2. The gospel reaches Judea and Samaria, 6:1-12:25

vii] Philip and the Ethiopian


Following the stoning of Stephen, the Hellenist Jews escape the ensuing persecution in Jerusalem and begin the work of extending the gospel. In chapter 8 Luke focuses on Philip, one of the deacons. His ministry in Samaria produces such spectacular results that the apostles send Peter and John to investigate. In the passage before us Luke describes Philip's encounter with an Ethiopian eunuch, a man who is not a Jew, but who is interested in the Jewish faith. Confronted with the gospel, the eunuch believes, is baptized and continues on his way.


Estranged from God by the temple / Law, an Ethiopian eunuch finds God in the way.


i] Context: See 6:1-7.


ii] Structure: This passage, Philip an the Ethiopian, presents as follows:

Setting, v26;

Philip meets an Ethiopian eunuch, v27-29;

The Ethiopian is confused by the scriptures, v30-31;

The confusing text, v32-33;

Philip explains the text, v34-35;

Philip baptizes the Ethiopian, v36-38;

Philip abruptly leaves, v39-40.


iii] Interpretation:

Although the passage reads like a simple conversion story, it is important to note the many miraculous elements to be found in it, in particular, Philip's meeting with the Ethiopian arranged by an angel and his sudden removal from the scene by the Spirit, v39. The point being, "that all that was done was done by the will of God", so illustrating "the power of the Gospel and the oversight of the mission by God", Barrett. So for Luke, this is something more than just a story.

The fulfillment of the covenantal promise to Abraham of a blessing to the world is realized in this story. As the Samaritans were barred from the worship of God at Jerusalem / the temple, so an Ethiopian had gone up "to Jerusalem to worship" but as a eunuch he could never enter the temple, never touch the promised covenant blessings. As the Queen of Sheba was once drawn to God's majesty evident in Solomon's kingdom, so the Ethiopian eunuch is drawn to worship God in Jerusalem / the temple, but access to the truth is denied him and he is left confused. Yet, like the Samaritans, this Ethiopian is now able to experience the promised blessings; he is now free to come into the presence of the Most High, free to enter the assembly of God's people, free to join the way.

So again Luke demonstrates the authority by which the way begins its move from Jerusalem / the temple / the law, this time by divine authority (the miraculous way Philip both meets and leaves the Ethiopian eunuch). In an organizational sense the story is best kept with Philip's Samarian ministry. So, what we have here in both this story and the account of the Samaritans' conversion, is the first step in the gospel's movement from the Jews to the Gentiles. Here we have people estranged from God's grace by Israel's exclusive cult, standing on the fringe, as it were, of God's long-promised blessings to the world, but now, through the gospel, they are included and so in possession of those blessings.


Philip the evangelist: There has always been confusion over the identity of Philip. Even Eusebius, the ancient Christian historian, notes the confusion. It is very unlikely that the Philip of this story is the apostle Philip, but rather the evangelist Philip, cf., Acts 6:5. Having been driven from Jerusalem, he and his fellow Greek speaking / Hellenist Jews take the gospel beyond Jerusalem and so begin the work of evangelizing the Gentiles.

Text - 8:26

The conversion of the Ethiopian Eunuch, v26-40. i] Setting, v26: In Old Testament prophetic style, Philip is guided by an angel to minister to a seeker on the Gaza road.

kuriou (oV) gen. "[an angel] of the Lord" - The genitive is ablative, expressing source / origin. Culy suggests that the phrase in the OT is a periphrases for "the Lord" and that Luke may be using it here with the same connotation, eg., Gen.16:7-14, 21:14-19, etc.... It does seem likely that this type of descriptive language is simply making the point that Philip received divine guidance to undertake a particular task. The descriptive language used in v29 probably make a similar point.

legwn (legw) pres. part. "[said to Philip]" - [spoke to Philip] saying. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "spoke".

anasthqi (anisthmi) aor. imp. "[go]" - get up [and go]. "Get yourself ready", TEV.

kata meshmbrian (a) "south" - noon, midday / south. The prepositional phrase is adverbial, either temporal or local. So, the instruction is either go south on the road that is in the desert, ie. the desert road, or go at midday on the desert road. Either way the instruction is making sure Philip gets to meet the Ethiopian.

