Enlightening the Ethiopian Eunuch #7

Sunday, October 28, 2018

And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert. And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship, Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet (Acts 8:26-28 KJV).

Why and how can this Ethiopian eunuch be enlightened?

Friend, you will most likely agree with the next statement. There is nothing more exasperating than having a Bible, reading it and reading it and reading it, and yet getting nothing out of it. Millions upon millions upon millions of poor, precious souls find themselves in the same predicament. They faithfully attend church services weekly or even daily, they hear the Bible read or sung, and yet they gain as much insight into God’s Word as if there never was a Bible! What is the first step in understanding and enjoying Scripture?

Philip was entrusted with the ability of interpreting God’s Word whereas the Ethiopian eunuch was not. What made the difference? Acts 8:29 says that the Holy Spirit was involved: He was operating in and through Philip! In stark contrast, the eunuch was filled with nothing but religious tradition and human viewpoint. The eunuch learned firsthand that philosophy and man’s opinions are no substitute for God’s wisdom (1 Corinthians 2:1-16)! Philip is a believer in Christ and the eunuch is not; the former has the Holy Spirit, and the latter does not. Yet, the eunuch was seeking the truth, and God honored that heart attitude.

“I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God,” the eunuch proclaimed in verse 37. Through Philip, the Holy Spirit had personally taught him from the Isaiah scroll. He had seen truths he would have never known otherwise. Verse 39 closes with his water baptism, and when the Spirit of the Lord snatches up Philip to preach elsewhere, the eunuch goes on his way “rejoicing.” What delight the eunuch now has as he goes on home to Ethiopia! “I rejoice at thy word, as one that findeth great spoil” (Psalm 119:162).

Enlightening the Ethiopian Eunuch #6

Saturday, October 27, 2018

And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert. And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship, Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet (Acts 8:26-28 KJV).

Why and how can this Ethiopian eunuch be enlightened?

“[35] Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus. [36] 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? [37] 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. [38] 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. [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.”

Verse 37 is key, as it is the eunuch’s profession of faith: “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” (This is omitted from modern English versions.) What exactly did Philip preach to him? There is no mention of Christ’s cross as good news. Did he say, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, who died for my sins and rose again?” No. There is nothing about Calvary. All Philip told him was that Messiah was prophesied in Isaiah chapter 53, and Jesus fulfilled the passage. The eunuch saw that Jesus was Christ, the Son of God (the Gospel of the Kingdom—Matthew 16:16). In other words, he as a Gentile understood and believed what Israel by and large refused to understand and believe (John 1:11,12)! He was then water baptized, what Israel overwhelmingly rejected as well (Luke 7:29,30).

Indeed, the Scriptural record has rebuked Israel….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Why does Peter start with Samuel in Acts 3:24?

Enlightening the Ethiopian Eunuch #5

Friday, October 26, 2018

And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert. And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship, Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet (Acts 8:26-28 KJV).

Why and how can this Ethiopian eunuch be enlightened?

Isaiah 53:7,8: “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.”

Philip asked if the eunuch understood Isaiah (verse 30), to which he replied in the negative, thereby inviting Philip to join him (verse 31): “[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. [34] And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man?”

No New Testament Scriptures are written as of yet, but the eunuch holds an Isaiah scroll. Unlike most religious leaders, Philip does not discourage him from reading it. The common person should always (!) have a Bible open when listening to alleged “Christian” sermons and sitting under so-called “Christian” tutelage. Verse 35 is quite refreshing, as it underscores Philip’s readiness following the eunuch’s prompting: “Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.” Isaiah was not speaking of himself, but of one “Jesus,” the God-Man who had lived not too far away just one year earlier….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “How was Jesus ‘the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world?’

God Speaking, Man Writing

Saturday, July 8, 2017

“Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Peter 1:20,21 KJV).

Behold, the dual nature of the Bible—written by God and man!

A common assumption about the Bible is that it is man’s book about God. While it is true that God used men to write the Bible, today’s Scripture is clear that the Bible was not “by the will of man.” That is, men did not suddenly desire to write about God. Rather, God chose to cause man to write down His Word. The credit goes to one Member of the Godhead in particular—God the Holy Ghost.

Quoting Deuteronomy 8:3, the Lord Jesus gave the best definition for “inspiration:” “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). The words of the Bible came directly out of God’s mouth, and He caused men to write down those words. He put His Spirit into some words; He breathed them out, speaking them forth. They are thus “the lively oracles” (Acts 7:38)—the “quick [living and life-giving] and powerful” words of God (Hebrews 4:12).

God did not give His words to angels for them to give it to man. Nay, He gave it directly to us in the form of a multiplicity of reliable manuscript copies. We have the privilege of having it today in our language, English, in the King James Bible. Despite all of the corruptions over the centuries, we still have a pure Bible text, one just as authoritative and reliable today as it was when it was first written some two millennia ago.

Beware of the counterfeits! The verses following today’s Scripture caution: “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.”

