Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch Part 3 of 3

by John Lowe
(Laurens SC, USA)

36 And as they went along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, "See, here is water! What is to prevent my being baptized?"


“Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). The first consequence of Philip’s evangelization was the Ethiopian’s conversion. He believed on Jesus Christ and was born again. His response, “What is to prevent my being baptized?” indicates that water baptism was the seal of a personal decision to trust in Christ—“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19). Presumably, the subject of baptism was part of the teaching of Philip on this occasion.

The road to Gaza crosses several river beds or wadis, and the salvation experience was so real to him that he wanted to be baptized immediately, so he stopped the caravan at the first appearance of water. He was no “closet Christian;” he wanted everyone to know what the Lord had done for him.


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.

Remember that Philip had an experience with Simon the sorcerer up there in Samaria. He is not about to have a repetition of that. When this man asks for water baptism, Philip wants to be very sure that he believes with all his heart.

This verse is included only in late Greek manuscripts and therefore was probably not in the original manuscripts.


38 And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip, and the eunuch, and he baptized him.
39 And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught up Philip; and the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing.

We saw the first result of Philip’s evangelism was the conversion of the Ethiopian (v. 36), and now we see that the second result was joy—he “went on his way rejoicing.” A third result was a further outreach of the gospel to one who was neither Jew nor Samaritan, but a Gentile (African) worshipper of Yahweh who was not a full-fledged proselyte to Judaism.

The “Spirit of the Lord” is mentioned in the Old Testament as having “caught up” Elijah—“And they said to him, "Behold now, there are with your servants fifty strong men; pray, let them go, and seek your master; it may be that the Spirit of the LORD has caught him up and cast him upon some mountain or into some valley. . ." (2 Kings 2:16). In Acts the phrase is only used here; but in Acts 16:7 there is the phrase, “the Spirit of Jesus,” which is probably the meaning here—“And when they had come opposite Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them”—the title “Lord” being transferred as usual from Yahweh to Christ. No gift of the Spirit is said to follow baptism, unless we read with the Western text: “The Holy Spirit fell on the eunuch, but the angel of the Lord caught away Philip.” Tradition says that the eunuch went on to be a missionary to his own people. Philip’s mysterious disappearance was a powerful confirmation to the caravan that Philip was God’s representative.

He had found Christ, and the key to the Scriptures; his soul was set free, “and he went on his way rejoicing.” He had lost his teacher, but gained what was infinitely better, he felt like a new man and “his joy was full.”

Let us not be satisfied until we get faith, as the Ethiopian did, by diligent study of the Holy Scriptures, and the teaching of the Spirit of God; let us not be satisfied until we get it fixed as a principle in our hearts.

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