epi + acc. "to [the road]" - Spacial; "up to, to, on, ..."

auth estin erhmoV "the desert road" - this is desert. This may be a reference to "the road" or to "Gaza", so either the road through the desert, as NIV, or Gaza in the desert, the original town of Gaza which was destroyed in 93BC and then known as "Desert Gaza"; "from Jerusalem to Gaza, the town now deserted" / "out in the desert", Knox. The road known as "the Desert Road" was actually the road that ran from Gaza to Egypt.

katabainousan (katabainw) pres. part. "that goes down" - The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "road", as NIV.

apo + gen. "from Jerusalem" - Expressing separation.


ii] Philip meets an Ethiopian euncuh, v27-29: The Ethiopian was an official from an ancient kingdom that stretched from the first cataract on the Nile at Aswan, south to Khartoum. As a court official, he may have been a eunuch, or may just have carried the title. He was obviously a God-fearer of sorts, a Gentile follower of the Jewish faith, although as a eunuch, his participation in religious celebrations would have been very limited. He had gone to Jerusalem to worship God and was on his way home when he meets Philip along the way.

anastaV (anisthmi) aor. part. "So [he started out]" - having arisen [we went]. The aorist indicating punctiliar action and participle is either attendant circumstance expressing action accompanying the main verb "he went", or consecutive, expressing result, "so he got up and went on his way", Moffatt. Philip immediately responds to the angel's directive.

idou "-" - [and] behold there was [a man].

Aiqioy "Ethiopian" - Nubian. "Ethiopian eunuch" as well as "important official" stands in apposition to anhr, "man". Philip has just been involved in evangelizing Samaritans, the first stage of the gospel's move out from Jerusalem, and now he is about to evangelize, and include in God's new covenant people, an outcast.

eunoucoV "eunuch" - He may have been a proselyte, but more likely a god-fearer, because full religious privileges were not bestowed upon eunuchs, Deut 23:1. This restriction may well have been lifted by now following the promise in Isaiah 56:3ff. There is, of course, the possibility that he was not castrated, because the word was used generally for a trusted high official in the court of a king.

epi + gen. "in charge of [all the treasury]" - over [all the treasury of her]. Here expressing subordination.

KandakhV (h) gen. "of the Kandake" - [a court official] of Candace. The genitive is adjectival, of subordination.

basilisshV (a) "queen" - The Nubian kings were regarded as children of the sun, divine, and so secular duties were carried out by the queen mother who bore the title Candace. The "eunuch" therefore worked for the queen mother in the treasury, "her chancellor of the exchequer", Barclay.

Aiqiopwn (y opoV) gen. "of the Ethiopians" - The genitive is adjectival, of subordination; "over the Ethiopians." Ancient Ethiopia was a kingdom consisting of modern day Sudan, to the South West of Egypt.

proskunhswn (proskunew) fut. part. "to worship" - worshipping. The participle probably expresses purpose; "he had visited Jerusalem in order to worship the God of Israel." The use of the word here may imply a pilgrimage, cf. 24:11; "he had been to Jerusalem on a pilgrimage", REB.


hn upostrefwn imperf. verb to-be + pres. part. "on his way home" - he was returning. This construction forms a periphrastic imperfect, although Barrett says it is best viewed as a descriptive, as NIV; "he was on his way back", Barrett.

kaqhmenoV (kaqhmai) pres. part. "sitting" - The participle is technically another periphrastic imperfect, "he was returning and was sitting in his chariot", although treated adverbially makes better sense, modal, as NIV, or temporal, "he was on his way home and while reclining in his estate wagon he was reading ..."

epi + gen. "in" - upon, on. Spacial.

aJrmatoV (aJrma) "chariot" - wagon. Not necessarily a chariot, given that a chariot didn't have a seat, but rather a covered wheeled wagon of some sort with a seat / bed and supplies, useful for a trip that would actually take many months. "Carriage."

aneginwsken (anaginwskw) imperf. "reading" - The normal practice was to read aloud which is why Philip heard him. The eunuch's wealth is evidenced by him owning a copy of Isaiah (or part of), and the ownership of such a valuable text indicates his dedication to the faith of Israel.

