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“Philip’s Supernatural Encounter” (Acts 8:26-40)

First Baptist Church https://fbcbartow.org

Last week we heard about Philip traveling to Samaria to share the gospel with non-Jewish people. We saw the beginning of the gospel expansion.

This week, we will learn that Philip was a traveling man! He not only shared the gospel in Samaria, he also shared it in Gaza.

As a review, here’s the map we looked at last week.

Last week, Philip traveled from Jerusalem up to Samaria. Now, he travels down from Samaria, back to Jerusalem, then to Gaza. From Gaza he traveled to Azotus, then to Caesarea.

Philip was a traveling man, and as he traveled, he was having gospel encounters.

This particular encounter that we will read about today was a special encounter. Indeed, it was a supernatural encounter. In fact, the title of today’s sermon is “Philip’s Supernatural Encounter.”

Let’s go to the Lord in prayer and ask Him to speak to us as we study His Word.


As we look at this passage today, we’ll see three situations that are part of Philip’s supernatural encounter.

First, we see . . .

‌I. The opportunity.

Let’s look at the passage. Look at Acts 8:26-29:

26 An angel of the Lord spoke to Philip: “Get up and go south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” (This is the desert road.) 27 So he got up and went. There was an Ethiopian man, a eunuch and high official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of her entire treasury. He had come to worship in Jerusalem 28 and was sitting in his chariot on his way home, reading the prophet Isaiah aloud.

29 The Spirit told Philip, “Go and join that chariot.”

We see in this passage that Philip has an opportunity that lies before him.

He has been told to leave where he is and head down a desert road to meet a man whom he doesn’t know.

Notice that Philip was told this information by an angel of the Lord. We don’t know the particulars, but we know that this was a supernatural occurrence.

We also don’t know a lot about the man whom Philip was to meet, but we do know a few things about him.

We know that he was an Ethiopian.

Now, it’s worth mentioning that the Ethiopia mentioned in this passage is probably not the same as modern-day Ethiopia.

Most likely, the Ethiopia mentioned here referred to a kingdom that stretched from modern-day Ethiopia, through Sudan, all the way up to the southern part of Egypt.

We also learn that this man was in a chariot, and he was a high official in the royal court.

More than likely, this man was quite wealthy. After all, not everyone had chariots.

Further, because he was a high-ranking official, he probably had great wealth.

By the way, the queen’s name was likely not Candace. Rather, that would have been her title. She would have been The Candace, similar to how you would have The Pharoah in Egypt.

Third, we learn that this man was a eunuch.

Not everyone knows what a eunuch is, but it’s not something I will explain in detail in mixed company.

It’s enough to say that a eunuch is a man who has had his body altered in a way that he can be trusted to be in the presence of a queen or princess without something inappropriate happening.

Kids, if you have a question about that, you can ask your parents. Adults, if you have a question about that, you can ask one of our other two pastors.

Finally, we learn that this man was on his way to worship in Jerusalem.

Now, there’s no explicit evidence that this man was a Jewish convert.

However, it does appear that he was interested in learning about the God of Israel, and worshipping in Jerusalem.

So, this man’s heart was perhaps already open to hearing about the Jewish Messiah.

Notice what the Ethiopian man was doing: He was reading the Book of Isaiah aloud.

The Book of Isaiah contains some of the most powerful prophecies concerning Jesus the Messiah.

As we’ll learn in just a moment, that’s precisely what this man was reading.

So, we see in verse 29 that the Spirit of God told Philip to “Go and join that chariot.”

Well, how did Philip respond to this opportunity?

Next, let’s see . . .

‌II. The obedience.

We see in this passage that Philip was obedient. He was not only obedient to the angel of the Lord who told him to go down to Gaza, he was also obedient to the Spirit who told him to go join the chariot.

Listen to verses 30-35:

30 When Philip ran up to it, he heard him reading the prophet Isaiah, and said, “Do you understand what you’re reading?”

31 “How can I,” he said, “unless someone guides me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. 32 Now the Scripture passage he was reading was this:

He was led like a sheep to the slaughter,

and as a lamb is silent before its shearer,

so he does not open his mouth.

33 In his humiliation justice was denied him.

Who will describe his generation?

For his life is taken from the earth.

34 The eunuch said to Philip, “I ask you, who is the prophet saying this about—himself or someone else?” 35 Philip proceeded to tell him the good news about Jesus, beginning with that Scripture.

The passage that the man was reading is Isaiah 53:7-8, which is one of the “Suffering Servant” passages of Isaiah.

These passages are prophecies that speak about a man, referred to as the “Suffering Servant,” who we later find out is none other than Jesus Christ.

The Ethiopian is curious about who this could be about. He wonders if Isaiah is prophesying about himself or someone else.

Notice that Philip was intuitive to the opportunity before him.

First of all, he had an angel of the Lord and the Holy Spirit speak to him. However, he was also intuitive to the specific opportunity to launch into a gospel conversation. In other words, Philip was paying attention and looking for an opportunity.