Bereans

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

“And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (Acts 17:10,11 KJV).

“Bereans.” Have you ever heard of this title, friend? If you have been around Bible-believing circles, of course you have. It comes right out of today’s Scripture. What Christian meaning does it carry?

After unbelieving Jews traveled to Thessalonica (northern Greece) to harass Paul and his ministry coworkers, the Christian brethren were forced to secretly send Paul and Silas by night. Paul and Silas arrived in nearby Berea, again entering the synagogue to preach to lost Jews. The wicked, unbelieving Jews heard of Paul’s entrance into Berea, so they traveled there to bother him again; the saints in Berea had to sneak Paul and his companions away once again, lest they be injured or killed.

Verses 12-14 follow today’s Scripture: “Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few. But when the Jews of Thessalonica had knowledge that the word of God was preached of Paul at Berea, they came thither also, and stirred up the people. And then immediately the brethren sent away Paul to go as it were to the sea: but Silas and Timotheus abode there still.”

Friends, the title “Berean” will be forever preserved in the Word of God as indicative of someone who “received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (today’s Scripture). These Jews had copies of the writings of Moses and the Prophets (cf. Acts 13:15; Acts 15:21), and they appealed to that inspired record to verify if Paul and his companions were really preaching the truth. (There were no “New Testament” Scriptures as of yet, remember.) They did not simply sit in the pew and mindlessly shout “Amen!” to whatever they heard the preacher say! As they eagerly heard the Apostles preach, they took the Word of God and studied it, using it to determine the quality of the message spoken. May we follow suit, beloved!

Read the Copy!

Saturday, April 8, 2017

And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites: And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them (Deuteronomy 17:18,19 KJV).

What does the Bible say about manuscript copies?

Friend, if you have read or heard material from seminary and/or Bible College students, and/or their staunch sympathizers, you know their maxim. They declare, ad nauseum: “We do not have the original Bible manuscripts. All we have is copies. Only the autographs were perfect and inspired of God.” They exalt the originals (which they know no longer exist); they belittle the copies (which alone exist). Leave it to theologians to embrace such absurdity: “I have full confidence in original manuscripts that I can neither access nor read. As for these manuscript copies we do have, they are good but not infallible. By the way, my doctrinal statement is perfect—the Bible out of which I derived it is not!”

We should have a verse somewhere to support what we believe or teach. There is not a verse in all of Scripture—in any manuscript or version—that supports the idea that manuscript copies are less reliable than the originals. However, there is a verse—several, actually—that shows us that God equates original manuscripts (“autographs”) and their resultant copies (“apographs”). When Israel’s king assumed the throne, today’s Scripture says that God commanded that he copy the original manuscripts of Moses’ writings (Genesis through Deuteronomy, the “Pentateuch”). The originals were kept in the Ark of the Covenant; the king was to read his own personal copy!

In God’s mind, the copy was just as authoritative as the originals, for that copy would prevent the king from “turning… aside from the commandment, to the right hand, or to the left” (verse 20). If the king obeyed the copy, God declared he would not make a mistake (indicating the Bible copy was also inerrant). Either we believe the King James Bible, or we believe theologians!

Paper, Pen, and Ink

Monday, November 14, 2016

“Having many things to write unto you, I would not write with paper and ink: but I trust to come unto you, and speak face to face, that our joy may be full. The children of thy elect sister greet thee” (2 John 12,13 KJV).

We use today’s Scripture to glimpse into the culture of “New Testament” times!

The Apostle John wrote in his Third Epistle, verses 13 and 14: “I had many things to write, but I will not with ink and pen write unto thee: But I trust I shall shortly see thee, and we shall speak face to face. Peace be to thee. Our friends salute thee. Greet the friends by name.”

In John’s day, A.D. first century, “paper” was quite different from our paper. The cheaper—and thus, more common—form was papyrus. Thin strips were cut from the papyrus plant reed, laid side-by-side and overlapped, with an alternating layer glued on top, all pressed together to form a sheet. More expensive (and rarer) writing media were vellum (calf skins—higher quality) and parchment (bull and goat skins—lesser quality). Text written on skins would obviously last longer than that which was written on papyrus. Scrolls were first, with codices (books) arriving in the third and fourth centuries. What they called “ink” was really a mixture of soot and water, with gum added to make the ink more durable. The “pen” they used for writing was either a small dried reed/stick, cut to a point at one end; or a quill (feather); which was filled with the “ink.”

Friends, it is quite difficult for us to imagine just how laborious writing was in those days. Instruments and materials were crude and sometimes hard to obtain. They did not have computers to which they could dictate, or keyboards on which to type fast. Furthermore, if they wanted to copy a text, there was no photocopying machine. Copying had to be done entirely by hand! Surely, it was very time consuming. However, there were prophets in both “Old and New Testaments,” guided by the Spirit of God, to ensure the Holy Bible was accurately copied and collated. Consider what has been written here. Then, look at your physical Bible today, friend. It has come a long, LONG way! 🙂