ton profhthn Hsaian "the Book of Isaiah the prophet" - the prophet Isaiah. A metonymy - the substitution of one term for another for which it is associated / idiomatic; "the book that the prophet Isaiah wrote", as NIV.


tw/ Filippw/ (oV) dat. "[the spirit told] Philip" - [and said the Spirit] to Philip. Dative of indirect object. The initial message was from an angel, but now the Spirit instructs Philip. Some commentators draw a distinction between the two, but Luke seems to be using the terms interchangeably. Technically one might say, the Spirit speaks through the angel, but as already noted, whether an angel, or the Spirit, the sense is "the Lord directed Philip." A Jewish deference toward God is always evident in such language.

proselqe (prosercomai) aor. imp. "go to" - "Approach".

tw/ a{rmati (a) "[that] chariot" - Dative of direct object after the proV prefix verb "to go to."

kollhqhti (kollaw) aor. pas. imp. "stay near" - join to, keep company, keep near, bind close together. The two imperatives, "approach" and "join to" are best simplified; "go and join the carriage", Barclay.


iii] The Ethiopian is confused by the scriptures, v30-31. Traveling in a covered carriage, the Ethiopian was reading from Isaiah 53. The ancient practice was to read aloud, since the manuscripts of the time were not easy to read. Philip is prompted by the Spirit to run beside the wagon. Philip asks whether the Ethiopian understands what he is reading. Philip is then invited to interpret.

prosdramwn (prostrecw) aor. part. "then [Philip] ran up to the chariot" - having run out, run to. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "heard", "ran .... and heard", but possibly adverbial, temporal, as NIV; "When Philip ran up he heard him reading ....", Moffatt.

hkousen (akouw) aor. "heard" - heard. As was the practice up till recent times, people read aloud, or at least mouthed the words.

anaginwskontoV (anaginwskw) gen. pres. part. "[him] reading" - The participle serves as an object complement, genitive in agreement with autou, "him", genitive of direct object after the verb "heard".

ara - A particle introducing a question which expects neither a positive nor negative answer, or possibly more positive than negative.

ge - An enclitic which serves to emphasize the particle and introduce doubt, so Moule. "Do you really / do you indeed have any idea about what you are reading?"


gar a]n + opt. "[how can I]" - for [how indeed/then might I be able]. The particle a]n indicates that the sentence is contingent on the previous statement, a rather stylish construction. This indicates that gar, "for", is introducing a causal clause explaining why he cannot understand what he is reading; "'do you understand what you are reading?' 'Of course I do not (fully) understand', he said, 'for how should I be able to do so unless .....", Barrett.

ean mh + fut. ind. "unless [someone explains]" - unless. An aorist subjunctive would normally be required to follow this particle so as to form the protasis of conditional clause, 3rd class; "unless, as the case may be, someone will guide me, then how might I be able to understand." Barrett notes that the fut. ind. and aor. subj. sound the same. Although, following the optative it is possible that it introduces the reasoning associated with the answer. "How can I unless I have someone to guide me", Phillips.

oJdhghsei (oJdhgew) fut. ind. "explains" - will instruct, guide, show the way. The Old Testament speaks of Jesus, but, of itself, it is not possible to understand how it speaks of Jesus and his fulfillment of Old Testament scripture without the New Testament / gospel serving as a guide to its exegesis. The best Jewish exegetes could come up with, particularly of this passage from Isaiah's servant song, was that he was some mysterious person suffering for his righteousness, possibly the messiah, or even Israel itself. None of this is very helpful. Only in Jesus and his sacrifice for sins do we understand the role of the Suffering Servant.

parekalesen (parakalew) aor. "he invited [Philip]" - he asked / exhorted, urged, [to sit with him].

te "-" - Introducing a coordinate series; "both to come up and to sit with him."

anabanta (anabainw) aor. part. "to come up" - having come up [to sit]. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the infinitive "to sit"; "to come up and to sit." "He invited Philip to ride along in the carriage with him."

kaqisai (kaqizw) aor. inf. "to sit" - The infinitive serves to form a dependent statement of indirect speech expressing what the eunuch urged Philip to do.

sun + dat. "with [him]" - Expressing association.


