Online Bible Commentary
A Divine Appointment
Acts 8:26 Now an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, "Arise and go toward the south along the road which goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza." This is desert. 27 So he arose and went. And behold, a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace the queen of the Ethiopians, who had charge of all her treasury, and had come to Jerusalem to worship, 28 was returning. And sitting in his chariot, he was reading Isaiah the prophet. 29 Then the Spirit said to Philip, "Go near and overtake this chariot." 30 So Philip ran to him, and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah, and said, "Do you understand what you are reading?" 31 And he said, "How can I, unless someone guides me?" And he asked Philip to come up and sit with him. (NKJV)
The time is the early thirties. The New Testament church has begun to spread out from its beginnings in Jerusalem. Philip has travelled north to Samaria to spread the gospel.
With his work in Samaria completed for the time being, God summons Philip to a divine appointment. An angel directs him to leave Samaria, return to Jerusalem, and then to travel southwest along the road that leads to Gaza, in the desert (v. 26).
In obedience, Philip follows God’s instructions (v. 27a). Shortly after leaving Jerusalem, Philip encountered a man who was riding in a chariot along the road. This man is described as an Ethiopian eunuch (v. 27b).
The word “eunuch” is the English form of the Greek word which means “bed-keeper”. Eunuchs were people who were in charge of bed chambers in palaces and large homes. Because of the sensitive nature of their position they were often required to be true eunuchs, devoid of their virility. Some of these people rose to positions of confidential advisors and the word became used of such advisors even if they were not actual eunuchs.
This eunuch that Philip encountered was a eunuch of great authority” (v. 27c). He worked for “Candace the queen of the Ethiopians and was in “charge of all her treasury” (v. 27d). Ethiopia was located to the south of Egypt, quite a distance from Jerusalem. The eunuch was a Jewish proselyte who “had come to Jerusalem to worship” (v. 27e), and was now returning home (v. 28a).
During his trip, the eunuch was reading scripture, specifically from the book of Isaiah (v. 28b). The Holy Spirit urged Philip to overtake the chariot and, running, Philip did just that (vv. 29-30a).
Philip overheard the eunuch reading scripture and struck up a conversation by asking him if he understood what he was reading (v. 30b). The eunuch responded: "How can I, unless someone guides me?" and asked Philip to join him up on the chariot (v. 31).
So Philip was given the opportunity to witness to the Ethiopian eunuch. But none of it would have happened if Philip had not been obedient to God’s leading. God arranged a divine appointment and Philip followed through.
In the same way God arranges divine appointments for us everyday. Everyone we run into in our daily lives is there for a purpose. Some may just need an encouraging word, while others may be like the eunuch, lost. We will never know if we do not strike up a conversation, as did Philip.
Ours is to be obedient. Strike up that conversation. You never know where it may lead. It may lead to someone finding Christ. It may lead to a life changed, for eternity.