Friday, October 26, 2012

An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday October 28, 2012

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(Scripture leads to faith in JESUS CHRIST)
(Acts 8:26-40)

In the Greek, there is a wonderful sounding word that New Testament writers use for “promise”. It is “epaggelia” (ep-ang-el-EE-ah), and it is “an announcement of divine assurance of good”. In Isaiah 56:3-5, GOD promises, through the Prophet Isaiah, to pour out HIS blessings on the Eunuchs of the world, who serve HIM and keep HIS commandments, and to reward them with a special place in HIS house. It would be a memorial that would be everlasting.
In Acts chapter 8, verses 26-40, we begin to see the first signs of GOD’s fulfillment of that promise. Acts chapter 8 depicts a very significant phase in the history of the development of the early Church, as it begins to show signs of an initial shedding of its “strictly Jewish” membership doctrine and status. We see here, the Church being compelled to scatter and flee Jerusalem, as a result of the Christian persecutions that followed the tragic death of Stephen. The Church was now unconsciously taking one of the most important steps in its history, and, at one and the same time, it was discovering that JESUS’ life was sacrificed for the entire world, not just for the Jews.
When the Church was forced to scatter from Jerusalem, they also couldn’t help but take the Good News of the Gospel of JESUS CHRIST with them wherever they went. Philip, who was one of chosen seven, served in the Church at Jerusalem alongside Stephen and five other men who were full of the HOLY SPIRIT. After Stephen’s death, Philip fled to Samaria, where he preached to a group of people who were a natural bridge between the Jews and the Gentiles, because they themselves were half Jew and half Gentile in their racial descent and makeup.
Suddenly, by divine intervention, Philip was told by an angel of the LORD to go south to Gaza. Just for general knowledge sake, it may better serve development of our understanding to know that there were two Gazas. The original Gaza was destroyed in a war in 93 B.C., and the new Gaza was rebuilt, just south of the old desert Gaza, in 57 B.C. It was this new Gaza, where Philip was told to go.
Along the desert road, Philip encounters an Ethiopian eunuch, who was employed by the Candace of Ethiopia as the nation’s treasurer. “Candace” is the title given to the queens who ruled over Ethiopia’s governmental affairs. The king, or “Royal Son”, was thought to be above those kinds of duties, and so, the responsibilities of government were laid upon the queen. Eunuchs were used in trusted positions in the royal courts, especially those positions that involved working around the king’s wives and harems, because they were physically incapable of normal sexual functions and influences.
This particular Ethiopian eunuch, Luke tells us, was on his way back from worship services in Jerusalem. He was apparently a student of the Scriptures, and had converted over to Judaism. He was most likely a “GOD-fearer” and not necessarily a “proselyte”. A GOD-fearer was a non-Jewish person who converted to Judaism and did not accept “circumcision”. A proselyte, on the other hand, is a non-Jewish person who has converted to Judaism, and has also accepted circumcision.
However, whatever his circumstances were, he appeared to be a man who was seeking to know GOD better, and GOD promises us that whoever is willing to seek HIM through HIS WORD, shall find HIM. And so we find this royal eunuch riding in his carriage and reading from the writings of the prophet Isaiah. He is reading from the “Septuagint”, which is the first Greek translation of the Old Testament.  He is concerned with the passage we know today as Isaiah 53:7-8, in the Christian Bible.
Philip is told by the HOLY SPIRIT to go over and walk alongside the eunuch’s carriage. He runs over to the carriage, and he hears the man reading from Isaiah. At this point he asks the man if he understands what he is reading. The man answers, in effect, that he doesn’t understand, and invites Philip to join him in his carriage.
Philip, being very knowledgeable in GOD’s word, began to explain this passage and many others concerning CHRIST and the good news of Salvation. As they rode along, Philip was able to lead this man to CHRIST, and when they came to some water, the man requested that Philip would baptize him, and so he did.
The Ethiopian eunuch was able to open up his heart to GOD and allow the HOLY SPIRIT and the salvation through CHRIST JESUS, to enter in. As I often say, it is a life-changing thing when any person gets to know, and, becomes accustomed to practicing the Word of GOD.  Jewish tradition tells us that this incident, which occurred on a road out of Jerusalem that day, may very well have initiated the spread of the Gospel beyond the area of northern African, and into the far regions of that continent.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander

LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website

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