iv] A confusing text, v32-33: Neither the prophets, nor the teachers of the law, ever made the link between the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53, the Davidic Messiah of Isaiah 11 and the glorious Son of Man of Daniel 7. Jesus certainly made the link, and it was not till after his death and resurrection that the disciples started to work on that link.

hJ perioch "[this is] the passage" - The eunuch was obviously reading the LXX, the Greek Old Testament, as Luke's quote is from this version and not the Hebrew version of Isaiah 53:7-8. The eunuch's question concerns the one who suffers without complaint?

thV grafhV (h) gen. "of Scripture" - [now this was the passage] of the scripture. The genitive may be treated ablative, expressing source / origin, "from Scripture", or adjectival, partitive.

h}n pro. "-" - which [he was reading]. The antecedent is unclear, either "which passage he was reading", or "which scripture he was reading." Barrett opts for the second option thus indicating that the text is but identifying the scripture under consideration, namely the Servant Song, Isaiah 52:13-53:12. This also indicates that the Servant Song may be summarized by these verses, namely, Christ's vicarious suffering.

hcqh (agw) aor. pas. "he was led" - "Being led away", not "taken away."

wJV "like [a sheep]" - Comparative. Culy notes the different possible ways to express this comparative: "like a sheep led to slaughter", or "he was led to slaughter like a sheep."

epi + acc. "to [the slaughter]" - to [slaughter, butchery]. Spacial.

enantion + gen. "before" - Spacial.

tou keirontoV (keirw) aor. part. "[its] shearer" - the one having cut the hair off, sheared [it]. The participle serves as a substantive.

afwnoV adj. "silent" - without sound, dumb, speechless. "He was as silent as a lamb whose wool is being cut of, and he did not say a word", CEV.


en + dat. "in [his humiliation]" - Local, expressing space / sphere - within the humiliating circumstance he experienced; "he was humiliated and received no justice", Barclay.

hrqh (airw) aor. pas. "he was deprived" - was lifted up, take away. "Fair judgment was denied him", NJB.

hJ krisiV (iV ewV) "justice" - the judgment, decision [of him]. Both the MT and LXX expression "he was deprived of justice" is obscure. It could mean his condemnation was removed, but more likely that justice was removed, possibly, "he has no redress", REB, although the denial of justice, as NIV, seems best.

dihghsetai (dihgeomai) fut. "speak" - will tell, relate, narrate, recite. It is not possible to recite a list of his descendants because his life is cut short. "Who will be able to recount the story of his posterity?" Cassirer.

thn genean autou "his descendants" - the generation of him. Possibly referring to his contemporary generation, so AV, but most likely making the point that because of his untimely death he has no descendants, as NIV. "How can he have children if his life is snatched away?", CEV.

oJti "for" - that. Here causal; "he has no descendants because."

airetai "(airw) pres. pas. "was taken from" - is taken up. For some reason the LXX uses the verb, "to lift, take up" for the Hebrew "to cut off." There is little doubt that the prophet is telling us that the servant dies rather than he is "lifted up from the earth"; an ascended / resurrected servant. So, best in the sense of his life being "taken away", ie. "killed", although "taken up to glory" is possible. "His life is being cut off from the earth", Knox.


v] Philip explains the text, v34-35: The Ethiopian's question allows Philip to explain the gospel. We can well imagine Philip starting with the Isaiah passage and going on to explain how Jesus was the suffering Servant for the sin of the many.

apokriqeiV (apokrinomai) aor. pas. part. "-" - [the eunuch] having answered [said to Philip] - Attendant circumstance participle, redundant, expressing action accompanying the verb "said". Presumably responding to an unexpressed question by Philip as to whether the eunuch understands what he has read.

tw/ Filippw/ (oV) dat. "[asked] Philip" - [said] to Philip. Dative of indirect object.

sou gen. pro. "please" - [I beg, ask of] you. Genitive of direct object after the verb deomai, which takes a genitive of persons.

peri + gen. "[who .....] about" - about [whom the prophet says this]. Reference / respect; "about, concerning, with reference to." "Who is the prophet speaking about? Is it about himself or about someone else", Barclay.


anoixaV (anoigw) aor. part. "-" - [Philip] having opened [the mouth of him]. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "preached". This descriptive / idiomatic phrase / biblicism can be left untranslated; often used in prophetic discourse.

