Evangelization of an Ethiopian

Title: Evangelization of an Ethiopian

Bible Book: 2 Kings 8 : 35-38

Author: Donnie L. Martin

Subject: Evangelism; Witnessing; Soul Winning



Prior to the story that we have just read, we are told of the death of Stephen, one of the first deacons of the church of Jerusalem. Before his death, Stephen preached a scorching sermon to the religious leaders of his day, concerning their guilt in the death of the Lord Jesus Christ. This fiery message inspired by the Holy Spirit, wound up costing Stephen his life, for the Bible tells us that these men “… were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth” (Acts 7: 54b). The violence of their anger toward Stephen is brought out by the words “…gnashed on him with their teeth,” meaning: “to bite with loud noise, to grind or gnash the teeth. Literally, they began to gnash their teeth at…him (just like a pack of hungry, snarling wolves)” (Robertson’s Word Pictures). Moments later, this godly servant of God was stoned to death.

It is at the stoning of Stephen that we are introduced to a young man named Saul. Saul, who, after  his conversion, became known as Paul, severely persecuted the church of Jerusalem. However, this didn’t produce the effect for which the Jewish religious leaders had hoped. Instead of hindering the growth of the Christian church, persecution actually inspired its growth.

During the tremendous growth of the Church, the Apostle Peter and Philip the evangelist had the opportunity to preach Christ in the town of Samaria. Not long after Peter and Philip returned to Jerusalem, Philip was given instructions, via an angelic messenger, for a special assignment. He was told to go into the desert, south of Jerusalem. He obeyed immediately, even though he wasn’t given the details of what God had in mind for this assignment. However, Philip’s obedience resulted in the salvation of an Ethiopian official in the court of Queen Candace (Con’da-ce).

This account is a great illustration of the need for Christians to be available to God to witness of His saving grace. You see it isn’t that there is no one left with which to share salvation’s story; but it is simply that we often overlook or ignore the opportunities that God gives us to share Christ with the lost.

But why is evangelism so important?

Evangelism is important because all humanity is separated from God by sin (“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;”—Rom.3: 23).

Evangelism is important because man cannot meet God’s righteous demands in order to earn his salvation (“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast”—Eph.2: 8 & 9).

Evangelism is important because God loves the lost, and desires to forgive them, if they will but trust Him (“For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee”—Psalm 86: 5).

Evangelism is important because putting one’s faith in Christ alone is the only means of obtaining God’s forgiveness and the gift of eternal life (“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me”—John 14: 6; “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life”—John 3: 16).

Evangelism is important because it is God’s plan for bringing others to faith in Christ. It is His command to all believers (“And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature”—Mark 15: 16).

Folks, God’s purpose in saving us was not so we could “sit and soak,” but to be testimonies to the saving grace of God. Jesus told His disciples, at the beginning of the book of Acts, “…and ye shall be witnesses unto me…” (Acts 1: 8b). It has always been God’s plan for His sheep to produce other sheep, for every person, regardless of their station in life, needs the Savior.

The Ethiopian eunuch needed Christ. But he didn’t fit the description of what we might think of as a lost sinner. Notice his characteristics with me.

I. The Ethiopian Eunuch Was A Respectable Man

A. This Is Seen By The Power He Possessed

Acts 8:27a, “And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority…”

This was a man who was a leader. His position was one of honor and responsibility. He was quite unlike this man:

Feeling Like A Nobody - We all feel like a nobody sometimes, and some of us feel like a nobody all the time. Some time ago a new employee at a Wal-Mart had an unusual experience. The young man had just been at work three days and was the low man in the pecking order at the store. He was standing with a broom in his hand near the entrance when an irate customer came into the store. The customer had made a purchase that had not turned out satisfactorily and was coming back with a complaint. “Young man,” the customer growled, “I want to speak to someone with a little authority around here.” The new clerk looked around to the left and right and leaning on his broom said, “Well, sir, you might as well talk to me, I guess I got just about as little authority as anybody in this whole place.” Author unknown. Taken from pastorlife.com.

