Some people have a marvelous salvation testimony. They are able to describe how they walked in darkness and in some way, perhaps through a sermon, book, video, reading the Bible or a testimony were confronted with the Gospel, convicted on their sin, believed, repented and were saved wonderfully. Others again cannot do this. They might have grown up in a Christian home or as a non-Christian lived a relatively moral life, going to Church and slowly, without knowing it became a Christian. There was a past life and a new life but there were no shakes involved. This is more or less the eunuch’s testimony. He was a Godfearer, heard the Gospel and was converted. We are not told what happened between hearing and being baptized. As the Holy Spirit inspired Luke to gather information and as he penned these verses it was not necessary to explain what happened other than to include the eunuch’s request to be baptized.
1) The eunuch’s request to be baptized. The question—
Ac 8:36 “Look, here is water. Why shouldn’t I be baptized?”
—presupposes that he was soundly converted … that he heard Philip explaining the Isaiah passage leading into the Gospel, believed and was saved. He was so convinced that he wanted to be incorporated into the Visible Church immediately.
2) The eunuch’s baptism was public.
Ac 8:38 And he gave orders to stop the chariot.
He had some sort of entourage with him. He ordered the chariot to be stopped once they came upon water and those present would have witnessed his baptism. One of the most important features of Christian Baptism is that it is conducted publically. The candidate testifies that he or she willingly surrenders to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and their life after baptism can be examined and evaluated by their Gospel walk or the lack thereof to prove or disprove Intentional Christianity. Those present at the baptism are able to gauge the candidate’s profession in the weeks, months and years ahead to see whether the person or persons possess Jesus as Lord, or only professes Jesus as Lord. Without a doubt, Philip’s evangelism, like Peter’s in Acts chapter 2 must have included the need for a public declaration of faith … that of baptism. Although there are many debates regarding “Believers Baptism” and Pedobaptism, it is public and conditional. The condition is that the “believing candidates prove their salvation by walking in faith whilst the believing parents bringing the child for Pedobaptism guarantees they will raise the child to love and follow Jesus and when the child is of such an age to confess faith, and does, offers themselves for Confirmation where they are taught (catechized) after which they “confirm” their faith in a public ceremony. None of the three (Believers Baptism, Pedobaptism or Confirmation) save. They are public platforms where alignment with Jesus is declared with submission to His Lordship and Rule given.
3) The eunuch’s baptism was in water.
Ac 8:36 As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water. Why shouldn’t I be baptized?” 38 And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him.
(1) Remember this was “desert”. The eunuch was travelling along what was known as “the desert road’. What is key here is the words “some water” in verse 36. We are not told how much water it was other than it was “some” water. A crucial point to remember is that this road ran from Jerusalem to Gaza and they were nowhere near the Mediterranean Sea. It was desert and perhaps they came across a “wadi” which is a type of ravine that is dry except during the rainy season. Because of the scarcity of water in the desert, the water they came across could not have been more than a few inches deep. They went into it and Philip most likely scooped up water in his hands, baptizing the eunuch.
(2) The volume of water is not the issue. Where the Greek “baptizo” does mean immerse, it also means dip, pour and sprinkle. From a practical point, Philip most likely scooped up water in his hands and poured it over the Eunuch’s head. Having said this, we ought not to be too dogmatic and allow the “waters to divide” us. Because …
(3) The most important matter regarding Christian Baptism is the formula! Our Lord Himself said:
Mt 28:19 “baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
This means that the candidate offering for baptism surrenders to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, turning away from all other religions, gods, idols and superstitions. This formula that Jesus gives means one is brought into a relationship where the One, True, Living God of Creation is acknowledged as the only God and commitment to His covenant in Jesus Christ is surrendered to.
4) Some query who the first African believer to be baptized was. From this passage we find that this eunuch from Ethiopia seems to be the first African Christian and the first African Christian to be baptized. Church history says this eunuch evangelized his people, the Ethiopians.
5) The mysterious disappearance of Philip.
Ac 8:39 When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing.
After the baptism the Spirit of the Lord removed Philip from area to conduct Gospel Business elsewhere.
(1) Philip’s departure was sudden and mysterious. He was “snatched” away by the Holy Spirit! Often we don’t understand what happens in such events like this because as humans we are faced with the spiritual and supernatural. It is very similar to Elijah!
2Ki 2:11 As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind. 12 Elisha saw this and cried out, “My father! My father! The chariots and horsemen of Israel!” And Elisha saw him no more. Then he took hold of his own clothes and tore them apart.
(2) There is a decided difference in the reaction of the eunuch to Elisha. Elisha tore his clothing but the eunuch went on his way rejoicing. This ought to be the response of a saved soul. You are so caught up in the bliss of “sins forgiven, being made a child of God and given the assurance of heaven” that joy unspeakable fills your soul! Becoming a Christian could well cost you much. You might lose lots or need to sacrifice lots … but that which you gain in indescribable!
Eph 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.
If you are not happy in Christ ask yourself whether you are actually in Christ!
Blessed Lord, O the glorious blessings of being Your own. All sin and guilt removed forever. Names inscribed in the register of the Lamb in glory. Adoption into Your forever family. What bliss is ours? Amen.