arxamenoV (arcw) aor. part. "began" - [and] having begun [from this scripture]. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the main verb "preached". Obviously, he starts his exposition from the scripture being read by the eunuch.

euhggelisato (euanggelizw) aor. "told [him] the good news [about Jesus]" - he communicated a message, communicated important news, preached [to him Jesus]. Meanings such as "bring good news", "preach good tidings" reads a meaning back into the word which it originally did not carry. The messenger from the battle front announces important news, either good or bad, and this is what Philip is doing. "He told him important information about Jesus", or given the context, "explained how Jesus has fulfilled the Isaiah passage."

autw/ dat. pro. "him" - [he communicated Jesus] to him. Dative of indirect object.

Ihsoun (ouV ou) acc. "about Jesus" - Accusative of reference / respect. The content of the communication concerned Jesus, indicating that Philip, along with Christian exegetes ever since, view Jesus, his life, death, resurrection and ascension, as the proper fulfillment of the servant song.


vi] Although not recorded, Philip probably concluded his gospel presentation with a call to repent and be baptized. Following the practice of John the Baptist, repentance was usually expressed outwardly in water immersion, or splashing. The Ethiopian obviously felt that the time was right, for they were soon on the lookout for some water.

wJV "as" - while. Temporal.

eporeuonto (poreuomai) imperf. "they traveled" - they were going. "As they were going along the road", CEV.

kata acc. "along [the road]" - on [the way]. Expressing a standard, "in conformity with", but a common idiomatic phrase for "along the road", Barrett. "As they traveled on", Moffatt.

epi + acc. "[they came] to" - Spacial; "upon, to, near."

uJdwr (wr atoV) "water" - Unstated as to a pool, stream etc. So, is this the desert road? The Wadi el Hasi north of Gaza is often identified as the source of the water, but this is only a guess.

kwluei (kwluw) "[why] shouldn't / [what] can stand in the way of" - prevents, debars, hinders, forbids [me to be baptized]. What objection can be raised; "is there any reason why I shouldn't be baptized?", Barclay.

baptisqhnai (baptizw) aor. pas. inf. "[I] be baptized / [my] being baptized" - [what prevents me] to be immersed, dipped. The infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of the verb "prevents". Presumably the me "me", accusative, functions as the subject of the infinitive. Peter has seemingly covered the necessary response to the gospel of "repent and be baptized" 2:38 - turn to Jesus and express this outwardly in water immersion / dipping, so Fitzmyer. It is also possible that the eunuch knew of the necessity for a God-fearer to undergo water baptism to become a Jewish proselyte and he has assumed a similar practice for a disciple of Jesus. Either way, "all the barriers are down, and so a eunuch, a black, God-fearing Gentile, is baptized", Bock.


This verse is found in the Western text, but probably dates from the 2nd century. "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'", AV.


ekeleusen (keleuw) aor. "ordered" - he commanded.

sthnai (iJsthmi) aor. inf. "to stop" - to stand. Infinitive, following a verb of command, forms a dependent statement of indirect speech, commanding; "he commanded that he stop the chariot". "He ordered the carriage to halt", Barclay.

kai "then" - and [both went down to/into the water]. Coordinative, but certainly the sense next in time is present; "and then", as NIV.

eiV "into" - to, into. Naturally, "to the water's edge" or "into/in the body of the water", is determined by our support for a baptism of either splashing, or full immersion. The verb katebainw, "to come down", similarly makes no specific statement other than they left the road and went down to a body of water. Jesus probably doesn't mind either dunking or splashing, especially as he never baptized anyone with water! As Barrett notes, "there is nothing in the passage to tell us how Luke understood baptism." Neil, for example, argues for full immersion and suggests that, where possible, it was performed in running water. His evidence is that this is how Jesus was baptized, but he forgets that an is is not an aught / a description is not a prescription.

te ..... kai "-" - both [Philip] and [the eunuch]. A coordinative construction.

ebaptisen (baptizw) aor. "Philip baptized [him]" - he baptized [him]. The agent, "Philip", is often added for clarity. It is interesting that Philip, who is not an apostle, happily performs the baptism.


