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Conversion of a Man from Africa in the Book of Acts

By Roger D. Campbell

What happened when a eunuch from Africa met a gospel preacher? Something wonderful! Come and see (Acts 8:26-39). Philip was preaching in Samaria when an angel of the Lord commissioned him to go and meet a traveling treasurer (8:26, 27). Let us focus on these two men’s attitudes and actions.

What did the eunuch do with God’s word?

  • He carried it with him (8:28). He thought it was important enough to take with him on his journey.
  • He read it (8:28, 32). That is a great start.
  • He admitted that he did not know everything about it, seeking guidance from Philip (8:31). Some are arrogant and think they know it all. Not this man.
  • He wanted to understand it, asking, “I ask you, of whom does the prophet say this, of himself or of some other man?” (8:34).
  • He thought he could understand it – look again at the question he asked (8:34). Why would God give us a message that is beyond man’s comprehension?! He wants us to understand it (Ephesians 5:17).
  • He understood that he needed to obey it, asking, “See, here is water, what hinders me from being baptised?” (8:36). At times we may think to ourselves that others really need to hear and heed the Bible’s instructions, but this man was ready to apply the truth in his life.
  • He obeyed it the first time that he had a chance to do so. He did not delay; he did not tarry until others could join him. When they got to the water, he was ready! (8:36-38).
  • He rejoiced after he obeyed it (8:39). Why wouldn’t he?! His sins had been blotted out by the blood (Acts 2:38).

What about Philip? What was his role? What can we see in his attitude and action?

  • He obeyed exactly what God told him to do. God’s messenger said, “Arise and go.” Then? “…he arose and went” (8:26, 27). The beauty of simple obedience. Let us never belittle or overlook it.
  • He was willing to go from a preaching setting in which he had good results (in Samaria) to one in which there was one listener, and the results were not guaranteed (8:26, 27).
  • He was excited about what he was doing. He ran to the chariot of the eunuch (8:29, 30).
  • He was willing to teach the gospel to someone whom he had never met before (8:30). Jesus did that with a woman beside a well in Samaria (John 4). I think you and I could give that a try, too.
  • He started the conversation with the eunuch by asking a question: “Do you understand what you are reading?” (8:30). This was a common teaching method of the Master. We could do that, could we not?
  • He opened his mouth. “Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him” (8:35). Regardless of the method of teaching which you and I choose to employ, at some point someone has to open up and do some talking. Faith comes by hearing the word.
  • He took advantage of the opportunity to teach. There Philip was, eye to eye with a lost man. What was he to do? He preached Jesus! (8:35). With some people, our first chance is our only chance – no second chance ever comes. Let us thank God for and take advantage of open doors. If we feel like we never have the time to slow down and teach the lost, we need to do some adjustments to our schedule.
  • He began teaching from the same Scripture about which the prospect had a question (8:35). When people express an interest, it is usually beneficial to try and start from the matter(s) about which they seek an answer.
  • He preached Jesus as the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies (8:35). True biblical preaching of Jesus includes the message of Whom He is and what He instructs people to do to follow Him faithfully.
  • He preached baptism (8:36). After hearing Philip’s message, the eunuch asked about being immersed. The treasurer certainly did not read about baptism in Isaiah 53. He must have heard it when Philip “preached Jesus” to him.
  • He kept on teaching after one person was already converted (8:39, 40). The conversion of one soul is fantastic fruit, but we need to keep on sowing!

What did the eunuch decide to do?

This man had a high position in his nation’s government, but he was willing to listen to a total stranger teach him the truth. That sounds like a humble spirit to me. He learned that salvation comes through Jesus. Indeed, He is the only way of salvation (Acts 4:12).

When he learned the truth, he offered no excuses and made no effort to wiggle out of his personal responsibility to God; sounds like courage to me.

In short, he heard, believed, and obeyed the gospel. By doing so, He was brought into Jesus’ Kingdom and his sins were forgiven (Colossians 1:13, 14). He did not deserve or earn his salvation via obedience, but by meeting God’s terms of redemption, God washed away his every single sin.

We do not know this man from Africa’s name, but we will not soon forget him. We know nothing of his life after he obeyed the gospel, but we admire his submission to the Lord.

What about you, my friend, do you need to obey the gospel? If so, be like this man from ancient Ethiopia – obey the gospel today and rejoice in your salvation from sin.

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