Philip said in verse 30, “Do you understand what you’re reading?”

Philip sensed the opportunity to tell this man about Jesus, and he asked this transitional question to further open the door for this man to hear about Jesus.

Philip didn’t say, “Well, that’s a confusing prophecy; good luck with that.” No, Philip sensed an opportunity to further open the door for the gospel, and he obediently took advantage of the opportunity by asking the man this question.

Of course, the man asked, “How can I understand . . . unless someone guides me?”

What a perfect set-up for Philip to obediently share the gospel, and that’s exactly what he did.

Verse 35 says, “Philip proceeded to tell him the good news about Jesus, beginning with that Scripture.”

Philip sensed the opportunity, and he obediently followed through.

Well, what happened next? Finally, we learn . . .

‌III. The outcome.

Let’s look at verses 36-40:

36 As they were traveling down the road, they came to some water. The eunuch said, “Look, there’s water. What would keep me from being baptized?” 38 So he ordered the chariot to stop, and both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him. 39 When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord carried Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him any longer but went on his way rejoicing. 40 Philip appeared in Azotus, and he was traveling and preaching the gospel in all the towns until he came to Caesarea.

We don’t know all the details of their discussion, but it appears to contain much more than the prophecy from the Book of Isaiah.

Remember, verse 35 said that “beginning with that Scripture.” Philip told the man the good news.

So, they could have spoken for quite some time about the good news of Jesus. Perhaps they even spoke about baptism because the man evidently knew that baptism was to follow belief in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

In verse 36, The man asked, “Look, there’s water. What would keep me from being baptized?”

What belief and what obedience from this man! The outcome was that he believed Philip’s message and demonstrated his belief by being baptized.

By the way, this baptism here affirms our belief in believer’s baptism by immersion. The man believed the gospel, then he went down into the water to be baptized.

So, the outcome for the Ethiopian man is that he believed and was baptized.

What was the outcome for Philip?

Well, he was carried away by the Spirit of the Lord.

By the way, a miraculous work of the Spirit like this was not unprecedented in the Scriptures, although it was uncommon. In other words, though it wasn’t something that never happened, it was something that didn’t usually happen.

So, the Spirit took Philip from Gaza to Azotus, then he made his way to Caesarea.

Just as a note, this was not Caesarea in the region where Jesus ministered. This was a different Caesarea on the coast, called Caesarea Maritima or Caesarea by the Sea.

So, we see the outcome of Philip’s obedience to the opportunity that was before him.

Let this bottom line summarize what we’re learning today.

‌Bottom Line: Philip’s obedience led to a supernatural outcome.

This encounter was amazing, wasn’t it? God was at work in this story in an amazing and powerful way.

This was Philip’s supernatural encounter.

Before we conclude here, there’s a warning I want to give to us all, church. You see some of us may be tempted to think that what God did then was amazing and supernatural, but we don’t see that kind of work today.

This was Philip’s supernatural encounter. The reality is, all of us have an opportunity to have supernatural encounters. You see, the same Holy Spirit still works through God’s people today.

Church, we must recognize that God is still working through His church. He still gives us opportunities, we must still be obedient, and He still brings supernatural outcomes.

The greatest supernatural work in all of human history is that God saves sinners, and you better believe that He is using still using His people, like Philip and like you, to make that happen.

As we read in Romans 10:14–15:

“How, then, can they call on him they have not believed in? And how can they believe without hearing about him? And how can they hear without a preacher? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news.”

God is still giving opportunities to share the good news, we must still be obedient, and God is still bringing amazing outcomes.

That’s why we believe at First Baptist Church Bartow that part of being a follower of Jesus Christ, part of being a disciple, is reaching others. We want to reach them with the gospel of Jesus Christ. We want to be used as Philip was used.

So, let us all challenge ourselves this week in these three ways:

‌Weekly Challenge #1 – Look for opportunities.

Opportunities to share the love of God and the good news of Jesus are all around you. Are you open to those opportunities?

Look for opportunities. Be ready for opportunities. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you recognize opportunities.

‌Weekly Challenge #2 – Be obedient.

What will you do when you recognize an opportunity? Will you be obedient?

God is still using His people? Will you be used by Him?

Ask the Holy Spirit to give you the courage and faithfulness to be obedient.

Challenge yourself this week to be obedient to the opportunities that you have.

‌Weekly Challenge #3 – Leave the outcome to the Lord.

We do not control the outcomes; we must simply recognize the opportunities and be obedient.

You know what? It’s a good thing that we don’t control the outcome, isn’t it? God is much wiser, much holier, and much more powerful than we are.

So, challenge yourself to be obedient and leave the outcome to the Lord God.

Do you want to see God do something supernatural? Be obedient.

Do you want to see God do something supernatural in your life? Come to Jesus.

(Gospel presentation)

(closing prayer)

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