vii] Philip abruptly leaves, v39-40: The Spirit now leads Philip toward further missionary opportunities while the eunuch continues his journey filled with joy. Luke tells us that Philip moves north along the coast road, preaching in the old Philistine cities on the way. In church tradition it is believed he settled down in Caesarea, a family man with four daughters renowned as prophets.

o{te "when" - Temporal conjunction.

anebhsan (anabainw) aor. "they came up" - they came up, rose up, advanced. Posing the same problem as above: "when they left the pool/wadi/well...", or "when they came up out of the pool/wadi/well..."

ek + "out of" - from, out of. Expressing source / origin.

pneuma kuriou "the Spirit of the Lord" - spirit/wind of lord. Following the Canon of Apollonius the fact that both nouns are anarthrous (without an article) does not negate a translation with definite articles. The genitive kuriou may be treated as either ablative, source / origin, or adjectival, possessive, although the phrase is possibly just a respectful allusion to the Lord himself; see above. That Philip was whisked away by "the wind of the Lord" has been suggested, but rarely accepted. Some texts also read "the Spirit fell on the eunuch but the angel of the Lord caught up Philip ...."; obviously an editorial exegesis in line with v29.

hJrpasen (aJrpazw) aor. "suddenly took [Philip] away" - sized, snatched, carried off.... by force. The aorist's punctiliar action further emphasizing the immediacy of "snatch away", so NIV. As noted above, the Western text says an angel took him away, trying to explain the miraculous sense conveyed by the words. Of course, Philip's departure may not have been miraculous, just immediate; "the Spirit of the Lord hurried Philip away", Goodspeed.

gar "-" - [the eunuch didn't seem any longer] for [for he (the eunuch) was going the way rejoicing]. Introducing a causal clause explaining why the eunuch didn't see Philip any more. Clearly there is an ellipsis here; "The eunuch saw no more of Philip, because he, unlike Philip who was snatched away, went on his way rejoicing." He did so rejoicing", Barrett.

cairwn (cairw) pres. part. "rejoicing" - rejoicing. The participle is adverbial, modal, expressing the manner of his going; "the eunuch continued his journey rejoicing", Barclay. Joy overtakes the eunuch indicating the reception of the Spirit, although there is no record of the Spirit falling on him and particularly no reference of him having spoken in tongues. It is possible that the bestowal of the Spirit (the Spirit's outward manifestation in power evidenced in the gift of tongues????), is at this time, seen as an apostolic responsibility. It is more likely that Luke does not want to disturb the theological movement of the gospel from the Jews to the Gentiles, which move finds its focus in the conversion of Cornelius and his reception of the Spirit with the outward evidence of tongues. Of course, Luke my be treating the Ethiopian as a proselyte, but this is unlikely. Whatever the case, it is an interesting omission on the part of Luke. It obviously disturbed the editors of the Western text their addition, as noted above.


de "however" - but, and. Here adversative, as NIV.

euJreqh (euJriskw) aor. pas. "appeared" - was found. Sometimes with the meaning "surprise", and possibly a Semitism for "he came", although the evidence is limited. "Appeared" reflects the miraculous, but the point is he was off preaching the gospel after the conversion of the eunuch and so "was found in (not blown to!) Azotus." "Arrived at", Barclay, seems best.

Azwton "Azotus" - The old Philistine city of Ashdod some 20 miles north of Gaza, with Caesarea a further 25 miles up the coast, the then seat of Roman power in Palestine.

diercomenoV (diercomai) pres. mid. part. "traveled about" - passing through. The participle is best treated as adverbial, temporal; "Philip arrived in Azotus and while touring that region he preached the gospel."

euhggelizeto (euaggilizw) imperf. "preaching the gospel" - he was preaching, communicating. The imperfect expressing continued action. He was obviously communicating the gospel, although what he communicated is not stated, but is assumed.

eJwV tou "until [he reached Caesarea]" - until [he came to Caesarea]. This preposition with the articular infinitive, forms a temporal clause, as NIV; auton, "he", serving as the accusative subject of the infinitive. A dynamic equivalent can make better sense, "he went from town to town, all the way to Caesarea, telling people about Jesus", CEV.


Acts Introduction



[Pumpkin Cottage]