The earliest Christians followed a Jewish tradition of pausing to pray, preferably together, first thing in the morning, about mid morning, at noon, about mid afternoon, and in the evening. “Just a Note” posts are brief observations made from Scripture readings not related to a lectionary. If I have one to post, it normally appears about 9:00 in the morning, at “the hour of prayer.”
In Acts 8:26 the scene changes abruptly. We move from Samaria and the work of the apostles to Philip. We remember Philip as one of the men selected in Acts 6 to assist in the distribution of food to widows. Now he is sent to a road leading out into the desert. The Holy Spirit leads him but does not give him a reason. On the road he encounters a eunuch from the Ethiopian court. This eunuch is reading the book of Isaiah and asks Philip to explain a difficult passage. Philip teaches about Jesus from the passage. The eunuch believes and requests baptism.
This is the first time we have explicity seen someone other than an apostle do exegesis of a passage of Scripture. However, Philip is absolutely accurate. He is not only accurate, but his timely explanation of Jesus’ work brings the Ethiopian to repentance. We do well to read Scripture with an eye to telling others about Jesus’ work in the passages we read. As Jesus says that all Scripture is about him, we will not go wrong looking for Jesus in our Bibles.
We don’t know where the Ethiopian learned about the custom of baptism. What we do know is that he asked to be baptized and Philip baptized him. It seems in many church bodies today adult converts face lengthy delays in receiving baptism. We often require adult converts to explain their Christian faith in very mature terms. This even in contexts where children are baptized freely. The pattern in Acts is quite different. People believe and they are baptized. No fuss, no muss, simply a means of grace applied to the repentant sinner.
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