B. This Is Seen By The Person He Served

Acts 8:27b, “…an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians…”

The term Candace was not the queen of Ethiopia’s name, as born out by the following historic facts: Candace was a title given to the queen-mother, as Pharaoh was used of the king of Egypt.

Governmental power rested in the hands of Candace, for the royal son, worshipped as an offspring of the sun, was therefore above such mundane activities as ruling over a nation. Rulership was therefore vested with the queen-mother. John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck, Editors, The Bible Knowledge Commentary, New Testament Edition, published by Victor Books, Wheaton, Illinois; pg. 374.

Wiersbe notes that, “This court official did not come from what we know today as Ethiopia; his home was in ancient Nubia, located south of Egypt” (Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Dynamic, published by Victor Books, Wheaton, Illinois). Another author says that area refers “…the region from Aswan in southern Egypt to Khartoum, Sudan” (John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck, Editors, The Bible Knowledge Commentary, New Testament Edition, published by Victor Books, Wheaton, Illinois; pg. 374).

[3] Concerning one’s eternal salvation, the point can be made here that who one knows on earth does not impress God in the least. The question is, “Do you know Jesus Christ? Does He live in your heart by faith?”

C. This Is Seen By The Position He Held

Acts 8:27c, “…who had the charge of all her treasure…”

This man was obviously very trustworthy and responsible. He was basically the “lord treasurer” over everything the queen possessed. But please understand: Though being trustworthy and responsible are admirable qualities, they won’t earn one a place in heaven. Only repentance of sin and faith in Christ can do that.

The fact is that though God loved this man, no matter how much power he possessed, how many powerful and influential people he knew, or what lofty position he held, he was still a lost sinner, who needed Jesus.

II. The Ethiopian Eunuch Was A Religious Man

A. He Was A Worshiper Of God

Acts 8:27d, “…and had come to Jerusalem for to worship,”

Worship that is practiced in the right way, and directed toward the right Person because of a right relationship, based on faith in Christ Jesus, is fine. However, many today are just like the Samaritan woman to whom Jesus said, “Ye worship ye know not what…” (John 4: 22a).

Last week I heard part of an interview with actor Will Smith, who was answering a question about how he felt about Tom Cruise’s Scientology beliefs. He and Tom Cruise are good friends. Though I like Will Smith as a person, I can’t agree with what he said. He answered the lady’s question by saying in essence that any ole religion will do. One is as good as another. I can’t be critical of Tom’s beliefs. I was raised a Baptist, but 98 percent of Scientology agrees with Christianity. 98 percent of Buddhism is just like Christianity. Man, how can I be critical of Tom’s  beliefs when I believe that Jesus was born of a virgin? (This was stated with a little mischievous grin on his face, as though the virgin birth was absurd.) Author’s paraphrase of an interview with Will Smith on MSNBC.com.

There’s an interesting thing about the fact that this man was going to Jerusalem to worship. Wiersbe notes: “Since he was a eunuch, he could not become a full Jewish proselyte (Deut. 23:1); but he was permitted to become a “God fearer” or “a proselyte of the gate.” He was concerned enough about his spiritual life to travel over 200 miles to Jerusalem to worship God; but his heart was still not satisfied. This Ethiopian represents many people today who are religious, read the Scriptures, and seek the truth, yet do not have saving faith in Jesus Christ. They are sincere, but they are lost! They need someone to show them the way.” Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Dynamic, published by Victor Books, Wheaton, Illinois.

I want to point out to you this morning that, in spite of this man’s religiosity and respectability, he was unacceptable to God. As one commentator says: “As a eunuch, he could never have belonged to the OT people of God (Deut. 23:1), but such persons are to receive the Gospel” (Charles F. Pfeiffer and Everett F. Harrison, Editors, The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, published by Moody Press, Chicago, Illinois; pg. 1139). Jesus’ sacrifice on Calvary was the answer to this man’s dilemma.

Ephesians 2:13, “But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.”

