Elevator doors. Texas Capitol.
Tuesday, 5 July 2022
So Philip ran to him, and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah, and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?” Acts 8:30
Note: You can listen to today’s commentary courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen)
You can also read this commentary, with music, courtesy of our friends at “Discern the Bible” on YouTube. (Click Here to listen), or at Rumble (Click Here to listen).
Philip was just instructed to go near to the eunuch’s chariot and overtake it. With that instruction, it now says, “So Philip ran to him.” There could have been any number of misgivings about approaching a chariot, especially if it was accompanied by a contingent of soldiers or guards, which is not unlikely for such travel.
But knowing that the Lord had a plan, his immediate obedience is noted. Once joined up with the chariot, it next says, “and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah.” It was the common way of reading, and it still is in many places today, meaning to read aloud. This is a memory tool, but it would also have been something the others with him could listen to as well.
The words that will be cited in the coming verses are directly from the Greek translation of the book of Isaiah. It is probable that this is the version he was reading aloud as well, because Greek was the common language throughout the Eastern part Roman Empire. With Philip recognizing what is being read, he addressed the eunuch, “and said, ‘Do you understand what you are reading?’”
There is a play on words that is expressed in the question. Philip uses the words ginōskeis (to know) and anaginōskeis (to know again). Vincent’s Word Studies notes: “The play upon the words cannot be translated. The interrogative particles which begin the question indicate a doubt on Philip’s part.”
A good paraphrase might be, “Do you really understand what you are reading?” As he has just been instructed by the Spirit to join himself to the chariot, it probably seemed like an obvious question to ask.
He is an evangelist, he comes up to the chariot and hears Scripture from Isaiah the prophet being read, he is familiar with Jesus’ fulfillment of the prophecy, and he is obviously curious if this person had heard of what Jesus accomplished. With that, his words of questioning are fully understandable.
Life application: If you are pretty well versed in Scripture, and you hear someone listening to an audio Bible in their car at the gas station or in some other place, or if you see someone sitting and reading a Bible, it would be normal to strike up a conversation. If your pastor had recently preached on the passage the person is listening to or reading, your question may be similar to Philip’s, “Hey, do you know what that passage is about?”
This is as common as shingles on a roof and most people are happy to then engage in the conversation. And more, the person may just be curious about the Bible. He or she may not even have a relationship with Jesus. So don’t be afraid to start talking about what you know. Philip followed through with the instruction of the Spirit, and you should follow through with the example as it is laid out in Scripture. Don’t hesitate to engage in a discussion about the word!
What a treasure Your word is, O God! May we never lose the excitement we have about it. And, for sure, that will not happen if we stay in it and read it each day. So, Lord, prompt us to carefully attend to this wonderful treasure daily and to share our knowledge of it often! Amen.