 6. 

From this story we learn that God cares about the individual. Preaching Jesus "one on one" is an effective way of reaching the lost. But first there must be the contact or connection before there will be a conversion that takes place.

I. The Connection: Vs. 26-29
God's hand was at work in linking together the one who was searching for answers with one who could help him. Today we have the New Testament scriptures which we can read and search to find answers but that venue of information was unavailable in the early days of the church. The prophecies regarding Christ had to be explained orally by inspired prophets and evangelists like Philip. There was a miraculous element involved in guiding Philip to the one who was searching for answers yet, it was not an angel nor the Spirit that taught the Ethiopian about Jesus - it was a human vessel of clay. Today it is still "man's responsibility" to go and carry the gospel to others one by one.

   2. Verse 26 mentions that the area where Philip was to go was considered as "desert." According to Mark 6:35 and John 6:10, a "desert" can have "green grass" and "much grass." In those passages the term "desert" best describes a lonely, deserted, uninhabited area and not a dry wasteland scorched by the sun. Looking ahead into this chapter and the events that unfolded, what do you think the word "desert" had reference to in this text? 

                 [  ] a deserted area     [  ] a waterless area.

   3. What do we know about this man from Ethiopia? (Vs. 27-28; 39.) Where had he been and what had he done? (Vs. 27.) Was he a searcher for truth? What did Jesus say about such people in John 8:32? 

II. The Conversation: Vs. 30-35
   1. Philip begins with an "ice breaker" question in verse 30. How would you rate such a question?

               [  ] rude [  ] intimidating [  ] condescending 
               [  ] effective for its purpose [  ] other.

   2. What was the Ethiopian's first question in verse 31? Why did this man need help in understanding the scriptures? While we all appreciate help in our study and can learn from others, what do we have access to that the Ethiopian did not have? (Discuss: 2 Tim 2:15, Eph 3:4-5.) 

   3. Asking questions is often one of the indicators of a person's interest. What was the Ethiopian's second question? (Vs. 34.) Did Philip discuss sports, the weather or Jesus? (Vs. 35.) Shouldn't we learn not to avoid or lose an opportunity to share Christ with those who are asking questions?

III. The Conversion: Vs. 36-40
   1. What was the Ethiopian's third question? (Vs. 36.) How did the Ethiopian learn of his need to be baptized when the scripture says that Philip preached unto him Jesus? Preaching Jesus obviously includes preaching the "facts" regarding his life, death and resurrection, preaching the "commands" that Jesus gave us, and preaching the "promises" that give us hope. The facts are to be believed, the commands obeyed and the promises enjoyed. In the case of the Ethiopian, what was the only thing indicated that would have hindered him from being baptized? (vs. 37.) In the scriptures faith always comes before baptism (Cf., Mark 16:15-16.) Why is it appropriate to express or confess one's faith in Christ prior to baptism? Cf., Matthew 10:32, Romans 10:9-10.

   2. How do we know that the water used in the baptism wasn't some that they had carried with them? Who went down "into" the water? Why? When did the Ethiopian begin to rejoice? (Vs. 39.) 

wrap up

   1.  When it comes to sharing the gospel with others today, we can use questions to create interest and evaluate how much one knows about Jesus and the gospel. We, like Philip, should begin our studies where the person is and go from there. Some have never heard of Jesus, others have heard but don't know very much about his teaching, instructions or commandments. Where one begins in a study depends upon each individual.   


  Please read Acts 9:1-22 for next week        copyright 2001