B. He Was A Reader Of The Word Of God

Acts 8:28, “Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet.”

1. He Read Of Christ’s Substitutionary Death

Acts 8:32, “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.”

The above verses are actually a paraphrase of Isaiah 53: 7 & 8. It was not mere coincidence that the eunuch was reading from the very text from which Philip would preach Jesus to him. Though this man was religious, he had found no spiritual satisfaction or relief from his nagging guilt. He was about to learn of the King who had died in his place.

Royalty Receives The Punishment - Throughout history, royal families have received special treatment. Often they were exempt from keeping the law or receiving punishment or even discipline. But the royal children still needed to know that when they misbehaved they deserved to be punished. When a prince or princess disobeyed or did poorly in schoolwork, the punishment was given to a “whipping boy” instead. There was no doubt who was really at fault, but it was simply unthinkable for a servant to spank a person of royalty.

The cross of Calvary gives a completely different view of dealing with wrongdoing. Although the servant is at fault, royalty receives the punishment. Jesus Christ, the Prince of Glory, took our place when He died on the cross. He voluntarily became our “whipping boy” and paid the penalty for our sins. Author unknown. Taken from pastorlife.com

2. He Read The Scriptures, But Without Discernment

Acts 8:30-31a, 34, “And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest? And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me… And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man?”

The Bible is a spiritual book, and for the most part, can only be understood by those indwelled by the Spirit of God. Paul put it this way:

We read in 1 Corinthians 2:14, “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”

3. Philip Gave This Lost Man Spiritual Direction

Acts 8:35, “Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.”

The problem among many Christians of our day is that they don’t have a problem with screaming their lungs out like an idiot over a ball game, but they can’t open their mouth to tell someone about Jesus, the Savior of the world. Philip was a man led by the Spirit of God, and obedient to God’s leadership in his witness for Christ. Though it isn’t likely that we’ll receive instruction from an angel, the indwelling Holy Spirit will give us guidance, as we walk in obedience. Sharing Christ with others is the business of believers, not angels.

The angel could have told this Ethiopian official how to be saved, but God has not given the commission to angels: He has given it to His people. Angels have never personally experienced God’s grace; therefore, they can never bear witness of what it means to be saved.

It was D.L. Moody who once asked a man about his soul, and the man replied, “It’s none of your business!”

“Oh, yes, it is my business!” Moody said; and the man immediately exclaimed, “Then you must be

D.L. Moody!” It is every Christian’s business to share the Gospel with others, and to do it without fear or apology. Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Dynamic, published by Victor Books, Wheaton, Illinois.

An effective witness will not be a forced witness. God will open up the opportunity, but then the initiative is ours. The majority of people you meet every day have no real understanding of what’s involved in salvation by grace through faith in Christ.

Simple Faith - A preacher was on an airplane several years ago when he attempted to witness to a fellow traveler. The preacher was asked by the passenger next to him what he did for a living. The preacher said, “I am a preacher? Do you know the Lord?” The man answered, “Well, preacher, I try to keep my religion simple, you know, ‘Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so.’” The preacher asked, “What do you do for a living?” The man answered, “I am an astronomer at a college. Do you know much about astronomy?” The preacher replied, “Well, I try to keep my astronomy simple, you know,  ‘Twinkle, twinkle little star, how I wonder what you are.’” Source unknown, but contributed by J. Mike Minnix, Editor PastorLife (www.pastorlife.com).

III. The Ethiopian Eunuch Was A Receptive Man

A. He Received Philip Into His Chariot

Acts 8:31b, “…And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him.”

There’s a good point here: Don’t try to force yourself, or the gospel on people. You can only share with them what they will permit you to share. The fact that this man invited Philip into his chariot indicates that he was receptive to the Word of God, for it was obvious that this would be their topic of discussion

B. He Received Into His Heart The Lord Jesus Christ

1. This Was Evidenced By His Willingness To Be Baptized

Acts 8:36-38, “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? 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. 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.”

2. This Was Evidenced By The Joy That Filled His Being

Acts 8:39 “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.”

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